An update on classes

It’s been a long time since I updated my blog; and for that I apologize. Life has been busy.

Emails come in on a weekly basis asking me about my current classes and schedules. I thought I’d take a moment to update everyone on what’s offered. Please note that all times are Eastern Standard Time.

Monday nights

5:00 P.M. to 6:45 P.M.: Basic Diloggún. This class is an introduction to the art of casting diloggún, and an intensive on tonti interpretation. This class is closed to new registrants.

7:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.: Advanced interpretation. This is a lecture series cycling over a four year period. Every week I present a new odu. It progresses through the 12 families of olodu in the order of ebó ate (1, 11, 2, 3, 10, 4, 8, 9, 6, 5, 7 and 12). As of 11/10/14, the class is focusing on Owani Ejila (11-12). We progress through each family numerically. All advanced interpretation classes study the same odu each week.

9:00 P.M. to 10:30 P.M.: Advanced interpretation. This is a lecture series cycling over a four year period. Every week I present a new odu. It progresses through the 12 families of olodu in the order of ebó ate (1, 11, 2, 3, 10, 4, 8, 9, 6, 5, 7 and 12). As of 11/10/14, the class is focusing on Owani Ejila (11-12). We progress through each family numerically. All advanced interpretation classes study the same odu each week.

Tuesday Nights

5:00 P.M. to 6:30 P.M.: Basic Diloggún. This class is an introduction to the art of casting diloggún, and an intensive on tonti interpretation. This class is closed to new registrants.

7:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.: This class is an introduction to the art of casting diloggún, and an intensive on tonti interpretation. This class is closed to new registrants.

Wednesday Nights

7:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.: Casting Obi. This is a workshop teaching obi divination. It is heavy on the study of etymology and cosmology. This class is closed to new registrants.

9:00 P.M. to 10:30 P.M.: Casting Obi. This is a workshop teaching obi divination. It is heavy on the study of etymology and cosmology. This class is open to new registrants until next Wednesday night. Orientation was on 11/5/2013. The derecho is $200.00, and the course lasts for 5 months.

Saturday Afternoon

Noon to 1:30 P.M.: Advanced interpretation. In three weeks, a study of the family of Obara begins. This class lasts for 16 weeks, focusing on one odu in that family each week. This class is open to registration.

Sunday Afternoon

Noon to 1:30 P.M.: Advanced interpretation. In six weeks, this class is open to new registrants. The odu to be studied will be announced.

4:00 P.M. to 5:30 P.M.: Basic interpretation. This class is open to new registrants. This class is an introduction to the art of casting diloggún, and an intensive on tonti interpretation. It is 6 months long, and the derecho is $400.00. Please write for a syllabus and registration details. It begins on December 7th.

Please note that the basic interpretation class will not be offered again until 2016; and I may not offer it again at all. This could be your last chance to register for this class or retake it as a refresher.

As always, I thank you so much for allowing me to teach you the mysteries of casting diloggún and interpreting odu.

Ócháni Lele

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The new cycle of diloggun classes

Hello Everyone:

Emails are coming in asking about the next Basic Course in Casting Diloggún. The next course will be on Mondays, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM EST. It is an online course taught through WebEx. The start date is Monday, July 28th. It is a 16 week course, and tuition is $200.00.

Seats tend to go quickly, so please register as soon as possible. For a syllabus, email me at bstuartmyers@gmail.com or ochanilele@gmail.com.

Thank you so much.
Ócháni

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For those who are asking

I’ve had two drop-outs from the Basic Course in Casting Diloggún, scheduled to begin on Thursday, May 29th. The time is 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM, Eastern Standard Time. It is taught through webex.com. If you would like a seat please email me at bstuartmyers@gmail.com OR ochanilele@gmail.com. Seats go on a first come, first paid basis.

Thank you so much:
Ócháni Lele

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Five Things Every Aleyo Needs to Know

1. Spiritual and Religious Studies: The study of the religion needs to be a daily practice, no matter how long you have been in the faith. You will need to learn customs, practices, and protocols. You will need to learn how to pray. You will need to learn Lucumí, the liturgical language. You will need to learn how to move in the religious world, following customs and dictates that may seem archaic and, at times, unfair. All this study requires work; and, no, I’m not talking about hours poring over books, manuscripts, and internet forums. The simple truth is: If you want to learn this religion, you need to learn it from the ground up. The work is hard, laborious, and back breaking. It might seem thankless; it might seem pointless; it might seem like slave labor. Some of the rules might seem overbearing. But we all had to do the work; we all had to follow the rules. Work is worship, and worship is hard, physical work. If you’re not visiting your godparent’s house regularly doing something (cleaning the orisha room, polishing tools, helping set up and clean up before and after religious services, etc) you’re not going to learn anything. Period.

