Learn Iyawo ~ The Twelve Steps Process is important for you!

No, we are not talking here about an AA (Alcoholic Anomymous) like program. What I call the Twelve Steps Process is more like a spiritual tune up every iyawó should have throughout their year in white. The process consists of twelve obo orí eledás or Head Feedings also known as Prayers over the Head. Although simple, the ritual is of great importance as it provides not only an opportunity to balance the head of the iyawó with the growing energies of the orisha that has just been seated, cool and cleansed the iyawó from any negativities attracted, but also, it provides for a time for communication and learning between the initiate and initiators.

About the Head Feeding:

Ideally the ceremony should be done every month on the same date that the Kariosha happened, thus if someone got initiated on the 12th of the month, every month thereafter the iyawó should meet with the godparent on the same day or within 7 days following that date. The duty of performing the ceremony every month falls upon the oyugbonakán or the main godparent, depending on how the godparent wants to do this. For this ritual the iyawó needs to bring the following items:

  1. Two candles (itana melli)
  2. Two coconuts (obi melli)
  3. A $21 fee
  4. Cotton (ou)
  5. Cascarilla (efún)
  6. Cocoa butter (orí)
  7. Honey (oyín o oñí)
  8. Smoked fish and Jutía (ecú eyá)–optional in some houses
  9. A white large handkerchief (ashó fun fun)
  10. Two white plates

This is how the process goes, the iyawó presents these materials to the godparent and the godparent will take care of preparing the coconuts which will broken down on two sets of Obí for divination and the rest will be peeled (no black rind) and grated. The godparent will then prepare the mixture and set the altar space for the iyawó.

The process in itself is a great opportunity for the iyawó to learn the mechanics of one of the most basic ceremonies that any olosha should know by heart. Thus, a wise godparent will take care to explain the steps and show the iyawó how things are organized. The process will be learned by repetition as there are 12 opportunities for the iyawó to observe, ask questions and memorize.

I have seen many iyaloshas and babaloshas ask of their iyawós to bring the coconuts already segmented into two sets of obí and already grated. Shame on you for being so lazy! Part of the ashé of the godparent is to do this process with their very own hands (they are also charging a fee, then it is not right to ask others to do the work). It shows sincere care and allows for the transference of energies from the hands of the godparent to the head of the godchild. Besides it is a waste of a great teaching opportunity face-to-face.

I remember many interesting conversations about the importance of this ritual, and the impact of the ritual on me as months rolled by, all of these shared with my elders while they prepared the materials. Granted, some people do not like to talk during the preparation for a ritual, but this is an exception they could make to create a learning environment for the iyawó.

After the Head Feeding:

Iyawós, your relationship with your godparents will be developed not only by what they dictate onto you, but also based on the actions you take. Thus, if you ask your godparents to spend at least half an hour talking with you after the Head Feeding is done, you will develop a healthy routine of communications and a time and space where you can share your developments, concerns and questions with your elders.

There are some houses where the iyawó learns nothing during their first year. I see no reason to keep a godchild from learning for a year. The time shared during this ritual is indeed an opportunity to instruct the iyawó on basic materials to memorize. The iyawó should also be tested during subsequent conversations to ensure that the initiate is indeed taking time to reinforce lessons learned on the prior month.

What to teach the iyawó during their first year? That is a question that each babá and iyá should pose themselves before they do kariosha to an individual and not one I will address in this short essay as it is more geared to the iyawó. Needless to say those godparents must to be ready not only for the spiritual birth, but also, to rear their children and to use the time of the year in white wisely and efficiently.

Learn iyawó, keep up the steps prescribed for your year in white, use opportunities to learn wisely and always keep communications going with your godparents. Oh, and every time you meet with them, have a notebook and pen in hand so you can take notes and review them later.

Vou descansar no reino do príncipe, pela rainha e o rei que comigo caminha, vou durmir de cara com vento pois a festa do dono da guerra será o dia que ya mesan vai voar, eu estou voltando para o ventre de minha mãe, estou retornando pras lembranças de minha vó , estarei com a peitaça da minha yaba , pois estarei no leito e na casa de OYÁ !
—  12.06.15
Why does the Iyawo eat on the Mat?

Mat for our African ancestors is symbol of bed and table and as consecrated the Iyawo must start with learn humility and begin to get used with the new range of spirituality that connects with the consecrated Orisha, also in (6-6 Obara Tonti Obara) is born that you eat in mat as sentence that the person learn to overcome pride and envy.

Olofi sentenced who became “injuriador” of Obara Tonti Obara to sit and eat (in front of the Kings) in mat so as admonishment and learn to not speak ill of others. -In Obara was born, the conversation and the King does not tell lies. A good language builds and destroys a bad language. You don’t live in dreams and not insult with the language which is blessed. The mat is what separates us from the pagan world to the sacred point. No one in our beliefs can walk with shoes on top of a mat.

The Iyawo eats on the mat during the first 3 months of his/her initiation and when completing this cycle, his/her elders present the table so that you can begin to eat on it. Reminding the iyawo. that whenever one of Ocha House well is accompanied of their padrnos and must be greater that lift you their dish similar to party of Ocha, you should take with you: your mat (eni) 1 dish, spoon and glass and towel. so when prompted do not pass by the penalty of shame for not having what you must…As well as also 1 change of clothes if at some point you stain the clothing your wearing…Remember the iyawo must always be neat, clean and spotless.

We always care to the Yawoses and will always be pleased to teach him or some Iyawo that is visiting in that House… that respect and education come together in both hands.

There are houses of Santo that can economically can have mats in quantity as in the dishes (la gardé) spoons and glasses in quantity, but is better than the comma in your own belongings, is a habit that is very ancient and part of that should follow it. aesthetically looks my particular of every house in every Godfather and especially each Iyawo.

The mat is what separates us from the pagan world to the sacred point. No one in our beliefs can walk with shoes on top of a mat.

Credits: Comunidad Religiosa

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Mud learns to live with mites, worms, beetles, and ticks.

And Lioness digs up the earth where a warthog cowers in his den.

You know you are loved when she tears you to bits, brittle thing.

The lioness tongue softens you up all the way to her bottom.

Roots, straw, weeds, rain your crown, hija de Ochun.

Even Earth’s suffering arises from pangs of  love.

When Lioness fangs diffuse the blood we call it liberation.

Wax hisses from the smoldering wick, curtains you draw go shoosh.

The last earth imprint you ever left on asphalt from thirty floors up.

A shoe curved from the work your instep leaves behind.

The breath of the lioness heats up your shoulders and your neck.

A genetic photograph of every cell that ever lives exists in a lioness mouth.

She tears into the riverbed and root hairs clog her claws.

Ancient bacteria get all up in you.

Control the fire and it burns deeper, flashing life into sleeping embers.


“Soneto de Silueta”, 


My mom stays trying to clocking me!

We were talking on FaceTime when I told her that I needed to hang up to make another call.

Before we hung up I put on a head scarf so that I could step outside on my covered balcony (Iyawos cant go outside without having their head covered). 

I am outside for two minutes when I receive a text message from her saying, “Where are you going at this time of night?? I see that head wrap!”

I was like, “On my porch, Damn.”

I saw that text and was like

Lol she tried to catch me slippin’, but I was being a good little Iyawo (mostly).

I rebuke your allegations mother!