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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why You Have to Pray to San Lázaro When You Are Going to Move Him From One Place to Another

San Lázaro lives in the Lucumí country but the people detested him because of the pestilence of his body sores and because of their fear of contagion they kicked him out of their territory. When Oluó Popó went on the road he met his younger brother Shangó, who greeted him and asked him what had happened, because Shangó saw him very grave and worried. Oluó Popó related what the people of his country had done to him and Shangó replied, “look, I just won a war and I have a place where you can reign and this place is the Arará country. It’s a small territory and it’s separated from the Lucumí country by a river.

Oluó Popó accepted and went on his way there. When he arrived Shangó told the people, “this man is going to govern you. You must love him.” Before leaving, Shangó told Oluó Popó, “the people who kicked you out are going to need you, but before going back there make sure you pray well." A while later a great epidemic spread through the Lucumí country and many people were dying, and as they didn’t know what to do they were desperate. While they were in this state Shangó passed through and told them, “the only one who can save you is that leper who you threw out. You have to call him back.” Immediately they went to the Arará country and begged Oluó Popó to save them, but he denied their pleas. Therefore they got on their knees and began to pound the ground with their palms, praying to Oluó Popó that he save them, and that they would not get up until he forgave them and went with them. After so much supplication and prayer Oluó Popó decided to go and cure all of the sick; and thusly it was that Oluó saved them from the epidemic in their country.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Treatise of Shango from a Cuban Elder

Shangó is not given offerings when egun ceremonies are going to be performed. And when it is raining, you cannot dance egun, because Shangó emanates death; he is the cloth of death. Therefore his red cloth is always present in paraldos.

Shangó died in the marketplace and was resurrected in his house. Shangó has the power granted by Olofin to know what humans say in secret.

Shangó kneels in the cemetery, but not to look for the yams of Orisha Oko. He is called Aulua and he buried his crown. Upon not being able to find it, he gave it [to the cemetery] his eduará and the crown of kereketé.

Shangó has three messengers: Araun (thunder), Manamana (lightning), and Biri Aymeyo (darkness).

Shangó receives the name Elitimo, which means, Owner of Knowledge and the Brilliant Eye.

The mortar is turned over for Shangó, because there is a sentence in Ogundá Masá that says:

Olorisha egun tete baten labayedo fún.

The powerful daughter of the cemetery for whom we invert the mortar.

Shangó has an essence that everyone must know as this:

Ilé Gbogbo Shangó Loyé.

Shangó makes every land shine.

This is because fire and lightning are known by everyone.

The omó of Shangó are always the leaders of the Yoruba religion.

Shangó engages in combat from the top of a tree, odan (jagüey macho). From this tree he saved Odudúwa with his oshé when his enemies pursued him.

Shangó is the owner of the tree called ewé iré, Caucho de Lagos, which he calls tente-en-pie, and with this and the moruro and the puesta-del-sol, he prepared the secret of osun.
It was he who prepared the pot of Osain with an eduará. Moreover, Shangó knows the remedy for curing leprosy.

Shangó feeds the mortar and he buries it in order to consecrate it.

Shangó is emblematized as a leopard or a tiger that bathes itself in the blood of the ram.
The name of the sorcerer of Shangó is Lakín Shokún, and they say that with his food he kills and saves lives.

Shangó bathes in the Ibakán country with a large jícara of epó and lives atop the ceiba.
Shangó is a secret and to placate him, the plate on which you serve him his adimú is painted with a circle of añíl with otí. This is to remind him of when his sister, Igbañi, raised him from childhood, because she prepared dyes of indigo from the roots of the añíl cimarrón.

Orisha Oko and Osain blessed the house of Shangó.

The anvil that Obba takes, which is made of ácana wood, was made by Shangó, who gave it to her as a gift. The Yoruba say that he made this anvil the same day he made his oshé.
Shangó loves ñame, in fact, ñame seeds, with a lot of epó.

Shangó rules Wednesdays and enjoys Sundays.

In Eyilá, Shangó prohibits smoking, because it is in this odu where Shangó cooked all of the ñames with the air that shot out from his nose.

Shangó hides by night. He loves the light of day.

There is no road that is closed to Shangó. He has an epithet that says:

Shangó ni ena gba dadagui laza.

