Yoruba-Religion

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The Yoruba Orisha Part 2 (Part 1

An Orisha (also spelled Orisa or Orixa) is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of Olodumare (God) in the Yoruba religious system. (Olodumare is also known by various other names includ
ing Olorun, Eledumare, Eleda and 

Olofin-Orun). This religion has found its way throughout the world and is now expressed in practices as varied as Candomblé, Lucumí/Santería, Shango in Trinidad, Anago and Oyotunji, as well as in some aspects of Umbanda, Winti, Obeah, Vodun and a host of others.

These varieties or spiritual lineages are practiced throughout areas of Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, Togo, Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela among others. As interest in Yoruba religion system grows, Orisha communities and lineages can be found in parts of Europe and Asia as well. While estimates may vary, some scholars believe that there could be more than 150 million adherents of this spiritual tradition worldwide. (Please note some of the Orisha have male/female personifications) Click here for A brief understanding    Courtesy: James C. Lewis (http://www.noire3000studios.com)
Do not remove the original comments.

Ori is a metaphysical concept important to Yoruba spirituality and way of life.

Ori, literally meaning “head,” refers to one’s spiritual intuition and destiny. It is the reflective spark of human consciousness embedded into the human essence, and therefore is often personified as an Orisha in its own right . In Yoruba tradition, it is believed that human beings are able to heal themselves both spiritually and physically by working with the Orishas to achieve a balanced character, or iwa-pele. When one has a balanced character, one obtains an alignment with one’s Ori or divine self.

Alignment with one’s Ori brings, to the person who obtains it, inner peace and satistaction with life. To come to know the Ori is, essentially, to come to know oneself, a concept extremely foreign to Western philosophy. The primacy of individual identity is best captured in a Yoruba proverb: “Ori la ba bo, a ba f'orisa sile”. When translated, this becomes It is the inner self we ought to venerate, and let divinity be.

Oriki Ori:

Ori o,

When I look for my path, it is you who walks beside me

may we walk in harmony and not stumble upon each others feet

When I am in my darkest hour, it is you who shine a light

may our depths of sorrow always be matched by heights of joy

When I am lost and without direction, it is you who takes my hand

may wisdom reign in the kingdom of our soul

When I am alone in the darkness I ask

my Ori, what are you?  

you are the other reality inside

you are the owner of righteous intuition you are my power to observe,

reason and inspire you are my one real identity

you are me

Ori o bless your omo

Ase o

Photography Courtesy: James C. Lewis (http://www.noire3000studios.com)

 Text by: Teekay Akin

Yemoja (also known as Yemaya and Iemanja)

The queen of the Earth, owner of all waters, and the orish of motherhood. She is the mother of all living things and lives in the sea. Her name is a contraction of the Yoruba saying “iyá omó eyá” meaning “mother whose children are the fish.” and mer-people are Yemoja sacred offspring. She is the older sister of Oshun.

Yemoja wears seven panels skirts to represent the seven seas of which she rules over. She carries a black haired horse tail fly-whisk, a sabre, or a machete with which she defends her children. When she spins, the rippling edges of her dress are the tempestuous waves of the stormy sea.


Much has been made of the differences between the religion as it is practiced in West Africa, and how it is practiced in Cuba. While there are certainly differences between the practices in the two countries, how different are they? And how did they arrive there? It is a story of a failed attempt to systematically destroy the religion and our way of life on two continents, Africa and the New World.

