Monday, November 5, 2018

Patakín of Ojuani Hermoso (Iroso): The Birth of Obé [Knife]

Ogún and Elegba were awós, but Olofin always had them standing around in order to wait on him, nothing more. Orunmila and Shangó were on the earth trying to save humanity (the children of Olofin), but nothing worked. Orunmila got sick from sadness and shame. Shangó was sad seeing Orunmila in this condition. The plants and the animals were equally sick. Death (ikú) was the only one who lived, and humanity continued losing ground. Olofin was praying and he ordered Elegba and Ogún down on their knees.

One day, Oyá saw from above was happening and began to spit lightning and shout “Oyekún Nilogbe.” Orunmila and Shangó awoke from the shouts. Shangó came out running and began to spit fire at the earth. This frightened Olofin and he asked Ojuani Hermoso what was happening. Olofin called Oyá and she began to sing. Shangó continued hurling fire. The animals bit one another and the plants got angry at one another. Human beings died because Ikú [death] was running around without limit. Oyá called Olofin so that he would see what was going on. He said to Ogún and Elegba, get down kneeling in ritual punishment, and told Oyá to descend to earth and make three turns. She began to throw fire from her eyes and mouth and her hands trembled. She said to Shangó, “go up to heaven with me.” They went up and entered the house of Olofin, and he said to them, “in order that the world be saved, you have to put your ashé forth and go find Orunmila.

Shangó took the carnera (female sheep) and made three rounds with it. He arrived to where the secret of Olofin was and took out the knife that Olofin had hidden, presenting it to him. Olofin was shocked and said, “What is this Shangó?” He replied, “this is the salvation of Olofin and you have to call Orunmila.” Olofin told Oyá to get everything ready to go where Orunmila was. Orunmila was making omiero [herbal liquids] for everyone, who were going to bathe themselves in the river.  He had a fish in front of him with the ingredients ekrú, olelé, and akará to eat, but suddenly he felt something drop. Shangó had thrown the knife into the basin of omiero. Shangó told him, “don’t be frightened, this is so you can vanquish all of the evils that are in the world and humanity can live.” When Olofin arrived with Ogún and Elegba, Orunmila immediately ordered Shangó to place mariwó [curtain of palm leaves] in all over the space. Ogún and Elegba then became frightened. Ogún, with knife in hand, started to fight with the animals, killing them. The only animal that he could not kill was the abo [ram]. Elegba left to clean the path. Then Olofin became frightened and Orunmila told him, “you have had my sons stuck on their knees and punished,” wherein Olofin began to sing:
Agadá moso arayá agadá moso arayé,
Orunmila lodá obé agadá moso arayé.
Olofin and Ogún started to lower their knives. Orunmila ordered Shangó to go out and look for Elegba, who sang:
Ashó eyé agundé.
Ogún stood up with the ram in his hands and Elegba had the male and female goats. They went to Olofin, and as Shangó had ordered them, when they got there they gave the ram to Shangó. Elegba carried the male goat and Ogún the female goat. Elegba sang:
Moyuba l’orisha, moyuba l’orisha, ashé moyuba l’orisha.
Olofin, with sixteen candles in his hands, started to sing:
Ifá odara ení odara oyukayó mamá yangueré po.
Then Orunmila began to open his hands to Elegba and said, “ewe (herbs) serve to bathe yourself and will save humanity.” He asked Elegba if he would complete the oath-taking [juramento] and he told everyone, “yes.”


