ANCESTOR CLASS TEXTBOOK
They can be a source of emotional troubles and mental illness if not propritiated along with one's Ori. They are a source of your feelings and emotional intelligence. Loyalty to them is expected, lest your spirit guides become your spirit enemies. They can be your social role type: "marketeers,""jagun," "intellectuals," etc. that share a similar temperment. Investigations into who and what are your "Heavenly egbe(s), can be very useful in understanding one's personality dimensions apart from from one's ori (head, intelligence and destiny or life plot). And good for those whose egungun pedigree has been lost, as well. The members of one's Heavenly egbe(s) are not "orisha" nor "egungun," per se, but are LIKE one's tempermental-social role "eguns." Finding out about one's egbe(s) and one's predominant clan ancestry is part of one's "roots readings"; again, particularly for those African diasporans whose true egungun (natal family ancestors) are obscrure or totally unknown.
Can "Egbe" be singular or plural? "Who" is your "egbe" that shows up in life here on earth as a singular person? Who is your egbe that shows up as a "spirit guide." Versus: "What " is your Heavenly egbe,""lodge society" or "affinity" group." When one propritiate one's egbe are you making offerings to the lodge? To a "spirit guide?" To a frat brother or sister in the form of one that lives here on Earth?
Offer doves to them (and other things) as they are associated with stable auto-eroticism. (J) ELEGBE --Psychic people ("mediums" or "eleguns") that can see ghosts ("oku") like the male newly dead men's spirits who show up at the door of the Ogun priest's door sill to collect their buried penis's foreskin that was cut off at birth using that oloola's knife--the obeke. ALWTG, p. 159. (K) ORI EGUN --Means the collective wisdom of the Dead. (L) ISALE -- Means "the land of the dead"; the Duat (KMT) (M) ORI ATE --Means one's 'heavenly template"; similar to ipon'ri (the tray or presentation of one's ori that remains in Heaven). Not to be confused with a Lucumi priest that sits at "the head of the mat (the "ate" ) and who is the "master of ritual ceremony." (N) ANJANU --Dead and malevolent spirits that are problems, and have never made it back to Heaven after death. [O] ILE’KUN --Are the spirits that live under the surface of the Earth (Orisha Mo’ile] They surface every 15 years; hitching rides on the backs of the orishas under the Earth who live in the domain of Orisha Oko. They appear when we open the Earth. And this is one reason that we feed the Earth periodically. They cannot be stopped; must be appeased. Spirits come in through holes in the Earth and its Ozone layer.
CLEANSING, MEDITATION & EMPOWERMENT BEFORE BEGINNING REVERENT PRACTICE AT THE ANCESTRAL ALTAR PAGE 7 Cleansing It is considered proper and good to cleanse oneself with water and purifying coolness (a contractive or set- tling-down) experience first. This may be done by using a white bowl, filling it with cool water, and adding white flower petals, efun (cascarilla) scraped powder, and a pleasing scent (e.g., small amount of Florida Water, Rose Water , Bay Rum, or some essential oil, perfume, or colonge). Customarily, this bowl can be placed at the door of the shrine room or by the shrine itself. Using this, wash oneself lightly from head to foot. Many people may dip their hands into the cleansing preparation and "wash" themselves in turn. The cooling experience is a prelude to the mental "heating up" or consciousness expanding exper- ence of reciting the mantra called the Ijuba--described below. Meditation On most ile-run or oju-run (ancestral altars), there will be a collection of glasses filled with water. But there is also one glass, set in the middle, that is notably larger than the others. This glass is a special com- munications device or instrument (and it can be called a version of an osun). One can "water gaze" in front of it to calm one's mind. Meditation does not mean to have nothing on one's mind. Rather, it means to have the calmness and practiced self-discipline to achieve the goal of having but one thing--anything that is non-disturbing--on one's mind at a time. Empowerment (Egungun Empowerment Center(ing) There are small rituals that one can do for one's self (one's ori) that is also calming and, in the world of ancestral veneration, is akin to the "head feeding" (strengthening) ritual that Yoruba priests called "ebbo (e)leri" or a "rogation" ( term Santeros borrowed from the Catholic religion or, more, likely that the Catholics borrowed from Africans). Take a large glass with a little water in it. In front of the altar, think about the issues that have made you feel weaker lately. When you have nar- rowed them down to just a few really important ones, add a little more water to the glass. You are going to do this nine times until the glass is filled with water but each time you think a little less about the "issues" and gradually shift into the medit- ational mode so that by the last few 'rounds' you are comfortably settling on one or more images or sounds of em- powerment. Consider seeing one's self as confident, non-anxious or sufficiently connected to resources and resource people to resolve your issues or, at least, to make them now manageable by clear and resoltute thinking (and a small action plan). Imagine that your honored ancestors are watching you (they are!) and are satisfied, if not outright delighted to see you engage in such self soothing and self-care). MODULE ONE—ANCESTRAL ALTAR FOR YOUR ANCESTORS (YOUR "OJU'RUN" or "ILE RUN" (EGUNGUN) SHRINE, YOUR "OJUGBO" or “BOVEDA,” or YOUR GROUP ANCESTRAL AND SPIRIT-GUIDE SHRINE, the "OJUGBO" OR “SARASA”). Your ile’run (sarasa or boveda) may be set-up in the floor, in a conjuncture of a strong inner walls in the cor- ner of the room in Nigerian fashion (if it is in a house at all) as well as in the Cuban tradition, though in San- teria-Lucumi, it is most often built on a table (with or without a white table cloth). On the wall behind it will go you list of honored ancestors. If you do not know if a particular ancestor was honorable or not, then ask this question at the shrine through ancestral divination (see below). Then place various small objects—especially a wooden statue or statuette—on it as well as nine glasses of water, chip- ped plates and cups for food and drink offerings, pictures of the deceased (and them only), cigars, rum, and so on. What goes on it is highly individualized and personalized. One should also place a single large glass with water in it on the boveda. In other parts of this practice-and-study material there are more details about the construction of one’s Ile’run ('Heavenly home'). or Oju'run ('face of Heaven'). However, at this point it is important to include an atena (a semi-circle with nine radial lines drawn from its center radiating out- ward, equidistant from each other, with efun or cascarilla chalk). Please see your support material that is appended to this guide. For more details on the ile’run. PAGE 8 MODULE TWO The “Ijuba” ("Moyubacion") or Ancestral Praise Recitation This is an "Incantation" (or an "Igede" or "Ogede") An “ijuba” is a praise mantra that is recited from memory at the beginning of all Yorubic rituals and ceremonies. It fol- lows the same sectional format wherever the religion is practiced; in Nigeria, Cuba, the USA, Brasil, and all others places in the world. Its content or “lines” are personally composed by the individual. All practitioners compose and learn one; though their first versions are usually copies of the one that their godparents (padrino or madrina in Spanish, baba or iya in Yoruba) recite. Before long, how ever, it is common to embellish one’s ijuba individually. In ritual work, once the ijuba is recited, then the substantive work of the ritual immediately follows (e.g., additional prayers and invocations, ancestral libations, offerings and sacri- fices, addresses to assemblies, and so on). *Alternatives names for the ijuba in Yoruba are (the) “IBA” or “IBA-SE” (prn. “eeba-shey) or “IBA-e” or “IBA-o"), while in Cuba it is mostly called the Moyuba. The ijuba serves the purpose of a mantra that is used to slightly “heat up” the Head so that one becomes better focused on the ritual at hand and one’s purpose (and it arises from the traditional odu Irete meji—to the best of my recollection). To give one- self variety, it is wise to use all three praise words: “mojuba,” “iba,” and “iba se” inter- changeably. It is fine to say the Ijuba entirely in English, but the sooner one remembers it in Yoruba, the better will be the results will be for achieving the “heating up and concentration” effect of this mantra. PAGE 6 The stages are as follows in the African Isheshe Alagba-aiye (traditional Nigerian system). First, one must present oneself to the shrine. A small container of cool water (a jicara or half-gourd) is needed. Then go down on one's knees (kunle pos- ition), take off one's hat, and lean over and place the forehead on the mat and kiss the mat momentarily. This is called the b’ori ku’le (where one places one's head on the floor--or allows it to "sweep the floor"--in a show of deference and respect. Following this, one would prostrate one's self fully on the floor in the do'ba'le position briefly and say a few words of sal- utation if your ancestral altar is on the floor. But if is using the Santeria-Lucumi style of ancestral veneration, on a table top altar, then a brief kunle is sufficient before standing up a greeting (briefly) the altar. Then the Ijuba proper should begin with the sprinkling of cool water, as below. I. Omi Tutu II. Salutations to God Almighty III. Salutation to Eshu Elegba IV. Salutation to the Orishas (It is acceptable to reverse the order of Parts IV and V) V. Salutations to the Honored Ancestors of One’s Priestly Lineage Salutations to One’s Personal Egungun VI. Invocations of Support and Blessings from One’s Living Priest/ esses and Others Who Give Protection and Support* PAGE 9 _____________ _____________*In Africa this last section is not considered a part of the ijuba, per se, but is viewed as the beginning of the prayers that are part of the ritual, proper.
