Food *Gift from the Gods*

                        ***Ritual Uses of Foods…

All ritual starts with an intention and the way magic works is that through certain steps you are able to manifest your intention. Try to always prepare and cook foods that you enjoy, as you are preparing food not only is it necessary to cook with intention, it is also necessary to visualize what magical outcome  that you are working towards, by doing this you are igniting the energies within the food and within yourself. As you eat your magic food be fully present and make sure you are thinking about that which you wish to conjure, make sure you are visualizing your ultimate magic outcome. Imagine the energy of the food not only sustaining you, but with enchantment bringing about the changes that you want, be at one with the food you eat and the magic you are creating.

 *** When using food for Ritual work always have the reason for cooking certain foods, such as cooking for love, cooking for prosperity, for health or for protection. As you handle and prepare the food have a particular goal in mind, when stirring food always stir clockwise with two stirs anti-clockwise as you finish stirring. Sharing a meal with friends or those you love is a ritual in itself, there is a certain energy associated with this simple pleasure, and with the Ritual of food our life is sustained. 

 ***Agbado Corn-MaizeMagical Ways=Seed of Seeds!!!                                     Of all the grains eaten in the world, Corn Maize probably is surrounded by more legends and folklore than any other. Corn has been planted, tended, harvested and consumed for millennia, and so it’s no wonder that there are myths about the magical properties of this grain.

=== Ceres was the Roman Goddess of grain, specifically corn, and of the harvest season. According to legends, she was the one who taught mankind how to farm. She is associated with agricultural fertility and a bountiful harvest. Make her an offering, and she may well protect your crops from natural disasters such as flooding or blight. 

***Sprinkle corn around your ritual area to delineate sacred space. Make a corn doll to honor the deity of your tradition Corn = Maize, is the seed of seeds. Key words associated with corn are: Sacred Mother, Protection, Luck, Divination… Corn represents fertility and is used to invoke Mother Earth. Used in ritual, it teaches the mystery of life, death, and rebirth. Many cultures gave corn, which is regarded as a food of prosperity, protection, and spirituality, a special God or Goddess of its own.

The Magical Aspects of Corn:  It is a symbol of fertility and is often used to invoke Mother Earth. Whether it is used as a centerpiece, a wreath for your front door, or as a delicious side dish at your next meal, corn pops up in a variety of ways from mid-late summer through fall. Corn teaches us the mysteries of life, death, and rebirth. The spiritual representation of the corn and is closely related to the higher self or third eye of sacred sight, this symbol represents the saints and often depicted with a lily, and most prominently in association with royalty. Many cultures revered corn as a spiritual element, which is regarded as a symbol of longevity, prosperity, protection, and spirituality.

Hundreds of years ago food was worshiped and seen as a gift from the Gods, the energies contained within the food we eat are vital to our survival. You will find food all the more enjoyable as you approach it from a magical perspective, and every meal can be a wonderful act of alchemy that magically changes the food you prepare into a beautiful meal for you and yours to enjoy and energized by. When eating be conscious of the higher power existing in the foods, this way each meal can be a celebration, and cooking will take on an entirely new tone.  

The Ancient Egyptians used food as a means of exchange and food was stocked in the tombs as a gift to the Gods. Corn has been used by various tribes over the centuries and used in rituals, it is a symbol of fertility, life, eternity and resurrection. Corn was also used for divination purposes, it was practiced by the Ancient Aztecs, it was often used in elaborate healing ceremonies. Corn is still considered sacred by many tribes and is treated with great reverence, it is thought to bring blessing and heightened spiritual enlightenment.

 *** It’s believed that burying a sheaf of corn while uttering a curse will cause your enemies to die–they will rot from the inside as the corn decays in the soil. Use corn in rituals involving growth and transformation. After all, a single kernel brings you a tall stalk full of more kernels! You can also associate it with self-sustainability and fertility, both of people and of the land.

                      ***Epo Pupa = Red Palm Oil Offerings…

***Ritual Uses of Palms in Traditional Medicine…

Palms are prominent elements in African traditional medicines. In some rituals, Palms play a central role as sacred objects, for example the seeds accompany oracles and Palm leaves are used in offerings. In other cases, Palms are added as a support to other powerful ingredients,  Palm oil used as a medium to blend and make coherent the healing mixture. 

Traditional medicines in rural sub-Saharan communities recognize that the occurrence of disease can result from the intrusion of negative supernatural forces. These forces are often defined as  sorcerers, broken taboos, displeased Ancestor spirits or deities… Afflictions which are mostly related to the action of the malevolent forces are either serious and chronic or emerging suddenly and unexpectedly.  Thus, traditional healers often apply divination and various rituals in order to understand the overall significance of a healing process and counteract its cause. Since palms are part of the everyday life of nearly all rural people in Africa, it may be expected that they are also important in the spiritual framework of rural life in Africa.   

 The Palm fruit is made up of three carpels that fuse to form a drupe with one or a few seeds, covered by a thin seed coat.  Palm seeds are often called Palm kernels or Palm nuts. Perhaps palms bring justice because they are associated with understanding, peace, and harmony, or with indwelling tree spirits themselves. Palm leaves also served in various ceremonies, rituals and religious festivities. In Benin, the Palm has been recently reported as sacred and protected where ever it grows because it is seen as the realization on earth of the God Fa. Nobody is allowed to cut it down or to use its fruits for making oil…  

All parts of the palms were used in rituals, but the most commonly used part was the leaf, followed by the fruit and oil extracted from the fruit, seed, entire Palm tree, sap in the form of Palm wine, root and inflorescence. In some treatments, the Palm is the actual sacred object or the central element of ritual practices, for example entire Palm trees determine sacred places, Palm seeds accompany oracles and Palm leaves serve in offerings. Continuous interactions with the spiritual world are axiomatically absorbed in childhood, and subsequently reinforced in every phase of life.  

***Palm Oil is called various things all over the world. The Yoruba  call it Epo Pupa–Red Oil whereas it is called “Manteca Corojo” in Spanish. Traditionally, it is a common cooking ingredient dating back centuries, but to the Orishas… it is the food of choice…

                        Eja Gbigbe = Dried Fish…

Fresh fish rapidly deteriorates unless some way can be found to preserve it. Drying is a method of food preservation that works by removing water from the food, which inhibits the growth of microorganisms. Open air drying using sun and wind has been practiced since Ancient times to preserve food.  Fish are preserved through such traditional methods as drying, smoking and salting. Drying food is the world’s oldest known preservation method, and dried fish has a storage life of several years. 

 Eja Gbigbe = Dried Fish  the curled up brown thing you see in the above Photograph is a different breed. You see it all over the markets hung up on long poles or stacked high in buckets. If you don’t see it first, you will definitely smell it. The fish, usually either catfish or small eel, is dried with all the bones and guts inside. It tastes a bit salty and mostly takes on the flavor of whatever soup/stew you eat it with. The fish is treated with salt, either in form of strong brine or a surface coating of dry salt. This combination of reduced moisture and salt inhibit the growth of spoilage bacteria, a basic principle of all cure meats.

The Significance of Yams…

Yam Festival:  It marks the first harvest of Yams during the autumn season, after the monsoon season. The Yam is the staple food crop in West Africa. The first harvest of Yams during the autumnal season, subsequent to the monsoon season. Yam festival has both religious and economic significance. Religiously, the festival is used to thank the God and the Ancestors for the new harvest and to traditionally outdoor the new yam.

The first offering of the crop is made to the Ancestral Gods by the chief priests; the religious rites includes taking the Yams on the second day of the festival in a procession to the Ancestral ground. Music and dance are part of the festivities, the festival is also popular because the Priests supervise  the performance of the ablution ceremony by cleaning all the Ancestral shrines. The Yam is carried by the Priests in a colorful procession for offering to the Ancestors buried in the burial chambers. Only after this offering is completed are people allowed to consume the new crop of yam. A day is observed as a mourning day for the Ancestors and also to keep a fast… 

   Reference Sources: Wikipedia = 

Orogbo = Bitter Kola Spiritual Benefits…

*** I have tasted and eaten Orogbo in the physical state of existence. Let my voice and my life attract longevity and sound health in the universe. The force behind Orogbo gives us  the power to enjoy longevity in the universe. Yearly , we set our eyes on Orogbo  at the market place.  I have eaten Orogbo in the physical existence let me live long , live old and live well in the world – let me live a life dignifies of an Orisha devotee before joining my Ancestors.

