Instructor: Ócháni Lele (B. Stuart Myers); email@example.com.
Start Date: This class begins on Tuesday, February 25th. It meets from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM EST. It will meet on Tuesdays at this time for the duration of the course.
Office Hours (by Skype only): Monday 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM; Wednesday 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM. It is best to make an appointment in advance.
Textbook: The Diloggún: the Orishas, Proverbs, Sacrifices, and Prohibitions of Cuban Santería (Destiny Books, 2003). Please note that this textbook is required of all students. I prefer that everyone have a hard copy, not an eBook copy. The eBook copy does not have page numbers and I will be referring to page numbers and columns during lectures.
Recommended texts: Additional reading will be given out through the duration of this course.
Length of course: 15 weeks. Please note that lectures are fluid and it is possible (depending on the tangents I include in my lectures, which are often the best parts) that we might be together 16 weeks. But the new course is designed to be finished in 15 weeks (ideally). It has been extended from the original 10 week presentation in the old course.
Please note that under each class you will find three sections. Those sections are labeled lecture, read, and reaction. The lecture tells you what I will be teaching in that day’s class. The read tells you what you will have to read after class for homework. The reaction topic will be assigned to each student in class. Be well-read when coming to class and take good notes from my lectures!
Reaction papers are simple. After the lecture, I want you to think about my lecture and the topic assigned. Write about what the topic means to you. There is no right or wrong reaction to these assignments. I want at least 250 words (or more) written. This is an exercise in critical thinking, which is a diviner’s best tool. Along the way expect proverbs to be assigned without knowing the olodu from which these proverbs come. Reactions to these are expected as well. After the reactions are turned in, the olodu from which the proverb comes will be revealed. This is also an exercise in critical thinking.
Recorded Material: There is a new policy on recorded material for this class. WebEx makes a video recording of every class taught. If a student misses a class, it is the student’s responsibility to log into WebEx sometime within the next 7 days of that class and watch the video from start to finish. Any student can go back and review that week’s class from start to finish as many times as necessary to complete his or her notes. After 7 days, that video will be taken down. I do make a personal iPod recording of the class at my end that includes “my” voice only (since I will be wearing headphones, as will all of you). This is done to protect student privacy. Those recordings will be sent out to all students with class 11, which is the class before exam review. There are no exceptions to this rule. Even if you are absent from a class due to family emergency, death, accident, or an act of G-d, the entire class will be archived for viewing for 7 days after the class is taught. If a student needs more time to view the class, that student will have to write me privately to ask me to leave it up a few more days; however, with my current server storage space most classes DO end up on the server for 3 to 4 weeks (but only 7 days are guaranteed).
Lecture: this is course orientation. Since we will be together for a few months, students will introduce themselves to each other, and I will introduce myself and my lifelong passion: diloggún, odu, and divination. I will answer several questions key to this course: what is the diloggún? What is divination? What are odu? And what is the point of all this, really? Come prepared to take notes. We will examine the concept of Olódumare, Olorún, Olófin, and orisha through the Lucumí/Yoruba etymologies of their names. This will carry over into class two.
Read: From chapter one, “Opening the Diloggún,” and, “Using Ibó in Divination.” Also, read The Blood that Runs through the Veins, a paper written by Michael Atwood Mason that I will email to you at the end of this class.
Reaction: Write a 250 word reaction (you can write more if you wish) to the Michael Atwood Mason paper. Compare it to your own experiences as a client of the diviners (diloggún or Ifá). Write about the expectations you had that were not fulfilled as a diviner’s client. Write about what you think the role of divination is in this religion. Try to email your papers to me the day before the next class. All reaction papers throughout this course are due the day before the next class, so please keep that in mind! Keep in mind that a proverb or two from an olodu will be assigned to the class for reaction as well.