Your "IJUBA" or "MOYUBA" or "MOYUBACION" (Afro-Latin) (FOR BEGINNERS, MEMORIZE AT LEAST SIX LINES FROM EVERY SECTION BELOW) I. OMI TUTU [SPRINKLE FRESH WATER] “Fresh water, fresh water for the road, Omi tutu, Ona Tutu, Fresh water for the house (gathering), Ile tutu Fresh water for my salutation to my Head Omi tutu fun ori’re mi (with both hands embrace your head and take three sips of the water from the half-gourd. You can also dip the fingers and touch a litte cool water on the forehead, crown of head, and back of the neck). Fresh water for my spiritual power, Ashe tutu (“Spn. “ache”) Fresh water for the Ancestors Egungun tutu House of honor I greet you (3x) (“so be it”) Ile mo ki-o (3x), “Ashe!”) (Ile ọlá ni mo kí nyin) II. PRAISE GOD I praise God the Creator Mojuba Olorun I praise the God of the Heavens Mojuba Olodumare I praise the God of Worldly Affairs Mojuba Oluwa or Olofi So be it! Ashe! I praise the God of today Mojuba olojo oni Today is the child of God. Oni omo Olofin Tomorrow will be the child of God Lola omo Olofin Yesterday was the Child of God Laana omo Olofin Day-after-tomorrow is the child of God Otunla omo Olofin It is God that brings constant rain. O wa ọlọrun ti o mu ojo ojo nigba gbogbo y good fortune is the child of God. Ire mi omo Olofin “Yeild,” "Acquiese" (meaning please per- So eso, Y’ago, Ashe, Adupe my prayer to enter), So be it! Thank you. ___________________________ *There are 2,000 praise names (oriki) for Olodumare. But there is only one direct ceremony dedicated to God practiced in the diaspora--it is called the "Nanga Re- ooo" ("God, please bring us good fortune") ceremony. PAGE 10 III. PRAISE ESHU ELEGUA (Spn. “Echu”--refers to your Eshu rock or “otan”) Please "Yeild," Acquiese (hear me) "Y'ago! So Eso" I praise Eshu Elegba, … Iba Eshu Elegba (Elegba) do not let me suffer death. Ko si iku Do not let me suffer loss misfortune Ko si ofo Do not let me suffer tragedy in this world. Ko si araye Do not let me suffer gossip Ko si isoro Do not let me suffer from fire Ko si ina Do not let me suffer from curses Ko si ifibu (fitibo or epe) Do not let me suffer from bad health Ko si arun or aro Do not let me suffer paralysis Ko si egba Do not let me suffer fighting Ko si ija Do not let me follow bad roads Ko si ona buru Do not me suffer unpaid debts to orishas. Ko si gbogbo osogbo (Cuban) Do not let me suffer misery Ko si osi. Do not let me suffer any bad things Ko si nkan nkan buruku (or gbo mole) Give my world the good fortune of longevit Da aiye fun mi ire ariku Give me the happiness of prosperity. Odun owo Do not let me suffer bad surprises K’odun oma! Give me the odus of Longevity our father. Odun ariku, baba wa (In truth I praise Eshu “To Iban Eshu” (“to” is prn. “taw”) So be it! Ashe-o!, Ashe-o!, Ashe-o! IV. PRAISE ORISHA (These Words Are For Non-Orisha Initiated Persons Who Do Not Yet Possess Orishas). (One Can "Praise" Only Those Orishas That One Has Ritually Received In Afro-Cuban "Lucumi.") Please "Yeild" or "Acquiese" "Y'ago!, So eso (response is "ame") I praise Orishas Iba, Mo Juba, or Iba se orisha I praise all good primoidal orishas Mojuba gbogbo imole (irunmoles), I praise the spirit of orisha in water Iba omi I praise the spirit of orisha in fire Iba ina I praise the spirit of orisha in earth Iba aye (aiye) I praise the spirit of orisha in wind Iba afefe I praise the spirits of our Holy Mothers Iba awon Iyami wa. I praise my spirit (temperament) kindred Iba se awon egbe orun (akika or asege; Heavenly peers & abiku. (Your origination) Resp. is "muso, muso." Iyalode egbe orun is head) I praise the spirit guides (“eguns”) Iba awon Alaseku. I praise the gourd of the World and Iba se igba aiye ati ti igbesi aiye. and all the gourds of Life. PAGE 11 (These Words Are For Orisha Initiated Persons Who Do Possess Orishas). I praise the primordial orishas . Iba se (Egun, Obatala, Oduduwa, Odua etc. if you have received them in ritual) I praise all orisha. Iba se gbogbo orisha (Obatala, Oshun, Yem-, oja, Elegua , Shango, etc., etc.) Ifa please give me ashe and ire. Aboru, aboye, (Resp. is "abosheshe") I greet the one (Ifa) who brings me good Aboru, aboye ire Ifa gba mi o ache. good firtune. So be it! Ashe! V. PRAISE HONORED ANCESTORS (At this point you may start to pound cadence with your Opa Iku / Ancestral staff ) “Yeild,” "Acquiese," meaning please per- So eso, Y’ago, Ashe, Adupe my prayer to enter), So be it! Thank you. Please "Yeild" (to hear me) Ancestors "Y'ago! Egungun! I salute all of my honored ancestors that sit Mojuba egungun ara orun bere l'ojo in Heaven ( just) beneath God. Olodumare. I salute all of the (ATR) priests who sit in Iba gbogbo babal’ochas iku bere Heaven (just) beneath God. l’ojo Olodumare. I salute all of the (ATR) priestesses who sit in Iba gbogbo iyal’ochas iku bere Heaven (just) beneath God l’ojo Olodumare. I salute those who have gone to the river, my Iba gbogbowan olodo, lagba-lagba otoku spiritual ancestors that bow at the foot of God ara orun timbelaye, imbelese Olodu- dumare. I salute the elders of heaven. Mojuba alagba-lagba ara orun. Reverence to the fathers that we salute Iba awon baba to nu (ta bi so nu) follow whowere lost. [If you are initiated into an ATR lineage you may iba the dead priests/esses of that lineage at this point; each followed by “Ibae bayen tonu” which means “ I pay homage to the ancestral forces”]. I salute you, I praise you who have dissappeared Iba e, Iba e, Mo yin o ti o ti dide I salute (clan and national heroes/she-roes) Iba se…..(list) etc. etc. I salute all honored ancestors who were fortunate enough to be buried in the soil of Africa. I salute all of my honored ancestors who died in the Middle Passage I salute all of my honored ancestor who lie buried in …(name places) I salute all of my honored ancestors whose names I may not mention at this time. May you, upon whose shoulders we ride, guide us and protect us…etc. I salute all of my honored heavenly ancestors Mojuba gbogbo egungun ara orun... (such as) I salute (names…..), who has established a place (Name) ibae bayen tona! I salute (names…..) and who takes the lead to guide PAGE 12 V. Salutation to Living Priests and Others of Your Lineage, Family, and Friends [Technically, this is prayer not Ijuba so you may also salute all priests who important to you if you do not have a orisha religion lineage, godparentage, and godsiblings in Yoruba religion] “Yeild,” "Acquiese," meaning please per- So eso, Y’ago, Ashe, Adupe I salute the king of my town! Kawo oba ilu mi! I salute my quick Osun (not Oshun) Ki nkan-kan buburu lo se osun were Greetings to you Who Hold My Secret Ki nkan-kan Awo Ma Se Greetings Ki nkan-kan buburu lo se… Greetings to my family, wife, husband Ki nkan -kan ma se ile mi, ati aya, children, spiritual benefactors etc oko, omo, etc. Blessings from all priest/esses assembled here. Da aiye ire fun iworo. Greetings to my blessed Head) Ki nkan-kan ma se ori ire mi.
[AT THIS TIME YOU MAY SAY YOUR PRAYER; AND PRAY FOR THOSE WHO PRAY FOR YOU AND TO RESPECT THE RESPECTFUL. YOU MAY ALSO AD LIB A FEW PRAYER LINES AND PRAISES THROUGHOUT THE RECITATION OF YOUR IJUBA. BUT THIS IS THE SPOT FOR YOUR MAIN PRAYER]. CONGRADULATIONS! THAT’S IT. NOW START YOUR PRAYERS AND RITUALS AT THIS POINT. FOR EXAMPLE, AT THIS POINT YOU CAN POUR GIN AND DO ANCESTRAL LIBATIONS IF YOU ARE DOING A RITUAL FOR A GROUP. AND AT THE END OF EVERYTHING, DO NOT FORGET TO SALUTE, SAY ORIKI OR SING A SONG TO ESHU ELEGBA OR ESHU GEDE-NIMBO (AN ESHU OF THE DEAD FROM VODOU). *1. Pronounce the Yoruba words carefully with soft vowel sounds (!!!). Do not mess this up!!! If you do you will sound like a “fool”!!! (There are additional pronunciation rules, but at least get this right). A= “Ah…,” “arrest” E= “Egg” I= “Easter O= “Open” U= “Usted” (Spn.) “Ooh, Baby, Baby” 2. Do not betray the horrible ignorance of attempting to “iba” or invoke (or ritualize) a SPECIFIC orisha in your Ijuba that you have not ritually received from a priest that has that orisha to, among other things, “birth” for others, or allow others to invoke, that specific orisha. If you wish to truly iba an orisha, find such a person who has possesses (has) received that orisha and is willing to give you permission to do so. And never call an orisha priest solely by the name of his or her Olori (Head orisha). PAGE 12 However, you can iba Eshu (because you will have an otan of Eshu) and you can Iba Ifa because your obi-agbon has been washed in the omiero (“Holy Water”) of Ifa, but no others. Just iba orishas generally or iba their earthly representations like “rivers,” ”rain,” “wind”, “fire” etc. if you want to salute their egun spirits, their ebora. (In Santeria-Lucumi say “I salute the spirit of the Rivers” not “I salute Oshun,” unless you have “received” Oshun ritually). Also please note, you cannot ritually work with only the earthly representations of orishas (except for the consecrated rock or otan (representing “oyigiyigi” –“the rock of ages”) of your Eshu.. In other words, even though Oshun is the New World owner of rivers, and she may take ebbo there, it will only be bec- ause her spirit--which dwells in her consecrated otans (ritual rocks), her consecrated shells, her in- voked odus and incantations, or the olori’s spirit (put to the “Head” of her “horse” (elegun) which has spoken ofo ashe (dir- ective words of power) and so directed such an ebbo. Similarly, you cannot just go to the edge of the woods and start shouting orikis to Ogun on the theory that without the spirit of Ogun —first man- ifesting in one of the forms (or odu Ifa) described above—you will be successful. You will have achieved nothing with or from Ogun except getting hoarse. In Yoruba (Santeria-Lucumi) you cannot "invent” rituals regardless of how “spiritual” or “wise” you think you are. We insist that all with whom we deal steadfastly respect the “oro” or traditions; no exceptions. PAGE 10 MODULE THREE
DIVINATION TO ANCESTORS WITH THE OUTER-SHELLS OF THE COCONUT (THE "OBINU") OF THE COCONUT ("AGBON”) USING THE AFRO-CUBAN "CHAMALONGA" METHOD (SIMILAR TO THE"BIAGUE" METHOD OF USING THE WHOLE COCO- NUT PIECES) SHARED BY ORISHA RELIGION (LA REGLA DE O'CHA) AND CONGO RELIGION (LA REGLA DE PALO MOYOMBE) PRACTITIONERS IN CUBA 1. Get out a piece of paper and a pen. Write the general (or specific) questions that you want to ask of your ancestral oracle; leaving a good amount of space between the questions so that you may add incid- ental questions should they pop-up during the divination session. 2. Once the coconut has been prayed to with: "(Y)ago Obi! Obi, see the true me; do no give me “yes” for “no,” nor “no” for “yes.” After opening the four pieces of shells remove and “paint” with efun or cascarilla chalk on the inside or concave side, one lays out the mat (or on the floor) and draws the circular atena (diagram) on the floor with the efun chalk (or cascarilla). 1. Get out a piece of paper and a pen. Write the general (or specific) questions that you want to ask of your ancestral oracle; leaving a good amount of space between the questions so that you may add incid- ental questions should they pop-up during the divination session. 2. Once the coconut has been prayed to with: "(Y)ago Obi! Obi, see the true me; do no give me “yes” for “no,” nor “no” for “yes.” After opening the four pieces of shells remove and “paint” with efun or cascarilla chalk on the inside or concave side, one lays out the mat (or on the floor) and draws the circular atena (diagram) on the floor with the efun chalk (or cascarilla). FIRST, DRAW A WHITE CIRCLE WITH WITH EFUN ABOUT 15 INCHES IN DIAMETER SECOND, DRAW AND INNER WHITE CIRCLE ANOUT 12 INCHES IN DIAMETER (This is real 'ol skool !) * THEN SAY YOUR IJUBA IN ITS ENTIRETY PAGE 13 THEN SAY YOUR PRAYERS OR EXPLANATIONS OF YOUR PLANNED INQUIRIES 3. The next thing to do is to recite the Ijuba. This mantra is to “heat up” your mental concentration and to center you away from distracting thoughts. The phenomenon is called Isiri (I-si-ri) or to “jump start” your ori by mantra. This practice was born in the olodu Irete meji, said my padrino, Roberto Clemente (Anya bi Osun, Ibae bayen to nu!) This will allow your thoughtful (not ritual) creativity, “Ele’eda,” and your good Head (ori ‘re’re) to emerge. When you have finished the Ijuba and the prayers to your satisfaction, you are almost ready to ask the Ancestors the questions you have in mind.
