10 Years in Ifa

Today, 13 December, 2019, which many peoples of (northern) European descent celebrate as St. Lucy’s Day (which I dedicate to the honor of the goddess Hekate as Phosphoros, “Light-Bringer”), marks my exact 10-year anniversary of receiving my Hand of Ifa (the culmination of a three-day initiation ritual) and of being crowned with my Guardian Orisha. Today marks a tremendous milestone in my life.

Continue reading

Honoring Eshu, Making Ébo

“You’ll simply never understand the true nature of sacrifice.”

—The Wicker Man (directed by Robin Hardy), 1973

A fundamental principle in the West African indigenous religion of Ifá is that of ébo, or sacrifice. That which is offered is of great value both to the one offering as well as to the Recipient, be it one or more of the Orisha or the giver’s Ancestors.  Continue reading

Circles of Power: Reflections on Receiving My Elekes Initiation in Ifá

During my lunch break today, I swear I spotted an avatar of the Orisha Eshu. A young man skateboarding downhill on Adams Street in the shadow of the Sears Tower (yes, you read that right: as a native Chicagoan, I refuse to call it by any other name), weaving in and out of hordes of slow-moving tourists on this gloriously sunny and summer-like Monday. He sported a t-shirt that looked like a modified version of the Chicago flag: instead of the iconic series of four red, six-pointed stars, however, the word “Character” was emblazoned in large cursive script.

Ashé, ashé! I mentally affirmed as I read the t-shirt’s message and silently blessed the youth that whizzed past me. I pulled down on the collar of my shirt to expose my newly acquired elekes, and I said a prayer of thanks to each of the Orisha whose energies find manifestation in the individual necklaces ringing my neck, the necklaces I received this past Saturday night (the timing was interesting: Dark of the Moon and right on the cusp of the onset of a Mercury Retrograde period) in an initiation ceremony that lasted nearly four hours. Continue reading

It’s All in Your Head: Orí as Indwelling Divinity, Locus of Consciousness, and Roadmap to Destiny in Ifá

Wednesday’s felicitous news that the U.S. will begin normalizing relations with Cuba has me hopeful that 2015 will be the year I accompany my oluwo in Ifá to the island so that I can finally become fully initiated in my guardian Orisha’s mysteries–in Cuban Lukumí/Santeria terms, I would be undergoing asiento, “making the saint.” Not only has that been a longstanding dream of mine, it’s part of my destiny. That is what Ifá, also known as the Orisha Orunmila, revealed to me in 2008 when I received my Warriors–Los Guerreros. Continue reading

For the Love of Eshu

By way of editorial comment: In the Yoruba-derived West African religion of Ifa (which is also the name of an Orisha of divination as well as the system of divination that He governs–still with me?), every person, regardless of race or station in life, is said to have her head “ruled” or “crowned” by a guardian Orisha. That Orisha’s influence will more than likely have manifested in the individual’s personality, as well as in shaping the person’s True Will, or Ori in Yoruba, in her lifetime. I wrote this praise poem (oriki in Yoruba), “For the Love of Eshu,” in honor of my guard and guide, my Baba (“Father”) Eshu, also known as Elegbara. In Santeria, He is Elegua. Ago mo jubara, Baba!

Eshu, Opener of the Ways!

Eshu, Opener of the Ways!

For the Love of Eshu

Eriwo-Ya!

I received your calling card—red on one side, black on the other—

three times seven times

O Akánle,

Paá paá wàrà

You who conduct your business in fast motions

Ever hurrying, ever sudden

And just this week, on the Washington Street bridge at Wacker Drive,

the grinning old man,

Omokùnrin,

Son of the Sons of Africa

Skin the color of the repository of secrets

curly white hair

red t-shirt, black pants

protruding Styrofoam cup with the jingle of coins, rattled like a call to order

Eriwo-Ya! Continue reading