Ramblings about Okana

Two of my basic diloggún courses start their study of Okana next week, and I was up late last night tossing various concepts about Okana around in my head; and, of course, these concepts found their way to paper. One of the concepts most olorishas aren’t familiar with is that the odu were, at one time, mortals. From their lives we learn much about the odu itself, Okana being no exception. There are two origin stories about the woman who we know as Okana. Both deserve mentioning since they have bearing on the odu’s ashé.

It is said that all of the odu were once people, and this sign, Okana, is no exception. There is one story-line in the religion teaching that Okana was the illegitimate daughter of a king, the king who ruled a town named Itile. His mother was a slave; she was sold as a slave as punishment for her involvement in two murders. The mother was a witch, and it was through witchcraft that she killed two of her female rivals. It is said that the rivalry was over a man. All three women wanted the same man, and the witch (Okana’s mother) wasn’t having any competition. Of course she became the king’s slave, not his wife, and he used her for sex. Okana was born out of wedlock and from forced sex (let’s face it — it was nonconsensual so it was rape). Later there was a son born from this, and the son was sent far away where he served as a slave in a temple; but he grew up to become an Ifá priest. Okana never knew her brother.

Please note that the issue of rape and nonconsensual sex has always been a theme explored throughout the diloggún. Take, for example, the story of Ogundá. He was rough, uncaring, and liked violent sex (as do many who have this odu in itá). One day he took a young woman by force and his intercourse was so rough that he broke many bones in her body. Had Eshu not the ashé to heal her (and had Eshu not been a close friend of Ogundá), his life’s story would have ended there. And this was a turning point in the life-story of Ogundá. He began a journey to change his ways. And change, he did; however, his first legitimate wife was the osogbo Arayé. There are other stories, of course, about why Ogundá stopped having violent, rough sex. There is a little known and little recited story about how Ogundá was so rough that he fractured his penis during intercourse, and this is what slowed him down, sexually, for a long time. But, again, rape is a theme here.

We find this theme in the olodu Osá as well. Osá was the daughter of Ogue (the orisha) and Euje (a mortal woman). But it is said that Osá was conceived when Euje was raped by the king of a town named Otá. Ogue did nothing to avenge his wife’s rape at the time; however, he got his vengeance.  The king of Otá was sick, and Ogue was called to heal him. Ogue, remembering that the king raped his wife and went unpunished, claimed the king was beyond his powers to heal and he let him die when he could have been saved. But at no time did he put his anger or aggression towards his innocent child, Osá. Instead, he accepted Osá as his natural daughter and raised her with all the love and affection that was his to give. He did not hold the rape over the heads of his wife or her child. He did not blame the victims; he loved them, and took out his revenge on the rapist by doing nothing – at all. And this is a huge lesson for all of us who operate under Osá’s ashé. Sometimes the best revenge or vengeance isn’t revenge or vengeance at all; simply, we refuse to help those who have hurt us or our loved ones in their darkest hour of need, and that is the greatest punishment we can give. Osá tells us that those who hurt us or our loved ones will need us one day. Literally, their lives could depend on our intervention, and if we withhold it because of what they have done to us, they will die.

Back to Okana: there is another more prevalent story-line about the life of Okana told in the diloggún. It is said that when Okana was born on earth, Okana manifested as a woman. She was the daughter of Sedikoron (father) and Ajantaku (mother). They died while she was quite young, but left her a wealthy woman who lacked for nothing. She was not a very nice woman, and in a lot of ways was very promiscuous. She spent her life trying to master and use love charms and potions that were constantly backfiring on her. A lot of her magic was put into trying to seduce Shangó, but her charms were so weak that Shangó barely noticed her. This made her angry and bitter. She suffered all her life for love unreturned and unacknowledged. During her life, Okana tried to curse many people; and while her curses did work to an extent, in the end, she suffered almost as much as they. What she sent out always came home to roost to some degree, and she learned that she could not curse those close to her and expect not to suffer herself. Her youth was filled with these follies; her old age, she began living by the wisdom of hard lessons learned in her youth.

Another concept I’ve been thinking more deeply about in relation to Okana is the following patakí:

There was a time when the cause said to the effect, “You cannot exist without me.” And to this the effect replied, “And you, you would not be useful to humanity if I did not exist.” 

Obviously, cause and effect is a concept born in Okana, and this can be expressed in a mathematical/scientific formula (in each odu, there is something that can be expressed in a scientific or mathematical formula): There is something called “The General Formula of Causality” and it is used by scientists; it also expresses very well the philosophical concept of cause and effect. In my opinion, this formula also expresses the truth of the olodu Okana:

 

[A] [B] [h [A] ———-► h [B]]

For every [A] and [B] [the happening of [A] causes the happening of [B].

 

For every A and B the happening of A causes the happening of B. “h” stands for happening. The arrow stands for “causes”. This is the general scientific formula, in which the logical symbols can stand for different variables. Let us understand A as temperature and B as pressure of a gas. Thus, if you increase the temperature, then you will cause the pressure to be increased too. This is called Boyle’s law; it was discovered by the theory of causality in scientific terms. This formula is also a wonderful expression of “Efficient Cause.”

