ESHU…Beware of Half Truth; You May Have Gotten Hold of The Wrong Half…
TRICKSTER AT THE CROSSROADS: West Africa’s God of Messages, Sex, and Deceit. When we think of tricksters, we generally imagine folk characters and culture heroes, not Gods. Tricksters either tend to be associated with animal spirits , or are promethean figures, archetypal “humans” who interact with and upset the world of the Gods. But one of the world’s greatest and most interesting trickster figures is not only a God, but a God of high metaphysical content. He is Eshu-Elegbara, one of the Orisha, the West African deities that are worshiped in many related forms across African and the African diaspora in the New World.
While he embodies many obvious trickster elements– deceit, humor, lawlessness, sexuality–Eshu-Elegbara is also the God of communication and spiritual language. He is the gatekeeper between the realms of Man and Gods, the tangled lines of force that make up the cosmic interface, and his sign is the crossroads. In the figure of Eshu-Elegbara, the West African tradition makes a profound argument about the relationship among spiritual communication, divination, and the peculiar chaotic qualities of the trickster. But before we investigate Eshu-Elegbara’s character, we must first place him in the general context of Orisha worship.
The Legba of the Fon-Benin cannot be correlated exactly with the Eshu of the Yoruba-Nigeria. For the Yoruba, Eshu can be a nastier, more malevolent being, though he still delights in contradictions, and, to a lesser extent, sex. Where there is confusion or arguments, he is there. The violence and lawlessness of Eshu’s desire is demonstrated in an a tale related about Eshu-Agberu, the father of all Eshu. Eshu’s mother offers him a bounty of fish and fowl, and Eshu eats it all, and, not sated, eats his mother as well. Orunmila hacks Eshu into little bits, which fall all over the earth, becoming individual shards of Laterite-Yangi stone. Orunmila catches the remaining spirit of Eshu, and to placate his father, Eshu promises that all the Laterite-Yangi stones will become Eshu’s representatives. All Orunmila has to do is bless the stones, and they will do his mystic bidding. Eshu then coughs up his mother.
He is a figure of the greatest importance. Both in the generalized form in which he participates in the worship of the Vodun (Spirit) pantheons and more particularly as guardians of entrances to villages, to markets, to shrines compounds, and houses until he is bought into the closest association of all with a man’s personal destiny (Ifa).
In these terms Eshu, the arch individualist, the personification of the being who loves mischief, knows no inhibitions, recognizes no taboos, dances to challenge injustices, even on the part of the creator and to expose them. He is a moralist only when it suits his impulse. His favors can be had at a price, but only if he is disposed to grant them.
Eshu is the seventh and youngest child of the creator. “As you are spoiled, and have never known punishment”. The creator tells him “I cannot turn you over to your brothers.” There is no kingdom left assign to him and he cannot be made subject to such elements as earth, sky, sea, atmosphere, the forest and their wild life or energy force. Your work shall be to visit all the kingdoms ruled over by your brothers and sisters to give me an account of what happens. Eshu thus becomes what is described as the creator linguist. He is the interpreter for Vodun (Spirit) and men and women before the creator for he alone commands all known tongues.
Eshu is named – Aflan-Kunte meaning ” I have deceived you” to go to Vodun (Spirit) one must first past Eshu to make Ifa one must pass by Eshu. And all men and women must have their Eshu as a personal guardian and this is also why the dog is respected as the animal of Eshu.
Eshu did not want to acknowledge that he had slept with mother (Gbabu) and her daughter (Minona). The creator ordered that his penis shall always be erected and that he may never be appeased. When Eshu dances he tries to take any woman who is at hand.
*** He used his penis to make a bridge Penis broke in two! – Travelers fell into the river. Eshu makes us recognize the fundamental relation between sex and the evolving, continually reconnecting cosmos. “He is the living copula, and his phallus symbolizes the real distinction between outside and inside, and the wild and the ordered.”
