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Encouraging Self-Expression and Orisha Art

The orishas manifest themselves in many ways. Some people are talented diloggún readers; they can divine with ease, grace and go beyond traditional interpretations to find new perspectives to help others see their way in life. Some others have a flair for ritual or a blessed memory to remember and share knowledge those who surround them. Then there are those whose sense of style and eye for colors help us to add elegance in the form of gorgeous thrones, initiatory tools, beading and clothes.

However, there are many more ways to express creativity in our ilés and certainly elders initiates should set a living example either by finding ways to manifest their creative gifts as well as by motivating godchildren and abures (olosha brothers and sisters) to express themselves.

As I prepared to spend the Thanksgiving holidays with my family, I started to device ways of having fun with my children. This household is always busy with either secular or religious activity, thus it is seldom that we get time to share and I wanted to make it special. I headed to the nearest art supply store with the boys and decided to encourage their artistic side. As I watched the youngest one select an immense box of crayons, coloring books and a sketch book I started to remember how much I enjoyed doodling when I was little.

Then my older son, who is a Balogún, came to ask my opinion about paints and brushes. Now, this child has truly blessed hands, he can draw so well and is so very creative. He can see things in ways I never imagined. I wished then I had a tenth of the skill he has been blessed to have. All the sudden a light turned on inside of me. Why not try it? Why not get a basic set and some canvas and just express myself alongside with my boys? It was not like I was doing it for show or to please anyone. It was more a way to share with the kids and to find an outlet for my creativity other than writing, fabric for ashó orisha and beads to create tools.

The children helped me select brushes and acrylic paints and I chose a few pieces of canvas to start a project alongside with them. That was early last Saturday. We got home, packed our things and headed out to a bed and breakfast in the mountains where we planned to enjoy some time as family and explore the beautiful charms of the Central Mountain region in Puerto Rico.

Once we got there, it was so very peaceful, surrounded by mountains and oceans of green foliage. I sat on the balcony and feasted my eyes on the colors. The children were busy exploring the grounds and I finally had a few moments of solitude. I thanked Eleguá for opening the roads and helping me to find this place and then it hit me. I got my materials and started drawing on the canvas. Then paint followed. I had no idea how in the world to mix the colors I wanted, so I prayed and let my hands work as they will.

Sun was setting, my husband came back with the kids and we went for dinner at the Inn’s restaurant. My son had his sketch pad with him and in a blink of an eye captured the beauty of the scene on chalk. The little one was coloring on his book and there I was wishing I had brought my paint to use the time while we waited for the food to arrive.

The time spent at the Bed and Breakfast went by fast. Upon our return home continued to find bits of time to continue my doodling and painting. Before I knew it was done. I took a few photos and posted them on Facebook. To my surprise I got many responses liking my Elegua painting. Now, be kind, I have no training with brushes or paint. I have never studied the great masters or even know about styles and trends in painting. My desire was just to do a moforibale with some color to the master of teaching and king of the roads: Mr. Personality.

Thank you for reading, for your encouragement and for taking the time to consider that perhaps it is also in your hands to find a way to express the energies of the orishas, be it through art, music, cooking or simply by sharing with others what you have learned along the way as a storyteller.


Oní Yemayá Achagbá

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