2. Divination and Ebó: The Lucumí life has always been one of divination and ebó. Divination is hard work; every diviner spends thousands of hours studying the mechanics, patakís, proverbs, meanings, and ebós that accompany the odu. There are 256 odu, 192 which every Lucumí diviner not an oriaté has access to. Consider each odu a book; your diviner must study, memorize, learn, and assimilate the knowledge of 192 books before he can begin divining for you. If it’s an oriaté, he has to study, memorize, learn, and assimilate the knowledge of 256 books. The average person reads a book a year after high school, and maybe 1 1/2 books after receiving a college degree. If you are an average college graduate, between the age of 21 (when many receive their degrees) and 85 (the average human life span) you will read only 64 books in your lifetime. This is why diviners charge derechos; it is work to learn divination, and it took us a lot of private time to acquire the skills needed. It’s not an intuitive act where we make it up on the fly; it’s a discipline that requires dedication.

Every time you have divination performed, you will end up with one or more ebós to do. Some of these are to solve problems; some of them are to regain and maintain health; some of them are to benefit your friends and family; and, some of them are just because the orishas want them from you in your worship. Some olorishas charge a derecho to perform ebó (since it does require an amount of their time, knowledge, and ashé) while some won’t. Still, materials for ebó always cost money. Try asking a grocery store to give you a basket of fruits or a bouquet of flowers for free — it won’t happen.

3. Worship- Religion, prayer, kind thoughts, kind words, spirituality, meditation — it’s all free. It costs you nothing to identify yourself as Lucumí. It costs nothing to pray to an orisha, especially an orisha you’ve received. Anyone can think kind thoughts; anyone can speak kind words. To meditate, all you have to do it take the time to relax and open up to the ashé Olorún pours over the earth. And it costs you nothing to be spiritual. But ceremonies cost money. There are soperas to buy, tools to buy, herbs to buy, animals to buy, igbodu supplies to buy, and other things we can’t speak to aleyos about. People have to take time off from work or give up their day off to come perform what most would consider “grunt” or thankless labor. Either we lose a day’s pay or we give up our day of rest to come together to work for your benefit. Sometimes it’s both — and several of them. It would be nice if all this time and labor could be given for free. It would be nice if I could walk into a botanica and walk out with beautiful, necessary items without paying for them. It would be nice to drive 40 or 50 miles to the nearest farm and walk away with beautiful, healthy animals without having to pay for gas or the animals. But it’s not happening.

If you can’t afford to receive an orisha, just go to your godparent’s house on a regular basis to visit, worship, and make ebó. If you can’t afford to do ocha, don’t make it a huge issue for your godparent or other priests to resolve. Quietly save as best as you can, and realize that your godparent’s orishas (from whose yours will be born anyway) are there for you when you need them. And if you don’t believe receiving an orisha should cost you a dime, then try to find a utopian society where everything is free. I don’t think that exists.

Of course there are times that the orishas will demand an ile come together and crown someone for free. But this is based on divination; there is only one odu that calls for this, and the chances for that to be the solution to your problems are very slim, indeed. If you want ocha made, prepare to finance it yourself.

4. Service- Everything you’ve read in the Migene Gonzalez-Wippler books is wrong. Ocha is not about power. Ocha is about service. And the orishas, not you, get to pick the life of service that an olorisha lives. Some of you will make ocha and grow up to be the godmothers and godfathers to thousands. Some of you might crown one head in your lifetime. Some of you might be the ojigbona but never the godparent. A very tiny number might grow into the ashé to be an oriaté. Some of you will be destined to be the personal caretakers of your orishas and will never serve another aleyo or olorisha in the religion, not ever. Some of you will be closed in ocha, never allowed to work the religion for anyone.

And here’s one more secret very few will tell you: some of you are meant to be no more than aleyos; and that, my friends, is why the road to igbodu seems so impossible. One more secret no one speaks about: there are odu that say . . . this religion is not for you.

It’s not up to you. It’s up to Olódumare and the orishas.

5. Godparents- It’s a term that comes from Catholic syncretism. Truly, we are olorishas. We are priests and priestesses. Don’t confuse us with your flesh and blood parents. Don’t expect us to do anything for you that another priest from another tradition would not do. Do expect us to teach you what is required of you should you decide to be a part of this religion; and, if along the way you decide you don’t want to follow these rules, don’t blame us if we ignore you. If we have to follow the rules, so do you. And we have no time for those who are willful.

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My new book is out!

For all you who are out of the loop I should probably do a quick blog: my new book is out. It’s titled Osogbo, Speaking to the Spirits of Misfortune, and it is an in-depth survey of misfortune in Lucumí ontology. You can get your copy by clicking here:

Osogbo: Speaking to the Spirits of Misfortune

Advanced sales have been incredible. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be discussing my book and the concept of osogbo in more depth in my blog. But to keep up with the ongoing discussion, you’ll want a copy of the book.

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Changes to class formats

For new students, class formats have changed. There is a new course starting April 25th titled “Basic Course in Casting Diloggún.” It will meet from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. If you would like to apply for a seat in that class, please email me at ochanilele@gmail.com. Those selected for the course will be given seating based on a first come, first paid basis. Thank you. Ócháni.

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Basic Course in Casting Diloggún

Instructor: Ócháni Lele (B. Stuart Myers); bstuartmyers@gmail.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.

 

Cost: $200.00

 

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).

 

Class One:

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.

 

Class Two:

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.

 

Class Three:

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.

 

Class Four:

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.

 

Class Five:

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.

 

Class Six:

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.

 

Class Eight:

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.

 

Class Nine:

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.

 

Class Eleven:

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!

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