Cuba:

In Cuba, the religion was brought to its shores with the slaves. Upon arrival, the slaves were forced to practice Christianity in the form of Catholicism. And they were forced to learn Spanish as their main language. They were, of course, forbidden to practice their traditional religion so they took up the practice of hiding the orishas behind the saints. Different groups of Yorubas or Lucumís were brought together as one group. There the Lucumís began to look at themselves less as belonging to one or another Yoruba nation, and more as subsets of the larger Lucumi whole. In this way the Lucumi became homogenized into more of a single nation. In order that the religion survive under the harsh circumstances of slavery, they realized that they needed to restructure the religion somewhat to allow the religion to be best preserved. These decisions were made by councils of the best and brightest priests within societies known as cabildos. There it was decided that as families were often broken up upon arrival to avoid slave revolts, the basic grouping in Santeria would become the ilé: the god family. This would allow each ilé to act as a secret cell, independent from the others. If one cell was broken the others would have a better chance of survival. This practice has been used in modern times by secret organizations such as the French Resistance in World War II.
It was decided that for the Religion of the Orishas to survive as a whole, it was necessary for each person, upon being consecrated as a priest, to receive a majority of the orishas at that time (Elegba or Elegguá, Ogún, Oshosi, Obatalá, Oyá, Oshún, Yemayá and Shangó). This is opposed to the practice in West Africa, where a priest of Obatalá would receive Obatalá and Elegguá and no other orishas, and so on. In this way, if a cell was broken, there would be much less chance that the worship of a particular orisha would end with the destruction of that cell. Here the orishas became interconnected more than in Africa. Olokún became thought of as the root of all the roads of Yemayá and Oshún was to be regarded as the sister of Yemayá, etc. In this way, the orishas became a family in much the same way as the god family exists in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the United States.
It was impractical to have full-fledged Igbo Orisha or Orisha Groves as they had in Africa. The Orisha Grove was consecrated groves dedicated to the worship of the different orishas. There the orisha worshippers practiced their secret rites such as the consecration of priests. No one who was not an initiate was allowed to enter. In the New World, any space was able to be consecrated by priests to serve this purpose and once again only initiated priests or priestesses may enter. In modern times Igbodu is often to be found in someone’s garage or basement, anywhere that is away from the prying eyes of the profane, where our rites can be practiced.

Other practices changed as well. In Africa, the stories associated with the different signs in divination or Odu were and are recited as poems. This is an effective mnemonic device, a memory aid that is used by doctors in modern times to learn anatomy. In the New World, as a consequence of Spanish becoming the main language spoken and the loss of fluency in the Yoruba tongue, the stories or histories of the orishas are recited as stories called apatakís or ‘things of importance’ with the original Yoruba poems being recited as Suyeres, a kind of ritual language used to salute the odu. As the Yoruba tongue had no written form, in Cuba, the Spanish way of writing was adopted and accents were used to approximate the tonal quality of Yoruba speaking, though the religion has remained by and large an oral tradition and not a written one.

Africa:

Meanwhile, Africa did not fare much better. Here the religion was attacked on three fronts. Yorubaland was largely structured in the form of City-States much as ancient Greece used to be. To regard the Yoruba as a single nation is as naive as saying all Europeans are the same, where there are language and cultural differences between the diverse ranges of countries. The religion was practiced slightly differently from region to region and in different areas the orishas that were worshipped were different. Even in Ifá, which is arguably the most homogenous of the religious practices in Yorubaland, the very order of the divination signs or Odu are different between Ile Ife and Oyo. These City-States were invaded by successive waves of Fulani tribes who spread the religion of Islam by sword throughout much of the area. There were the effects of the slave trade itself where prisoners captured by warring City-States were sold to the Portuguese, Spanish and English who traded in human lives for a living. This decimated many of the religious groups and partially explains why some orishas much worshipped in Cuba and Brazil is virtually non-existent in modern day Nigeria. Then there was the effect of Colonialism itself. The Colonialists regarded the Yoruba peoples as little more than ignorant savages, children who were in great need of being 'civilized’ by the superior Western Europeans who found the Slave Trade and the horrendous Middle Passage a morally acceptable practice. The Yorubas in Nigeria were forced to speak the language of their oppressors and were encouraged to give up their own language. Missionaries taught many of them to practice Christianity and to forget their own ways and religion and the populace were drawn towards the relative wealth of the larger cities where 'civilization’ took a particularly harsh toll on the religion.