Shangó is a crazy person who goes to every place and open road.

Shangó is called Ogango and you put ostrich feathers on him.

Shangó loves the higo [prickly pear], both fresh and dried [i.e., a fig].

The osain of Shangó always takes the leaves of the odan (jagüey macho).

Shangó was the first one in the forest to make inshe osain. He cut the [wood] with his eduará. For this reason the igüí of Shangó’s inshe osain have their points burned.

The eduará of Shangó do not go to the head of the iyawó because the old Yoruba say in one of their legends:

Shangó arukutu mashe eshuke.

Shangó carries a stone on his head without it burning.

This is because the otá of Shangó should not be collected in the forest or plain as this brings misfortune to the godparent and iyawó it is said:

Shangó ekan ekuta nigbe kosheje.

Shangó picks up a stone in the forest and blood flows.

Shangó called all of the osains and then sent them all away. For this reason, when an inshe osain is born it is put to eat with Shangó, as when ceremonies are made at the foot of Shangó.

Shangó uses the antimony stone*, and it is said that his eyes are made of this mineral. Shangó is the descendant of Okukese and it is said that he learned to use a turban when he went among the trees. [*Translator’s note: antimony stone, the “stone of the philosophers,” used from biblical times for medicine and cosmetics.]

Shangó lives in those trees that have curujey on them. Shangó and Elegba speak to the alba.

The true mother of Shangó is Troni, daughter of Elempo—king of Nupe Takuá. She died upon Shangó’s birth. The first wife of Shangó prior to Oyá was Omó Sanda from the Mina Popo people.

In Eyilá, you put a white and red necklace on Shangó with four dilogún and four blue glorias.

Note: In Cuba, as in many parts of Latin America with Afro-American populations of Yoruba origin, Shangó is rendered special worship. This orisha is popularly sincretized in some places as Saint Barbara, as in Cuba, Saint George in Brazil, and Saint Geronimo in Trinidad.

Translated from the Spanish by David H. Brown Eguin Kolade.
(c) Copyright David H. Brown 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013


In Africa they are the two hands of Ifá: Amonsio (the first that consecrated Osun by the order of Olofin) and Amoro, the assistant blacksmith of Ogún. They were boys, but the history began thusly.

In the earliest times in which Ifá came down to the earth and the spirit of Igunukún—great spirit of Ifá-Inú (telepathy)—made the ceremony of Ifá to Oshanlá, Orunmila also gave the divination tray to Shangó for him to mark the sign that he read for her with his tree leaves (para que éste marcara el signo que registrara con sus hojas de árboles). What resulted was the Shangó had many godchildren and was a great womanizer. One day when all the awó were meeting with Shangó and speaking of the powers of woman, Losé was there – Eleguá-Losé – who referred to one of the women that Olofin had in his garden as his “preferred flower” and who had eyes only for Olofin. Obalube [Shangó] asked, “what is the name of that woman and where is she?”

Losé said that her name was “Yewá” and she could be found in Olofin’s garden.
Dressing himself in his finest clothes, Shangó went to the garden determined to make Yewá his. As soon as he arrived, all the flowers became their most coquettish—all but a beautiful flower that moved away with its head lowered, looking at the ground. This was Yewá. Shangó, by the indications Losé gave him, recognized her. He put himself at his most appealing and began to woo her with big words in making time with her. Yewá raised her eyes at Shangó, lowering them immediately and blushing. That made Shangó feel satisfied at having attained what had only been reserved for Olofin. Losé, who was hidden, came out running to Olofin to tell him what had happened in the garden.

Olofin stood before Yewá and upon seeing that she didn’t lift her face to him said to her, “child, I put you in this place so that only my eyes would make you happy, but you have deceived me.” To this she replied, “Father, I have failed in what I promised; I beg you that, so I can’t look into the eyes of other men, you send me to a solitary place so I can rest.” Olofin answered, “since the sons of Ikú have no eyes—the cadavers—only empty sockets, I will send you to live with them from now on; you will supervise and rule them, and so it will be forever…Ashetó, Ashebó, Nachebima. To Ibán Eshú.”