Orogbo = Bitter Kola…Garcinia kola is a species of flowering plant in the Clusiaceae or Guttiferae family. It is found in Cameroon,  Congo, Danxome, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Bitter Kola also known as Garcinia kola is a tropical flowering plant found in western and central Africa and it produces brown, nut-like seeds. A brown to deep brown peel covers it. This peel is removed before it is eaten. It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when it is eaten. It is this bitterness that its name is derived.

It has been used in African culture for centuries for both traditional and medicinal purposes.In Yoruba land it is called Orogbo. The Hausas call it Miji-goro, while it is called Akiilu by the Igbos. Amazing health benefits of bitter leaf Bitter Kola was eaten mostly by the elderly people because of their belief that it could prolong life. Bitter kola can act as a serious healing tool because of its strong spiritual properties. Used for rituals and spiritual cleansing; Act as tonic, stimulant, astringent, decongestant, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory tool.  Used in special protective rituals for suppressing enemies.

The legend concerning the appearance of Bitter Kola states that Kola nut was the original food of the Gods. One day, while visiting earth, one of the Gods left a piece of this nut and people consequently found it.  Since then, the tree stake and the fruits of this plant for their stimulant effects have gained popularity of having some spiritual benefits of bitter kola; they began to be used in the sphere of magic or as a kind of an aphrodisiac. Benefits of bitter cola: wide range of effects The fruits of Kola tree have varied medicinal uses, especially in Nigeria. Bitter kola is primarily used as a tonic and stimulant, for the treatment of dysentery, fever, vomiting, and exhaustion. Bitter kola can act as a serious healing tool because of its strong spiritual properties.

Used for rituals and spiritual cleansing; Act as tonic, stimulant, astringent, decongestant, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory tool. Used in special protective rituals for suppressing enemies. Bitter cola can ease the flow of asthma, it can act as an antioxidant and diuretic. Its use enhances alertness and improves physical performance. It improves mood, suppresses appetite and stimulates libido – because of the caffeine as one of its components.

Negative Energies affect people and cause distress to them through their subtle energy. Negative energy can create a variety of problems such as depression, unclear thinking or malfunction of an organ which lead to even further difficulties such as addiction , financial problems or chest pain respectively. Negative Energy : The primary weapon used by negative energies is a spiritual energy capable of manipulating any process on the Earth plane. The extent of this manipulation depends on the strength of the attacking negative energy.

 Bitter Kola Benefit for Food Poisoning: In many rural areas of West Africa, when food is suspected to be contaminated by bacteria or someone accidentally eats food poison, traditional healers often recommend the mastication of bitter kola immediately after eating. This usually prevent the development of any infection or poisoning. Herbalists even recommend the seed and the bark of bitter kola should be eaten together in cases where food poisoning is suspected, it helps to detoxify the system. Bitter kola is not only anti-poison, it also has the ability to repel evil spirits according to traditional beliefs. Though it sound superstitious, many believe it works and do have spiritual benefits.

*** Do you know that bitter kola is one of the easiest ways to increase your Sperm without going through any medical means. The examination has shown that individuals that have the practice of chewing two slices in a day hardly suffer little sperm court. Both Men and Women can gain a lot of benefits of bitter kola when they chew it.  People drench the cola for 2 days, mix the cola with heated water to take out the extract, after which it is filtered so the unmixed and plain solution is obtained. Some people like better to take off the back that is the outer layer but it is more effective when you mix it together, by doing this you grow the level of the vigorous effect of bitter kola on sperm. It is believed to cure Male impotence.

Ify Asia Chiemeziem Museum…

*** Unlimited Sexual performance: Bitter kola is the number one Sexual performance medicine for weak Men. No other product can match the Sexual benefits of bitter kola as its give you unlimited performance in bed! This is a new discovery that has made this product a hot cake! Those who have tasted it are living happily now with their couples. And their Women has no reason to look outside. Get like 6-7 pieces of the bitter cola and mix until you get a smooth structure, add water to the blended mix, stir it up and drink. But it is passable when this blended mix is connected with honey, it tends to grow the potency and it is perfect for the individuals who cannot tolerate the bitter taste of the kola.

Bitter kola and honey Healing properties of honey are known for centuries. Bitter kola and honey are two brothers, which heal body, spirit, and soul. Honey and bitter kola are two natural antibiotics, so combining them you double-strengthen their effect. Honey and bitter kola are used both for the treatment of a sore throat and coarse voice, stimulating mucus, they soften the dry throat. The mixture of these two useful products is also used for the treatment of acne due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Now you know about healing properties of bitter kola and honey, these two medicines are given by nature and help in the treatment of many health problems. Why not to use what nature has given us. Chewing bitter kola relieves coughs, hoarseness, bronchial and throat troubles. Several studies discovered bitter kola to be a remedy for dysentery, osteoarthritis, antidote against poisoning and considered an aphrodisiac.

 The importance of Orogbo during initiation process, sacrifice, propitiation of head, prayer and other essential spiritual steps, before and after Orisha activities cannot be quantified, but it is important to know that Orogbo during divination is equally important, if just to be at the pocket of highly revered Babalawo . The presence of Orogbo depicts longevity for Babalawo and those around him, just like the presence of obi means, evil has no portion in the surroundings of a highly respected and honored Babalawo .

Just like any other Yoruba words , the word Orogbo is coined and derived from two words – oro and gbo.  Oro means very small, round, while Gbo means longevity, eternal, everlasting. when the two words are blended together, it becomes a unified and spiritually blessed word called Orogbo , which consequently means, a round fruits that attract longevity, everlasting blessing, enduring health and perpetual blessing of longevity .

During, initiations or any sacrificial steps, or ritual  or propitiation, Orogbo is used to pray for longevity, sound health, peace, harmony, and happiness. Indeed a man with the blessing of long life and sound health, so also his loved ones enjoy the same degree of health and longevity  is indeed a blessed man in the jungle of life that is filled with mishap, untimely death and sorrow. The name of the fruits Orogbo  is coined to denote Iwure (prayer), it is a spiritual seed  that establish the power of divinities with abundant  trait of long life  and sound health . However during  Initiations, Sacrifice or Ajiki , which is early morning prayer, Orisha devotees or seeker of truth through the tradition of Orisha, are required to pray and eat  part of this fruits, to serve as alignment  with the force and natural energies  embedded in the nature. Orisha is a religion or philosophy based on the use of natural materials in the nature .

While Obi Abata is perceived to be a Female fruit energy, that give birth to Male and Female alike, Orogbo is a Male fruit energy  that fail to have lobes or part like Obi. Orogbo can be cut into pieces either by teeth or knife, it has no parts, but a hard fruit that shows natural toughness and ruggedness. While obi is easily breakable with just hand and it is used also to denote the Feminine part of the universal force or energy. Orogbo represents   the dominant energy of God  with unique characteristics of solidity , strength , firmness and oneness of energy in the universe. Orogbo symbolizes  unilateral force of God  which means life, wisdom, strength, victory, longevity and sound health in abundance. Orogbo also denotes that life in any way cannot be explained or invented  except through divine  and spiritual understanding and wisdom .  

Orogbo according to above explanation is an object that represents the uniqueness and unified energy and vibration  of God in our lives. If all necessary spiritual, physical, mental, moral and emotional obligation are followed, happy lot, success,  longevity and sound health will be out lot, that is the meaning of Orogbo .

*** Another importance of Bitter Kola is that it  repels snakes. It can be used to chase snakes away. For snake prevention, spread it around the building. ***  

Reference Sources: Wikipedia = 

 

 

ABIKU = Born To Die Prematurely…

*** The Concept of Abiku and Emere In Yoruba Culture *** 

 The knowledge we used to build a house is incomparable to the wisdom we will apply to live in it. The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.

Abiku = The One Who Is Destined To Die…

Some children over time are reborn to the same mother with the previous look, sex, complexion and structure. Owing to ephemeral nature of Abiku’s life. Abiku completes several consecutive life-cycles with one mother. In some cases, the Yoruba in one of their traditional ways of deterring Abiku from reoccurring deaths after reborn deface them either by cutting their finger, ear or a deep mark in the face or back. To a great astonishment and in most cases, the Abiku on reborn would have those marks whether on the face or back

Emere and Abiku are the kind of children who make a certain pledge concerning their life duration with their mates in the Spiritual Sphere. At the expiration of their time, they die and re-unite with their mates. Some oral tradition also confirm that some Emere among them are readily married in their realm and probably bore children over there. A spirit that is referred to as Spiritual Husband – Oko Orun  will have sexual intercourse with her in her dream and this will result to miscarriage. 