By the mid twentieth century, the Traditional Yoruba Religion was only practiced by an estimated 10% of the population, the rest had become either Christians or Islamic. Many of the Igbo Orisha had fallen into disuse and decay and many sacred posts were left unfilled due to lack of interest on the part of the young who were more interested in finding their fortunes in the cities and the 'modern world’. The practice of reading the merindilogun or cowrey shell divination had almost ceased to be practiced in Nigeria, with people frequenting Ifá priests or Babalawos almost exclusively. And the religion itself was having to adapt itself to a rapidly changing world, much as what had happened in Cuba and Brazil.

In recent times there has been a great resurgence of the religion, not only in Cuba and Africa, but in all corners of the world. In the sixties, the Austrian artist Suzanne Wenger married a traditional drummer in Oshogbo and became a priestess of Obatalá. She then set about renewing the ancient Orisha Groves there, creating and recreating great beauty where decay had set in. The religion as practiced in Cuba as well as Africa sparked the imaginations, the hearts and the souls of many, particularly in the United States. Pilgrimages particularly to Nigeria had a huge effect on the traditional religion. Where some Yoruba’s once saw only an embarrassing past, they became proud. A renewed interest in the religion caused a massive movement to study and to document the religion in its original home. The groves became the beautiful receptacles of awe and mystery they once were and the worship of the orishas became respectable to the point of being included in the course of study in the major Nigerian Universities. The religion has become popular the world over, with the religion being featured in a recent edition of Vogue magazine. A recent conference on Orisha worship brought people from such diverse places as the Netherlands, France and Germany as well as Cuba, Puerto, Rico, the United States, Brazil, Trinidad and Nigeria. Here, due to the diversity of languages spoken, the main language spoken at the conference was Yoruba!

Conclusions:

Our religion has suffered through exceptional hardship in its original home in Africa as well as its adopted homes in the Diaspora. The truths of this religion have been preserved in different ways on both continents. Things that were preserved in Cuba and Brazil had almost disappeared in Nigeria. Things that were preserved in Africa had been lost or forgotten in the New World. Truth in this religion is not to be found exclusively in any one place any longer.

There is an apataki or 'Important History’ where Obatalá had a servant (Eshu) who was envious of Obatalá’s exalted position in the world. This envy grew to the point that Eshu set about a plot to assassinate the Lord of All The Orishas. One day as he accompanied Obatalá to the side of a cliff on a tall mountain, he saw his chance. With one push he toppled the Great Orisha off the top of the mountain where he crashed among the rocks below. Pieces of Obatalá were everywhere.

Orunmila arrived on the scene a little while later, having heard of this great 'mishap’ that had occurred. Knowing that the preservation of order in the world depended on it, Orunmila went about attempting to put all the pieces of the Great Orisha back together. While he was able to re-assemble most of the parts of Obatalá, the task was so great that not even the wise and patient Orunmila could find all the pieces that were strewn across the entirety of the world.

In the same way, the truths of our religion are strewn across the world, on two distant continents. Each area, be it Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad, Puerto Rico or even Nigeria, has only pieces of these truths. And it is up to us to try to complete as well as we can, the monumental task begun by Orunmila, so that our beloved religion may once again be whole. With Wisdom, Love for the Orishas and a true sense of Brotherhood (and Sisterhood) we just may succeed in this daunting task.

— 

Shubert Mendez
Omo Chango Awo Orumila, Odi-Leke,

The Religion in Africa & Cuba: How Different are They Really?