“PRESENT” THE COCONUT ("OBINU') SHELLS TO YOUR BODY 4. As follows: (A) front of head (Iwaju), (B) top of head (Atari), (C) Back of neck (Ipako)* (D) right shoulder (Otun), (E) left shoulder (Osi), (F) sternum (Eri Okan) (G) solar plexis (Ori Inu), (H) right knee (Kunle), (I) left knee (Kunle Meji) (J) right foot (Ese) and (K) left foot (Ese Meji). ____________________________ *The complete phrase is "Eshu ni pa ko" which means '(Do not) Eshu decapitate me.' 5. Then hold them in both hands at chest level and nod head toward them saying: “To--Iban Eshu, To” (Pronounce "to" as “taw”--derives from truth or otito in Yoruba). 6. PRESENT THE OBINU SHELLS TO YOUR ANCESTRAL ALTAR (I.E., YOUR "ILE'RUN" OR "OJU'RUN") (A) Holding them in both hands, repeatedly touch them to the altar saying: “Obi does not announce death” (“Obi n’ibi iku”) “Obi does not announce sickness” (“Obi n’ibi aro”) “Obi does not announce loss” (“Obi n’ibi ofo”)
(Other problems you want to avoid?….See the “Ko si'ku" section in Part II, above) * (B) Then holding them in the left hand, held side-ways in a fist, tap on top of the open- right hand, fist with the cupped right hand, and Then point with the pointer finger of the right hand pointed to the earth and repeat: "Earth I call on you." (“ile mo pe o”) "Earth I call on you." (“ile mo pe o”) "Earth I call on you." (“ile mo pe o”) “Akweye” (“Akweye”) PAGE 14 (C) Then switch the the shells into the right, side-ways fist, and tap on it with the open- palmed left hand saying: "Earth I call on you." (“ile mo pe o”) "Earth I call on you." (“ile mo pe o”) "Earth I call on you." (“ile mo pe o”) "Akweye" (“Akweye”) AFTER THAT (E) Tap the right fist containing the shells on to the altar or the jar/vessel containing the orishas' implements, saying: * “The earth is abundant” (“Ile mocu o”) “The earth is abundant” (“Ile mocu o”) “The earth is abundant” (“Ile mocu o”) PAGE 12 AND (F) Tap the left hand's fingers containing the shells on to the ground right after saying "I invite you to worship." (“Akweye”) THEN
(G) Tap the left fist containing the shells on to the altar or the jar/vessel containing the orishas' implements, saying: “The earth is abundant” (“Ile mocu o”) “The earth is abundant” (“Ile mocu o”) “The earth is abundant” (“Ile mocu o”) AND (H) Tap the left hand's fingers containing the shells on to the ground right after saying “I invite you to worship” (“Akweye”) Others who may be around you should also say "Akweye" (one time) as the response to your salutation AND ( I ) Tap the sopera or shrine and say: "Obi hails survival" (Obi ke nye) "Obi hails avoidance" (Obi ke nye) "Obi hails satisfaction" (Obi ke nyo) "Obi hails happiness" (Obi ke nyo). (7) Finally, hold the stack of obi coconut shell pieces near your mouth and ask aloud or quietly your question, then bend over and hold the obi stack with both hands, at knee height (!!), bend over and say: “I cast obi to you ancestors” (“Obi egungun”) (8) And then let them drop to the mat or floor. Read the “sign” that falls on the mat (see below) and keep track of the questions and answers. PAGE 15 THE RULES AND ETHICS FOR QUESTIONING WHEN DOING DIVINATION (A). Do not ask that which in your oju inu (your “inner eye”) you fully well know the answer. (B). If you get a full “No/Unknowable” answer, stop that line of questioning (do not bullshit yourself by trying to be evasive and re-frame a question that was clear enough in the first place). (C). Ancestors can always be consulted (the obi shells do not deteriorate), but do not open up their oracle if you are tired, likely to be interrupted (turn the phone off), or if youhave to go to work within a short time because the oracle might not let you close in time). (D) Ask clear and unambiguous questions that can be answered “yes” or “no.” Do not ask two-part questions or contingency (“if…”) questions. Take the time to ask the questions in a linear sequence. Jot down the answers in each “line” (area) of questioning if you so need. PAGE 13 (E) Divine only for yourself; never for another person (but you may ask your ancestor to confirm reject things that you may say to another person about questions they may have of concern to them, but not with them present.) (F) Divine on a perfectly flat straw mat if you have the option, but the floor is alright if necessary. Of course, divine in front of your ile’run or sarasa. (G) If you are a man watching the ancestral divination of another, it is alright if they permit. If you are a woman, you can watch the divination process of a man (if permitted) but whenthe shells are dropped you must turn your back until he picks them up. Stick to the traditions though they have numerous gender asymmetries (in both directions)! (H) When you ask a question be prepared to ask clarifying questions; that is called a line of questioning. When you are satisfied that your questioning in that line has been satisfied,ask if you can “close” that line (by asking “ebbo da, ebbo fin?” If the answer is “yes” then go to the next line of questioning. If the answer is “no” then you must ask clarifying questions like: PAGE 16 --Is there something or some area of questioning related to this topic that I have not posed that I need to? --Is there something that you want me to do that I have not done? (Then ask what? Offerings, cleansing, actions you need to take, etc.)? --Is there something that you want me to offer that I have not offered (Then “what?” and “to whom?”) --Is there something that I have been doing that you want me to stop? (Then name things related to your line of questioning that might need to be stopped). --Is there something that I have not been doing that you want me to start? (Then name things related to your line of questioning that might need to start). After each successive question in the derivative line of questions, again ask can I close this line of questioning?— “ebbo da? , ebbo fin”?—and act accordingly. If the answer is “no” then keep asking questions and proposing answers, lines of action, or things to do until you get a “yes” to the “ebbo da, ebbo fin?” question. Once you get a “yes” to an “ebbo da, ebbo fin” question then you may go to the next question or question topic (and its possible derivative line of sub-questions). (I) When you have been allowed by the Ancestors to end all lines of questions that you had in had in mind, then ask can you close the Oracle? If “yes,” then bend over, kiss the mat or floor where you were casting the shells, cross your heart, thank the Ancestors, throw the water out into the street, and go on about your business (and do the ebbos as soon as possible!). If the answer is “no” then it means that you have not asked the questions on topics that they think are important. Do not cheat! Start proposing other topical areas for questioning and see what they say. Complete the divination session until you get a “yes” to the question of whether or not you can “close.” (J) If you know that you are going to do something that is anxiety-provoking (regardless), do not ask if you can do it (in other words, do not ask something that you already know the answer to) but you may ask—if your planned course of conduct is risky—does ire (goodness) lie in my path if I do so and, if not, is there an offering (or sacrifice) of something to some entity that I can do to assure that my conduct results in ire for me? PAGE 14 (K) Open the oracle as needed, but unless a circumstance has really changed, try not to repeat the same questions more than once a lunar month. (L) Do not overly consult with the biague method, i.e., coconut shell divination to ancestors, doing so weekly should be enough--if that often (unless you are holding out for a "firm" answer--see immediately below). HOW TO “READ” THE ANSWERS THE ANCESTORS GIVE. The five possible “signs” for each “throw” are as follows where: “O” (concave side up or “speaking”) or “X” (convex side up or “not speaking”) PAGE 17 are: “ALAFIA” = 0 0 0 0 [CHANT "ALAFIA NI!, ADUPE" ] [PEACE IS HERE~THANKS] This means “yes, yes” but is unstable (too good to be true) so you must throw again to confirm or disconfirm this kind of “yes, yes” because it may be Obatala speaking. [ For initiated priests, after "Alafia" you can always ask if it is Shango speaking? If so, since he only speaks once, no need for confir- mation. But if not then cast for a confirmation]. Speaking are Obatala and Shango. "Don't put your head in the clouds; use total committment and control to produce and preserve the good outcome. “ETAWA” = 0 0 0 X [CHANT "ETAWA WO, ETAWA MA, ETAWA EGUN, IKU BABA WA"] [THREE-WAY STRUGGLE AMONG US, ME AND DEATH] [THE SON WILL CARRY THE WEIGHT OF THE FATHER" ] Do a second throw. The second throw is the true answer to the question. Etawa-Oyeku = Elen- ini =The matter is beyond spiritual redemption; it lies strictly inside the ambit of the personality. Speaking are Shango, Aganju and Elegba * “EJIFE” = O O X X This means a resounding and stable “yes”; no need to confirm. ("IT TAKES TWO TO LOVE]. Speaking are Elegba, Obatala, Yemaya, Oshun and Ibeji * “OKANA SORDE” = O X X X This means “no (but something can be done to make the answer "yes"). No need to confirm. (Just ask related and relevant questions about an alternative method to address, approach, or resolve the question at hand. The struggle fails because of one thing. Therefore, consider a notably dif- ferent approach to your questions or proposed options. But be sure to ac- cept the "no" to the question as you originally stated and meant it. Be hon- est. Speaking are Oya, Elegba, Shango, Egun * “OYEKU” = X X X X This means “no” (because the answer is unfathomable to us with this or- acle method. So stop this line of questioning now and go to an orisha priest for a cowrie shell (dilogun) reading or to a babalawo for an Ifa read- ing to get an answer or insight into this question.”) Speaking are Babalu, Aganju, Olokun, Odua, and Egun *There are many additional protocols for interpreting these “signs” (or letras, in Spanish), but I will explain many more of them to you in person. (You can hold out for only "firm" answers--Alafia, Ejife, or Oyeku--to a really important question by waiting a few days to repeat such a question if you got "Etawas" or "Okanas" the first time around). *PAGE 18 * “BIRTHING” OR CONSECRATION OF THE ANCESTOR STAFF (OPA IKU, OPA EGUN, OPA’SIKU, PAGUGU, IGI EGUN ARE VARIOUS NAMES OF THIS ARTIFACT FROM EGUNGUN SOCIETY)) MODULE FOUR--ANCESTRAL STAFF (YOUR “OPA EGUN” OR “OPA IKU”) The last vestige of our traditional Yoruba egungun society of masqueraders that venerated the Dead ancestors in the New World is the “Opa Egun” (or “Opa Iku”)—the death stick used for summoning the dead. (Technically, during an orisha init- iation, there are nine little sticks of special wood which have a “ribbon” attached to the top of each (the symbolic “ropes”) used to symbolically—as a “whip”-- flail the new initiate which represents the atori whips used by members of the Egungun societies). But as a gen- eral matter, there are few Egungun egbes in the New World. The following is a paragraph taken from your appended study materials:
Such a staff is ideally made from ukhere tree, cedar, bamboo or cane wood, where possible, but any strong wood or cane be used. Also, in Africa (where egungun society exists, the Opa Egun would have the head of a man or of a snake carved into the top). African Americans must do it differently because the stick—for us-- would also have to have seven (for a female), eight (for a twin), or nine (for a male) pieces of different colored cloth or ribbons (no red) attached to the top and covered by a white handker- chief. The cloth strips could also have bells attached to them (a Benin tradition where the staff would be made of metal and called an “aswe”; which is also “fed” blood, gin and prayer. The use of the staff is to invoke the ancestors and to keep cadence when songs and prayers are being said to them. The washing of this staff with water, oshe dudu (Nigerian black soap), omiero (a liquid made up of water, leaves and other substances) occurs before the staff is "fed" a blood sacrifice (an eb- bo eje) which consecrates it. This must be done only by an initiated priest using the proper prayers and procedures!