The Emere and Abiku if eventually cannot return to their mates, perhaps because of some spiritual appeasement made by their parents, believed to be having problems because their mates will be crossed with them for breaking the re-unification accord. The problems such person usually confronts is the misplacing or total loss of any items in their possession often, money. The solution to that may include offering sacrifice inform of food to stop such occurrence.

Abiku = The One Who Is Destined To Die…

The Abiku and Emere are very attractive because of their beauty and they love to live very close to water or coastal areas. The Emere and Abiku spirit usually roams around some areas like the side of the road, corner in the cities and villages, footpath in suburban area, jungle, inside trees like Iroko tree etc. That is why often, pregnant women are advised to desert these areas in order not to attract the spirit. 

In preventing such incidence, pregnant women are advised to attach either a needle or a small white stone to the edge of their clothes. The Emere and Abiku would not be able to follow the woman because those are elements that work against them. Aside this, pregnant women are not advised to stay alone in a hidden and dark place. They should also desist from going to T junction at noon. They are also forbidden to go out at the late hours in the night and they should desist from going to coastal areas and dumping sites.

Abiku is someone, who does not care about their own suffering, they suffer with a smile. Sweetness and bitterness are two extremes that are present at all times. This is the energy of Abiku’s Ori: When we talk about Abiku we can see that a lot of people like to suffer and they do not care that they are suffering. Their feelings and their activities are always connected with suffering.

 Abiku Connection With Ori – If we look at the lives of people critically, we can easily see this. This is a trend for everyone that has Abiku energy. The reality of Abiku is connected to their Ori. One of the toughest challenges is how to treat (heal) someone who is born with the energy of Abiku

 Ifa considers the individual top priority, using all the knowledge and instruments it deals with making the individuals life good here and now, in this life. Everyone is born with some sort of predestination. It is not fate because if something is fated, then the individual has no way of affecting that. But when something is predestinated, someone can realize that or not because everyone is responsible for his own life.  In life we have all that which we can call good luck: progress, longevity, health, luck… But good goes hand-in-hand with destructive energy, and if we wish to achieve the good, we have to neutralize the bad.

 We can classify destructive energy into four basic destructive elements:                Death –  Sickness – Failure –  Confusion

 When we consider a person who has the Abiku syndrome, it means that these destructive energies are constantly stalking him and that he is under heavy influence in at least one area by some of these elements. When everything seems to go well and suddenly it seems as if one of these energies got activated and it gives out the impression of being out of the person’s control.

The energy of a spiritual society, with which it is necessary to stop excessive embroidery, pacts and similar connections, so that someone could live a good life. A person with this energy is not treated as problematical but is understood and treated to maintain the positive elements of this energy. In fact, almost everyone who has this energy present, probably has an exceptional talent and capabilities which he could, with the right treatment, develop better than other people.

This preserved knowledge can contribute a lot in the process of education, as well as treating people. People with this syndrome often go to doctors but that kind of treatment does not help and in a different extreme situation someone with that energy can live through and recover when it is no longer expected. In order to understand at least a little about this energy, we must first look into the concept of a human being and how he is understood by Ifa as well as other spiritual practices.

 A child that is not a “radical” Abiku is born normally after 9 months of pregnancy. If it belongs to the “real” Abiku which do not want to be born, it will be born before time, before the end of normal pregnancy (after 6-8 months). After the birth of the child many things start happening; the forming of its character, its personality. In this period of growth the child recognizes the people who love it and reject it. But it begins to understand the definition of its life. It begins to distance itself from people and begins to fear the life. When we look at a person within our family or among our friends we sometimes fear for him.

All this is what creates the universe of Abiku. If we go back to pregnancy and birth: some experiences of spontaneous abortion, premature death, constant illnesses or mothers decision to make an abortion – these are all actions that only Abiku can afford.

 There are Abiku actions that are called Emere. Emere is a child with a hidden behavior – at times very stubborn, rebellious, disobedient, with a passion for accidents, bold, constantly provocative, takes risks, a child who loves revenge, often gets ill, often cries without reason, always talks with itself, plays alone or simply does not want to play with other children. Sometimes Emere creates a stage for himself and also plays all the roles himself. Those who have this sort of energy often talk to their imaginary friends, complain to them and fight with them. They stand out of the traditional system. That is why we say they are stubborn, rebellious. It is not true, however, that they are rebellious only out of malice because Abiku loves to be different than his peers.

 Positive Characteristics Of Abiku:  We need to understand the following – What counts is not what we have, but what we make with what we have. That is the problem of Abiku. Those who have this energy, which we consider supernatural, need a spiritual grip so that they could turn this energy to their own advantage.

 There exists a society of Abiku, the universe of Abiku actually. One of the most dangerous Abiku aspects is the one that Abikus are always highly connected with the spiritual world. They are in the visible and invisible world at the same time. They live in both these worlds at the same time. They have nightmares, some always sleep with their eyes open, they can sleepwalk, can go to the kitchen in the middle of the night to drink water… etc.

At night Abiku can manifest itself in a way similar to a dream but in their being they do not dream anymore, they actually travel into another world where they meet their friends.  Sometimes they have many confused information about what happens to them at night. But that actually are not dreams but rather Abiku transformations because Abiku always lives a parallel life. Sometimes they wake up on the other side of the bed, sometimes they even keep falling off the bed. Abiku is in both worlds at all times. Just like children, adult Abiku can also wet their bed.

*** Abiku = The One Who Is Destined To Die… The name refers to children under twelve that died, as well as to the spirits that killed them. The general belief is, that some spirits wonder in the uninhabited wild land. These spirits, the Abiku, are sad, but mostly hungry. They try to improve their life by entering into children body. When the Abiku spirit is settled in the child body, it consumes the child food, and slowly, the child will get sick and die.

Reference Sources: Wikipedia = 

 

AGANJU… Òrìshà of Antiquity

Deity is an offspring of Obatala and Odudua. Aganju, a male Deity (Orisha) representing the land. The word Aganju means ” a desert ,” the worship of the Deity has fallen into disuse. He is syncretized with Saint Christopher. Aganju is strongly associated with Shango, both Deities (Orishas) being members of the deified royal family of Oyo. In the Yoruba areas of Nigeria and Danxome, Aganju is known as a deified warrior king from the town of Shaki in the present-day Oyo State of Nigeria. He was said to walk with a sword. Shaki is in the northern part of Yorubaland that is hilly and rocky. Aganjú is a Deity (Orisha) of great antiquity.

Lukumi followers of this religion believe that Aganjú is a force that, like the sun that is his symbol, is essential for growth, as well as a cultivator of civilizations. Like the volcano with which he is also associated, he forms the foundation upon which societies are built and is the catalyst for the production of vast amounts of wealth and commerce needed for advanced development. He is most highly regarded by Lukumi practitioners for his role in assisting humans in overcoming great physical as well as psychological barriers. Like the volcano, Aganjú is noted for his legendary strength and his ability to bring about drastic change. His significance in Cuba in the past is most probably due in part to the fact that he was said to have delivered people out of bondage and helped one to carry the heaviest of burdens.

As Lord of Caves, he owns all the mineral wealth of the earth and can be appealed to part with some. He also acts as the god of untamed lands, from deserts to mountains and is the navigator, knowing the safe passages and fords across rivers.

His patterns consists of nine beads: two brown, one red, one yellow, one blue, one yellow, one red, two brown is one pattern. He likes offerings of beer and beef. He may try to eat the beer bottles however. It’s one of his favorite tricks. Mediums carrying Aganju may well try and eat glass as well.  The name Aganju means uninhabited tract of country, wilderness, plain, or forest.

Aganju is the bearer of burdens, the defender of the helpless, down trodden and enslaved. Aganju is a force of life that overcomes obstacles and does the impossible. Because of this, he was a major symbol of African resistance against the enslaving European culture. In the future, may people everywhere who are persecuted and marginalized be inspired by Aganju and overcome oppression.

Aganju is credited with assisting humans overcome physical as well as psychological barriers, Argayu is regarded as the healer. Agayu is depicted as this great rough giant, that has no rhythm when dancing, when in fact he is one of the most docile, humble and generous Orishas in the Yoruba Pantheon.