Odu Ifa: The Ethical Teachings, Maulana Karenga

If you are looking for a beautifully poetic, highly sophisticated interpretation of selected Odus, this is the book you need. For those of us who are longterm and serious students of classical African philosophy, the great Dr. Maulana Karenga is a well-known and respected name. His research and writings on the continuity of African culture and the singularity of our traditions from ancient Kush and Khemit  to (western Sudan) the West African nations is unsurpassed by any other scholar. His work laid the foundation for the establishment of the African-American holiday of Kwanzaa, as well as the recognition of the connection between African-American dialectic colloquialisms and the languages of the Congo and Bantu. This text is actually more than just a book of poetic interpretations of the Odu, it is a continuation and exploration of his earlier work, “The Husia”, in which Dr. Karenga clearly illuminated the common origins of the Christian Bible, namely the Book of Psalms; the Koran; and the religious texts and oral tradition of Ancient Khemit and the Yoruba religion of Ifa, respectively. That is why this work has such great value. It is not a quick reference book for fledgling diviners, it’ a treatise on African culture.

To compare “Odu Ifa: The Ethical Teachings” with “The Sacred Oracle of Ifa” is appropriate, but only with a proper understanding of the connection between the two. As most who read this review will know, the co-author of the latter text is Philip John Neimark, a White Jewish-American businessman and publisher who studied in Nigeria and received the initiation of Babalawo. The other co-author and true creator of the book is the late great master Babalawo of Ifa, Dr. Afolabi A. Epega of Nigeria. When Dr. Epega was seeking to compile his vast learning into a text that would make the teachings of Ifa accessible to the Western audience, particularly converted followers of Ifa and American- and Caribbean-born African priests, he approached countless members of the African-American and Caribbean religious community for assistance, and no one was interested in participating. Finally, he gained the patronage of Mr. Neimark, who, in exchange for a co-authorship credit, agreed to help compile the text and assist with getting the work published. Once the work had been published, Mr. Neimark, ever the businessman, actually attempted to trademark the ancient Odus of Ifa, which would have given him legal and financial rights to a spiritual and religious corpus far more ancient than his own and certainly by no means his property! It was an outrage and a perceived affront to African people everywhere and the African-American spiritual community in particular, who were the primary audience of such a book which translated Yoruba divinatory and moral teachings into English. It was in response to this treachery that Dr. Karenga penned “Odu Ifa: The Ethical Teachings.” This work was a direct challenge to the attempted European-ization and commercialization of African spiritual heritage. It helped to subvert and defeat Mr. Neimark’s goals of gaining ownership of ancient African religious teachings, and also paved the way for other authors to continue the very important work of compiling, translating, and interpreting the sacred Odu. They are no one’s property- but definitely an African legacy!

Inside the text of “Odu Ifa” you will find many eloquent passages which illuminate the moral teachings of the Yoruba people. Dr. Karenga has selected several odu for in-depth interpretation and commentary. His insight as a pre-eminent scholar and expert on African traditions is remarkable. It is, again, not a guidebook for divination- but the Yoruba way of life and worldview is not just about divination and magico-religious practices. That is the entire point of Dr. Karenga’s life work. He wanted to introduce to the rest of the world the beauty, validity, complexity, and eloquence of African philosophy- as opposed to the stereotypical and outdated modes of thinking which relegate African spirituality to mere superstition and witchcraft. He wanted to demonstrate through his research and texts that African religions are and always have been just as advanced as any developed in Asia or Europe, and that in fact, the African way is the genesis of all others by virtue of Africa being the birthplace of human civilization. This book will help you to understand the cultural context of the teachings of Ifa as well as other African-derived systems. It will help you to see the human story behind the divine teachings. It is also a beautiful piece of literature, an introduction to Ifa for those who are just beginning to learn about their African culture. I highly recommend this book as an introduction or adjunct to the library of those who seek to understand classical African thought and philosophy.

Every Yoruba person & Diaspora should own this book.