When Osá Meyi discovered that the majority of the deities had gone down to the world, he decided to go and see how the place was. There were three Awós, named Age Eni Je Ee Mo Odun; Ala Ra Ra Ije Eemaagbe; Ogbologbo Ekutele Eeje Erin Ogini Ninu Ule.
Osá Meyi was advised to make sacrifice because he was going to practice the art of Ifá among the witches.  He was told to give a male goat to Eshú, a guinea to his Ifá, aand a dove to his head. He made no sacrifice, because he was in too much of a hurry to get to earth.
When he was one of the sixteen sons of Orunmila who decided to go to the world around the same time, he didn’t find the path to the world at the right moment, owed to the big goat that was in the way, which he had failed to give to Eshú. His guardian angel couldn’t guide him because he didn’t sacrifice to it either. His head also couldn’t save him because he didn’t sacrifice the dove to it. For this reason, he wandered aimlessly on the road until he arrived at the last river in the sky before the entrance to the world.
At the bank of the river he encountered the mother of the witches, Iyamí Oshoronga, who had been there a long time, since no one wanted to help her in crossing the river. She also was on her way to the world but she was too weak to cross the small, narrow bridge over the river. The bridge was called Ekokó. Iyamí Oshoronga pleaded with him to help her, but he explained to her that the bridge would not support two people at once.  So she proposed to him that he open his mouth for her to get inside of him. He agreed and she found a place inside his stomach. When he got to the other side of the bridge, he told her to come out, but she refused, saying that his stomach was the appropriate place for her. Here started Osá Meyi’s problems with witchcraft. When she refused to come out, he thought he could trick her, saying that she would die of hunger. She replied that she would not die of hunger, since he had a liver, a heart, and intestine, which were her favorite foods. Osá Meyi understood the problem that he faced when she bit his liver. So he took out his divination equipment and called Ifá to get him out of this problem. Ifá told him to make sacrifice immediately with a goat, a bottle of oil, and white cloth, which he took out of his side bag. He cooked the liver, heart, and intestines of the goat and told Iyamí that he had food ready for her. When she smelled the inviting aroma, she came out of his stomach. Notwithstanding, she told him that she was prohibited from eating in front of anyone.
So he made an enclosure with white cloth and she got inside in order to enjoy the food. While she was eating, Osá Meyi ran off and and tried to find a uterous to put himself in so he could come down to the world. As soon as Iyamí finished eating, she looked all around for Osá Meyi but couldn’t find him. She began to shout his name, “Osasa, Osasa, Osasa,” which is the shout of the witches today. She is still trying to find him.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pataki: The Black-Eyed Peas and the Corn (Ogbe Oshe)

There was a town in which the residents were almost always going through struggle and changes. They couldn’t live in tranquility. There came a time in which all of the town’s inhabitants began to look for a place where everything was less expensive, but in the new place they did nothing about growing food for themselves. A family moved in there that was a
lso without resources. The head of the family had nothing but worked at everything that presented itself to him with the help of his son. Although he was very mischievous he helped his father in whatever he could.

This boy sometimes went to the edge of the ocean and there, on the beach, would play a little flute made of bamboo.

One day Yemayá heard him, came out of the water, and asked his name. “Oguru Yorun,” he answered. Yemayá responded, “you mess around a lot and that is why you find yourself in the position you’re in, but when you do what you should do, you are going to have a change in your luck and everyone will look up to you. Your grandfather, your mother, and your father will help you and when you are a big man they will name you ruler, because Agayú, Oshún, and I are going to help you.”

“Now, go to the house of the omofá of the town—tell your mother to accompany you—so that Orunmila can read you, and if you don’t have enough money you will pay him with the flute he will receive from you.”

With this conversation over, Yemayá returned to the ocean and the boy went to his house. He told his mother everything and she told him that the next day he would go to the house of the omofá.

The next day, very early, they went to the house of the awó of the town and he read the boy. Ogbe Oshé came out and he told him, “you have to make ebó.” And, as he had nothing with which to pay him, the omofá accepted the flute in payment for his work, and each time he needed something from the boy he called him with the flute.

When the boy made the ebó for himself he took everything to the ocean, because Orunmila had indicated that it be thrown out there, and when he was going to return to his house he encountered a man who asked him if he wanted to work with him. The boy said yes and the man put him on his farm to care for the black-eyed peas and the corn.