Lecture: Discussion of reaction papers. We will finish discussing the concepts of Olófin, Olorún, Olódumare, and orisha. Discussion of the opening prayer (a simplified format will be presented). A description of all ibó from textbook with a focus on the odu from which they come. Also, we will weed out the Arará ibó and use only the Lucumí-Oyó ibó for the remainder of this course unless a student presents with any of the Arará ibó in his or her divination bag. Make sure to come to class knowing what is inside Elegguá’s bag! It does affect how I teach the use of ibó.
Read: From chapter one, “Opening the Diloggún,” and, “Using Ibó in Divination.” La Division de la Habana by Miguel W. Ramos, a document that I will email to you at the end of this class. Try to memorize the format for the opening prayer that I give you in class. Prayer is essential to opening the diloggún.
Reaction: Write a 250 word reaction to the power that women held early in Lucumí history. Compare this to the power that women hold today. Consider the role women should have in the religion today. Try to have this paper in to me Friday morning before the next class. Keep in mind that a proverb or two from an olodu will be assigned to the class for reaction as well.
Lecture: Discussion of the Ramos paper and student reaction papers. Using ibó and picking hands. We will have in-class drills on this material. This is the point where most novice diviners make the most mistakes, and the picking of the proper hand is essential to divination.
Read: “When the reading opens in iré.” Read From Hierography to Ethnography and Back: Lydia Cabrera’s Texts and the Written Tradition in Afro-Cuban Religions. This is a paper that I will email to everyone at the end of class.
Reaction: Write a 250 word reaction to the paper From Hierography. Consider the role of written resources in the religion, including your own personal training up to this point. Try to have these papers in to me by next Friday morning before class. Keep in mind that a proverb or two from an olodu will be assigned to the class for reaction as well.
Lecture: Discussion of reaction papers. We will discuss what the odu has to say on this in both Osá Irosun (9-4) and Osá Ogundá (9-3). We will discuss the first question asked with ibó; and, what to do when the reading opens in iré. We will discuss the patakí from Ofún that explains why this is the first question asked. Also, we will discuss what to do if the answer to the first question is “no.” It is at this point that students will also learn to be accurate transcribers of itá should they ever have to fulfill that function. We will begin our study of marking iré.
Read: Supplemental reading will be sent — to be announced.
Reaction: There will be a reaction paper due; however, during this week the students must memorize and learn the lists given in the textbook for iré. Diviners must have this material committed to memory before working the diloggún. Keep in mind that a proverb or two from an olodu will be assigned to the class for reaction as well.
Lecture: We will continue our study regarding the marking of iré. Iré comes from many sources, and between classes four and five we will study the implications of what those sources bring to the reading in the intori.
Read: Supplemental reading to be announced; however, students must continue memorizing the lists involved with iré.
Reaction: A reaction paper is due regarding the reading sent out.
Lecture: Again, we will consider the first essential question of divination after casting the entoyale. Also, I will give an introduction to osogbo. We will discuss the osogbos presented in the textbook and how they are actual spiritual entities, not abstract concepts. This is another mistake novice diviners make in their early work – osogbo is a living, spiritual creature. We will examine the odu and the olodu in which they were born and the implications they bring to those olodu and odu. Also, we will get to know the osogbos intimately by their patakís, and in doing so, learn their weaknesses. Also, we will cover the proper ibó to use for each osogbo. Please note that the discussion of osogbo will include a discussion of Lucumí cosmology, and this class will continue into the next week.
Read: From chapter one, “When the reading opens in osogbo.”
Reaction: there is no reaction paper due; however, continue memorizing the list of iré and memorize the list of osogbo plus the ibó used for marking them. When divining, a diviner must have all this information safely stored in his or her head. Keep in mind that a proverb or two from an olodu will be assigned to the class for reaction as well.
Class Seven: This is a continuation of the discussion of osogbo.
Read: Supplemental reading material will be emailed to the students in class. Begin memorization of the origins and orientations of osogbo.
Reaction: After reading the supplemental material, write at least 250 words about how your views on iré and osogbo in Lucumí ontology have changed with the material presented in this course. Also, students will be asked to look at their own itás (forgetting about the entoyale/odu) and focusing on the message the orisha was trying to give with the orientations of the intori. Be prepared to share some of your insights in the next class. Keep in mind that a proverb or two from an olodu will be assigned to the class for reaction as well.