Creator of civilization – Defender of the helpless & the oppressed

Aganju the third sitting king of Oyo empire a very brave king. He is a lover of nature and animal. History have it that Aganju domestic a Leopard and keep it in his Palace . He hate oppression, he likes to visit the wilderness and rivers. He normally walk to anywhere with his double edge sword. He loves beads majorly with color red, yellow, light blue, dark blue, green, deep brown,, milky white. Aganjú’s role as a mediator is further developed in his capacity as the ferryman who takes souls from the material to the spiritual plane after they experience death. A ferryman has to know the river he travels very well; he must chart the safest course and keep his passengers out of harm’s way. Aganjú personifies the wise guide who takes people to new places.

*** Aganju is the Orisha of Volcano & Wilderness ***

In Cuba, Aganju is a volcano deity for the practitioners of Santeria-Lukumi religion. But there are no volcanoes in Yorubaland, nor is Aganju associated with volcanoes among the Yoruba people.

In the Afro-Brazilian tradition of Candomblé, Aganjú is worshiped as a manifestation or quality of the Orisha Shango, often called Xango Aganjú. Aganjú represents all that is explosive and lacking control. He is the embodiment of the Volcanoes.

 

 

 

Osanyin = Metaphysical Powers…

*** The leaf is his knife and his wand. Osanyin represents the two sides of herbal power. The same thing that can cure you, if used improperly can kill you.

Deity Osanyin Staff…

*** No Leaf Can Fall From The Tree Without The Authority, Power and Knowledge of God…

  Herbalists and Priests enlist the aid of Osanyin, the spirit of herbal medicines, in their work against mental and physical illness caused by malevolent forces and individuals. The Yoruba believe the power of Osanyin is vested in a wrought iron staff, called an Osanyin staff, that is placed on altars to this Deity (Orisha).

Deity Osanyin Staff…

The staff is composed of a circle of small birds and a shaft in the middle that elevates a large bird above smaller ones. The reason for this division could be to suggest the relaying of Metaphysical powers from the celestial to the Terrestrial realm. The Yoruba reference to Osanyin as “The one who sees everything, like God (Olodumare)” allowing him a vantage point from which he can protect all of humanity below.

The birds, emissaries of Ogun, refer to the Herbalist’s understanding of and power over these malevolent people. There are typically sixteen birds, invoking the most sacred number of divination, surrounding and confronting the central bird, which represents the smallpox God.

Omi-Ero Orisha Oba…

Osanyin the Deity of healing credited with all knowledge of Herbs, Leaves and Roots for Medicinal purposes. The myths of origin, history and religious beliefs of West-Africa were carried by the slaves across to the Americas and the Caribbean. This factor has maintained a continuity in space and time with the original cult. To the Yoruba, health is a state in which there is a blending of physical, mental, emotional social moral and spiritual well-being. To achieve this harmony they resort to divination to find out the cause of and remedy for their illness.

The traditional Healers fall into four groups and of these the Diviner/Herbalist meet the needs of anyone who is ill by providing both diagnosis and medication. Among this group are the Herbalists (Onishegun) who diagnose and provide the remedy through dialogue with the deity and the Osanyin who acquire the knowledge of herbs and the associated incantations through a system of apprenticeship. The herbs are collected by the Herbalists (Onishegun) under whose watchful eyes the medications are prepared. 

*** There Are No Òrìshás Without Leaves ***

Òsányìn is a deity or divinity of the medical herbage, his importance is primordial and no ceremony within the Ifá philosophy is made without his involvement. He is the one who finds the force, the vitality and the power of performance, no divinity can pass trough, without him. This power lives in several leaves and herbs, the name of these leaves and herbs and their use, is the most secret of the Deity (Òrìshà) cult.

Every divinity has its particular leaves and plants, the use of one contraindicated leave could have harmful effects and harvesting is done with extreme care. In wild places, brush or forest where plants grow freely, the plants that grow in gardens should be discarded, because the forest is the home of Òsányìn.

The priests of this Deity (Òrìshà) wakes up very early without having any sexual activity from the day before and goes to the forest without greeting anyone on their way. The priest offers incantations to strip the leaves, roots, bark and fruits and deposits his offering to the deity before leaving the forest.

These priests are aware of the leaves used interchangeably, among them we note that there are leaves with virtues such as sheet of fortune, happiness, joy, fertility, fame, longevity, courage.. . But there are also leaves of misery, fever and other even more fearsome illness. The leaves come in form of decoctions, baths of purification which are intended to form a magic lake between the divinity and certain objects that are enshrined including the blood of a specific animal. The employment of the leaves is fundamental, because these leaves are used to elaborate the divine powder of the deities and receive a growing force that creates a strong bond of interdependence between the worshipers.

Omi Ero- Amashi = Medicinal Water

Òsányìn is the doctor, by a divine mandate and haves a deep knowledge of botany and diseases that afflict humans, he is in charge of preparing the medicine for children and infants. He’s the only divinity that is able to use the corn meal oil to prepare medicinal ointments. All the plants are attributed to this deity, because of the principal basis of his role in the planetary system.

Baba Amangnon Sacred Ritual *IFA* Anango.

It exist and persists a judgment that Òsányìn is the divinity of Sorcery and Witchcraft and his followers seek his support against their enemies, in times of disputes, disagreements and fights. This contributes in a double misconception, because the key to the way of living is to live without being attacked and without attacking, however no matter which plan is initiated to any individual, looses the effect if the power of justice is on the individuals side, this because Òsányìn is neither an aggressive deity nor a warrior, he is only a medical deity in the planetary system and he is used to cure and remedy those painful diseases that science has not been able to defeat.

Omi Ero- Amashi = Medicinal Water

It is a belief that Òsányìn was born with knowledge about the plants and trees, because he did not learn from anybody. There are many different kinds of Òsányìn and the one that is one legged and known as – Òsányìn elésè-kan, is the fiercest and has great medicine knowledge.

Osanyin’s magic is so powerful that no one can unravel his spells. Consequently he is petitioned for any purpose where unconquerable magic is required. Osanyin is often depicted as an extremely disfigured, impish man. He has one eye, one hand, one foot, one tiny ear that can hear even a pin drop, and one ear larger than his head that hears nothing. He keeps all of his magic in a calabash that he hangs high in a tree, out of reach.

Ori Apere = Akinwale Faseyi Awo Rere

*** Ifa staffs usually have one bird and of course the inverted Agogo Bells. However, they are in effect the same thing. The sixteen birds surrounding the one bird is obviously a reference to the Itan of when Orunmila entered the town of the Aje (witches).There is a strong connection between Osanyin and Orunmila and also to Ogun, for the Opa Osun is made out of iron. Ogun lives in the forest, hence his connection to Osanyin.

 *** Osanyin herbs have the power to neutralize the Ajogun – negative forces. Both staffs represent the triumph of consciousness -Ori over the forces of illness and destruction. Osun is the male aspect of Oshun, the spirit of the river. The Osun is a staff that is traditionally only given to Awo who have Odu pot. The staff represents Oso – the ability to astral travel. The bird on the Osun is  a vulture, representing the Ashe of Oshun. Odu Ifa says that Oso comes to women via their menstrual cycle as a birth right passed from mother to daughter.

*** Being possessed by a female Orisha gives a man the ability to astral travel. When a man is in the astral realm he is in the land of the Mothers and to go to the land of the Mothers is challenging as a man, so Ifa teaches that a male Awo goes to the land of the Mothers disguised as a female bird. That is the reason why when a male Awo enters Igbodu  wearing a Mariwo Ede and Beads dangling from his knee. This is the disguise of being a bird. After that, the Ifa Iyawo places his left foot on the Osun staff connection him to the Ancestors. 

*** Ifa says that men can develop the ability of Oso as a consequence of receiving Ifa initiation- Tefa. Men are presented to Odu during Tefa. Being presented to Odu during Tefa gives men the ability to be mediums for female Orisha – among other things…

Omi Ero- Amashi = Medicinal Water

*** Praise to the owner of herbal Medicines & Leaves:  The supernatural one, one-who-turns-all-leaves-into-medicine. One who is versed in the use of roots, one who has a sharp, pointed tail like that of a chick. One who has a liver as crystal clear as a fly’s. One who is as powerful as an iron rod. Aroni, the custodian of secrets who fastens medicine on his chest. One who forcibly takes the clothes from a sick man and staggers. He who fights without being guilty. A big masquerade for whom the mortar is rolled. Leaves in the hand – Leaves in the mouth – There is nothing you can’t do – One whose body is full of medicine . He who can revive and can kill – He who uses medicine to fight death. A leopard that prepares medicine to remove  assaults. He drinks some water and uses some to anoint his head. He turns 200 leaves into one – One whose body is full of medicine. The mighty man who preserves the forest for medicinal purposes – The man who uses leaves to do all he wants. 