From then on Yewá has been the goddess of the dead and Death. After leaving Yewá in her new home, Olofin went to look for Shangó in order to settle accounts, since Olofin had had enough complaints about the behavior of Shangó. He found him in the Ekete Alafi country and condemned him, saying, “I won’t take away your ashé, because what Olodumaré gives is not taken away, but I am prohibiting your use of the atepón-ifá and never again can you use it, nor will you divine with leaves” (tirar las hojas).

And he took the tray and gave it to Oshanlá, who was the other orisha consecrated by Olodumare as Igunnukú (Irole) -- with Ifá on earth, but Oshanlá was not authorized to give these powers to anyone. However, Oshanlá, upon finding herself with the tray, was filled with temptation and one day brought together Amoro and Amonsio, and beneath the arabá—ceiba—made Ifá to them on earth.

When Olofin found out he took away the tray and gave it to Odudúa. He took Amoro and Amonsio to the garden of Lodí Lará and gave them to Oragún, who sacrificed them at the base of two ikín palm trees that were in the garden.

For this reason [in the Lukumí tradition] women are not initiated in Ifá.

Finally, Orula arrived and Olofin gave him Ifá Inú and the divination tray, but there was nothing to take out the sign with. They had only alabashé (coconut). Orula said that the coco was unsuitable and there were two spirits of Ifá that were going to demonstrate a better way to divine. The old awós remembered Amoro and Amonsio, the godchildren of Oshanlá, who Oragún had sacrificed under the two palm trees; they asked if these two spirits were the ones Orula meant, since at the time they were sacrificed, the palms were filled with seeds that looked like coquitos but they had never opened up.
Orula asked if those seeds were suitable and could be used, and alabashé answered with eyeife, ordering everyone who had Ifá to make ebó; and he took sixteen coquitos from the palm of Amoro and sixteen from the palm of Amonsio, he consecrated them, and later atefó [divined with them, beat ikín]. The odu of Ifá Ogbetuá Nilara came out. It mandated ebó made to all who had Ifá given to them by Shangó so they would not be lost. Everyone had to comply with Orula as the new Mofá of the Lukumí country.

Note: The two hands of Ifá: the first, Amonsio, was consecrated by Osun with the mandate of Olofin. The second, Amoro, was the assistant blacksmith and was consecrated  by Ogún.

Note: There are other stories that speak of this odu and how Orula traveled to the garden of Oragun to select the nuts of ikín, speak of all that happened, and what he had to do.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


In the country of Ifá Orí Oshandé, the sacred territory of Iyebewá, Oyá had a son with Obaniboshé. Obaniboshé is a son of Osain. Obaniboshé did whatever he wanted and one day Oyá got proud and threw him out of the territory. The boy had to leave on foot and pass many tribulations. For example, he had to go without clothes. But one day he remembered his father, Obaniboshe. He took osiadié meta, went to the bank of the river where a guama tree was and gave it the three osiadié, calling Obaniboshe and singing in this fashion:

           Osain kurukú kurukú gangan

Osain obaniboshé gangan.

Obaniboshé was at the foot of a ceiba, heard the song, and went running. He met his son and encountered him destroyed. He ate the osiadié meta, put his hands on his son’s head, and said to him, “we’re going to Oyá. She is your mother and you have to ask for her blessing.” Obaniboshé took an adié in his hand and began to call Oyá, and upon praying to her, Oyá realized what it was and appeared. Ojuaniboshé gave the adié to her at the foot of an osaba (caimito) tree, singing to her:

Iyamí Kelekeo, Iyamí Kelekeo,

Yansá Omó Oshandé Belekun Oní Shangó

Añaña Jekua Ogún Marobó Y Anleó

Iyá Tomiboshé Yansá Keure Beleya Oyá.

At that moment Shangó and Ogún appeared and said to Oyá, “your son is this way because he has to be consecrated and we are the ones who know the secret. The consecration has to be done to him in order that he gets on his path; he has to be able to live in the world. And, saying this, Shangó took out a large tiger tooth and put it on the boy and said to him, “we all are going to look for a madrina iyalosha.” Oyá became content because of what was going to be done for her son. They got on the road and Ogún began to make the invocation at the bank of the river, praying:

Iyalode Akuetebí Kuada Eyeyi More

Oshún Moriyeyeo, Yansá Gogogo Obaniboshé

Onilorun Akuetebí Iyamí Omó Odola Edun Oshún

Obaniboshe Erifá Oshandé Akuetebí Iború

Akuetebí Iboyá, Akuetebí Iboshé,

Adé Koyu Atiti Afiedenu.