“So the slaves displayed the images of the saints but addressed them in the parallel names of their own deities - St. Lazarus/Sopona, St. Anthony/Ogun, Our Lady of the Candles/Osun, etc. and here is the point: this never constituted a spiritual dilemma since the system of the gods has always been one of complimentarities, of affinities, and of expansion - but of the non-aggressive kind. the deities could subsume themselves within these alien personages and eventually take them over. 

one cinematic illustration of this suggests itself - those films of alien body snatchers where the creatures from outer space insert their beings into the carapace of earthlings, eventually dominate, not only the human forms but the environment and culture, insert themselves into crevices of landscape and social actualities, and can only be flushed out with the aid of weed killers, flame throwers, gamma rays or quicklime. the difference, of course, is that the African deities were made of sterner yet more malleable stuff - the principle of alloys. always generous in encounters with alien "earthlings”, they accommodated, blended, and eventually triumphed.“

-Wole Soyinka from his essay in Orisa Devotion as World Religion: The Globalization of Yoruba Religious Culture ed. by Jacob K. Olupona and Terry Rey

Shango (also known as Chango, Sango, or Xango)

King of the orisha pantheon, rules over thunder, fire, drumming, dancing and male virility. Shango is actually a deified king who was once the Fourth Alafin of the city-state of Oyó. He is one of the most worshipped orishas in the pantheon and his legends are numerous and speak to the human experience. He has four separate wives: Obba - his first wife who was faithful but unattractive so Shango withdrew his affections from her, Oshun his favourite lover, Oya his equal in strength and power, and Yewa the virgin daughter of Obatala whose purity was stolen by Shango. He is the the owner of the sacred drums, a powerful sorcerer who wields fire and lightning, and loves to seduce women, drink and dance. Shango has a special relationship with Babalu Aye as he was the only orisha to offer him assistance when he was sick and homeless. Shango is often considered the son of Yemaya and his fatherhood is either credited to Ogun or Aggayu. Shango was a very impulsive youth and was quick to anger, and legend has it that Obatala taught Shango the art of diplomacy and gifted him with the white bead that is now a part of his necklace. In nature, Shango is said to live at the top of the royal palm tree and his offerings are commonly placed at the foot of palm trees. Shango is petitioned for help with protection, enemies, sexual, business success, and good fortune.

(the above photo is not related to west African/African Diasporic cultures but matches well with this subject.)

Animal Sacrifice is the single most controversial ritual practice performed by practitioners of African based religions such as Lucumi, Haitian Vodou, and Traditional Ifa. Outsiders have long said that animal sacrifice is not necessary because the need to sacrifice animals to our spirits has been subverted by modernity. And while, for some, the cost of animals may not be much of an economic sacrifice there is more to the performance of animal sacrifice beyond the simple economic expense.

Many priests have written about the importance of animal sacrifice and some have even defended animal sacrifice in the U.S. court system (e.g., the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, 1993) to protect legally our rights to practice our religion. We, as a community, have spent a great deal of time and effort educating the public by writing for those people who don’t practice an African based religion. These efforts are usually designed to explain the how’s and why’s of animal sacrifice – or to defend these practices as “logical” and spiritually necessary. However, today I am writing this article not for the public – but for practitioners. I found that many practitioners themselves do not fully understand the reasons for sacrifice and some even believe erroneously that a priest can – through sustained spiritual development – reach a point in their own so-called spiritual evolution that would make animal sacrifice unnecessary.

I would like to begin our discussion by talking about why we perform animal sacrifice. Animal sacrifice does not provide us with ase – ase only comes from Olodumare and the Orisa. Nor do we give blood to the Orisa to give them ase as they are already the keepers of Olodumare’s divine energy. We do not give blood to the Orisa to give our tools or “shrines” ase or even to give our lives ase. Believing that ritual sacrifice gives our Orisa ase is due to a misunderstanding not just of ritual sacrifice but also of ase. Even so, there is a relationship between ase and blood sacrifice – which is probably where this misunderstanding began.