Ancestral songs and praise phrases (oriki) to the dead spirits are offered as reverence as well using this staff. MODULE FIVE: COMMUNION WITH THE DEAD [CALLING, MEDITATING WITH AND FEEDING THE DEAD AS AN INDIVIDUAL OR FAMILY] Greetings You may and should greet your Ancestor at least once daily, especially in the mornings. One may simply kunle before them (kneel down on the right knee, bow one’s head, and tap the floor in front of the sar- asa) and say a greeting or recite an oriki to them (or pray). Also, it is good to salute them just before leaving your home daily. *Feeding You may and ideally should place samples of the foods you eat and drink on or in the chipped plates and cups each day, and take it away before retiring. They eat what you eat, or what they would have liked when they were living. If, in preparing food in your kitchen, some falls to the floor, be sure to give egun some of that food. They are asking for it. Feasts can be held in their honor. There is a special feast for the Dead which you will know, if you hap- pen to attend one, because there in the middle of the table will be placed a roasted pigs head. The pig is considered especially sacred for our sub-Saharan ancestors. Whatever you do, do not comment negat- ively on this tradition that sacrilizes a rooting and fecund animal like the pig. The pig has the same an- cestral sacredness as the yam in our root cultures of west and central Africa (which are the only“roots” that we have, as a practical matter)* *PAGE 19 Many African Americans have been taught by Mediterranean-based Egyptianists, Jews, Christians and Muslims to demonize the pig. By “black” (sub-saharan) African cultural customs, this is wrong, wrong, wrong. (And it is even wrong in respect of KMT, as the pig was a sacred and useful animal as it was necessary for the sanitation of the areas where it was kept from human garbage and wastes. It was also sacred for other reasons. Get rid of this bias. Now, for dietary preference and, putative, health reasons—though it is largely baseless—one might not “eat pork.” So do not eat it if you feel like this. But revulsion of the pig is nothing more than a culturally-learned conditioned reflex based in Mediter- ranean biases and his- tory. Do not reject it (and, in those ceremonies, note that it is not eaten; being there for purely symbolic and ritual reasons). *Prayer, Meditation, and Consultation You may and should consult with them anytime that you like. You may also use the large glass on the altar for water-gazing as a method of meditation (meditation simply means dwelling on one thought at a time; a little harder than one imagines until trained to do so. We are not into all of the “mindlessness” and “real-world nullification” rhetoric and philosophy of the Eastern religions. Pick a thought, a mantra or mandala image of your choice, train yourself to resist intrusive thoughts for as long as you can, and you will then become relaxed (smooth breathing cycles) and “centered.” Meditation is not "rocket scien- ce.” Once “settled” it is a good time to think of the kinds of questions that you may want your ancestors to answer in a formal or informal divination session. They are especially good for consultations of your moral and ethical (and behavioral) questions going to your interpersonal relationships and choices for conduct. APPENDIX—THEOLOGICAL RESOURCE MATERIALS PART A CONCEPTS RELATED TO ANCESTRAL VENERATION
FUNERALS ("ISIKU") FOR NON-INITIATED FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS—SIMPLE PRACTICES
It is doubtful that you will have the need for or participate in a Yorubic funerals so I will not list notes for that, but some ritual in this regard may be useful to you. Itutu (is an ebbo or atonement ritual) made simple could look like this. This may useful for the burial of non-initiated priest/esses. * --Announce with great apparent pain the death of a family member and look that way (like you are seriously distressed. They are watching to see that you are distressed. * --Cleanse the corpse with sacred leaves and the elixir made from them (omiero). * --Dress the corpse in his or her favorite clothing; no red cloth. * --Consecrate the burial site (cremation is not a part of ATR’s, but can be done in the West) with blood offerings (ebbo eje). * --Place foodstuffs and spiritual implements to help with his or her transition. * --Erect a special shrine for nine days and carry out ceremonies there. During this period elevate a picture of the deceased by its own height on a wall each day at the shrine. * --At the end of nine days break the shrine (deconstruct it) to symbolize the separation. * --Put the picture and objects, foods, etc. liked by the deceased on the family ile’run. * --Each day sing songs and hymns that would have been liked, and recite (or compose praise poems (oriki) or proverbs from any little book (a small book containing inspirational verbiage should always be on the ancestral shrine. Little Bibles are common. And a wood carving (statuette), or more than one, should be at the ile'run (altar) etishizing the ancestors, the anjanu, have not completed their cross-over into the spirit world; the elegungun(s) can talk to them.
PAGE 20 THE YORUBIC-NIGERIAN BACK-DROP TO THE AFFAIRS OF THE DEAD --WE CYCLE BETWEEN EARTH (IKOLE AIYE) AND HEAVEN (IKOLE ORUN) about every four gener- ations—80 years or so. Reincarnation is called "Atunwa" or "Atunbi." --WE REINCARNATE: AIYE IS THE MARKET-PLACE OF EXPERIENCE. And so it once was for the spirits of the orishas. We have a saying: “The youngest leaves of the tree grow closet to God.” This means that we best treat and train our children well because one day we are going to reincarnate back into this place and lineage and we can only hope that current elders, who were once the children that we left be- hind, improved the world and not ‘blown it’ through irreverence and bad character. We would prefer not to come back into a world full of “osogbos” (unpaid spiritual debts and afflictions).” Our hope is that Amuniwaye (a praise name for Olodumare; from omodu “Ejioko-Oshe”), will allow one’s heavenly guard- ian ancestor (the joto) to sponsor a return to earth (aiye) and to give us a new body and a new destiny; whereupon we will be “washed” through water (amniotic fluid) back into the world (aiye), just as we were washed out of it at the time of death when we were sent ‘down the river' (in a “canoe”). Among other things, a babalawo can identify the joto and be able to explain aspects of the newborn’s new des-tiny from that information. Death (iku) keeps the world fresh like a running river. For us, we were 'wash- ed in' to Birth and we shall be 'washed out' of it at Death. "ORI" CONCEPTS "ORI" IS MAINLY ONE'S "HEAD," ONE'S "DESTINY," AND ONE'S INTELLIGENCE") AND THIS IS WHAT LIFE AND DEATH PERPETUALLY RECYCYLE --"ORI" IS A TERM THAT HAS SEVERAL RELATED MEANINGS: (1) Ori means physical head (2) Ori means one’s three-part destiny (the resources and conditions you are born into that can be modified by you actions, the immutable aspects of your destiny—gender, lineage—and, finally, your life “plot” or “des- tiny” proper). (3) Ori also can be a constructed ritual object—an artifact—that can be used for rituals to stand-in for one’s personal “ori.” (4) Ori is sometimes used to denote “intelligence” or “mentality” (e.g., ori’ re’re or "ori ire ire"). (5) One’s conscience or inner-self (felt as located in one’s solar plexus-navel area) is an aspect of one’s ori that accompanies one to earth. It is the “ori inu,” the ori-okan ("eriokan" or heart conscience), or the ori apere or asiniwaye.” (6) Ori is also to related to hair style (orun ori) as an expression of inner self-composure, beauty, and group identification. (7) One's persona is ori ode. (8) Ori, as “Head” is the basis of the Yoruba word for a “god”--orisha: “Ori (Head)-Sha (selected). And (9) praise songs for the orishas are called Orin. *"Ori" has many meanings. Fingertips are orika. They can be used to ebbo the head with certain gestures through settling motions like raking the head five times from back to front to settle one's nerves (from Oshun) or like using the “Saturn finger” of ori alignment with the water-wetted middle finger of a priest drawing a line from the bridge of the nose up over the crown of the "Head" and down to a certain point at the base of the skull where spiritual power enters the Head (called ori osise--where the work of the head starts) as when a Catholic priest "christens" a baby. A consciously bad person has an ori buruku or ori ibi (head in state of contraction or osogbo) and may be beyond spiritual redemption (that is, lost in and to elenini). Ori is also shea butter and wild white pigeons which are sometimes caught and allowed to fly free as a sacrifice to Obatala after they have been used to "ebbo" (cleanse) the Head. This is called an ebbo'leri (as this does not spill blood; something Obatala generally does not like). The orisha Ogun protects the Head with his diplomacy and, where that fails, his iron weapons. Inspiration for the head is called isiri ('to work the ori'). Finally, our culture's "ego ideal" (for you) is called your iponri and the ori inu is, as stated above, is our "super-ego." Our introspection is called the oju inu ("inner eye"). When the iponri is "introversive" in nature, then the ori inu will be extroverted in nature and vice versa. When a man or woman cross-dresses (e.g., an ilari priest or "messenger of Shango" can cross-dress in executing his duties) it has nothing to do with sexuality. It signifies the opposite complimentariness of the the iponri, ("the ego ideal in Heaven; your template"), on the one hand, and the ori inu, on the other hand. Your “Head” or ori is your most important personal orisa and is periodically given offerings and must be “tuned up” and strengthen it. Feeding the Head embodies the idea of praising it and, hence, the term “ib(a)-ori”= “ibori.” Feeding the Head, proper, is called or “ebbo’leri” (also called abori) and helps the person re-align his or her ori inu with the iponri and also to acquire wisdom ("ogboni")—specifical- ly, 'the wisdom of the Earth' ("Onile")'--from Odua, who was a primoidal version of Obatala, as a person passes through the stages of maturity (agoge). Since this allows the individual’s inner self rise to the level (or at least approach) orisha possession at times and have “mystic visions" (iweju). PAGE 21 The “super-ego” or conscience, the eriokan, is located” in the solar plexus-navel area. It is the “ori-ate” (or iponri)--the morally highest “template” of self that resides in heaven--is used to refurbish the moral-self at times of reincarnation. This realignment is, on earth, ritually called a “rogation” or ‘feeding' of the Head which a minimally competent orisha priest or babalawo should be able to do. A master of ritual ceremonies in the Cuban Lucumi version of Yoruba religion is called an oba oriate; 'one who sits at the head of the mat of divination and ritual.' --WHEN ONE RE-INCARNATES, ONES “SELF” OR “ORI” IS WHAT RE-CYCLES—hopefully—good form and expressing a new and good destiny that is chosen in Heaven by Emi. Hence, ancestry is tied up to the re-cycling of Ori(s). The dispenser or molder of the beginning and end of one’s “destiny” is Ajalamopin. This is done at the behest of Olodumare who breathes Emi (imi) –the soul breath of life--into each person. This destiny is recorded by Heavenly scribes (“bone owners”) called the aludundun orishas and witnessed by your Head orisa or your Olori or Eleri. Its three parts are, again: the life-span “plan” or plan (akunl-eyan), the resources and conditions of life that you will have to work with (akunlegba), and the immutable as-pects of your destiny like your gender and family line (ayanmo-ipin). The ability for the person to see this—more or less—is generic to life through “eye power” (oju ashe)—the human potential for perception. (The "third eye" is called Iwaju--forehead--meaning the face or eyes of "sight." Olodumare’s role is also to impart Ele’eda (spirit of creativity) into your Head and, as mentioned, soul breath (emi) into your body (your ere or ara) . “Ele’eda” is to Ori what Ela (spirit of pure insight) is to Orunmila –both creative precursors and alter-egos. An “altar” (vessel) to one’s Head can be constructed for ritual use; it is called an Ibori. A baby arrives with a three-part destiny, as mentioned, which is read by a babalawo (the imori ceremony) at three days of age and is before the baby’s feet are allowed to touch the ground in the essentaiye ceremony. This is also called the "naming ceremony" where the names are given to the baby by family well-wishers that also reflect his or her new destiny. While it must be remembered that it is Obatala who brought light into the world, it was Ela who first split off light from darkness at a primoidal cosmic level.To warrant reincarnation one, in life, would have, ideally, been productive, been reproductive (or helped others with natal or priestly children), and left behind good children. And, while in Heaven before coming to Earth one typically should do many ebbos (sacrifices) there so that your life on Earth will be long and smooth. Otherwise, you may have to do them while on Earth. Please see the excellent essay on ori's many meanings entitled "Ori" by the art and culture historian and scholar Babatunde Lawal, "Current Features/ Previous Features," VII: 2/ Winter 2001/ Spring 2002, fromwhich drew upon to restate these iterations of the term "ori."