Over time the boy asked the owner of the farm some times for ears of corn or a little of the black-eyed peas and the owner gave him what he wanted some times. The boy took them and started growing them at his house and when he harvested the crop his father started telling everyone that his son sold black-eyed peas and ears of corn and they came from all over to buy from him. The business became powerful.

Yemayá, Agayú, and Obatalá got together and asked the people of the town to give a festival in the name of the three of them. A festival was made and that day the town named the boy Governor of the Town and among the gifts that he received was the flute that he had given to the omofá, and Agayú said to him, “all the good you have you owe to Yemayá, Oshún, and Obatalá; listen well to the advice of your elders so that you don’t destroy what you have and the arayé who envy you don’t beat you down.”

(c) Copyright English Translation by David H. Brown 2014


Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Orunmila is called Ogbe Wale in this path. He was the husband of Oshún. Despite being treated well by Oshún, he made her suffer a lot, including hitting her when she got jealous, because he had many obiní in the street. Oshún took her complaints of what was happening to her sister, Yemayá, who advised her to leave this man. But Oshún was very much in love with him and didn’t want to leave Ogbe Wale. He abandoned her more as each day passed and each day Oshún dried up a little more.

Already tired of Oshún, Ogbe Wale robbed a calabaza from her and planted it on a violet bush. The bush sank into the marsh, calabaza and all, and this caused the death of Oshún. Upon seeing Oshún die, Ogbe Wale got scared, and so no one would find out, he buried her in the marsh together with the eleguedé plant.

Some years passed and Ogbe Wale married Yemayá. She was a mayombera and one day had to go to the marsh to look for shoma opalo root in order to prepare an inshe. There, at the foot of a tree, she stepped on some bones, and just then she heard a voice that said to her, “be careful daughter that you don’t step all over these bones. They belong to your sister, Oshún, who was the wife of Ogbe Wale, now your husband. He killed her. I am Yewá; look at my avatar.” And suddenly an owl appeared and said to her, “you must avenge your sister.”

Yemayá took a bone of Oshún and reduced it to a powder together with the shoma root and a jujú of the owiwí. When she got back to the ilé, she prepared a potion for Ogbe Wale. When he drank the potion, blood began to pour from all of the orifices in his body until he died. This was the revenge of Yemayá.

(c) Copyright English Translation by David H. Brown.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pataki: When Ogun and Osain Asked Olokun to Forgive Them (Ogunda Leni)

When Olokun came down to the earth he was accompanied by Yewá on the order of Olofin. They lived in the depths of the sea, but one day, tired of the monotony of his environment, Olokun began to turn around and around down there where Yewá also lived.

This disturbance shook up the bottom of the sea and a series of monsters began to come up to the surface. Among them rose a very strange being—very lovely with a beautiful head of hair—who always carried a gold shield and traveled atop the waves.

One day Ogún saw her and fell in love with her, but she was not interested in men, so Ogún, in order to have her, turned to the powers of Osain. The result was that Osain, too, fell in love with her and he couldn’t have her either. He cast a spell upon her so that she would neither be his nor Ogún’s.

This beautiful being, upon contact with the witchcraft, was turned into a serpent with two bodies. Terrified, she called her father Olokun. Upon seeing what had happened to her, he cast himself over the land with boiling whirlpools of fury and a thirst for vengeance.

Osain and Ogún, terrorized, went to the house of Orunmila, who made osode to them, and this Ifá came out, Ogundá Leni, and he told them, “you have to fix the evil that you have done; we are going to the house of Olokun.” When they arrived, Olokun roared with rage over what happened to his daughter Oroná. Orunmila spoke with Olokun and told him that his daughter would be accepted by the world.

Orunmila called Oroná, and without being terrified, ordered her to kneel, and he applied his powers of ebomisi eyebalé abo to her. He covered her with the skin and Oroná was turned into sea foam.

Ogún and Osain begged Olokun’s forgiveness and he calmed down and no longer continued to devastate the earth.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

PATAKI: The "Glasses of Elegbara" (Ojuani Shobe)

In this path Elegbara lived in the Bankele country. He had neither voice nor vote. He lived a disgusted and sad life because he knew that he represented nothing in the world, and so he spent his life sokú.

