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