Oshún came out of the river and told him, “this young man will be called Orí Ifá Oshandé and I am going to consecrate him. Shangó, you will be the great witness. Ogún, I will make the ceremony of consecration and afterwards you will do yours. I am going to clean him with eyá tutu from the ilé ibú so that you can present him to Obaniboshé. Then, you, Ogún, must take him to Ifá so that Orunmila, Obashé, and Obaniboshé together swear him to the secret so that wherever he live he’ll not ever have any problems.”

They made Osha to him and afterwards took him to Orunmila to be consecrated in Ifá. When they came before Orunmila he told them, “in Ifá I will call you Oluwó Oshandé, but before doing this last consecration to you, you have to give obi to Yansá and then take the obi on different roads.” Orí Ifá Oshandé did just this and when he took the last obi, Oyá told him, “you will be my best son and the one I will love the most. Take this chain, which Shangó gave me as a present, so that Ifá consecrate you with Ogún, and take this owó so that you make it to Yemayá so that she can help you.” Orí Ifá Oshandé did everything just like Oyá had indicated. Afterwards he went once again to Orunmila and Orunmila said to him, “we are going to consecrate you with Ogún with eyá tutu mewa.” They put everything alongside Ogún [in a spot] where there had been a lot of shit [porquería], and Orunmila purified his head together with Ogún with a chain of his same height, and the ayé stayed in the shit. When Orunmila made the ceremony he sang this súyere:

Eyé De Eyé Ounyen

Eyé Eyá Tutu Ounyen.

Afterwards, they put Ogún to him and in a short time everything was left behind in the shit. After this they made Ifá to him. Shangó, Obatalá, and Oyá were very content. And they said, “his sons will serve to defeat eyó and iná.” Then Shangó and Oyá went to see Osain, and when the talked to him he told them, “my sons will not have any problems because I have powers and they do also.” Shangó was bothered by this. He ripped the clothes of Oyá and a collar de bandera that she was wearing and threw them at Awó Osain. Osain picked up the the beads and from then on began to dress in the beads of all of the santos, though he got angry because Shangó had thrown the necklace at him. Shangó walked out with Oyá and they began to toss agüemas onto all the roads and igüí, and wherever they fell, through the power of Shangó and Oyá, the agüemas began to change color. After that Shangó took agüema mesan and iguí oguedé, tied each one of the sticks to their tails with a different colored cloth from Oyá and let them go. Osain and his sons got frightened when they saw all the agüemas. Shangó and Oyá began to sing:

           Awaya Elueko Ikó Ino

Osun Ofékesha.

When they sang this song the trees started to catch fire and Osain went to beg their forgiveness, and they told him, “you have to go to where Obatalá is, to the Nama Boniboshé country.” When they got to the Nama Boniboshe country they rendered moforibalé to Orunmila and to Obatalá. Obatalá said to Agüema, “you have a great power that makes you change colors.” [Obatalá said to Osain], “Osain, take an agüema and put it in your secret and from now forward the war stops between your sons and my sons.” Obatalá and Osain came together and made a pact that in the pot of Osain he would always have agüemas.

Note: in this odu, paraldo has to be made and when it is finished, bathe the person with an omiero of Obatalá and Oyá.

The person is to receive an oborí eledá standing up with spotted eyelé meyi and then cook them and put them to Oyá.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Orisha Oko lived in the land of Awari Akua. Orisha Oko was the king of that land and lived very content with all of his children—that is the people he ruled in all of their religious and secular a...ctivities. Odiká arrived to this land. He was an awó who came to divine Ifá among the children of Orisha Oko. At the start all went well, but upon seeing the prosperity he had as a diviner, an uncontrollable ambition entered Odiká and he wished to remain not merely as diviner but instead become obá (king) of that land, so he began the work of betraying Orisha Oko. Tragedy and Jealousy came to live in the land of Awari Akua Inle. So Orisha Oko, who had great powers, cast a curse upon Odiká, saying that whatever his hands touched would be ruined and destroyed and he kicked him out of the territory. Odiká left the land of Awari Akua Inle and began to go around all the neighboring territories for which he had been the famous diviner of Awari Akua Inle, where supposedly he did readings and ceremonies for those people of the land of Orisha Oko and sang before his secrets:

Babá Odika Tanishe Oro Fun Eni
Ikú Dede Ofo Lele Wanwari Yoku.