But before we can grasp fully the true connection between sacrifice and ase we must understand what an Orisa “pot” is and what it is not. It may be surprising to hear, but Orisa pots are not shrines in the classic Greco-Roman sense. Even so, I am guilty of using the word “shrine” (and I really dislike “fetish” as an alternative) myself. However, I do so because English lacks the vocabulary to describe the ways that Orisa “shrines” are understood in a Yoruba context without using long clunky phrases. Orisa pots are “incarnations of the Orisa from Orun to earth.” Meaning, Orisa pots are not altars, they are not representational, they are not symbolic – they are manifestations of the Orisa – and their ase – themselves. Blood sacrifice does not give your Orisa ase, as the divine keepers of Olodumare’s ase it’s the Orisa who give us ase – not the other way around. What sacrifice does is nourish the Orisa’s ase that is intrinsic to their existence – which then gives the ase inherent in Orisa pots more efficacy, power, and presence.

But there’s more to animal sacrifice than actively recharging an Orisa’s cosmic ase-battery. Animal sacrifice also nourishes us with the meat thereby completing the cycle and affirming our connection to our earthly and heavenly egbe (community). Sacrificing an animal nourishes the spirits (with blood) and the community (with meat) thereby indexing the powerful link between humanity and the Orisa as they are both nourished by a single ritual process. Offerings of fruit, amidu, and even drinks all recharge our Orisa’s ase but they perform this task slowly and with coolness. Blood sacrifice, on the other hand, recharges an Orisa quickly and with heat.

It is – in part – the intensity and “heat” produced from animal sacrifice that makes animal sacrifice mandatory in all Orisa and Ifa initiations. Simply put, if you were initiated without the act of animal sacrifice your Orisa was not fully birthed and by now your Orisa has dissolved back to the earth from which it came. Blood is not just symbolic of “birthing,” the intensity of blood sacrifice also has a practical purpose – it charges – or electrifies – the struggling ase of a newly incarnated Orisa so that it may endure on earth. The act of sacrifice jolts a newly birthed Orisa with the electricity of life and charges the Orisa “ase-battery” quickly and fully. Indeed, this is also why some priests believe that your Orisa should be given blood once a year – it keeps the ase of your Orisa nourished and efficacious. Orisa birthed without blood are left uncharged and unfinished which leaves them to dissipate into back into the earth. Ritual sacrifice during initiation is mandatory. Anyone who performs an initiation ceremony without blood – and calls it Ifa or Orisa worship – is a fraud. Not only does the performance of blood sacrifice connect the new initiate to their community but it also nourishes the ase of their newly birthed orisa giving sustainable power.

While most people understand that animal sacrifice is necessary for initiation I have found that many people do not have a solid grasp on the ceremony of sacrifice. It is Ogun and his sacred metal that make sacrifice possible – therefore at the moment of sacrifice Ogun gets the “first taste” of all animals given to the Orisa. Indeed, I have heard the sacrificial knife called “the tongue of Ogun.” This means that after every sacrifice a small drop of palm oil should be placed on the blade of your knife to honor the ase of Ogun which made the offering possible. Additionally, in West Africa – unlike in the West – the size of the animal sacrificed is rarely fixed. Instead, it correlates with the number of people that the animal needs to feed. The animals do not carry ase – the Orisa do. The animals do not give ase to a newly birthed Orisa – they merely activate or charge the ase already inherent in the Orisa. Therefore, a goat does not carry more ase than a chicken. If you need to feed four or less people, sacrifice a chicken. If you need to feed five or more people, offer a goat. It’s really that simple.

Even so, there are occasions when larger animals such as goats or pigs are necessary, but not for the reasons you many think. For example, in my lineage we require that a person give four goats to their Ifa before they can receive and Igba Odu. This doesn’t mean that your Ifa must have a certain amount of ase prior to receiving the Orisa Odu, even if it’s often worded as such. This means that that Ifa priest must have feed the community – that is, served his community – several times prior to being vested with Odu because Odu by her nature is communal and designed to protect and empower the Ifa priest’s community. Of course, it’s for these reasons that Ifa priests should be made with a goat and many Orisa priests are. But it’s important to understand that the sacrifice of larger animals during initiations are not to give your Orisa more ase (they already have all they need from Olodumare) it’s about the new priest feeding and serving, their community in a symbolic and real way.