** Until a man had entered the forest to trace the eight lines of his destiny, he must never erect a great Eshu in front of his house, since where Ifa the writing of the creator is absent, Eshu may not be present.
Divination Stories: There is the tradition that all stories have come from Ifa, the personifies system of divination. “Everything that happens on Earth has happened in the sky before. So Ifa and Eshu can advise human being because they themselves have discovered how to meet every possible situation in the sky.”
There is no one stronger than Eshu, expect the one that is equal to God in all things. God’s power is greater than Eshu’s power by far. Also Eshu’s power is greater than human’s. Heaven is not profitable for Eshu, so the world is well for him.
Elegba the link between the visible mortal world and the invisible immortal realms. The means and the avenue between them, the vertical access of the universe. As guardian of the sacred gateway, it is Elegba who brings contact with the other Orishas. Elegba must be first to be ritually saluted.
=== The Crossroads is the most important of all ritual figures. whether drowned in flour on flat ground or traced in the air. The sign of the Crossroads is always the juncture where communication between two worlds is established. Where the traffic of energies in forces between them is setup.===
Eshu is the God who has access to Power – Ashé , the immanent power of creation which the supreme being gives to the earth, and which can be possessed by some people. Eshu receives Power – Ashé when all the Deities journey to the supreme God to find out who is the next most powerful. Each brings a huge sacrifice, carrying it on his or her head. But Eshu consults the oracle before he goes, and finds that all he needs to bring is a bright red feather set upright on his forehead. When the supreme being sees this he grants Eshu the Power of Ashé, because Eshu had shown his unwillingness to carry burdens, as well as his sensitivity to the power of information.
Eshu shows us that one must “cultivate the art of recognizing significant communications…or else the lessons of the crossroads–the point where doors open or close, where persons have to make decisions that may forever affect their lives–will be lost.” Eshu is a Yoruba deity. His colors are red and black. Red represents the active masculine force, and black, the mysteries of the unknown or unseen. He is the owner of the crossroads between the physical and spiritual realms. He is the owner of Ashe. Eshu also reminds us that awareness of our humanity is needed for our journey through this life form.
Perhaps the most famous Yoruba story about Eshu concerns two inseparable friends who swore undying fidelity to one another but neglect to acknowledge Eshu. One day Eshu walks on the dividing line between their fields, wearing a cap that is black on one side and red – white on the other. He saunters between the fields, exchanging pleasantries with both men. Afterwards, the two friends got to talking about the man with the cap, and fall to violent quarreling about the color of the man’s hat, calling each other blind and crazy. The neighbors gather about, and then Eshu arrives and stops the fight. The friends explain their disagreement, Eshu shows them the two-sided hat all this to chastise the friends for not putting him first in their doings. Moving along the seam between two different worldviews, he confuses communication, reveals the ambiguity of knowledge, and plays with perspective. So Eshu is a master of exchange, crossed purposes, or speech. This is why his shrines are found both at crossroads and at the market, for he is master of such networks of desire.
The Fon have a wonderful way of imagining Legba’s mastery of crossings. Mawu tells the gods that whoever can come before her and simultaneously play a gong, a bell, a drum, and a flute while dancing to their music would be chief of the gods. All the macho gods attempt and fail, but Legba succeeds, not just demonstrating his agility, but his ability to maintain a balance of crossed or contrary forms and forces. Legba dances not only to the beat of a different drummer, but to the beats of many different drummers at the same time.
EBO = Sacrifice Is Surrendering Oneself Or A Thing That Represents Oneself For The Benefit Of Oneself Or Others. Men & Women Cannot Find Favor With God Except Through Sacrifice & Appeasement… Sacrifice For Survival Is What The Awo Is Offering…
Aboru Aboye Abosise O = Lift Your Burden From Earth & Raise It To Kingdom Of The Immortals. May Your Sacrifice Be Blessed & Accepted.
Fataah Ewe = This entire post is so satisfying. Adupe, Baba!
Reference Sources: Google Search/Photo = Wikipedia = Babalawo Obanifa =