If we understand Okana as the law of cause and effect, Okana equals cause and effect. They are both wrapped up as dual poles of Okana. Therefore, to express this equation as a spiritual emanation of Okana, we could write the formula thus:

 

Okana = (A) (B) [h (A) ———-► h (B)]

Okana equals that for every A and B the happening of A causes the happening of B.

 

One of my students sought to apply different concepts found in Okana, including patakís, to the formula of causality: “As mind is Cause, it has a vibration. Nothing in the universe is stagnant or still. All things are energy in motion at all times. As mind vibrates there is an effect, equaling in meaning that the energy emitted from mind (cause) will produce in kind (effect.) The Law of Cause and Effect states that for every movement of energy such as in a natural occurrence, or a human thought that takes the form of an image, feeling, desire, belief, expectation or action there is a corresponding effect. For this reason the Law of Cause and Effect influences every aspect of your living experience. This is where I believe Okana comes into play. She continued with, “From a good thing (mind) was born a bad thing (undisciplined thought), and from a bad thing (undisciplined thought) was born a good thing (the need for correction/awareness/conscious connection to thoughts, words and actions. This need is probably what brought the client to the mat.”

Let’s see if we can find a way to fit that into the formula we just worked out based on the philosophical concept and the scientific formula of causation:

 

Okana = (A) (B) [h (A) ———-► h (B)]

Okana equals/says that for every A and B the happening of A causes the happening of B.

We define (A) as a good thing and (B) as a bad thing.

 

Okana says that for every (good thing) and (bad thing), the happening of a (good thing) causes the happening of a (bad thing). The proverb on which this is based is “From a good thing was born a bad thing.” We find that the proverb my student mentioned fits in with the formula perfectly; it is almost as if that proverb was written with this formula in mind.

Now, let’s redefine our terms: Let’s say that Okana, in this instance, is mind. A mind is one thing; and I, like my student, believe that Okana references the mind as a primal cause. Of course in macrocosmic terms we’re talking the mind of Olódumare, and on mundane terms, we’re talking about the minds of humans. Let’s define (A) as she did in one of her examples, an undisciplined thought. Let’s define (B) as the need for correction. We have this:

 

Olódumare’s mind = (A) (B) [h (A) ———-► h (B)]

Olódumare’s mind says that (A being an undisciplined thought) (B being the need for correction) [the happening of an undisciplined thought creates the need for correction].

 

And again, with a formula we have demonstrated a spiritual truth.

Pretty awesome stuff, no? THESE are the types of issues that keep me awake at night!

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Advanced Odu Lectures, Seats are Available

The following classes have open seats. They are four month classes and the cost is $300.00. If you would like to join, please email me at bstuartmyers@gmail.com.

 1. Mondays at 7:00 PM: Advanced Odu Lectures. For the next four months we study the family of Irosun, and each week a new odu is presented. We will cover the proverbs, patakís, meanings, and major ebós of Irosun Okana (4-1) through Irosun Merindilogún (4-16). There is no prerequisite for this class.

 2. Mondays at 9:00 PM: Advanced Odu Lectures. For the next four months we study the family of Irosun, and each week a new odu is presented. We will cover the proverbs, patakís, meanings, and major ebós of Irosun Okana (4-1) through Irosun Merindilogún (4-16). There is no prerequisite for this class.

 3. Tuesdays at 5:00 PM: Advanced Odu Lectures. For the next four months we study the family of Irosun, and each week a new odu is presented. We will cover the proverbs, patakís, meanings, and major ebós of Irosun Okana (4-1) through Irosun Merindilogún (4-16). There is no prerequisite for this class.

 These three classes are “sister classes.” By taking one class you receive the recordings of all three. I do allow audio audits only of this class. If you are interested in audios only, please email me at bstuartmyers@gmail.com for more information. [Payment options and arrangements are available.]

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New Classes – During the Day!

Since I began teaching late 2010, early 2011, I’ve had many requests for daytime classes. Because I’ve always taught part time and worked full time elsewhere, I’ve never had the freedom to teach during the morning or afternoon hours.

 

Well, folks, all of that has changed. I’m teaching full time, and I’m ready to start teaching during the day.

 

The following class begins on Tuesday, February 23: The Basics of Lucumí Divination. Here are the basics that you might want to know about this course.

 

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

 

Textbook: The Secrets of Afro-Cuban Divination (Destiny Books, 2000). Please note that this textbook is required of all students. I prefer that everyone have a hard copy, not an eBook copy.

 

Obi, Oracle of Cuban Santería (Destiny Books, 2001). 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: the core curriculum consists of thirteen weeks. I have another three weeks booked for you all because, depending on your interests and aptitudes, we may venture into some Lucumí cosmology, ontology, and philosophy. Also, depending on the needs of the class, we might be together a bit longer. It depends on how well we flow in sync with the syllabus, and it depends on how much work you put into your studies. The more you give me as students, the more I give you as your teacher.