--EGUN or EEGUN means (bones) “spirit” or iwin (ghost) of something that once had bones; that was once living. All orishas have egun spirits themselves. They often accompany the orishas and manifest in the real world. Egunyegun refers to the specific bones of one’s ancestors. All ancestors are “eguns,” but not all “eguns” are one’s personal ancestors. Egun is an orisha--the first one!-- not to be confused with the avenger Iku (death). but then all orishas are or “have” eguns as well, as said above. (1) “In the beginning” there were five primoidal powers (or irunmoles): first Olodumare (a title for God Almighty), next Egun (original orisha ancestor), next Obatala (the eventual shaper and progenitor of humanity), next Orunmila (the formless god of pervasive knowledge) and then Eshu (the god of communications, fickle-appearing fates, twists and paradoxes in life) who is also a primoidal force in the Un- iverse. In a sense they were all there to witness Creation. Additionally, there were, near “the beginning, 401 beneficial orishas (irunmoles) and 200 malevolent spirits or "hit men" (and women) called ajogunsor avengers. (2) It is said that “Egun comes first” in reverence (actually Eshu Elegbara comes first in the ritual com- munication of reverence). This means that “Egun bi orisha”—“Egun (pushed) birthed orishas.” Some- times, in Santeria-Lucumi jargon, “egun” refers to any and all spirits other than known orishas and some- times—in both Santeria-Lucumi and Nigerian jargon the word is sometimes used with some disdain--implying that some “egun” entities signify a curse or imprecation. PAGE 22 (3) Ancestors can visit after “shape-shifting” into other animal forms. And our honored ancestors are most often benevolent and do not need to be asked for blessings, per se. They have clairevoyant and other powers that we in carnal form do not possess. --THE BETTER THE CHARACTER WE HAD IN A LIFETIME, the more likely we will reincarnate into our same family lineage, finding even improved conditions of life, and an even more auspicious new destiny--especially if one does sufficient ebbos when still in Heaven! When here in the world we are expected to be productive, reproductive, aspire to good and gentle character (iwa pele, mostly), periodically align our inner conscience’ or ori inu (our “super-egos, also called our eriokan) with our heavenly personality or ‘ori-ate’ (our heaveny ori-template) and leave behind good children. Needless to say, honoring—while alive--our good personal and group ancestors as well as the orishas. Our “Ori” and our “Olori” (i.e., our ori’s “owner” and guidance orisha or guardian “Saint” in Santeria-Lucumi; the orisha one gets "initiated to" or "crowned with"), our “spirit guides,” and the members of our heavenly egbe (Heavenly similar “emotional” or temperamental mates that remain in heaven after we have returned here to earth)–-all in their places require remembrance, respect, and devotion. Note: the term “egbe” most often refers to our mundane “groups,” “lodges,” “associations,” or societies but there are heavenly “egbes” made up of our temperamental “mates.” Finally, our culture's "ego ideal" (for you) is called your iponri (one's Heavenly blue print ego ideal)and the ori inu is, as stated above, is our "super-ego." Our introspection is called the ori oju inu ("inner eye"). When the iponri is "introversive" in nature, then the ori inu (inner self) will be extroverted in nature and vice versa. When a man or woman cross-dresses (e.g., an ilari priest or "messenger of Shango" can cross-dress in executing his duties) it has nothing to do with carnal sexuality. It signifies the opposite gender complimentariness of the the iponri, on the one hand, and the ori inu, on the other. The bi-gendered nature of the ori-ode ilari priest signifies that wholeness requires the recognition of both genders. --"ORI" IS A TERM THAT HAS SEVERAL RELATED MEANINGS: (1) Ori means physical head (2) Ori means one’s three-part destiny (the resources and conditions you are born into that can be modified by you actions, the immutable aspects of your destiny—gender, lineage—and, finally, your life “plot” or “destiny” proper). (3) Ori also can be a constructed ritual object—an artifact—that can be used for rit- uals to stand-in for one’s personal “ori.” (4) Ori is sometimes used to denote “intelligence” or “ment- ality” (e.g., ori’ re’re or "ori ire ire"). (5) One’s conscience or inner-self (felt as located in one’s solar plexus-navel area) is an aspect of one’s ori that accompanies one to earth. It is the “ori inu,” the ori-okan ("eriokan" or heart conscience), or the ori apere or asiniwaye.” (6) Ori is also to related to hair style (orun ori) as an expression of inner self-composure, beauty, and group identification. (7) One’s persona is ori ode. (8) Ori, as “Head” is the basis of the Yoruba word for a “god”--“Ori (Head)-Sha (selected) or orisha. And (9) praise songs for the orishas are called orin. *Your “Head” or ori is your most important personal orisa and, periodically, “sacrifices” or offerings must be made to it in order to “tune it up” and strengthen it. Feeding the Head embodies the idea of praising it and, hence, the term “ib(a)-ori”= “ibori.” Feeding the Head, proper, is called or “ebbo’leri” (also called abori) and helps the person re-align his or her ori inu with the iponri and also to acquire wisdom ("ogboni")—specifically, 'the wisdom of the Earth' ("Onile")'--from Odua, who was a primoidal version of Obatala, as a person passes through the stages of maturity (agoge). Since this allows the individual’s inner self rise to the level (or at least approach) orisha possession at times and have “mystic visions" (iweju). The “super-ego” or conscience, the eriokan, is located” in the solar plexus-navel area. It is the “ori-ate” (or iponri)--the morally highest “template” of self that resides in heaven--is used to refurbish the moral-self at times of reincarnation. This realignment is, on earth, ritually called a “rogation” or ‘feeding' of the Head which a minimally competent orisha priest or babalawo should be able to do. A master of ritual ceremonies in the Cuban Lucumi version of Yoruba religion is called an oriate; 'one who sits at the head of the mat of divination and ritual.' *--WHEN ONE REINCARNATES, ONES “SELF” OR “ORI” IS WHAT RE-CYCLES—hopefully—in good form and expressing a new and good destiny that is chosen in Heaven by Emi. Hence, ancestry is tied up to the re-cycling of Ori(s). The dispenser or molder of the beginning and end of one’s “destiny” is Ajalamopin. This is done at the behest of Olodumare who breathes Emi –the soul breath of life--into each person. This destiny is recorded by Heavenly scribes (“bone owners”) called the aludundun orishas and witnessed by your Head orisa or your Olori or Eleri. Its three parts are, again: the life-span “plan” or plan (akunleyan), the resources and conditions of life that you will have to work with (akunlegba), and the immutable aspects of your destiny like your gender and family line (ayanmo-ipin). The ability for the person to see this—more or less—is generic to life through “eye power” (oju ashe)—the human potential for perception. PAGE 23 Olodumare’s role is also to impart Ele’eda (spirit of creativity) into your Head and, as mentioned, soul breath (emi) into your body (your ere or ara) . “Ele’eda” is to Ori what Ela (spirit of pure insight) is to Orunmila –both creative precursors and alter-egos. An “altar” (vessel) to one’s Head can be constructed for ritual use; it is called an Ibori. A baby arrives with a three-part destiny, as mentioned, which is read by a babalawo (the imori ceremony) at three days of age and is before the baby’s feet are allowed to touch the ground in the essentaiye ceremony. (ThFeet are actually places on the ipon tray of the babalawo first).This is also called the "naming ceremony" where the names are given to the baby by family well-wishers that also reflect his or her new destiny. To warrant reincarnation one, in life, would have, ideally, been productive, been reproductive (or helped others with natal or priestly children), and left behind good children. And, while in Heaven before coming to Earth one typically should do many ebbos (sacrifices) there so that your life on Earth will be long and smooth. Otherwise, you may have to do them while on Earth. Please see the excellent essay on ori's many meanings entitled "Ori" by the art and culture historian and scholar Babatunde Lawal, "Current Features/ Previous Features," VII: 2/ Winter 2001/ Spring 2002, from which drew upon to restate these iterations of the term "ori." * (3) Ancestors can visit after “shape-shifting” into other animal forms. And our honored ancestors are most often benevol- ent and do not need to be asked for blessings, per se. They have clairvoyant and other powers that we in carnal form do not possess. EGUNGUN ARE THE SPECIFIC ANCESTORS OF AN INDIVIDUAL, FAMILY OR GROUP, e.g., those of a family, guild, or egbe (society) who can returned to earth from Heaven or sacred grooves by summons or on their own initiative. In Nigeria they return to earth (aiye) in the form of masqueraded dancers and entertainers in parades and spectacles. And all ceremonies in Santeria-Lucumi honor egungun spirits first, e.g., with libations before veneration of orishas begins. In Africa there are egbes or cult societies of egungun. They, among others, deal with matters of funerals because families must insure that they are done properly or else the irritated egungun ancestral spirit can cause more disease and suffering to af-flict them. The egungun societies also monitors community morality, consultation to the populace, en- tertainment of ‘morality stories,’ the conveyance of messages from the family’s, community’s (or guild’s) ancestors and with pronouncements on and the punishment of moral transgressors in the community. The tradition probably originated among the Oyo Yoruba under the guidance of Shango who--some say ---brought it to them from the Nupe area. The first egungun for the Yoruba was Shango’s father Oran- yan. Now many other Yoruba groups and other tribes (like the Igbo, who dress them in raffia, not cloth) have the cult or an analogue to it. The modern cults were originated in Yorubaland (old Oyo) near the begin- ning of the 19th century. Members of the cult are called “Oje” in the Oyo region, and Ele-egungun "own- ers of egungun”). This status is achieved by going through a ceremony in the egungun cult called “iseku” -----the creative elevation of the Dead. The head of an egbe Egungun is called an “alagba” (elder). They also compose orikis and oriles which are chanted praise legends, creeds, mantras attesting to the deeds and char- acters of one’s family of ancestors (or ancestral totem animal spirits). Sometimes egun- gun would lead the community’s fighters into war. As heavenly bodies egungun are sometimes referred to as “ara orun “ (heavenly bodies) though they may, as mentioned, also dwell in sacred groves (Ojubo), trees, bushes, waterfalls, caves, etc. Each orisha has its own personal egun (spirit) which can possess people or be invested into ritual objects (e.g., as an agbasa spirit in the rocks and shells). They observe the life of the community all of the time. But it is dangerous for them to be involved on a daily basis. When they come out, people feel pride, blessings and hear words of comfort from the deceased as well as pledges of protection from them. But sometimes they feel fear (if they are the subjects of moral accusations). (1) The egungun, when masquerading in the community in a festivity are completely covered; guarding their anonymity. When they are out and about, women and children keep their distances. Inside the egungun society there are several “titles” and roles and the societies are male-focused and led. How- ever, there are typically three titles and roles that women also play in these egbes. They are mentioned below. *(2) The orisha Oya is closely associated with egungun as she, via breathing, is the