Herbs have enormous Magical Power, as they hold the Earth’s energy within them. Each herb has unique properties that can enhance one’s magical goals. Herbs also may have medicinal properties. The magical practitioner can draw upon either aspect when performing a spell. Harvest herbs in the morning after the sun has dried the dew but before the heat of the day sets in. Use a sharp magical knife to cut herbs; the knife should be consecrated specifically for this purpose. Thank the plant for its gift, and offer it something in return, perhaps some water. Harvest only the amount of herbs needed, except when pruning the plants, to ensure healthy growth for the following season.

Roots on the other hand – often the most magically potent part of the plant – once chopped or powdered are fairly indistinguishable one from the other. Familiarize yourself with herbs and other botanical. Know what they should look like, and what they should smell like…

SACRED PLANTS = In the world of plants, some are used for sacred and ceremonial purposes, to explore the spirit world. The use of these plants derives from native cultures, whose members have traditionally sought access to the supernormal through the ingestion of the plants and their preparations. The use of these plants differs from contemporary religious practices in a key way. For while religious prayer, ritual and communion are engaged to propitiate god or gods, the use of sacred plants is intended to give the participant direct access to the divine experience. The difference is not slight but radical.

Additionally, the sacred plants are used for healing purposes. True healing puts into order the body, mind and spirit with the past, present and future. Such integration is possible by various means, including by the ceremonial use of the sacred plants. Throughout history these plants have been employed to heal disorders of body, mind and spirit, and today a whole new emerging body of study is currently examining the healing properties of some of these plants.

In the world of plants, some are used for sacred and ceremonial purposes, to explore the spirit world. The use of these plants derives from native cultures, whose members have traditionally sought access to the unknowns through the ingestion of the plants and their preparations. The use of these plants differs from contemporary religious practices in a key way. For while religious prayer, ritual and communion are engaged to propitiate god or gods, the use of sacred plants is intended to give the participant direct access to the divine experience. 

Reference Sources: Wikipedia = Awo  Falokun =

 

Dogon Cults = Awa – Lebe – Binu…

Circumcision Is Seen As Necessary For The Individual To Gain Gender…

In Dogon thought, Male and Females are born with both sexual components. The clitoris is considered Male, while the foreskin is considered Female. – Originally, for the Dogon, man was endowed with a dual soul, and circumcision eliminates the superfluous one. Rites of circumcision thus allow each sex to assume its proper physical identity.

Most men, however, have only one wife, and it is rare for a man to have more than two wives. Formally, wives join their husband’s household only after the birth of their first child. After having children, divorce is a rare and serious matter, and it requires the participation of the whole village.

The religious beliefs of the Dogon are enormously complex and knowledge of them varies greatly within Dogon society. Dogon religion is defined primarily through the Worship of the Ancestors and the spirits whom they encountered as they slowly migrated from their obscure Ancestral homelands to the Bandiagara cliffs.

*** Three Principal Cults:  Awa – Lebe – Binu ***

The Awa is a Cult of the Deadwhose purpose is to reorder the spiritual forces disturbed by the death of Nommo, a  mythological Ancestor of great importance to the Dogon. Members of the Awa cult dance with ornate carved and painted masks during both funeral and death anniversary ceremonies. There are 78 different types of ritual masks among the Dogon and their iconographic messages go beyond the aesthetic, into the realm of religion and philosophy.The primary purpose of Awa dance ceremonies is to lead souls of the deceased to their final resting place in the family altars and to consecrate their passage to the ranks of the Ancestors.

The Cult of Lebe – Earth God, is primarily concerned with the agricultural cycle and its chief priest is called a  Hogon. All Dogon villages have a Lebe shrine whose altars have bits of Earth incorporated into them to encourage the continued fertility of the land. According to Dogon beliefs, the God Lebe visits the Hogons every night in the form of a serpent and licks their skins in order to purify them and infuse them with life force. The Hogons are responsible for guarding the purity of the soil and therefore officiate at many agricultural ceremonies.

The cult of Binu is a totemic practice and it has complex associations with the Dogon’s sacred places used for Ancestor Worship, Spirit communication and agricultural sacrifices. Major Dogon sacred sites were related to episodes in the Dogon myth of the creation of the world, in particular to a deity named Nommo. Binu shrines house spirits of mythic ancestors who lived in the legendary era before the appearance of death among mankind. Binu spirits often make themselves known to their descendants in the form of an animal that interceded on behalf of the clan during its founding or migration, thus becoming the clan’s totem.

The priests of each Binu maintain the sanctuaries whose facades are often painted with graphic signs and mystic symbols. Sacrifices of blood and millet porridge the primary crop of the Dogon are made at the Binu shrines at sowing time and whenever the intercession of the immortal ancestor is desired. Through such rituals, the Dogon believe that the benevolent force of the ancestor is transmitted to them. Kananga masks form geometric patterns and represent the first human beings. The Dogon believe that the Dama dance creates a bridge into the supernatural world. Without the Dama dance, the dead cannot cross over into peace.

  ***The Dogon are strongly oriented toward harmony, which is reflected in many of their rituals. For instance, in one of their most important rituals, the women praise the men, the men thank the women, the young express appreciation for the old, and the old recognize the contributions of the young. Another example is the custom of elaborate greetings whenever one Dogon meets another. This custom is repeated over and over, throughout a Dogon village, all day.

The Hogon is the spiritual leader of the village. He is elected from among the oldest men of the extended families of the village. After his election, he has to follow a six-month initiation period, during which he is not allowed to shave or wash. He wears white clothes and nobody is allowed to touch him. A virgin who has not yet had her period takes care of him, cleans the house and prepares his meals. She returns to her home at night. After his initiation, he wears a red fez. He has an armband with a sacred pearl that symbolises his function. The virgin is replaced by one of his wives, and she also returns to her home at night. The Hogon has to live alone in his house. The Dogon believe the Sacred Snake Lébé comes during the night to clean him and to transfer wisdom.

There is also a secret ritual language Sigui So – language of Sigi , which is taught to dignitaries – Olubarū of the Society of the Masks during their enthronement at the Sigui ceremony.

***The Dogon people believe the fox has supernatural powers. In the morning, the diviner will read the fox prints on the sand and make interpretations. The fox is sure to come because offerings of millet, milk and peanuts are made to this sacred animal.

The Nummo were referred to as “Water Spirits.” Although the Nummo were identified as being “Dieu d’eau” (Gods of Water) identified the Nummo as hermaphrodites and they appeared on the female side of the Dogon sanctuary.” They were primarily symbolized by the sun, which was a Female symbol in the religion. In the Dogon language, the sun’s name, (nay), had the same root as “mother,” (na), and “cow,” (nā). They were symbolized by the colour red, a Female symbol.

Most of the conversations indeed turned largely on Twins and on the need for duality and the doubling of individual lives. The Eight original Ancestors were really eight pairs… But after this generation, human beings were usually born single. Dogon religion and Dogon philosophy both expressed a haunting sense of the original loss of Twin-ness. The heavenly Powers themselves were dual, and in their Earthly manifestations they constantly intervened in pairs…” The birth of human Twins was celebrated in the Dogon culture  because it recalled the “fabulous past, when all beings came into existence in twos, symbols of the balance between humans and the divine.”

The Twin Sect: The birth of twins is a sign of good luck. The enlarged Dogon families have common rituals, during which they evoke all their Ancestors back to their origin—the ancient pair of Twins from the creation of the world.

***The Dogon use this entertainment to gain profit by charging the tourists money for what masks they want to see and the ritual itself.

Funeral Masquerade – This particular ritual incorporates the elements of the yingim and the danyim. During the Yincomoli Ceremony, a gourd is smashed over the deceased’s wooden bowl, hoe, and Bundukamba, (burial blanket), which announces the entrance of the masks used in this ceremony, while the deceased entrance to their home in the family compound is decorated with ritual elements.

Great Mask or Mother Of Masks  The  Mask represents the Women Ancestors, who are said to have discovered the purpose of the masks by guiding the spirits of the deceased into the afterlife.