But everything he touched with his hands became ofo and was destroyed. Thusly Babá Odiká went losing his popularity and everyone spoke ill of him and in none of the lands was he wanted. After so much walking Odiká arrived a Inle Oniká, which was the edge of the sea and there, as he was alone and no one saw him, he put his Ifá on the ground—sand—and kneeled, crying and begging Olofin and Amale to help him, for he had neither homeland nor a house in which to live. Then he saw a head emerge in the water. The head called to him, singing:

Obá kuakua obí ikú were eggun
Obá kuakua lerí omofa odara.

Odiká wanted to see the head that called him but he could not enter the water because he did not know how to swim. The lerí said to him, “I am Ogbetuá, but you have to take me out of the water; I am the power of Odudúa.” Eleguá, who was nearby said to Odiká, “lift your right leg,” and Eleguá shoved it, whereby Odiká could could put his feet into the water; then Eleguá shoved him in the other leg and said to him:

Aweto nire etenore awó odara
Aw’o omí ese otun
Aweto nire etenore awó odara
Awó omi ese osi.

Odiká found himself in the water and he was able to get close to where the lerí was, and Eleguá said to him from the edge of the water, “don’t go further than up to your knees; call it to come.” So Odiká began to sing:

Eri Ogbetua Awó Alolo Baba Alukosa
Lerí Eggun Omofa Olaro Kan Kan.

At this point Odiká got hold of the lerí that came close to him and when he took it from the sea another head rose up from the water and said to him, “listen, I’m here together with that one, for we’re equals; I am Babá Eyiogbe,” wherein Odiká took out both heads as Eyiogbe said to him, “I am the representation of Olofin and we, Ogbetuá and I, always live together. Odiká took the two lerí to Inle Oniká and there he gave them eyebalé of eyelé funfun and he put them into his secret. “Where you are,” they told him, “from now onward you will always have something on the earth. Make it in our name—‘Ogbetua and Eyiogbe’. With our names you will be able to live and continue being on the earth and thus they won’t take you away as they have done up to now.” Odiká was able to go on living thanks to the name of Ogbetuá and Eyiogbe, which gave him the power to soften the evil that he had wrought and that always got to him through the curse of Orisha Oko, whose land he could visit only at the cost of his health. Thusly Odiká was able to improve his luck.

Nota: This odun, which is withdrawn because of its malevolent and destructive power it carries, is (also) an odun of justice and persecution.

The awó Odiká, in an atefá, cannot Idabo Lerí Awó—paint—his sign on the lerí without putting several times Ogbetuá and Eyiogbe in order not to cause the initiate to be cursed. The awó Odiká can never fail to receive Odudúa and Olofin in order to live in this world. He can never give Orisha Oko to anyone without having to do many ceremonies to himself because the curse of this Orisha Oko gets to him and his health diminishes and his owó is carried off by ofo.

This is an Ifá of seclusion; where it arrives if care is not taken it leads to indigence.

(c) Copyright English Translation David H. Brown, 2013
(c) Copyright Photograph David H. Brown, 2003

Small Treatise of Obatala

Obatalá is the orisha of the creation and he is the owner of all heads. His name is composed of the terms obá-king, ta-brillar sobre, nlá grande—which signifies everything. Obatalá: king over everything.*
It is said that he was the orisha that sculpted the form of man in the vagina of woman, that he is one of the oldest orishas. It is said that, like Odudúa, Obatalá has avatars divided into female and male aspects. The oldest of the Obatalás are found in the first “marriage,” comprised of Oshalufón and Orisha Ayé. There is a controversy about female orishas here in Cuba as to which ones have their otá taken out, leaving only the dilogún, the tools, and a sea shell—a long one of the type of Cobo Okinkonkó—which represents the mystical aspect of Orisha Ayé, wherein it is said that the female Obatalás were born in the sea and the male ones on the land, and that the union of both created the human species in general. The first Obatalá that came out of the sea was Orisha Aiyé. Obatalá speaks in many odu of Ifá, but his descent to the world was in the odu Babá Eyiogbe, although the construction of the head, its formation, is in the odu Ogundá Meyi and Ogbe Yono. These two odu are ruled by Ayalá, which is the Obatalá charged by Olofin with the construction of human heads. This is why, when there is a guerra de santo over the possession of a head, that Obatalá is crowned so that all fighting over that lerí is placated, because all [orishas] owe obedience to his office as the owner of the world.
*Translator’s note: the Yorùbá etymology of the Lucumí Obatalá is, in fact, Obàtálá (Obà-tí-àlà): O = King;   = which is the;  àlà = white cloth, or “King of the White Cloth.”

