Basic Course in Casting Diloggún (Expanded)

The new basic interpretation class begins on Tuesday, March 3rd. The weekly time that we meet is 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM. If you would like a seat in this class, please email me. Until then, here is the syllabus. It is subject to change and alteration.

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

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.

Recommended texts: For this class, I suggest reading Osogbo: Speaking to the Spirits of Misfortune (Destiny Books, 2014).

For additional reading, I suggest Teachings of the Santería Gods (Destiny Books, 2010) and Diloggún Tales of the Natural World (Destiny Books, 2011). These books are recommended but not required; they are merely suggestions. Remember: no one has ever dropped dead from reading a book. We are here to expand our minds and learn.

Length of course: 6 months.

Cost: $400.00

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 is based on the reading. Be well-read when coming to class and take good notes from my lectures!

Reaction papers are simple. After reading your assignment, I want you to think about it. Write about what the topic means to you. There is no right or wrong reaction to these assignments. I want 125 to 250 words (no more, no less) written. This is an exercise in critical thinking, which is a diviner’s best tool.

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 lengthy prayer (mojuba) in the book and break it down to its most essential components. We will examine the concept of Olódumare, Olorún, Olófin, and orisha through the Lucumí/Yoruba etymologies of their names.

Read: The introduction and chapter one. Try to read both in full. This will give you an overview of the divination process, our focus of study for the next few weeks. 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!

Class Two:

Lecture: Discussion of reaction papers. We will continue our discussion of etymology: Olódumare, Olorún, Olófin, orisha, and the breakdown/meaning of the individual names of the orishas.

Read: Continue reading the introduction and chapter one of your book (if you have not finished it). Continue memorization of the Lucumí prayer for opening the diloggún. Read from La Division de la Habana by Miguel W. Ramos, a document that I will email to you at the end of this class.

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. Have this short paper in to me before the next class.

Class Three:

Lecture: Discussion of the Ramos paper and student reaction papers. Setting up the reading space; Lucumí cosmology and how it relates to the mat and the setup for divination. Also we will discuss several obscure orishas who are important to the process of divination. A description of all ibó from textbook with a focus on the odu from which they come. Also, we will weed out the Arara ibó and use only the Lucumí-Oyó ibó for the remainder of this course.

Read: Read From Hierography to Ethnography and Back: Lydia Cabrera’s Texts and the Written Tradition in Afro-Cuban Religions. I will email this paper 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.

Class Four:

Lecture: Discussion of the reaction papers. Discussion on how to drop the entoyale of the reading. Discussion on the opening of hands with ibó. Covering the picking of hands.

Read: From chapter one, “When the reading opens in iré.” Read papers assigned regarding orí.

Reaction: Write a 250-word reaction to the papers assigned in which you discuss your understanding of the concept of orí.

Class Five:

Lecture: The first question asked; 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 discuss the process of marking iré.

Read: From chapter one, “When the reading opens in osogbo.” Also, continue reading Osogbo, Speaking to the Spirits of Misfortune.

Reaction: Write 250 words regarding your understanding of iré and how to mark it.

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.

Read: From chapter one, “When the reading opens in osogbo.” Also, continue reading Osogbo, Speaking to the Spirits of Misfortune.

Reaction: Pick one or two osogbos and write about times in your life you had to deal with these on a personal level.

Class Seven:

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!

Class Eight

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.

Class Nine:

Read: Chapter two, “Opening Okana – One Mouth on the Mat.”

Reaction: Write your reaction to the class so far. Critique your instructor – were all of your needs met with this section of the course? How could the course have been better?

Section Two: Interpreting the Olodu, Basic Considerations

Class 10

Lecture: Okana (1), one mouth on the mat. There will be two lectures total.

Read: Chapter three, “Opening Eji Oko – Two Mouths on the Mat.”

Reaction: Proverbs to be assigned in class.

Class 11

Lecture: Eji Oko (2), two mouths on the mat. There will be two lectures total.

Read: Chapter Four, “Opening Ogundá – Three Mouths on the Mat.”

Reaction: Proverbs to be assigned in class.

Class 12

Lecture: Ogundá (3), three mouths on the mat. There will be two lectures total.

Read: Chapter Five, “Opening Irosun – Four Mouths on the Mat.”

Reaction: Proverbs to be assigned in class.

Class 13

Lecture: Irosun (4), four mouths on the mat. There will be two lectures total.

Read: Chapter Six, “Opening Oché – Five Mouths on the Mat.”

Reaction: Proverbs to be assigned in class.

Odu assignment: Ogundá Okana (3-1), iré (2) elese eledá (3), yale (2) timbelaye Olódumare (4). As an additional challenge, identify which had was picked for each orientation.

Class 14

Lecture: Oché (5), five mouths on the mat. There will be two lectures total.

Read: Chapter Seven, “Opening Obara – Six Mouths on the Mat.”

Reaction: Proverbs to be assigned in class. Odu Notebook exercises begin!

Class 15

Lecture: Obara (6), six mouths on the mat. There will be two lectures total.

Read: Chapter Eight, “Opening Odí – Seven Mouths on the Mat.”

Reaction: Proverbs to be assigned in class.

Odu assigned: Oché Ejioko (5-2), osogbo (3), ano (5-2), elese otonowá (4), larishe si (5-4), adimú (4), elese Oshún (5-5), obi y omi tutu (2), eboda (3). As an additional challenge, identify which hand was picked for each orientation.

Class 16

Lecture: Odí (7), seven mouths on the mat. There will be two lectures total.

Read: Chapter Nine, “Opening Elleunle/Eji Ogbe – Eight Mouths on the Mat.”

Reaction: Proverbs to be assigned in class.

Class 17

Lecture: Eji Ogbe/Unle (8), eight mouths on the mat. There will be two lectures total.

Read: Chapter Ten, “Opening Osá – Nine Mouths on the Mat.”

Reaction: Proverbs to be assigned in class.

Class 18

Lecture: Osá (9), nine mouths on the mat. There will be two lectures total.

Read: Chapter Eleven, “Opening Ofún – Ten Mouths on the Mat.”

Reaction: Proverbs to be assigned in class.

Odu assigned: Osá Ogundá (9-3), iré (5-5), elese eledá (3), kotoyale (2), ocha onire (4), elese Oyá (9-9), adimú (9-2), obi y omi tutu (3), eboda (9-9). As an additional challenge, identify the hands picked for each orientation.

Class 19

Lecture: Ofún (10), ten mouths on the mat. There will be two lectures total.

Read: Chapter Twelve, “Opening Owani – Eleven Mouths on the Mat.”

Reaction: Proverbs to be assigned in class.

Class 20

Lecture: Owani (11), eleven mouths on mat. There will be two lectures total.

Read: Chapter Thirteen, “Opening Ejila Shebora – Twelve Mouths on the Mat.”

Reaction: Proverbs to be assigned in class.

Odu assigned: Ogundá Owani (3-11), osogbo (11-5), arayé (3), elese obini (4), egun onire (11-11), ebo misi (9-9), eboda (3). As an additional challenge, identify the hands picked.

Class 21

Lecture: Ejila Shebora (12), twelve mouths on the mat. There will be two lectures total.

Read: there are no further reading assignments.

Reaction: Proverbs to be assigned in class. A final take-home exam will be given. You will have one week to complete it. You may use notes.

The final three weeks are here in case we fall behind in lecture. If we don’t fall behind in class lectures, we will look at a few advanced concepts.

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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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