The Lébé Sect worships the Ancestor Lébé Serou – the first mortal human being who in Dogon myth was transformed into a Snake. The celebration takes place once a year and lasts for three days.

Certain researchers investigating the Dogon have reported that they seem to possess advanced Astronomical knowledge, the nature and source of which have subsequently become embroiled in controversy. Puzzled by this Sudanese star system, and prefaced their analysis with the disclaimer. The problem of knowing how, with no instruments at their disposal, men could know the movements and certain characteristics of virtually invisible stars has not been settled, nor even posed.

= We have in the Dogon information a predictive mechanism which it is our duty to test, regardless of our preconceptions.

“The Dual Soul Is A Danger; A Man Should Be Male & A Woman Female. Circumcision & Excision Are Once Again The Remedy.”

Reference Sources: Wikipedia =  Shannon Dorey =

Olokun = Keeper of Secrets

                                 **Ancestral Waters of Life…

To understand Olokun nature we need to look at the nature of the bottom of the sea, a vast mostly unexplored dark habitat. The deep sea floor is a seemingly hostile environment and yet life thrives down there. In fact scientists believe that there is more life in the dark abyss of the Earth’s oceans than in all of the tropical rain forests put together.  

Like her world, so is Olokun the Keeper of Secrets. Anything that falls to the bottom of the sea floor remains intact forever more, never to be laid eyes on by anyone other than herself and her underwater children. Olokun is believed to hold the secrets of the past, the present and the future. She knows all and guards that knowledge well. Olokun holds the key to the mystery of exactly what happened to their Ancestors on those fateful journeys across the Atlantic. Many didn’t make it and thus entered the Realm of Olokun. Olokun is all-knowing, She is the Keeper of Wisdom and Divination. She is the Goddess of the Unknown -Darkness – Realm of Dreams & Unconscious.

Olokun – Zaquanix De King

Olokun is the Goddess of Death: Her Domain is the Graveyard of the Earth, cold and dark nature being the perfect environment for the suspended animation of Spirits. Olokun is also the Goddess of Rebirth and Renewal: At the bottom of the deep sea from Her Dark Watery Womb new life springs forth every moment, contributing to a vast and incredibly adaptive ecosystem. Olokun is associated with great riches, She is said to be a Goddess of Wealth and Abundance. Women pray to Her to conceive a child as well as for good health and worldly possessions.

Olokun is often depicted as a beautiful black Mermaid. One of the animals that symbolize Olokun is the mudfish… The Goddess Olokun is also linked to the red coral, a beautiful red gem-like colony of tiny animals that are joined together through the skeletons of their dead ancestors. As corals grow they form reefs which purify the water, provide shelter for other sea creatures and encourage the growth of wildlife habitats beneath the sea.

***In the New World: Especially amongst the Lukumi people in Cuba, Olokun and Yemaya are seen as different aspects of the same Goddess. Yemonja  at the surface of the ocean is exposed to sunlight and the pull of the Moon. She is the Goddess’s life-giving and nurturing side, while Olokun in Her impenetrable abyss is the Goddess’s mysterious, dark and unknowable aspect.

When we speak of  the Ancestral Waters of Life , we speak of waters that has a form of Natural consciousness  that flows and nourishes,  that incubates and feeds and the essence of Maternal caring that relates to the protection of children.

Omi Orun – Ancestral Waters: The idea of heavenly waters  may seem symbolic to us but yet holds the ring of truth since the most commonly found  substance is hydrogen particles  throughout  the universe . Science agrees that the combination of earth and water is what created the womb of all living creatures on the earth in consequence of the union of these elements.

Soul Of Africa Museum   www.soul-of-africa.com

The Olokun was given the title and name of the combined words  OloOkun – Owner of the Oceans of Ode Aye – Earth. As well is her representation of water and birth and in fact a principal part of the human spirit of  consciousness  as well as it makes up part of our bodies. Throughout time and most ancient religions of the east a Female dominate deity took hold of the Title of the owner of the great oceans of earth.

When Olokun is angry she causes the sea to be rough and stirs up a raging surf upon the shore; and it is she who drowns men, upsets boats or canoes, and causes shipwrecks.

Olokun Lord of The Sea

Olokun Sea Goddess – The owner of all the riches under the oceans, the greatest Bead maker, the most powerful Deity whose mantles are the rolling waves of sea water, is a most beautiful divinity to behold. Her long, braided hair flows with the waves of the undulating waters, her ebony dark skin glistening like priceless pearls under the motion of ceaseless seas.

Soul Of Africa Museum   www.soul-of-africa.com

Olokun heard about the plan to establish human abodes on earth, and became angry.  She was fully prepared to turn down the request to use earth for the human project mainly because she was already using the space for her Bead-making studio. She made Beads of all colors and shapes, but her favorite Bead was the indigo colored, tubular shaped segi bead, so luminously dark that it seems to capture light within its luxurious entrails. It was her love for Bead making that caused her to move her seat to the depth of the ocean, which nobody wanted at that time. But after she succeeded in taming and ruling the vast ocean, after she salted it and stocked it with priceless jewels, after she had transformed the vast and empty space into a home for herself, they began to plot behind her back to take her space from her and turn it into a general home to lodge humans. She found the human project totally unacceptable if it would be at the expense of her own studio work of Bead making.

It was totally unacceptable for the divinities to take her sanctuary away from her, and populate it with strangers. She sat down in a reflective mood in the midst of her vast collection of Beads. She calmly picked up some of the most colorful and exquisite Beads ever made, and slowly rubs the warm gems against her dark brown skin.  She would not give up her craft, she resolved. She would fight for every cup of water in the vast ocean of the earth. It was clear to Olokun that they chose earth because she had developed it so artistically that nobody could take their eyes away from it. But they also thought that she had no fighting power. It was only if the power of the others overwhelmed her that she was going to surrender.

Soul Of Africa Museum   www.soul-of-africa.com

Olokun & The Chameleon… Her secret contact in heaven informed her that they were sending the Chameleon to her. She considered that to be a sign of their contempt for her because they could not be sending a more inferior fellow as an emissary. She knew that every act is a sign of another thing. They were telling her that she was ugly, slow and contemptible, and the chameleon would be a clear deliverer of the message. They were telling her that she was beholding her own reflection in the mirror when she saw the Chameleon riding the Snail as a horse. Right before her eyes, she saw the Chameleon climb down from the back of the Snail. To her astonishment, the skin of the Chameleon glister with a lustrous light that radiated around it. Olokun, to her surprise, wanted to touch it, but she quickly checked her impulsive spirit.

She went into her chambers and began to attire herself in her gorgeous garments, woven in multicolored patterns, using different yarns and textures. She then looked for various combinations of Beads, both brilliant and dull Beads, large and slim, round and angular shaped gems, and she wore them. She then reappeared before the Chameleon, to show off herself, and display how beautiful she looked. “As usual, you are the most elegant and attractive being alive,” the Chameleon said to her, when she came out looking exceedingly beautiful in her attires. But even as the Chameleon spoke, it began to transform, and its skin began to reflect the splendor of the color of Olokun attires. The only exception is that the mirror even looked more splendid than the original, which puzzled Olokun.

Olokun thought about these things and decided that they were too bizarre for her to deal with. Certainly, things have changed in Heaven, and they were no longer as they used to be, if the ugly Chameleon could look so beautiful, and the Snail could be as swift as a horse… She decided that she had underestimated the power of the forces of Heaven. She told the chameleon “I want no trouble from those who sent you here. But you cannot take all of my space. Tell those who sent you that you can have some of the planet, which you may turn into solid ground for human habitation. But I will still continue to reign over the larger portion covered by the waters.”

***Olokun however remembered her word, because one’s word is what is most important. And her word remained that she consented to the establishment a human colony here on earth. So she has to honor and keep her word, for that is the nature of her own graceful character. At one time She was the Goddess of all Waters and all of the Oceans, for Her name means Owner of Oceans – Lord of the Sea. Today, especially amongst the New World Yorubas, Olokun is generally associated with the dark and cold bottom of the sea.

==Both Olokun & Mami Wata use mirrors which represent water and is used as a vehicle into the other world. White Kaolin (Efun) is used for the Olokun while Talcum powder is used for the Mami Wata.

 The worship of Olokun deity in Benin may be because the land of the living is surrounded by limitless water into which all rivers flow and that human souls must cross these waters “Olokun realms” either to be born or depart on their way to the spirit world after death.