I hope this gives us, as a community, things to think about. In this blog post I wanted to show that 1) animal sacrifice charges ase – it does not bestow ase 2) animal sacrifice is necessary for initiations, and any initiation done without animal sacrifice is an unfortunate scam, and 3) the size of the animal given during ceremonies has to do with how many people need to be fed or as a symbolic gesture indexing a new priests service to their community – not because some animals have more ase than others.

Ire-o!

- Awó Fáladé Òsúntólá

No religion speaks to me more than the Yoruba religion, and those influenced by it.

It makes me want to get to know myself better. I believe that praise is not significant unless it gives you a sense of wanting to love yourself more.

Just reading on Yoruba gives me a great sense of peace.

I think it is right for me, but I definitely need to become more acquainted with myself spiritually before  I make a definite decision.

“I take most of my metaphors from the Yoruba worldview. What separates that religion from the so-called universal world religion is that the human characteristics of the deities that belong in the Yoruba pantheon actually make that religion one of the most humanist types of religion you’ll encounter anywhere in the world. The Yoruba philosophy drastically reduces the absolute authority of deities over the lives of human beings and therefore reduces the dependency of human beings on the interpreters of the extraterrestrial authority. And so when you ask the question "What are the prospects of a humanist worldview in Nigeria?”, I point to this as an example of some kind of qualified humanism that predates any kind of codification of humanistic principles in European terms.“

-Wole Soyinka on Humanism and Yoruba beliefs via

Babalu Aye (also known as Omoluaye, Asojano, or Shopona)

Orisha who rules over infectious diseases and healing. He is one of the most feared and revered orishaw because of his power over life and death. Babalu Aye’s worship originated with the Fon tribe of Benin, in Western Africa, but his influence was so powerful that tribes up and down the West African coast adopted his worship. He is the patron of those suffering from many infectious diseases. Babalu Aye has a special relationship with the orisha Shango because he was the only one who reached out to assist him when he was sick and homeless. Babalu Aye is frequently called upon for help with healing and overcoming these plagues.

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“Tambor” will follow two tamboreros of Havana, Cuba, who play bata drums day in and day out. The two friends, Yuco and Humberto are drummers in the Yoruba religion, also known as Santería, and their job is to get hired to play in religious ceremonies. “Tambor” is the story of why they became tamboreros and how their livelihoods are made from the tambores of the religion. Humberto is also a babalao, a priest in the religion. Both Yuco and Humberto are two young, AfroCuban men whose identities are grounded in their African roots.

Simply everything revolves around the tambor. From the moment they wake up, they are preparing for the next one. Before or after each tambor, there is usually a shared meal with everyone that takes part in the ceremony, which highlights the dynamic of the relationships within the religion. The tambores average four to six hours and the average pay for drummers is $3- $5 per tambor.

All support is appreciated; donations and spreading the word!

LINK: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tambor-a-documentary-about-drummers-in-havana/x/714914#/story

Orunmila (also known as Orula, Orunla, or Ifa)

The orisha of divination. He is the “eleripin” – the witness of destiny – who knows everything that awaits us as part of our fate. He has a very close working relationship with Eleggua and together they intercede on behalf of humanity to alter people’s destinies, ward off death and other misfortunes, and guide us to cultivate good character. His worship is primarily centred around the Ifá tradition, both in traditional African worship and in the African Diaspora in the new world, where his initiated priests, called awos, babalawos, iyanifas or oluwos, act as diviners for the greater community. He is petitioned for help with making wise descisons, opening roads, healing and protection from evil.


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