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Do Oloshas need to have open shrines?

Updated: Sep 1, 2018

Shrine to Shango from batá in Atlanta, GA

This week I had a dream that left me thinking about ethics. Here is what happened in my dream. I was finished setting up my altar for my anniversary. All was ready to receive guests, when suddenly my husband comes to me and tells me that there is an unexpected person at the door. In my dream an imaginary foe that had made our existence miserable was at my doorstep wanting to present an offering to my orishas and make amends.

In the dream, my first reaction at seeing this awó was one of anger. I could feel my blood boiling at the sight of his face; my mind was riling and baffled at the audacity he had to show at my doorstep after having—in my dream— tormented us for so long. Wars between initiates are never fun; they are like dueling with grenades. Thus, my first instinct was to simply kick this unwelcomed visitor out, to deny him entrance to my house, to the sacred space of my shrine to Yemayá. Then, years of conversations with my godfather Awó Iwori Oddí about ethics, potential of change and development of character kicked in. These concepts have become so ingrained in my every day pursuit of Iwá Pelé that they now are permeating even into the fabric of my dreams, or at the moment, nightmare. I tell my husband to allow this man into the house; my stomach hurts at the sight of him proceeding to my orisha shrine. He comes in and kneels at the foot of Yemayá. He places an offering down on the ground and gets ready to start chanting his moyugba. Why have I let this wicked person into my shrine? Why am I allowing him to make amends with my orisha? It is clear to me that he is not coming here out of his own initiative. He has been sent out by his Ifá as part of an ebó to clear him of his past wrongdoing. He wants to be at peace with his own orí and thus he is here swallowing his own pride to do what is asked of him as a priest. This is not an easy moment for either. No words are exchanged.

I hand him a jícara with fresh water so he can start his prayers. Can someone who has tried to hurt my family be trusted? The instinct in me screams out, NO! However, there is a quiet place deep inside that urges me to allow the process to take place. The moyugba begins and the room feels strangely energized, slowly emotions are released. Anger, frustration, crossed words from the past; they all start to flood me. In their place, an eerie calm starts to take hold of the place. I can sense the awó relaxing as well; I can hear it in his voice. I can’t take my eyes off him. I stay there, standing still not wanting to leave the room and leave this man there alone with my orishas.

In my dream, many things are going through my mind. I am questioning my manners. I should offer this person a glass of water at least. The dream ended with me startled and I am left sitting on my bed with a million questions going through my mind.

Do we allow access to our shrines to anyone, particularly to someone who has or could have sent you a dreaded ‘brujería’? Are our temples to be open to anyone on the day of our anniversary, during a día del medio, a batá or wemilire? Do we allow access to someone who has wrong us to our orisha so they can make amends? These questions speak to the heart of the ethics of character development.

I learned with my godfather Iwori Oddí that people have potential of change. I suppose that when someone takes the step to make amends with the orisha they have attacked— for no doubt when a person attacks an olosha he or she attacks the orisha that protects that olosha— they go back to ask forgiveness and expose themselves to have the score balanced at the will of the orisha. Who is to say how the energy of the orisha is going to react. Ideally, we would like to think that the orisha is all forgiving but that literally would be transposing a Christian perspective onto the Orisha.

If we think about Ochosi for example, we know that this orisha has been highlighted in apatakis for balancing scores with impartiality, fall who what may. Ochosi’s arrows are notorious for hitting the mark. So can be the arrows we release when we seek to hurt a person out of spite using the orisha as weapon. Eventually the chickens come home to roost.

I leave you to ponder these questions, I am sure you will have your own set of answers based on your stage of character development and no doubt, on your own experiences. Do share.

Omimelli Oní Yemayá Achagbá

9 Responses to Do Oloshas need to have open shrines?

From original post published 01/13/2013

  1. Maxine says:January 13, 2013 at 2:02 amI am not a priest, but I will tell you now…HELL TO THE N TO THE O. If you have hurt my family, go to your orisa and seek redemption. My orisa is for me and only me. Orisa, like God, is everywhere. Just because you have orisa, means that anyone has access to your shrine. Not everyone is privy to your home, much less your orisa. Orisa is found in nature, so let them go to nature and find orisa!

    • Omimelli says:January 13, 2013 at 1:43 pmMaxine It is a tough one this question. Obvioulsy this was a dream, something that has inspired me to ponder upon the duty of an initiate and the santicty of private space. I am glad to see that you read it and that it caused a reaction in you. It is important to consider things like this and to react. 🙂 Omimelli