Patakin: Obatala and Oshosi (Baba Eyiogbe Meyi)

In this path: Obatalá left to look for Oshosi, who was a forest dweller and hunter. Oshosi believed he had no father and spoke of having been born from nothing. Obatalá, when he went looking for Osh...osi, disguised himself as a deer, mounted a mirror on his forehead, and went deep into the forest. Oshosi, upon sensing a noise, began to shoot at the deer, which was none other than Obatalá in disguise. The more he shot, the more he missed and this was when the deer began to sing:

Bansemi Semi Bansemi Semi; Eke Eke Omó Eyaluko Egue Gui Omó Temi.

Oshosi wondered how this animal sang to him, and the song itself told him that the deer was his father though he believed he had no family. The deer got closer to him and continued singing and Oshosi continued trying to shoot him but not a single arrow got him.

When the deer was very close to Oshosi, he lifted his head and the sun’s reflection lit up its eyes. Oshosi kneeled and threw his bow and arrows on the ground and began to sing:

Bansemi Semi Boromi Romi Aruciko Kekiko Erosibaba Karere; Erosibaba Yaloko Erosibaba Temini.

This song means: I am defeated; I have found my father. Then, Obatalá answered him saying that even the leaves on the trees have a father and mother because the earth is the mother and the sea is the father, since the land and the water give life to plants. There is no one who lives alone; we all have someone who we belong to.

(c) Copyright David H. Brown 2013.

Pataki: The Appearance of Shango in the World (Odi-Obara)

The appearance of Shangó in the world took place in this camino. Shangó was born from the breasts of Obatalá through the work and grace of Olofin and Olodumare. Olofin spoke, “this is my son and I deliver him to Abañere Orisha, and this woman was the one who raised him and Olofin subsidized the costs of raising the child. The... boy grew and his father, Olofin, communicated all of the secrets to him, given that he wanted to have a son living on the earth. Olofin went to see him every six months.

It happened that when Shangó became a man he took off. One day upon finding this out Olofin, desperate because he didn’t have his son, went to the house of Orunmila who made osode for him and this odu came out, Odí Bara, and he said, “you are desperate because of the disappearance of your son and in order to find him you have to make a rogación and afterwards order the rogación deposited in a joro joro, and afterwards pass it along that there will be a reward or gain for the person who finds your son, who knows the secrets of life.”

It happened that Orisha Oko was tilling the land with his plough and sang thusly:

Yoniko Misere Yonibo Misere

And he heard a voice that came from the bowels of the earth that answered his súyere; this was the voice of Shangó. Orisha Oko, upon hearing this pushed his plow deeper. Just then an otá appeared on the surface of the dirt and in that instant the otá transformed into a man, and this was Shango; and Orisha Oko recognized the stone and kept it in his pocket and went to the house of Olofin. Upon arriving he related the whole story of his experience while tilling the land. Olofin replied, “that was the man that I’ve been looking for, the only one who knows my secrets in this world.” Olofin then blessed Orisha Oko, telling him, “from today onward, you will be king of the land for ever. Orisha Oko is the man who, after Olofin, is the second closest friend of Shangó and for that reason, Shangó has to receive Orisha Oko. For the moment he won’t have to do so, only that he paint a teja of funfun and pupua to adorn his house.

Note: take good care of all the moist and soft parts of the body such that they are not exposed to the sun. If it is a woman, take good care of the breasts.

(c) Copyright David H. Brown 2013.