fuel for respiration and the guardian to the gates of the cemetery (when she opens the gate her work with respiration is done and the person’s soul-breath (emi) is taken away by the avenger iku (death). Her number is nine and her multiple colors are drawn upon to dress a corpses (or whites are used instead), to make the egungun masqueraders’ costumes, and to adorn one Opa Egun (one’s ancestral staff; the last vestige of “egungun” left in the New World. Egungun as the yam is literally and figuratively associated with fertility (being high in estrogen precursors), is considered the penis of the egungun, and when planted in the ground symbolizes the corpses’ burial that can later be relied upon to regenerate, unseen by human eyes, new-births. One of her chieftancy titles is alafefe’re’re (“owner of Oya’s blessed wind”). To see an egungun masquerader, please go to the top of this web page . PAGE 24 (3) In sacrifices, the orishas eat the blood of the sacrificed animal (ebbo eje) and the orisha’s egun eats special parts of the animal called its “aches.” Humans eat the main and regular parts of the animal that are typically used for human consumption. (4) If a social group (an egbe, guild, or lodge society) has recognized elders in it, it may also have a line- age of egungun about whom legends are composed and recited as orikis. There are egungun cults for herbalists (egungun Oloogun), for warrior-hunters (egungun Ode and egbe Layewu that recite ijala chants for warriors), and specific egungun societies for the various orisha cults (e.g., the egbe Alakoro of egungun of Shango worshippers). Egungun is now a male-centered egbe, but in historical times it may have been female-centered. When a revered mother-woman dies a female egungun is created for one-time use in her funeral rites; it is not considered an ancestor. Generally, however Egungun society is amanifestation of "manliness" (fatherhood) or "ikole orisha egungun." (See "Ela" by Awo Falokun at p.144, for this transliteration of 'manhood.') As mentioned, there are at least three female title-holders inside the cult: the Iyamode, the Yeyesorun, the Iya Agon (agan?) or “Mother of the Society.” And there are also the ato(s) which are appointed to the society if they were born with an umbilical cord lying on their chest (like an atori whip) or if they had a caul membrane covering their faces at birth. This latter phenomenon connects “ato(s)” with Shango and his sister orisha Bayanni (or orisha Dada) who was born with a caul over her face. Shango, in par- ticular, whose favorite wife was Oya, is very afraid (or acts like he is afraid) of dead spirits out of respect for her and her awesome power in creating life, warfare, and chaos (not to mention her power to open the gates to the graveyard for the hapless when she does this on behalf of iku—death). (5) Egungun societies did not survive the travesty of the Atlantic slave trade and are largely unknown in New World Yoruba religious practice. But there are a few such societies in New York, Chicago, Oyotunji Village (in South Carolina) and possibly other cities too. (6) When we have questions of personal ethics, moral judgments, wise analysis of family or personal af- fairs we turn first to egungun for guidance. They may also be accessed and offerings made to them at your ancestor altar (your ile’run or your boveda). As in Africa, you may also propritiate and beseech them at their gravesites (sometimes buried in the home) if it is close enough. When the grave of an esteemed elder is nearby, no separate ile’run is needed. (7) An ile’run –ancestral altar--can be built in one’s home on a table, placed on a floor, or on shelves or tables in one’s bathroom where running water exists that goes out through a drain. The spirits of the dead, including those that inhabit the deceased’s personal or religious objects or their bodies, may be symbolically or actually floated down a river into the after-world (or paraded in a canoe through the town before burial). In Africa, proxy ancestors are also “birthed” in clay pots upon which ritual can be done. This is similar to the making or an external or proxy “ori” orisha for ritual purposes which is frequently done there, but only rarely done in Cuba. (8) An Elegun or Eleegun refers to a person who is the family’s appointed “medium” for “passing egun” or conducting ancestral rituals. It also means a family ‘that is into the egungun cult. Some people in San-teria-Lucumi use the term to refer to the spirit that has possessed any person (its “horse”) because even an orisha possession is actually a possession by the spirit or “egun of the orisha.” Things get really inter- esting when the person is possessed by an “egun” that also had “orisha made” in his or her lifetime. And, in respect of dead spirit or spirit guide posessions ("passings" or "mountings"), one must take note: a horse is mounted from the ground up! The spirit moves up through the body; that is, does not drop down from the sky. (9) Egungun myths arise from the oriki of the egungun cults and from various odu Ifa. In them stories describing the use of the atori whips are used to strike the ground three times to invoke egungun (also used—playfully, not painfully-- in the early stages to symbolically “flog” the neophyte in the early stages of an orisha initiation ceremonies). Also many odus (verses) of Ifa describe the origins of egungun and their roles (which include seeking out human “witches” in the com- munity). *PAGE 25 (10) Ebora are ‘heavenly spirits’ that work on behalf of Olodumare. They carried ritual to all parts of the earth to stabilize it. Egungun is said to have originated from their role. Agan power, wielded by the eg -ungun derives from an ultimate ancestor—an avatar brown/black monkey (named Ero, or edan) or the ijimere (the red monkey) and is symbolized by the carrying its effigy in the egungun procession as a long piece of cloth--the tail of which ‘must never touch the ground.’ This avatar is magical and its magic also empowers the twins (the Ibejis). (11) The igbale is the sacred grove of the egungun and the oju orori is the Yoruba term for the grave. (The sacred groves for the orisha are called igbodu. The ojubo are the sacred “spots” or groves in Heav- en for the egungun. The chief of the egungun for a family is its eegun. LATINO ESPIRITISMO OR SANTISMO ("MISAS" or "CENTROS") FOR THE DEAD. (SIMILAR TO “EGUN JOKO” or “IKU JOKO” in NIGERIA). Seances or "Misas," "Mesa Blanca" or "Centros" ("Centers") in Cuba or Puerto Rico, or "Egun Joko" or "Iku Joko" (meaning "death/ come sit down" and talk) in Nigeria are ritual sessions, like seances, that invite dead spirits--at least ancestral ones--to come in, 'sit down and talk.' I use this term--misa or mass--only because it is so easily recognized. We have “sessions” to celebrate the ancestors, which, in Nigeria are called “egun joko” or “iku joko” events where Death (ancestors or other eguns) come in andd “sit down.” I repeat here, for your convenience, the same material that is in your Resource materials appended to these training Modules. "Nosotros tenemos la sangre Africana; la sangre llama." Mesa Blanca is also the name given to the table (and practice) where séances or are held to venerate “eguns” (spirits) . A channel or medium--the eleegun or an “oku”—(owner of the Dead) who presides here often “passes eguns,” i.e., becomes possessed and speaks, warns, advises, praises, or simply nods assent and appreciation of the mass being held to praise the good spirits. In Yoruba this practice is called “egun joko” or “iku joko:” or "‘death (come in and sit down) to speak." These sessions are very democratic; no hierarchy of participants is exists. * For details of these masses, please see "Electric Santeria" by Aisha M. Beliso-DeJesus, (Columbia Univ. Press, 2015). This is the best book that I have ever read on the over-view of Lucumi-Santeria and Espirit- ismo or Santismo ("spiritism"); a practice that is very popular in Latino folk culture. I will summarize her ideas here: * (1) She speaks of the practice of Espiritismo as invoking individually or in small group misas the visitation by spirits, personal spirit guides, ancestral spirits, who form each person's "spiritual cord" or grouping of such entities--usually numbering from two to ten nor more in the Latino cultures of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominic- an Republic. These seances were originally practiced in the USA, but became vogue in the Catholic Latin world of the 1920's. A "spiritual cord"--the "Espiritismo de cor- don"--is one's posse or a "spiritual court" of, e.g., old Congo spirits, gypsie spirits, Cat- holic nuns and priests, Indians, dead warrior spirits etc. They often advise, console, or warn anyone in attendence of what they need to know for their or their relatives' betterment. A good example is the "Aunt Jemima" icon; a curandera and wet nurse in this racist legacy of Latino caricatured "eguns." [A big part of the origin, I think, of the emphasis on spiritism in the Afro-Latino world is that New World Africans were not able to re-establish the cults for the veneration of the Dead. This meant that the "handling" of the Dead and spirits thereof, from a a multiplicity of mixed tribes, clans, and families in slavery times was a real problem. Basically, "ancestros" for a specific families or guilds were one thing, and everything else in the nature of "spirits" were regarded as "eguns." Also, they did not recognize the concept of Egbe (Awon egbe orun) groupings of Heavenly kinsmen from which an individual comes and is separated from upon birth. These Heavenly personages in their African context, were not "eguns." They were a part of one's 'temperamen- tal Heavenly soulmates' and they followed one's affairs on Earth--even to the point of coming to Earth to entice a person, from time to time, to leave Earth and prematur- ely return to Heaven to "hang out" with them again. In the original African context, they would be verbally venerated in the orisha section of one's Ijuba.] * (2) These visiting spirits may also prescribe tasks (e.g., the giving of offerings to deities or other spirits or human beings like beggars) or the acquisition of items like dolls, tools, bells, flags, belts, bows and arrows, animal parts or relics or--virtually anything --even talismans and other charms that they think couild be helpful to the individual who is receiving the advice or warnings. PAGE 26 (3) The "medium" or elegun who is skilled at "passing" (being possessed by) the spirits is usually paid for the services. The participants may ask questions and even have a dialogue with the spirits. And the will speak in a voice that is unusual; not the cus- mary voice of the medium who leads the session. But "eguns" may also 'possess' anyone in attendence who, for their part, can say what the spirit directs them to to say. Sometimes people pretend to be a possessed person (and this is why some messages may not be authentic, valid nor useful. So,where needed, "gazing" into the truth of the matter by use of formal divination is later warranted). It is also pos- sible for people to simply say what is on their minds to another, so long as the ad- is not malicious and not purported to be an "egun." The word "Oku" also means one who owns the Dead. (4) Many of the spirits are protective in character for various individuals. But others may be malevolent or themselves spiritually ill and, thus, being in the dark, need attention and aid from the living participant in the nature of bringing them into 'the light' in order to call their restless (and nuisance) souls. And just as when ori- first possess a 'horse' (a possessed person or montado), that orisha or egun may itself be a baby or youngster and has to be matured over the months to come in order to know how to deal with the living. In Santeria-Lucumi however, newly possessing orisha do not have automatic license to start talking to an asessm- bled group (their right to speak must be affirmed by another orisha (i.e., anot- her