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Rogación de Cabeza: The Importance of Feeding Your Head in Santería

Some of the items needed for Kaworí Eledá

For those who are new to Santería or Lukumí spirituality the concept of ‘feeding’ one’s head could sound pretty alien. However, lavishing attention on the cranium (eledá) as the repository of orí (guardian angel or higher self) is something of importance not only for oloshas but also in other African Traditional Religions such as Voodoo where the Lave Tete process also is centered around the head as a seat of power in the body.

In the body, eledá is the seat of the orí, thus it stands to reason that special care is given to it because an orí out of balance could cause difficulties. There are multiple reasons and instances when orí must be fed. Chief reasons fall under three main categories:

Strengthening, cooling and balancing. The two main ritual instances that call for kaworí eledá are: Initiatory and expiatory, however it can be part of a preventive healthy spiritual regime.

There are many different ingredients that are used during kaworí eledá (head feeding) but the fundamental one is done with coconut, water, efún, cotton and cocoa butter among other ingredients. Some head feedings are done with ejá (blood of a sacrificed animal) and some with different fruits depending on the prescription that originates from a proper reading done by an italero or an awó Orunmila. Speaking of awós, they have their specialized head feedings as well, such as the head feeding with ejá tutu (fresh fish) in most cases a red snapper or a fresh water fish, once again depending on the reading.

Much can be said about the steps in the process of the head feeding itself, but I would leave that sort of discussion about ritual mechanics to take place between initiators and their initiates. Granted, there are lots of iyawós and relatively recent oloshas that due to issues in their ilés are left to their own devices and not trained about how to do a kaworí eledá, it is shameful to see this happen but the process of learning to do a kaworí eledá is one done not only through reading but from careful observation and direct participation.

The head feeding should be done by an olosha, although it is possible for an initiate to do a self-kaworí eledá if there is not an elder at hand to do it and it is an urgent matter. The grace of a kaworí eledá comes from having a different set of hands help to align your orí. It stands to reason that if there is an imbalance in one’s head the corrective action should come from an external energy source, one that is balanced and cool. Otherwise, how much can a person that is unbalanced help him/herself? The person that touches one’s head must be someone of trust and whose life is not filled with drama, conflict and negativity. This is crucial and I can’t underscore it enough.

For those who have been prescribed a kaworí eledá and have never gone through this process here are some things you should know. Take with you a clean set of white clothes, have a large white head covering with you and do abstain from sexual activities of any sort for 24 hours prior and after the kaworí eledá. This is a time of coolness and integration of energies. This means, you are done with your kaworí eledá, go home and stay indoors avoiding direct sunlight, exposure to the elements, night energies and rain. Do refrain from any activity that would heat you up, this may include watching violent movies, playing gory video games, getting into arguments or heated discussions, eating spicy foods, working any sort of rituals, in orther words it is rest and relaxation time.

How do you know if your kaworí eledá was properly done? The first sign is in the reading at the end of the ritual, you should come out with an eye ife or an Alafia at best. Itawa melli readings are ok, but not my favorite, I would do a second kaworí eledá within 21 days to realign the orí.

Going into the ritual, here are some things you should observe. The ritual space should be clean, well lit and organized. You should not do a thing in preparation for the ritual, just bring the ingredients and sit to wait while the olosha grates the coconut, sorts out the materials and gets the pieces of coconut for the reading. Yes, I have seen lazy oloshas ask their ‘clients’ to bring the coconut grated and the pieces of coconut for the reading already cut and prepared. My question to those lazy oloshas is, why would you ask someone with a heated or weak orí to do part of your work when this person comes to you to get a situation solved?

After the kaworí eledá is done you should immediately feel a marked difference, such as calmness, strength or invigoration. Some oloshas have hands that are so cooling they will put you to sleep right during the process; some others will make you feel like you have been given a jolt of energy. The results also depend greatly on the intention of the ritual and the materials utilized. Overall, a rogación should be done in the afternoon or before sunset allowing enough time to the person receiving it to head home before dark and go to rest.

Even if you have gone through the process of kaworí eledá many times it is important not to trivialize the ritual and to appreciate its importance and its role in helping to keep our spiritual life balanced.

Omimelli Oní Yemayá Achagbá

Original responses to the blog post posted on blog.themysticcup

  1. Kjerstin says:March 21, 2011 at 1:41 amDear Omimelli Thank you for this timely article! I will take this as a needed reminder to take care of myself. Even though I do not belong to an ATR I can still benifit from the wisdom you share. I Do see two healers in the community and will make a phone call to one of them to see what I need. These are tiring times for all those of us who are spiritually minded and gifted. Much Love…. and more Love Kjerstin

    • 📷Omimelli says:March 21, 2011 at 2:30 amHello Kjerstin, I am glad the article inspired you. There is no need to belong to the Santería community to get one of these spiritual ‘tune-ups’. They can benefit any one as we all have a guardian angel that lives with us. Much love you to you as well, Omimelli

      • 📷Kjerstin says:March 22, 2011 at 6:00 amThank you. I asked one of my spirit guides to give the tune up. And I am in the process. I recognize how important it is. It is especially important now with all the rocking and rolling the Earth is doing. Much Love Kjerstin

  2. 📷Nemuel Flores says:March 21, 2011 at 1:34 pmExcelente como siempre…Feliz Ostara

  3. 📷Sherwin says:May 4, 2011 at 9:53 pmIs there a way that I can do this if I never had it done and do it my self?