Mami Wata – Olokun Togo/Benin

GELEDE = Powerful Mothers…

                          Mothers *  Ancestors * Deities…

 The Gelede spectacle of the Yoruba & Fon is a public display by colorful masks which combines art and ritual dance to amuse, educate and inspire worship. Gelede Celebrates Mothers – Awon Iya Wa, a group that includes female Ancestors and Deities as well as the Elderly Women of the community, and the power and spiritual capacity these women have in society. However, this power may also be destructive and take the form of witchcraft; therefore, Gelede serves the function of appeasing this power, as well. The Gelede social agenda rests on – life is delicate and should be lived with caution and with an emphasis on diplomacy, consideration, respect and harmony.

Most Yoruba myths of origin can be found in the divination narratives knows at Odu Ifa which contains a number of poems called Ese Ifa. An Ese Ifa explains the origins of Gelede as beginning with Yemoja, “The Mother of all the Deities and all living things.”

Yewajobi – Yemoja  could not have children and consulted an Ifa oracle, who advised her to offer sacrifices and to dance with wooden images on her head and metal anklets on her feet. After performing this ritual, she became pregnant. Her first child was a boy, nicknamed “Efe“- Humorist; the Efe mask emphasizes song and jests because of the personality of its namesake. Yewajobi – Yemoja second child was a girl, nicknamed “Gelede” – Obese like her mother Gelede loved dancing.

After getting married themselves, neither Gelede or Efe‘s partner could have children. The Ifa oracle suggested they try the same ritual that had worked for their mother. No sooner than Efe and Gelede performed these rituals- dancing with wooden images on their heads and metal anklets on their feet- they started having children. These rituals developed into the Gelede masked dance and was perpetuated by the descendants of Efe and Gelede.

Although Gelede ceremony may be staged at any time of the year to better the lot of an individual, to cleanse the society of pestilence, to induce rain, to enrich human fertility, to enlist the support of supernatural forces and the – Powerful Mothers in wartime, and to honor the dead, the most elaborate performance occurs during the annual festival.

Once the exact dates of the festival are fixed, usually through divination, the Chief Priestess – Iyalashe notifies the head of the community and the important chiefs. Messages then go out to all members of the Gelede society outside the town or working far away to return home for the celebration.

The festival begins with an all-night concert called Efe, which features the Efe male mask, who uses satire to entertain and educate. Given the concern of the Gelede society with peace and social stability, it is not surprising that didactic themes recur in Efe songs. After the Efe dance, most of the attendees spend the morning sleeping in preparation for the afternoon dance, which takes place in the marketplace and features pairs of male dancers who perform to fast-paced music with a vigorous beat.

The Gelede ceremony involves carefully choreographed dance, singing and music, and especially drumming. The performances are given by men, wearing masks that feature sculpted images of scenes including animals and people or sewing machines and drums. The pairs of men masquerade as women to amuse, please and placate the mothers who are considered very powerful, and who may use their powers for good or destructive purposes. These powers are especially linked to childbirth. The abilities they possess may be activated either consciously or unconsciously.

The Gelede “Mask” is more accurately a headdress, since it rests on top of the head and the wearer’s face is covered by a cloth veil. The headdress takes the form of a human head, on top of which are motifs that are intended to entertain onlookers but, in addition, usually address social concerns that may also be expressed in songs that are part of the masquerade. Individuals or families will usually go to any length to make their headdresses as attractive and humorous as possible.

Most of the headdresses have facial adornments, ranging from lineage marks to decorative tattoos, which are either incised or painted. The headdress is to the costume what the Head – Ori is to the human body. It is an index of identification and the essence of the masker’s personality as long as he is inside the mask. In spite of the comical representations that often appear on the headdress, the face below the superstructure remains serene, as if stressing the paradox that is life-and the need to live life with special care.

The Ketu-Yoruba people are credited with the invention of Gelede sometime in the latter part of the eighteenth century according to Oral traditions throughout the region.  A popular Yoruba saying proclaims, oju to ba ri Gelede ti de opin iran – The eyes that have seen Gelede, have seen the ultimate spectacle. Gelede effective power and impact comes from its multi-media format in which the arts of song, dance, costume and music combine to create moving artistic experiences.

Gelede pays homage to the Spiritual Powers of Women, especially Elderly Women known affectionately as “Our Mothers,” Awon Iya Wa. The powers possessed by such Women, comparable to those of the Gods, Spirits, or Ancestors, may be used for the benefit or the destruction of society.  When manifesting their destructive dimension such Elderly Women are termed Aje – Witches.  If angered, they can bring down individuals and entire communities.

   The Yoruba & Fon Markets Are Controlled By Women…To honor Women’s economic power and contributions, many Gelede headdresses depict Women’s heads carrying the goods they sell in the marketplace. Many Gelede masks depict animals that serve as metaphors for human actions and attributes as well as illustrations of popular proverbs and songs that often accompany the mask’s appearance. Animals in devouring motifs are an important means of conveying the concept of competing forces in social as well as spiritual realms.

This Gelede mask displays two snakes wrapped around gourd rattles at the sides of a peaked hairstyle.  The rattles are the regalia of priestesses whose spiritual powers are evoked by the snakes. Notice that the face of the male performer is clearly seen through the thin veil of cloth.  Unlike other Yoruba masking traditions where the performer’s identity must be hidden because they deal with spiritual forces, Gelede maskers can be seen since they focus on forces in the world.

As dusk approaches after a dazzling array of masqueraders imaging countless aspects of Yoruba life and thought, a final masker – one that synthesizes Goddess, Ancestress, and Priestess appears to conclude and bless the Gelede spectacle.  Her white ensemble glowing in the growing darkness, Iya Odua (Mother Odua) moves with measured stride toward the marketplace accompanied by her priestess, her attire mirroring that of the masker visually to unite spiritual and earthly realms.  Iya Odua slow, stately tread conveys her Age, Wisdom, and Sacred Power. Her whiteness symbolizes her cool, covert demeanor and her post-menopausal purity for she is the creative, protective, nurturing mother of the gathered crowd, her offspring. Iya Odua appearance assures the community that the lavish spectacle has pleased and placated her, and that the Mothers will use their power and influence for the benefit of all.

Gelede masquerades are spectacles performed by the Yoruba people in Nigeria and DanXome that celebrate the Mystical Power Of WomenGelede refers to the concept of honoring women and their innate powers so that the entire community may reap the benefits of their life-giving forces.  There are many different variations of the Gelede spectacle, which varies from region to region, but this concept remains consistent throughout all of them. 

It is an incredible artistic manifestation of the power of Women which is evident in the concepts, costumes and masks, and location of the spectacle. The World is fragile, meaning that the Gelede celebration is warring with the evil of the world without killing. The preservation of the Gelede celebration and its significance and homage to Women is a critical foundation of a community in so far as its cultural and social identity.

The festival involves colorful masks, striking headdresses, festive music, and miraculous performances and importantly the celebration of Womanhood.

Reference Sources: Henry John Drewal = Margaret Thompson Drewal =

TREES = Rituals & Ceremonies…

“It is their belief that when a family member dies, their spirit resides in the natural environment to watch over their kin, relay messages to and from God, and grant blessings, wishes, and requests.”

In Africa the practice of Tree worship is based on the belief that Ancestor spirits live in the Trees and forests as well as any other natural formations that are considered peaceful.

Sacred Trees are highly manicured and sculpted so that they can provide a sheltered place for gatherings. In many villages they were the center of social activity—from community dances to court sessions, as well as metaphors for the strength of community bonds. And as the mythology goes, Sacred Trees represent a cosmic connection between Earth and the Heavens. The Trees helped people measure the passing of time through seasonal changes and became the centerpiece of local folklore.

In many cultures around the world, Trees are used in creation stories and myths to explain human, and spiritual, origins. Such trees frequently represent the axis of the universe that connects different realms of the cosmos.  Its branches hold up the heavens, its trunk stands in the earthly realm, and its roots descend into the underworld.

          The supernatural characters and powers of sacred trees…

In many religions, sacred places as well as Orishas were thought to possess supernatural characters and the power to carry out miracles or as having magical powers. The same attitude is found throughout history as an outcome of tree Worship-Adoration-Veneration.

Sacred Trees were sometimes described as possessing huge or unusual dimensions or miraculous physical characters.  Frequently, sacred Trees were regarded as having omnipotent magic powers to punish, cure, or to carry out miracles and to confer unusual abilities.