person who is concurrently possessed by a recognized orisha. By contrast, anyone's "eguns" may speak in a misa. (5) In a similar "democratic" or populist vein, "eguns" may be passed (possessing) a person anywhere and at anytime; not just in a misa. Among the Santeros, if no "eguns come down" (bajar) to the event, it is not considered to have been successful. [Actually, a misa is a "mass." And, in Catholicism, a "mass" is a celebra- tion. So, celebratory words and songs in praise of benevolent spirits is also pos- and, thus, they too offered. If this alone happens, the misa is not really a failure in the least]. (6) Some do not engage in misas very much in the way of Espiritismo. As such, they simply may not find them credible (too many people 'talking smack' annoy them because their messages may actually be dangerous for unwitting participants). Instead, they may prefer to take anything that they hear (if they do attend) to subsequent formal divination with coconut shells, with cowrie shells or with Ifa. Or they may simply ignore "spirit guides" and other "eguns"altogether and sim- ply connect with their personal honorable ancestors directed at their ancestral altars by "gazing" (e.g., water gazing or mirada), by chamalonga (coconut shell divination), or "obi" (coconut meat) divination. While espiritismo is to be taken very seriously as a spiritual art (I have personally seen some amazing things occur in them (like "magic" stuff) and heard many deeply sagetic messages and benefitted from them, I have also heard a good deal of "baloney" in them as well. It should be noted, as you read below, this practice arises out of European and American Catholic cultural ideas of Christian "possessions" in the nature of. or rooted in, the incorporation of the 'body of Christ" in Holy Communion rituals--transub- stantiation where the spirit and the physical body interpenetrate. Beliso-DeJesus, op cit., is quite poignant about the conceptual and cultural souces of seances and misas. By contrast, for the African American, raised almost exclusively in Protestant cultures, there is a mistrust of "things" in nature of "spirits,""haints," "ghosts" and "devilment" stuff psychologically. In most protes- tant congregations in the black communities, folk "gettin' happy' and having emotional catharsis is bas- ically tolerated as well as are ecstatic trances brought on songs and "sermonizing." But only a minority of these groupings actively invite "Holy Ghost" possessions and the "speaking in tongues"--i.e, the marrying of intense bodily engagement with the spirit of God Almighty's alter-ego. Most Christians tend to view that intimate a union to take place at the ideational (or transcendental) level--a neo-Platonic ves- tige from the 18th century. [Please see below the Old and New Testament scriptures that disuade commun- ion with the Dead that discourage African Americans, generally, from accepting such connections. We tend to treat "ghostly spirits" the way that traditional Yorubas do: as "iwin"--'the ghosts of madness ."(which is what "iwin" means). But, in Yoruba, there is a saying "O ti she she!" This means: "It is possible!"]. PAGE 27 PROTESTANT CHRISTIAN PROHIBITIONS ON THE INFLUENCES OF SPIRITISM--ESPECIALLY LATINO CATHOLIC ESPIRIT -ISMO AND ITS EFFECTS ON AFRICAN-AMERICANS. For Christians, generally, the Dead are dead until the Day of Judgment. African Americans inherited the legacy of Protest- ant fundamentalism in respect of the following: But the Christians also have rituals--narrow ones indeed--for the near dead (e.g.,the Last Rites), and for the “baptizing the (actual ) Dead”. The apostle Paul speaks of baptizing the Dead in First Corinthians, Chap 15: 12. “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” And, at verse 29, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” And the Mormons explain this in the Doctrine of the Covenants,’ in the Book of Mormons. Such a baptism (basulto) may be rejected by the Dead, but at least there is a chance that they can yet be saved and the family is “Sealed” (i.e., its reincarnation--for the Mormons--is not adversely affected) . Connections with Death and the Dead are connected to the concept of Baptism. First of all, a Baptism is a symbolic death (and re-birth). Originally, the subject of the Baptism took vows of affirmation that he or she had been "born again" in Christ; became a child of God after the baptism. The baptism could be a full immersion in water or the trickling of water across the head of a child too small to be immersed (or to take vows; which a close relative could do in lieu of the child saying them). But, for the non-infant, the ceremony was preceded by three days of ritual spiritual preparations. On the night before the baptism, a special mass or exorcism would occur where the candidate was purged of unwanted demons (spirits) first. This practice, I think, was the Catholic origin of the practice of doing a misa (or several of them) before the kari-ocha or deep initiation of a new priest or priestess into the Santeria-Lucumi version of Yoruba religion in Cuba. So, getting in touch with the Dead entered the picture anew for Latinos via Catholic practices, legitimzation, and strictures. I will address misas again, shortly below. The Catholic component of Latino espiritismo makes up the Lion's share of the conception; with the other , being the practice of Alan Kardek's seances and mediumship that was ever so popular , in the 1920's in the Western world, generally, and the Latino world, speciically, from then onward. Without the various egbes for the Dead that were in place in African Yoruba societies, the Afro-Cubans seem to have substituted Catholic ritual (mostly) and a lot of Congolese rituals and spiritualism to address the otherwise unwieldy ancestral legacies that they were reduced to in Cuba slavery. In fact, Catholicism had been introduced into the Congo as early as the 1450's. But "New World" socialization was a bit different socialization, spirituality and religiosity was a bit different for the vast majority of north American black people; owing to the pervasively Protestant culture, ethic, and religiosity in which we were all immersed. For instance, in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, there are numerous verses that forbid the living from contacting the Dead because, until the Judgment Day, they are truly dead so it is useless. And there are spirits who are active but they too should be avoided. Here are some of the verses relevant to death and the need to leave the Dead alone from a Christian perspective: Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Acts 2:31, John 9:4, Isaiah 26:14, John 11:11, Genesis 2:7, Genesis 1:20-25, John 17:17, 1 Samuel 28:3,5,and 6, 1 Samuel 28:7-19, Leviticus 19:31, Genesis 6:1-4, Jude 6, Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Ephesians 6:12, 1 Peter 5:7, Isaiah 8:19, Isaiah 26:19, and Job 14: 14, 15. These injunctions are important because Afro-Americans, being raised up in Christian protestant culture mostly, are very nervous about ‘messin’ around with dead ghosts…’ and these verses explain why. By contrast, the Cuban “candle shop” spiritists also celebrate quasi-African spiritual legacies, e.g., their reverence for "Las Potencias Siete:" the seven African powers in which each orisha (orishas are deities, not ancestors per se) was given a Cat- holic saint’s identity. These “Seven African Powers” also represented the seven main nations from which Cuban slaves originated: Yoruba, Arara, Congo, Calibar-Efik (Abukua), Efon, and so on. But, beyond that, "ancestry veneration" by and for anything or any body actually African was not--for the very reason of slave oppression--highly developed. In stepped Catholicism... ****************************************************************************************************************************** Finally, I noticed that unlike in western Cuba and the United States where “orisha” ashe is separated from “egun vener- ation” ritually and in regard to the separate locations of the shrines in a home. In Oriente province in eastern Cuba, there seemed to me to be more ritual integration of the two vectors of African religious practice. CUBAN (AFRO-LATIN) ESPIRITISMO is the form and nature of spirit reverence in Afro-Latin culture. While the “sarasa” or group “boveda” is the name given to an ancestral shrine (an oju'run or ile’run, in Yoruba) there is a slight difference. In the Cuban tradition of “spirit veneration” the eguns of “spirit guides” who are not necessarily family or lineage members (may- be not even of the same tribe) are also welcomed to be venerated there. Though, obviously, no pictures of them would be available, they are most often totemized in the form of a female or male doll or statuette. If a doll, a new set of clothing is sewn for the doll each year and fitted over the old clothing so that each year it “grows” more. (Please see the section on "Misa(s)", below. Food dropped on the kitchen floor? In preparing food, or putting portions of it on a plate, if some falls off on to the floor, it is a sign that the ancestors want to be fed that type of food, pronto. (This is a Cuban practice but is based on the fact that our ancestors were often buried under the kitchen floor or some other part of the house in Africa). This altar is usually somewhat to the side of main house traffic, in a backroom, or—very frequently—in the bathroom (where it symbolizes both running water—“a river”-- going out through a drain the way the spirit leaves the Earth (ile) and “the end of the road”). It is not placed on the floor at a corner-intersection as African indoor ancestral shrines often are. In both cases, however, a chalk drawing (an atena) is made by using cascarilla or “efun” (a white chalk lime clay from west Africa), that looks like a half-circle with, at the center-point, nine white radial lines are drawn out—equidistant--to the half-circle edge. At the radial starting point, but only when the veneration is in ‘active ritual mode’ a white plate (that is not chipped) is placed there on that point or beside the boveda. And on it nine little pieces of coconut meat (obi gin gin) is placed in a circle around the edge of the plate. On each piece of coconut meat a dab (spot) of yellow-orange palm oil (epo or ope or palm tree oil) is placed, then a dab of honey (onyin) on each and, finally, right in the middle of the honey spot is placed a single guinea-pepper seed (atare). (Handle the atares over a cup of water with caution because, in case you drop one, you do not want it loose and hidden on the floor. This leads to bad luck and heated arguments in the house until it is found). Once this plate for eguns is done, one may place a burning white candle in the middle of the plate. The use of candles is not a particularly African thing to do, but a very valid Afro-Latin practice nevertheless). Technically, this plate is a substitute for a teja (tile) that a babalawo gives to a male (via the odu Otura Ogbe) or to a female (where it is born from the odu Irete-yero) practitioners. This practice was born in the odu Oyeku meji. Finally, but rarely, a bundle of nine prepared, bundled and hard-to-find sticks, made for egun, and called the cuje. They often prepared by “paleros” (priests in Congo religion of Palo Moyombe in Cuba) can be used in place of, or in addition to, the plate or the teja. PAGE 28 On the “white table” shrine or boveda/sarasa there typically are put small food chipped plates and chipped cups with cof- fee, cigars, pictures, and little book (like a Bible), items that belonged to the ancestors, shells, a list of their names on the wall (the “Olawonmi” list or roll call of the Dead in Yoruba), tobacco, hemp, gin (oti) or other liquor bottles (little bottles), and multiple pictures of the deceased (not living people or non-relatives), prayers, and other offerings. Nine small glasses of water are customary and one large glass of water. The water is never thrown out, but before it evaporates simple