Pataki: Adoration of the Twins (Otura Di)

At the beginning of the religion all roads were closed. No one knew the cause behind it and no one could move forward on the roads. The few that dared to travel never returned. Communication among the people of the country was impossible as everyone was a captive in his home. To travel was to die. Impossible as it was to go from one place to another, life simply stagnated. Nevertheless, there were a few men who preferred misfortune to life and happiness made monotony, so they left their towns only to succumb along the unknown and closed byways.

In one of those towns lived two Africans who during the many years had produced numerous children. As soon as the boys grew up they said to their fathers,

Babá ni lo ladé.

And they set out on the road and never came back. Their mothers cried and said,

Omó, omó umbo son son.

And in this way one-by-one they were lost. Already very old and without realizing it the Africans produced a number of twins and when they were born the happiness was limitless. Everyone admired them. They slept on beds of dried yagua and on mats of palm boughs. They wore necklaces of pearls and jet and with cruz de asta that shone a divine light like that of Obatalá.

The “elder” twin was named Tabo [Taiwo] and the “younger” twin Caín [Kaindé, Kehinde]. Their mother raised them with reverent passion, because they were the sons of Elube—Shangó, the orisha who was the Strong among the Strong, the universal inheritor of Olofin, the creator of life. Those children were the only ones that Iyansá cherished—the divine woman of the marketplace and the cemetery. She fed them abundantly with epó.

Great ceremonies were made in order to honor them, and to put them content, songs and dances were made to the Ibeyi, who were happy and naughty, but always united.

They went to the top of the caimito tree; here the twins cried for their fathers (Taita) and repeated the same words as their brothers before them (Babá ni lo ladé), such that the women began to cry and lament the luck that was going to be lost. But there was an ancient woman of more than a hundred years old, crippled by time, and who in her younger days was the best horse of Siete Rayos in the land, who now began to loosen up miraculously and the spark of life for an instant impelled her heart to fill with vitality, urging her voice proudly to dominate the chorus of the other women; and those cries turned into songs of joy, and upon two wooden plates exactly the same the woman excitedly hit their palms and danced rounds to the Ibeyi.

One fine day, Chichicate, Mamelita, and Guao, three evil sticks of the forest appeared before them and made the Ibeyis go off to those forbidden woods. Secret of Ogundá Bedé.

Note: In this Ifá, in osobo, you have to make three paraldos.
  (C) Copyright David Brown 2013.

Pataki: The Ibeyi Defeated the Devil with a Drum (Otura Di)

The Twins spent seven days and seven nights in the forest, sleeping peacefully, protected by the cedars, ácanas, jocumas, yayas, and yabas. Amongst the vines and creepers nothing evil and absolutely nothing of note happened to the Ibeyi. In time, even the Chichicates, Mamelitas, and Guaos—the three evil sticks of the forest—disappeared. Thusly the Ibeyi went on under the open sky, through unremarkable stone dotted-land, which smelled of the esparto and granadillo plants. Further on was a hill, which led to a highpoint and then graded down from there to the sea.

For another seven days they wandered about the mountains, and upon coming down early in the morning they found themselves in the throat of a small valley. Everything was still and there rested amongst mountains of human bones, the Devil. He slept deeply, standing up, in a kind of eternal drowsiness of heavy silence. The Ibeyi went right up to him. Taiwo, scurrying like a lizard, hid in under a Piñon de Botija.

The Devil opened his sleepy eyes and showed his teeth, long and filed like knives, and without moving went off to sleep once more.

Kaindé, noting this, got closer to him defiantly and grabbing hold of the thick hair that hung from his shoulders shook him hard, shouting with all his strength, “Taita, get up, wake up!” The Devil stirred and started to awaken and the peaceful valley bellowed like a bull.

“What are you doing here mokekeré? Watch out; I’m really hungry because no one has been through here in many years and I haven’t tasted human flesh.”

“Let me pass through,” the Ibeyi replied sweetly. “Open up the road odara.” The Devil answered, “I will open it for you, but before that you have to submit to my law, which is that you have to drum for me so I can dance. If you succeed in wearing me out, the road is yours. But if you don’t, I’ll eat you too.”

The Ibeyi said, “give me the drum,” and when he had it in his hands he began to play a rhythm the Devil hadn’t heard before. The devil danced four hours without stopping and the Ibeyi began to feel his fingers getting numb and painful, and at the point of almost falling out he said, “Taita, I’m thirsty. Let me get a drink at the spring I see over there.”