    • 📷Omimelli says:May 5, 2011 at 1:21 amHello Sherwin, Not really. This is not a ‘do it yourself’ ritual, a great part of the process comes from receiving the ashé or energy of a duly consacrated olosha. Part of that energy is transferred from that priest onto the orí of the person receiving the ritual. Only in case of extreme emergencies an olosha will attempt to do this process onto him/herself, but, what good is to jump start a vehicle with a depleted battery? You can of course refresh your head with a wash made of green coconut water (fresh not from a can), cocoa butter gratings and efún (cascarilla). However this is not going to have the same effect as a headfeeding done at the foot of an orisha and from the hands of an initiate. Hope this helps. Thanks for reading and participating. 📷 Omimelli

  4. 📷snug says:July 16, 2011 at 8:18 pmI live in NY, where can I find a olosha to do the head feeding for me?I bought this spiritual cleanse book, which says you can do it yourself, but its hard to find the people to carry these rituals, need help with that, advice please.

    • 📷Omimelli says:July 19, 2011 at 11:59 amHello Snug Headfeedings done on yourself are for oloshas who have no other alternative at the moment. If you are an aleyo, I would not recommend it. The key to the headfeeding is the exchange of energies or ashé. If one is in need of balancing one can hardly provide balance to one’s orí. New York is filled with good orisha people. I would not trust that book you got if you did not get the logical explanation I am providing. Omimelli

  5. 📷BabySnail says:September 27, 2011 at 1:34 pmHi I just recently got a readings in Ifa and it came out my rogacion was needed with honey when I get it done. Is there any significance? Also at the end of the ceremony, do the coconut pieces have to fall in all white to be a postive ceremony? Thanks

    • 📷Omimelli says:September 27, 2011 at 11:48 pmHello Baby Snail, Well a rogacion with honey is sort of standard, I always use a touch of it in the mixture. You need not to have all coconuts falling down white side up to have a positive result. Two blacks and two whites is the perfect answer, but all whites is good as well. Now, sometimes we learn more and get more guidance from the orisha when 3 dark and 1 white come out because we would rather know what is wrong and fix it than get all nice and perfect and not hear the warnings that can save us from trouble in the future. Be not affraid of readings that are not all white or half and half like I described, they are just opportunities for further conversation with the orisha. Omimelli

  6. 📷Chanita says:September 29, 2011 at 12:11 amI had a rogacion done, i had to lie on the floor on a white sheet, i had to close my eyes, they started to chant, spitting rum and smoking cigars and they also had a live chicken in which the blood was dropped along my lower body. they also placed 3 whites on top of me. my question is what was the plates for?

    • 📷Omimelli says:September 30, 2011 at 1:37 amChanita That was certainly not a rogación, at least not a headfeeding. What was it? I have no idea. Omimelli

  7. 📷Lis says:December 6, 2011 at 4:49 pmHi, i am interested in SAnteria, new to this and wondered if any one could point me in the direction of a good and qualified priest to do a ebo; i live in UK but willing if poss to travel; also an initiation..i think i know at least two of my Orishas already. Much appreciated.

  8. 📷Iyawo says:May 9, 2012 at 3:29 amI am still in my iyaworaje, and my Yubonna has been responsible for my monthly head rogacions. Yesterday was the very first time my Madrina gave me a head rogacion. She prepared the rogacion using shredded coconut (with the brown skin), cocoa butter, efun, holy water, jutia and smoked fish. The last 3 items are not used by my Yubonna, plus my Yubonna always takes the brown skin of the obi. Initially, I didn’t feel any discomfort, but after an hour or so, my scalp started to itch uncontrollably and my head felt hot. I went to bed feeling feverish and am still “off” today. I told my Madrina of my experience and asked her to please not use jutia and smoked fish in my future rogacions but she brushed me off, saying that it was not possible that I could have such a reaction. I guess my questions are: Is using jutia and smoked fish normal practice for head rogacions for iyawos? If not, when are those items added to a rogacion? Can I refuse to accept head rogacions from my Madrina if she continues to use jutia and smoked fish? Thanks in advance for your advice.

  9. 📷Jesse says:December 15, 2012 at 2:53 amHi can the recipe with coconut water, coconut butter and cascarillas be used by someone who feels a little stressed out and just wants to refresh his head to see things more clearly? Thank you in advance.

  10. 📷egguinlaye says:April 27, 2015 at 11:27 pmHola omimelli una pregunta yo hice osha me corone obatala, me falya um mes para el destape como vivo fuera del país y no puedo volver todavía mis mayores me dieron permiso para hacerlo yo . Q el santo lo entiende yo tengo la moyugba pero no se co o hacerlo bien porq me esplicaron y no se mucho me gustaria q me pudiera esplicar y dspues si pregunto a obatala co el oráculo de biague para ver si la recibio bien o no pregunto muchas gracias por su respuesta. mff obatala .. ashe

  11. 📷Lisi Mike says:April 15, 2016 at 12:03 amHello Thank you for your great Post about Rogacion de cabeza. Im going to do medio asiento with my babalawo. I will recieve, my ilekes, mao de orula, and los guerreros. Is there a possibility to pray for my head orischa alone, without a Second person ( santeros… babalawos) only for myself. That my real head orisha will show and gets Power? Nice evening regards Mike

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