refill the glasses. As mentioned, candles are customary in the Cuban tradition as well. We do not seriously pray to “all” of the ara orun (heavenly bodies); only those mostly those related to us. Our ancestors must have been decent people, especially if they were priests or priestesses, but did not have to be “saints.” They had to die old enough to have had children if they died during your life time. If they died before you were born then they are candidates to be put on the honorable mention list (the Olawomi list). PAGE 25 MISA(S)-- "TRUST, BUT VERIFY." The Latino Mesa Blanca as a ritual seance (a "MISA") that uses a white cloth on a table which becomes a temporary 'home of the Dead'--an ile’ku ) or ritual "space" / "place" used by Afro-Latinos (and mimicked by Afro-Americans) trained in the San- teria / Lucumi approach to Yoruba religion for "spirits" ("eguns") to come to in order to participate in communion and com- munication with the living participants at the meeting. Now the word "misa" means "a mass" or a ritual celebration of one kind or another; depending on the purpose behind the ritual. Most Santeria / Lucumi practitioners mistakenly believe that if there is no "medium" (an elegun in Yoruba) to lead the ses- sion and "pass" (get possessed by) spirits, known to have "arrived " an speaking in an altered voice to symbolically "dis- guise" who the "horses" or human "mediums" really are, then the misa was not successful. Not true. If one recalls, a misa" is a celebration of the spirits that may or may not involve direct visitations and communications with them. It is successful when the people remember them, venerate and honor them with prayer, songs and testimnials of praise for them. This practice of the elegun or other participants in the misa "passing eguns" by using strange voices and gesticulations is rooted in actual anonymity of the Egungun masqueraders (the main association to conduct ritual communication with the Dead in Yoruba and related cultures, historically). But the thing that makes misas really interesting is that all kinds of spirits or eguns can show up. How does one know that the visiting and speaking "egun" (especially if it is an unknown spirit guide) is bona fide? Most participants trust the elegun or medium running the session. But if there is doubt, sometimes the spirit will say things that the skeptical person is sure that only he or she could possibly know. In fact, if the "spirit" is an actuall family egungun, that ancestor should know things about the family lineage that only a true ancestors of that family could know. Now, in Santeria / Lucumi , the part- icipants are too scared of being considered disloyal to their ile or lineage traditions to articulate any serious questions and tend to (disingenously) pretend to 'go along with the program.' That can be a wise thing to do under the circumstances. But there are risks of being mislead or of even being the victim of psychological and emotional abuse but participants who are indulging in "talking smack" to others while suffering under the delusion that they are "passing an egun." What's more, is that people engaged in the practice (or claim of) "passing eguns" or "getting messages" for another person in dreams may do so at anytime and at any place--whether in a misa or not. The issue is, how can a presumed subject or beneficiary of that spirit's verbal largess know if the message is actually helpful when, basically, anyone at any time can claim to be "passing an egun" that has a message or advice or warning. By contrast, in the realm of orisha practice and ritual--at least--among the Santeria / Lucumi practitioners , the most ex- traordinary measures are taken to prevent people who are proporting to or acting-like they are possessed by an orisha from speaking to others about anything until such time that another known and trusted person's orisha has verified that the first person's orisha is really an orisha (and not an "egun" showing up in an orisha ceremony, or a fake possession in the first place). When a possessed person's orisha is deemed to be 'for real,' then the other orisha who may be present may direct that the person receive a ceremony of the tongue that will, in future possessions, allow themto speak their truths--ofo ache--to others within earshot, generally, and to particular people, specifically. The answer? In all things "egun-ish"--especially advice, warnings, and pronouncements that arise in misas-- "Trust, but verify." I, personally, have seen things occur in misas that were supernaturally amazing (not just what I heard in them). But I have also heard many folk also utter pure bullshit as they articulated "advice" or opinions about participants (or their relatives and close familiars). This can be harmful, as there are no safeguards as to what can be said by anyone in a misa. So, if one harbors even the slightest doubt about what one has heard in a misa, by all means go to one's own ancestral altar and consult with one's own egungun through divination. THEY can be trusted to tell you the truth--misas or no misas. One must understand, Afro-Cubans had A LOT OF TROUBLE handling the ancestral legacies of various and sundry Cubans with multiple African tribal backgrounds because they did not inherit the ancestral societies (lodges for veneration of the Dead) that would have normally handled these issues for a family and community. So, instead, they (1) the virtually elim- inated the propritiation of individuals' personal family egungun except in narrow ways (e.g., naming them in one "moyub- acion" mantra that is recited at the a start of ritual work and events), (2) separated the concept of ancestor veneration from "O'cha" (orisha) worship almost entirely, (3) used wholesale Catholic misas and Kardeckian seances to handle the tricky issues of ancestors and "spirit guides" (and malevolent spirits too) speaking or not, (4) and dumped all other "spirits" into the broad container called "eguns" and (5) vitually never speak about atunwa or reincarnation matters because this would bring up too many issues of egungun (and reveal their problem in handling intergenerational "osogbos" ('curses') that often flow through family lineages. What was lost? In the formation of the Cuban Santeria / Lucumi variation of Yoruba religion there was not only the practice of ancestral veneration of family and lodge ancestors lost, but the whole concept of Egbe or, more specifically, the Awon Egbe Orun in Heaven with their (your) spirits that--though they are not orisha--are one's ancestral "soul mates" or temperamental or chracaterolgical "soul mates." They are your true "spirit guides" in addition to your more directly important egungun (or personal family ancestors). Instead of recognizing this, the Cubans made a wholesale substitution of Catholic church ances- tralism (and its issues with the dead spirits) combined with European Kardeckian seances (since the was little in the way of actual "spirit ritualism" that they could do from a Catholic cultural and religious base. This is why African Americans, with our majority protestants Christian cultural bases, have such a tricky time dealing with spirit guides and misas, etc. until and unless they convince themselves that they are make-believe Cubans. But we are not. PART D A NICE ORIKI (Praise "Rap") FOR THE ANCESTORS (the Oku-Orun) “EGUN FUN MI LO, A DUPE Ancestors we ask for good health and give you thanks. EMI O MONA KAN EYI TI NBA ORI EGUN When I do not know which road to follow, I turn to the wisdom of the ancestors.MA JA KIKI WON ORUN, A DUPE All respect to the powers of the realm of the ancestors. EGUN PELE O, EGUN PELE O, Ancestors, I greet you EGUN MO PE O Ancestors, I call you IBA SE EGUN Ancestors, I salute you EGUNGUN KIKI EGUNGUN I salute the mediums of the ancestors ISORO ORUN, A DUPE I salute the heavenly spirits, and thank you. SALUTATIONS, SONGS & CHANTS FOR DEPARTED ANCESTORS Baba o, baba o -- hey, hey! Yeye o, yeye o -- hey, hey! (Fathers, hey! Mothers, hey!) Awa ki egungun loni ooo! (We greet the ancestors today!) Alagbara egungun! Alagbara egungun! (The ancestors are powerful!) Egun de! A juba! Timbole! (The egun have arrived! We give praise! The earth trembles!) Egun (i)'re ooo, Egun sun (i)'re ooo The ancestors are of good fortune! May the Ancestors Sleep Well PAGE 29 I. A Nba Wa Ori, A nba Wa Ori A Nba Wa Ori, A nba Wa Ori* (We are meeting to seek to find him) A Wa O-sun, Maa Le-ri O (We come, he is asleep. We seek him continuously)Ma Le-Ke a Wo (In the head he is always to be the uppermost initiate)Ara Orun Ka We (Citizens of heaven reap children) *[Translation by baba John Mason, omo Obatala in Orin Orisha, Publ. Yoruba Theological Archministry, NYC, 1992). II. Simple Ancestor Praise Songs / Chants Learned By Michael omo’Oshoosi in Oyotunji Village, South Carolina, U.S.A., 1989 SONG #1 CallGedenimbo,* Gedenimbo, Okurin To Bu LewaGedenimbo, Gedenimbo, Onibode Ile Iku (Owner of date (to) Land of (the) Dead) Man, big, nearly beautiful) Response (Gedenimbo, Gedenimbo, man, big, nearly beautiful) (Gedenimbo, Gedenimbo, SONG#2 Orisha Bi Egungun Ko Si (2X) Orisha Bi Egungun Ko si oooo (Selected Head(s) birthed, ancestors, to gather together—“oh yeah!”) *PAGE 27 SONG #3 CallMo Juba Fefe Iku, (4x) (I praise, quickly, the Dead)Response,Mo Juba Fefe Iku (4x) SONG #4 CallIku—ooo, Iku—ooo, Enyin--ooo Ti Lo Joba Egungun (Dead, exhalted, Dead ,exhalted, you, who have gone, to sit perched, ancestors)ResponseIku—ooo, Iku—ooo, Enyin--ooo Ti Lo Joba Egungun PAGE 30 SONG #5Call(W)a-a-a Tun Bo Ye(2x) Wa-a-a Tun Bo Ye—ooooo (We again, arrive, earth) Response(W)a-a-a Tun Bo Ye(2x) Wa-a-a Tun Bo Ye—ooooo SONG #6CallEgun Arabara, Egun Arabara (Spirits (bones), remarkable) ResponseEgun Arabara, Egun Arabara SONG #7 CallEgun Wo Le Wo Le—A Tun Bo Aiye, Egun Wo Le Wo Le Alase--oooo (Ancestors, Pay visit to the house; We, again, come to earth—(oh ruler) ResponseEgun Wo Le Wo Le—A Tun Bo Aiye, Egun Wo Le Wo Le Alase--ooooSONG #8 (To the tune of “Give Me That Old Time Religion”) CallFu Mi (L)isin Igba Darugbo (3x), Se (Di)dara Fun Mi--oooo (Give, me, religion, time, that is old; Surely, good for me)Response Fu Mi (L)isin Igba Darugbo (3x), Se (Di)dara Fun Mi--oooo CallSe (O)dara Fun Baba Nla, (3x), Se (O)dara Fun Mi-oooo (It was good for great father, Surely good for me)ResponseSe (O)dara Fun Baba Nla, (3x), Se (O)dara Fun Mi-oooo CallSe (O)dara Fun Iya Nla, (3x), Se (O)dara Fun Mi-ooooResponseSe (O)dara Fun Iya Nla, (3x), Se (O)dara Fun Mi-oooo SONG #9 (To the tune of “Kumbiyah My Lord, Kumbiyah”)CallWo Le Wa Egungun, Wo le Wa (3x), O—O—O—O Wo Le Wa (Come by here Ancestors, Come By here) SONG #10Call: Egungun, Egungun Mi Ta (A)iye A Ti jo (2x)Response (Ancestors, ancestors, my, persist, earth joyful, dancing)Response: (Egun Fa (A)iye Niyin Ola Ha (2x)(Spirits, bring, earth, honor, dignified, amazing) PAGE 30 CLOSING SALUTATION Call: Ajuba Egungun (We praise ancestors)Response: Baba Wa (Father, ours)Call: Ajuba Egungun (We praise ancestors)Response: Ire Si Wa---Baba La, Baba Wa (Good luck, into, us, father, very dignified, father, us) SONG #1Gedenimbo, Gedenimbo, Okurin To Bu LewaGedenimbo, Gedenimbo, Onibode Ile Iku III. ISHE OLUWA ("The Works of God Can Never Be Destroyed")CallIshe Oluwa, Ko Le Ba Je ooo (2x) (The works of God can never be destroyed)ResponseIshe Oluwa, Ko Le Ba Je ooo (2x) Repeat Call and Response Weeping Willow Tree, Tell Me What You KnowRiver Were You Crying, Many Rains Ago? Sacred Baobon Tree, Lost Your Children To The SeaRiver Were You Crying Many Rains Ago Goodbye, Motherland, Ko Le Ba Je ooooGoobye, Motherland, Ko Le Ba Je ooooo Sing Me and Old Song From Many Rains AgoIshe Oluwa, Ko Le Ba Je ooooIshe Oluwa, Ko Le Ba Je oooo ADD SONGS TO OYA / (I)YANSA (OPTIONAL) CLOSING SONG TO GEDENIMBO (AGAIN)CallGedenimbo,* Gedenimbo, Okurin To Bu LewaGedenimbo, Gedenimbo, Onibode Ile Iku (Owner of date (to) Land of (the) Dead) Man, big, nearly beautiful) Response (Gedenimbo, Gedenimbo, man, big, nearly beautiful) (Gedenimbo, Gedenimbo,