“Drink,” the Devil answered. Without stopping the drumming, Taiwo replaced Kaindé. Taiwo continued drumming while Kaindé rested, and the Devil kept on dancing contentedly. When another four hours had passed, Taiwó said to the Devil, “Taita, I’m thirsty.” And the Devil replied, “look, beyond that jagüey tree a river is the beginning of a river. Drink all you want; but don’t stop the drumming,” and he showed his filed teeth. So now Kaindé began drumming again, coming back refreshed and nourished, after having devoured six eyelé out of twelve that an eagle had offered him.

The sun went down and night came. When the moon rose all the birds of the darkness swarmed in thick flocks around the Devil’s head of knarled hair. The mountains of bones crackled and came alive as the valley filled with skeletons. The Devil shook it up until he was tired out and dumb and at the end he fell, almost defeated. But the Ibeyi, sounding the drum with even more force said to him, “this is your law; keep dancing while I play.”

The Devil got into it again, falling over like a drunk, dancing morbidly, this time accompanied by owls and bats. And without realizing it and in the middle of the night, he fell flat out on his back with the face of a defeated moon.

“Your time has come,” the Ibeyi said in unison. They ripped his guts out and burned them in a bonfire and pulled off the cruz de asta from his necklaces.

The twins took three iron rods that they pulled from the forest, a malva tree, and a clay pot. They ripped out the Devil’s heart, shredded it with the leaves, and threw it in the pot. Thusly they did it—beating the Devil and opening all the roads. That night, the Ibeyi brought back to life all number of people who had been lost, and at the Palm Tree they all went up to the sky and petitioned Obatalá that he never deny them anything, that he return those old skeletons their old bodies and souls that the okuní burukú had devoured.
(c) Copyright English Translation David H. Brown 2013

Pataki: The Young Buffalo (Osa Kuleya)

The path where Oyá gave up eating male sheep! (Osa Kuleya)
                                                                “Ogodo Makulenkue”

Oyá was the owner of the marketplace and she was obsessively in love with Shangó, but she did not gain his favor. One day when she in the forest, because she hunted, she saw a beautiful black buffalo had come into the woods. She went to shoot an arrow when she saw with surprise that the buffalo had taken off its skin. So instead she hid and saw that it was Shangó who was now carrying the buffalo skin. He hid the skin and left.

Oyá robbed the skin and took it to the market. The next day, when Shangó went to look for the skin he couldn’t find it. Desperate, he looked for the trail and it lead him to the market. There he reprimanded Oyá and she said to him that she wanted his romantic attention before returning the skin to him. Shangó accepted the offer with the condition that she not reveal his secret. She said yes, and thereafter, with this agreement, the two came to live together and give birth to the Ibeyi.

Oggún, who was the enemy of Shangó, through the intervention of Yemayá, the sister of Oyá, obtained the secret and told it to everyone: Shangó was the ogodó makulenkue, the young buffalo!

Upon seeing that his secret was public knowledge, Shangó took out his disguise, put it on, and came out of the woods in search of Oyá. Oyá had gone to the house of Orunmila for osode, and this Ifá came out, marking for her an ebó with akukó, eyelé meyi, otí, orí, efún, and $9.45.

Oyá made the ebó and left to put in her herd of abó, which she raised to eat.

So Shangó, who was looking for Oyá in the woods, instead found Ogún. Ogún knocked Shangó (as buffalo) over and cut off one of his horns, which he kept as a trophy (for this reason the ogué of Ogún consists of a single horn). But as the magic of the buffalo disguise still allowed it to grow horns, Shangó instantly had two to fight with. Shangó left Ogún and continued looking for Oyá until finally he found her with the abo and the Ibeyi, and he thrust himself forward to gore her.

Upon seeing agodó, Oyá now understood everything and thinking she was all but lost, got the Ibeyi away to save them. She then threw an abo at Shangó, who thrust forward to eat it, thereby staying forever with abo as his principal food.

Oyá had renounced abo in order to save herself and her children, the Ibeyi. “Whirlwind” took her children, the Ibeyi, and carried them home them to the house of Olokun.

(c) Copyright David H. Brown 2013