      • WanderingWaters says:January 19, 2013 at 5:56 amBendiciones, HMMMMM….Priests are not perfect and those undergoing KariOcha may not automatically possess Iwa Pele but as an Aborisha I am doing Foribale to all Crowned as it is the Orisha in their heads I am saluting. Not all are called to be Priests of the Religion and not all those who are will be Godparents but it is the will of the Orisha upon who such a Priest will bestow the Elekes, Warriors, a Santo Lavado, or KariOcha. The reception of many things in the Religion is by the graces of a Godparent’s particular tuletary Orisha, as opposed to just Obatala, Oshun, Yemaya in general and particular Orisha of Priests give birth to other Orisha. If an Aborisha or beyond has left his or her Ile on bad terms with no attempt to squaring things away with their Godparent’s Orisha, even perhaps if they have thown Brujeria in the past in anger and revenge…if they sincerely show up on the doorstep to genuinely make ammends I think they should be provided with the opportunity. If the Priest trusted his Orisha enough on who to take on as a Godchild, then they should on how to handle an unruly one. The Orisha that granted the Godchild permission should get the chance to have their say, letting it be known exactly how they feel on how things went down and if they are willing to accept the now offered “olive branch”. Sometimes the relationship cannot be repaired between the Godparent and Godchild who may still want to continue on in the Religion. Such a Godchild may have to seek out another Ile and if that Godchild has wronged his previous one, a future Ile they may wish to join may not take him on untill he has made an attempt to make amends with the Orisha of his former Ile. Not allowing him to do so may prevent him from progressing as he should, even if the wronged Priest may no longer play a role in his former Godchild’s advancement. The coconuts, candles, white plate, and perhaps money in an envelope (maybe even a Multa) is offered, the Orisha accept or reject and that is that. The Godchild may no longer have a place in the Ile where the trouble brewed but now, at least, he can move on with a clear head. The pact I made with the Orisha as an Aborisha compels me to foribale to those Crowned. I feel the pact Priests made with the Orisha should make them think long and hard before refusing a Godchild who has wronged them access to the Orisha who made the entire experience possible in the first place.

        • Omimelli says:January 20, 2013 at 1:24 pmHello WanderingWaters Good points on allowing godchildren to make amends with the tutelar orisha of their godparent. Unfortunately, very few have the humility to recognize errors, to take the steps to rectify them and to simply forgive, forget and move on. This comes mostly from having a society where folks are so concerned with status and with showing off knowledge that they have forgotten their maners, social graces and the peaceful art of laying back and letting the good times of learing and interaction roll. Thank you for reading and contributing. Omimelli

        • Omo Oshun says:January 22, 2013 at 7:29 pmBendición! Me disculpo por escribir en Español. Las ideas fluyen mejor en mi lenguaje materno. Muy interesante el punto de vista de ambas en relación a este tema. Mi punto de vista es que a veces hay que dejar que sea el mismo orisha tutelar de la persona la que dicte el castigo o el premio que merece aquella persona o sacerdote que agrede. Por supuesto defenderse es una opción pero sin atacar para atrás. Porque esto lo que ocasiona es una guerra; y la experiencia demuestra que en esta, ninguno gana. Todo lo contrario…ambos pierden. En lo poco que puedo aportar desde mi poca experiencia, vaya que si sale a flote el ego que muchos sacerdotes tienen y se ataca a un hermano de religión sin razón, tarde o temprano el Oricha tutelar de esa persona cobra la afrenta. Y de la manera donde mas duele y muchas veces no saben porque les pasa lo que les pasa. Y nos es cuestión de brujería. Simplemente es: no hagas lo que no te gusta que te hagan. La otra persona también tiene su oricha tutelar, asentado o no. Graccias! PD: Omimelli; quisiera contactarme con usted para hacerle un par de preguntas. Quizas pueda ayudarme. ¿Donde puedo escribirle? Gracias!

          • Omimelli says:January 25, 2013 at 3:46 amSaludos Omo Oshun Muy buenos puntos los compartidos. Puedes escribir a Sin embargo, recibo muchos emails, a veces me toma algo de tiempo responder, pero lo hago eventualmente. Omimelli

  2. NotFelixUnger says:February 24, 2013 at 10:54 pmFirst, apologies for being late to the party. Second, I feel this sounds better in Spanish…and, yes, I’m shaking my head side-to-side with my right index finger in the air shacking no-no… Si un HP, que ya yo se es capaz de causar mil formas de mal, se aparece para pedir perdon y ofrecer disculpas, NO LE DOY ENTRADA. [That felt so much better in Spanish] Think of it this way, if someone has already abused your trust, your love, your friendship, your money, your ETC… shows up in the secular world, would you allow them the opportunity to come back in and do more of the same? I think not. I love this blog, and this my first post after finding it. I speak as an Olosha [10 years come April, proudly Oni Yemaya], a Babalosha [8 years come September]], an Osainista [4 years come March and I got the green thumb to prove it!], I would not let them in the door. Christ said, “Turn the other cheek.” Sadly, there are only so many cheeks you can turn. “Fool me one, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Christ said, give a 2nd chance. He did not say, “Unlimited access to my life and home.” Outside of both the secular and religious worlds there is the psychological world. Some people really do have an axe to grind. They can be pathological liars, thieves, A-holes, and sometimes killers. If their Orisha said to go out and beg forgiveness, that does not mean you have to allow them in again. You can just as easily say, “I forgive you,” and never let them in the house. You did your part and they continue to do theirs. But, they would not EVER have access to my Orishas again. Evah. Finito. Anyway, I hope you don’t mind, I’ll be commenting on some back posts too. I love the plants section. If you need someone with a green thumb that knows his Santo Plants, you got the email. Much love, Omi Saide XXOO

  3. Omimelli says:February 26, 2013 at 6:40 amOmi Saide Thank you so very much for your kind words and for participating. It is never too late to join a conversation. That is the cool thing about blogs, they remain fairly up to date for the most part. Indeed language carries power, so feel free to post stuff that sounds better in Spanish…in Spanish. There are no set rules for language selection on this blog. I am certainly glad this was a dream, because del dicho al hecho hay un trecho. I love gardening as well, so if you feel like writing a blog post on your favorite orisha-related plant, be my guest. 🙂 Odabo Omimelli

  4. Waisheung says:October 8, 2015 at 11:44 amI started to build my shrine in honor of Yemaya but i have noticed in diffrent ways. My question really is am i to set it up as i see others or continue in my own settings.

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