The way to the Igbodu (initiation room) is not an easy one for most people. Those of us who were raised in other religions must first be at peace with the fact that in order to truly surrender ourselves to Yemayá we must be willing to empty the cup, for it to be filled again with new content. Asides from the issue of surrendering, there are oftentimes family issues to square away and the one I hear most people talk about: Money.
In my case, surrendering was not an issue. I don’t remember how or when but I found myself as in love with my Yemayá as I was with my husband, minus the sexual attraction, of course. I could no longer wait to be part of her, to place all of me at her service. Yemayá was the missing link to my happiness, I could hear her call in every cell of my body.
What was a challenge for me at the time was the money. But I had faith that She would provide when the time was right. I had started to save, but I was not even near having all my resources lined up. However, further challenges and opportunities would arise soon for me, but I was none the wiser.
In the fall of 1997, I had done an ebbó (a working) with my Ifá godfather Iwori Chigdí, Awó Orunmila or priest of Orunmila (one of the most revered Orisha due to his unparalleled divination skills) and he told me that my life would change and I would find that I would not lack the means to earn a good living, have a home and other deep desires fulfilled. At the time, I just placed my trust in him, brought the items requested, and simply went into the process with an open mind and heart. Soon, all started to shape in, but I still could not see the writing on the wall, the initiation was approaching.
By Spring 1998, one of my dearest dreams come true, I was expecting my first child, my husband and I were thrilled but worried about not having a home of our own. By my second trimester, my father and I started to patch up differences and communicate again. Late that summer our little one was born and my godfather Joe, Omí Oké, held a Wemilere (Batá drumming party) in honor of his Orisha Yemayá. The event was truly amazing. Three orishas came to bless the baby, one of them Eleggua, the other Yemayá and finally, Shango came and picked the newborn and raised him up in arms and went dancing about the room. I was terrified thinking he may drop him but thrilled to see the blessings bestowed upon him by being singled out. Needless to say, he was back in my arms safe, sound, and smiling from the adventure.
Towards the end of the Wemilere, Yemayá called all the children of the house to gather around her and she proceeded to give advice to some and to praise others. When my turn came, she asked me, “Do you believe in me?”. I was not sure why the question, but i had no doubt in my voice as I said yes. “Then take that child to Ilé Olofi and baptize him,” now, that was her test to me. I had promised to raise my child the Orisha way, Catholic practices although part of syncretism, were not in my plan. It was a tall order for me, one I truly disliked, but I committed to her command. Then, she pressed on further. While I was pondering this turn of events, she pointed out to Shango and asked him to bring something, I could not hear well.
In a flash I found myself wearing this huge blue necklace, a ceremonial Mazo of Yemayá (large beaded necklace). At the same time, Richard, a brother from the Ilé got one on him, the Shangó necklace, placed on him by Shangó as Yemayá did to me. My head was spinning and I heard in the distance how Shangó requested a date from Richard, a date for Kariosha (the BIG initiation!). This was the point of no return for me, Yemayá was looking at me with deep black on black eyes, and she too wanted to know when would I commit. I told her I had no money, she laughed loudly, spun around, and said, “Don’t you trust me?”. I sheepishly said, yes I do. Richard selected the 12 of December, only 2 months away. I committed to the same day. We were to be twins.
I had no even a fourth of the money saved, no home, a job that I was not happy in, and…a baby.
More to come…
As always, you are welcome to share your experience on the way to Igbodu (ceremonial room).
Omimelli Oní Yemayá Achagbá
Editor's note: This article was originally posted on June of 2010.