In many cultures around the globe sacred Trees are strictly protected, and injuring the Tree in any way is regarded as sacrilege. This deep faith has been established in the course of generations by tradition and stories of actual punishment meted out by the Gods-Souls-Orishas to which the Trees are dedicated. Injuring the Tree, especially cutting it down may leave the resident spirit homeless and it would soon take its revenge.

In some communities fear of revenge by the spirits in response to any harm to the sacred Tree is so great that special ceremonies, which may include sacrifices, prayers, ceremonies, are held to pacify the angry spirit before a Tree is cut.

Not surprisingly, any kind of harm done to the sacred Tree-Grove-Forest is feared to cause a furious punitive response by a supernatural being. This fear is so deeply imprinted in human conscience of various Tribes*Communities that the people are afraid even to pick a leaf or to collect dead wood from below the Tree, which may carry an immediate sentence of death.

Throughout history, and in many cultures, sacred Trees were regarded as omens and oracles, as well as soothsayers that may speak in human voices. Punishment of whoever violates the Tree All over the world sacred Trees are protected by a system of taboos and ceremonies which were developed to prevent any damage. These Trees are regarded as the abode of supernatural beings, gods, souls and any harm to such abodes are to be heavily punished. Cutting down sacred Trees is regarded as a particularly serious offence against the supernatural element because such an act leaves the spirit homeless. There is thus a need to repatriate these supernatural beings by means of special ceremonies.

***The manner in which clothes are tied to a sacred Tree to transfer personal troubles or using objects that “absorb” the supernatural powers of the Tree are typical examples of contact magic. Things which have once been in contact with each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. Practically all these manners are methods of “conveying the divine effluence” from the Tree to the devoted people. In this way the supernatural being, which is connected with the sacred Tree, has the power to grant petitions.

Sacred Trees are believed to have magic curative powers in Africa, even species of some plants or parts of it that are not known as having medicinal properties, such as the leaves of a Sacred Oak (Iroko) are regarded as omnipotent forms of medication when administered externally as a decoction. Clearly, the leaves acquire the healing powers when granted by Orishas; just as actual medicinal plants gathered in the vicinity of the sacred Tree are more potent. Most of the uses of sacred Trees for divine blessings or cure seem based on magical contact.

Baobab Tree Senegal

It Is Dark  And The Trees In The Farm Are Silent. One Who Taps Palm Wine Must Pay Attention To His Climbing Rope.

Ayan Agalu = Spirit Of The Drums

Mistakes Are Portals Of Discovery &  Oxygen Of Knowledge:  Play A Wrong Note Is Insignificant – Play Without Passion Is Inexcusable…

Àyàn/Anya was an Orìsà worshiped by the Ancestors of the W/African people and thereby considered as the God of drum and music. Drums like Bata, Sekere, Sakara, and Gángan, Agahu, Dundun, Djembe etc… These Drums are used in  religious worship and some are strictly attached to ritual and ceremonial events. In any case, it is traditionally compulsory to appease Àyàn/Anya invented and endowed the drum with visible and invisible forces.

Drums among Africans are products carved from trees as one of the natural landmarks that as symbols through which they communicate spiritual forces. It is the belief of the W/African people that Drums therefore carry spiritual traits inherent in the tree they are made from and this makes their use important within the religious practices in which they feature within the community. The natural landmarks which Drums are made from are therefore identified as a form of symbolic ritual aesthetics in any ritual practices among the people within their environment.

Àyàn/Anya as an Environmental Deity of the Drum African indigenous religion has its foundation in the culture and tradition of the society. It is this platform that created the belief which people adhere to. The religious belief, therefore, identifies the level of spiritual relationship between the human and the primordial, deified and personified divinities recognized within the religion. The major objective of this relationship is to show that there is a major link between man and higher power, which is God, local deity, a nature deity or a deceased ancestor.

The Sacred Drums speak the Orisha language, and have been used traditionally to recite prayers, religious poetry, greetings, announcements, praises for leaders, and even jokes or teasing.

 Knowledge and Skills Expected of the Master Drummer…

Music in traditional West African culture is all-pervasive. Without it, the people cannot properly create poetry, record history, educate children, celebrate at festivals, praise or abuse, entertain, marry or even die. From the moment of birth, the infant is exposed to strong musical influence. Cradle songs are sung to babies when they are on their mother’s back; these are accompanied by a simple dance step, providing a physical manifestation of rhythm. As soon as the child is old enough, he is encouraged to sing and imitate simple dance movements with accurate rhythm dance pattern and songs. Most of the learning situations mentioned above are informal, providing an opportunity for the child to learn by imitating, observing and listening. Their purpose is to help the child understand his own culture and learn to find his place in it. Religious music tells of the divinities, tribal ancestors and the types of prayers and supplications. As the child absorbs the messages of these songs, he learns what it means to become a full participant in society. Everyone becomes at least an adequate enough singer and dancer to participate in cultural life.

The Master Drummer, music for him is a consummate life-long occupation, and his training is an intensive, continuous process which produces in adulthood a musician possessing skills and knowledge of a degree and breadth to overestimate. The vast majority of Master Drummers are born into drumming families and have fathers who are Master Drummers. An exceptionally gifted child from outside the house of secrets may be apprenticed to a Master Drummer. He will receive the same technical training as a male born into the drumming family, but it would be difficult, if not impossible, for him to absorb all of the cultural, especially religious, knowledge that would be picked up naturally by the son of a Master Drummer.

Master Drummer from the house of Secrets emphasizes masters of traditional importance, such as how to please the gods and his elders, and how to communicate more to his listeners that the message his Drum speaks. His aim is to touch their hearts and move them, and it is this quality in his art that is judged to be the most important for his technical skill is assumed to be near perfect.

The importance of the evocative nature of sound which might be used to achieve the drummer’s desired results, through the medium of sound, he could evoke and handle psychic forces of tremendous potency, which his will could then direct as it suited his purposes. These are some of the things that the Drummer of the house of secrets knows intuitively but which the outsider does not fully grasp.

Let us playwhen they are all in the compound, and for no particular event. Even then they will say that they are playing to get the feel of the Drums, to test them and make sure they are tuned and sound right. They improve constantly within the structure of their everyday lives. The greatest single motivation for a West African child to do well at his drumming is social: he wants to perform and behave as society expects him.

   “He Who Knows How To Wash His Hands Will Eat With The Elders.”

A Drummer never really finished his training or graduates. He is always being tested by older Drummers and as he himself grows older, he will continually test his juniors. Thus, an unbroken line of constant teaching, learning, practicing, and testing is sustained in the house of secrets.

A Master Drummer knows, if he is successful and to what degree, by the general demand for him by how often he is invited to play, and by the status of those who invite him. The people evaluate him primarily on the correctness of his language and his memorization of names and other details, on how well he makes them dance, and how his music touches them personally. Master Drummer is not only a virtuoso on his own lead drum, but he has also mastered the others in his ensemble. In addition, he is a composer, the ensemble conductor, a poet, a historian, a repository of religious knowledge, a philosopher, the coordination of dance and song, and a psychologist par excellence.

Drums

Sacred Drums represent the ultimate expression of God as sound Its symbol is the Drum which serves as both the repository of divine power and the vehicle to give it voice. Sacred Drum is said to be female and is the patron deity of all Drummers.  Therefore, the history of the Drum has evolved from one of religious use and interpretation to musical accompaniment and creation. The Sacred Drums are hermetically sealed sound chamber with certain ritual ingredients and medicines locked inside. When properly performed this ritual heading of the drum is said to affix secret to it.

In a traditional way, Drums are considered to be hung, placed in a reserved place when not in use or set in the sun. This provides a relative dry and undisturbed storing place. The Drum must not be dropped, thrown, stepped over, sat on, or used to curse someone. If these are accidentally or deliberately done, they became a matter of a serious or a grave sin that must be atoned. The sin is considered as a serious taboo to Àyàn the God of the Drum. In that case, if a Drum is broken, it is wrapped in white cloth and buried like a human being in a special ceremony.

The Drum Spirit Who’s larger Than life – The One That Sleeps On Its Side – The Initiates Know The Secret Of The Tortoise – The One That Breathlessly Take The Marketplace By Storm. The Sharpen & Pointed Wood. I Seek Life & Prosperity – Not Death – Disease The Brave One In The house – The Farm. The One That Stands Strong Like Ogun In The House Looks Like The Initiates Of Orisha Oko.