Lecture: Marking osogbo. Step-by-step we will cover the process of marking osogbo and extracting its point of origin. This is a continuation of the previous class.
Read: From chapter one, “Marking the Ebós, or Remedies for Odu,” and “Giving the Reading.”
Reaction: Several different proverbs from the same odu will be assigned in class for reading, critical thought, and analysis. Each student will have one proverb and all proverbs will come from the same olodu. Each student is required to write a 250 word reaction to the proverb assigned.
Lecture: Marking the ebós, or remedies for odu. A lot has changed with my process for marking ebó over the years, and we will cover this in depth. Also, we will cover the spiritual origins of various food staples in the Lucumí faith (odu and olodu); and we will cover some of the patakís explaining why some items are used for food, and others are not. We will examine why animal offerings are a last resort, and should be marked rarely in the course of divination.
Read: From chapter one, “Marking the Ebós, or Remedies for Odu,” and “Giving the Reading.”
Reaction: Each student will be given one type of adimú and asked to research traditional Cuban recipes for that adimú. As a homework assignment, each student will then cook that adimú for his or her orisha and offer it “just because,” or, out of love for the orisha. Make sure to take a digital photograph of your culinary creation to share with everyone! Keep in mind that a proverb or two from an olodu will be assigned to the class for reaction as well.
Class Ten: Marking osogbo (again). This is a continuation of the previous lecture; we will continue to study the process of marking osogbo.
Read: There will be no reading. Through hightail.com I will be sending you a series of videos regarding the preparation of ebó and adimú, and I will be giving you a suggested reading list which gives excellent books on the art of orisha cooking.
Reaction: A different proverb from the same olodu will be assigned to each student. A 250 word reaction is expected on the proverb assigned. The olodu from which the proverb comes will be revealed after all papers are turned in.
Lecture: The art of giving a reading. There are many layers of interpretation for odu. In this class, we will examine the process by which an odu is unraveled. There is more to the art that speaking about the composite. Each part of the entoyale has meaning, and those meanings are dependent upon the elder/minor status of the two odu that have come together. The parts of the intori plus its witnesses have meaning, and we will examine how to unravel that. There are clues that give us time placement for our divination, and we will examine that as well. Also, we will cover the various points in a reading at which a diviner should stop and ask “eboda?”
Read: All previous textbook assignments and notes.
Reaction: there is no reaction paper due; however, students should review all lecture notes and assignments, preparing for the exam which will come in three weeks. It is at this point that I will distribute (through hightail.com) all iPod recordings of the class so students can review relevant material, or lectures which they might still be unclear on.
Class Twelve: Exam review. Please note that the exam for this class is no longer diagnostic — it is required for the student to be eligible for the next Basic Diloggún Course, which is a philosophical and practical study of the 12 olodu Okana through Ejila Shebora. Come prepared with your questions. If students run out of questions before we run out of time, this will be a very short class. Study, question, and make notes of your questions.
Class Thirteen: EXAM! It will be given during class time and by email. All students must be present on WebEx to take this exam.
Anyone absent will be given a failing grade.
Class Fourteen and Fifteen: Class fourteen will be an exam review. A passing grade for this exam will be an 80 or above; however, because the science of divination must be thoroughly understood (its process) before one can cast diloggún, anyone making a 90 or below will be asked to retake the exam during class fifteen. A different, but very similar exam will be given. Anyone not scoring an 80 or above on either exam will need to retake this class (at half price) before being allowed to go to the next level of study. Remember: if you cannot access odu, odu is of no use to you.
Remember: Attendance is critical to success. A passing grade of 80 is required to advance to the next level. Keep in mind that all classes after this are by invitation only, that invitation being based on your final grade and class participation. With this course I am trying to turn out competent diviners, not fortune tellers; and I want students who want to do more than “collect information.” I want students who are engaged and willing to learn. Thank you for taking my course; you will never look at this religion or the art and science of divination the same way again!