One day Oyá, who lived in the Obarioda country, where everyone lived well, and from where she could keep watch over all the neighboring territories, went to visit Elegbara, who was her son. When she got there she found him very sad. Oyá took a rooster and cleaned Elegba and gave him his secret, which was a stone. She took out the eyes of a rooster and put them on top of Elegbara. When Oyá was making this ceremony she sang:

Elegbara Ni Laleo Ojuani Shobe,

Feshuba Oyá Odara,

Elegbara Ni Otá Odara Ojuani Shobe Ni Laleo.

Elegbara asked Oyá for her blessing but he was resentful inside in seeing the great power that Oyá had.

Elegbara went out to the road and said, “I’m going to the house of Olofin, because I can’t continue like this, because I have to have control and do whatever I want, because no one is better than me. The world simply has to live blindly and do whatever I order.” He arrived at the house of Olofin, putting himself humble, very sad, and sokú, and he said, “My Father, please give me your blessing, because I am a nobody in this world.” Olofin sat him down and told him, “if you want to be somebody you will be, but you will never be greater than intori enkan arayé just because you get some iré.” Elegba replied, “no, father, what!, send me to a place where I can rule.” Olofin, who knew him well, and knew what he was capable of—because he never had been anybody—had him there for three days giving him advice. But Elegba could think of nothing else than what Olofin was going to do. Olofin asked him if he was listening and Elegba said yes, of course. “Look, Elegbara, if you don’t do what I say, you will soon go blind and crazy. At the end of three days Olofin sent him to the Obainile country.

Elegba thought, I’m not going there. I’m not going to be able to dominate in that place. In order for me to dominate in the world I have to go to the Obarioda country. So Elegbara left, since at that moment Oyá was visiting the Obanile country. I’m going to take advantage of this and go to the Obarioda country, because there’s a lot of sand there and my powers are the plants that I’ve got; I’ll let the whole world intorí arún oyú; I’ll rule and will be the owner of the whole world, because there will be an epidemic that will spread throughout the world.

Elegbara got to the Obarioda country, called the whole town together, and began to wash everyone’s head and do ceremonies to them, and because of this the people began to get illnesses in the head and the eyes.

However, there was one man there named Oyú Obariodé Ojuani Shobe, who was an awó of Orunmila.

He left looking for Oyá and on the road went along singing, sounding a bell, and shaking a vaina of framboyán.

Oyá Nile Umbo Obara Boda,

Oyá Nile Umbo Obara Boda

Ojuani Shobe Feshuba.

Oyá heard the song and went immediately to her country, and when she found Awó Obariodé Ojuani Shobe, she asked him what had happened. He told her what Elegba had done and that everyone was blind and had lost their memory. Oyá went running and from the bag that she carried she started collecting eñí adié.

She got to the town and began to pick up sand, mixing it with the egg whites--making a dough. Then she called all of her children so that they could clean themselves with what she had prepared. At that moment Olofin sent down a lightning bolt and the sun’s rays, and the dough that Oyá had made calcified with the heat and glass formed so that eyeglasses could be made. This brought back the sight and the memory of everyone, including Elegbara who had also gone blind.

For that reason glasses were born; indeed Elegbara himself needed them. Thus glasses are represented in the figure of Elegbara by the shells that are his eyes; they signify that Elegba sees everything that happens in the world and then tells all to Orunmila and Olofin. [Oyá told Elegbara]: “here you have a great power that you already had; you needn’t have done all the things you did. All you had to do was to speak with me. Although you are young, you have to use glasses, because with time and age, everyone will need to use them—youth, old people, and even children—because that is my curse for what you did,” and in this way Elegbara got the world he wanted.

Note: the glasses of Elegbara represented by the shells that are put on him as eyes signify that he sees all and then tells all to Orunla and Olofin.

English Translation (C) Copyright David H. Brown, 2013.