 

Cost: $250.00

 

Class Objectives: There are two major objectives in this class: to give students the ability to cast obi in a ritual context and to give students the skills needed to cast diloggún. Interpretive skills for obi are covered in this class; however, interpretive skills for diloggún will be covered in a separate class.

 

If you’d like a full syllabus, or if you’d like to register, please write to me at bstuartmyers@gmail.com. Please note that class size is limited to 10 students.

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Isogui, Fruits for the Orishas

There are two types of offerings I love giving to the orishas: isogui (fresh fruits) and bioñi (sweets). Their ashé is so powerful that when divining, Elegguá often directs my clients to give one or both to the orishas. Unfortunately, there are no published lists detailing their preferences, and there are few resources giving the old Lucumí names for these fruits and sweets. What follows is a partial list of fruits accepted by the orishas. Where possible, I provide both the Latin and Lucumí names of each. In a few days, I will follow up with a list of sweets preferred by the orishas, giving the Lucumí names where possible.

 

Elegguá: raspberry, common banana [ogedé (Musa paradisiaca, var. normalis, L.)], coconut, chili pepper [atá (Capsicum fructescens, L.)], sugar cane [ireké], dwarf bananas [ogedé keké (Musa acuminate, L.)], Spanish plum [Okiká (Spondias purpúrea, L.)], Spanish lime [Omoilá (Melicocca bijuga, L.)], Surinam cherry [pitangá (Eugenia uniflora, L.)].

 

Ogún: coconut, common banana [ogedé (Musa paradisiaca, var. normalis, L.)], green coconut, chili pepper [atá (Capsicum fructescens, L.)], watermelon, pineapple [egboibo], sugar cane [ireké], “burro” plantain [ogedé], pomegranate.

 

Ochosi: white grapes, coconuts, and green pears.

 

Oyá: raspberry, red grapes, coconuts, star apple (red or purple only), papaya [ibepé], red bananas [ogedé pupá], Spanish plum [okiká (Spondias purpúrea, L.)], pomegranate [oroko], Surinam cherry [pitangá (Eugenia uniflora, L.)].

 

Obatalá: green apples, green pears, white grapes, coconut, sugar apple, star apple (white ones only), cantaloupe [bara ifín], sour sop [eko omondé (Annona muricata, L.)], breadfruit [gberefú], custard apple [mekerí (Annona reticulate, L.)], sapodilla/gum fruit [nekigbé (Manilkara zapota, L.)], pomegranate [oroko].

 

Aganyú: mamey apple (Mammea Americana, L.), dates, coconut, pineapple [egboibo], dragon fruit/cactus pear [Esogí (Hylocereus triangularis, L.)], breadfruit [gberefú], common bananas [ogedé (Musa paradisiaca, var. normalis, L.)], and plantains [ogedé agbigba].

 

Oshún: egg fruit (Pouteria campechiana, HBK), tangerine, peach, grapefruit, persimmon, plum rose, coconut, honeydew melon [bara eguré], cashew fruit [kajú], dwarf bananas [ogedé keké (Musa acuminate, L.)], mango [oro], orange [orombó].

 

Yemayá: green grapes, coconut, plantains [ogedé agbigba], watermelon [bara agbeyé], common banana [ogedé (Musa paradisiaca, var. normalis, L.)], mango [oro], pineapple [egboibo], papaya, green apples, green pears, and sugar cane [ireké (for Yemayá Ogúnté Ogúnasomí only)].

 

Shangó: mamey apple (Mammea Americana, L.), red apple, coconut, chili pepper [atá (Capsicum fructescens, L.)], mamey sapote [emí (Colocarpum sapota, L)], dragon fruit/cactus pear [esogí (Hylocereus triangularis, L.)], yellow mombin [iyeyé (Spondias mombin, L.)], cashew fruit [kajú], apple/silk bananas [ogedé], Spanish plum [okiká (Spondias purpúrea, L.)], pomegranate [oroko], common bananas [ogedé (Musa paradisiaca, var. normalis, L.)], plantains [ogedé agbigba].

 

Olokun: coconut, watermelon [bara agbeyé], and pineapple.

 

Érínlè: persimmon, plumrose, coconut, figs [opotó (Ficus carica, L.)], orange [orombó].

 

Ibeyi: raspberry, coconut, cashew fruit [kajú], sapodilla/gum fruit [nekigbé (Manilkara zapota, L.)], dwarf banana [ogedé keké (Musa acuminate, L.)], Spanish plum [okiká (Spondias purpúrea, L.)], Spanish lime [omoilá (Melicocca bijuga, L.)], mango [oro], Surinam cherry [pitangá (Eugenia uniflora, L.)], coco plum [kinseké (keep coco plums far away from Yemayá — she abhors them!)].

 

Orishaokó: custard apple [mekerí (Annona reticulate, L.)], coconuts.

 

Babaluaiye: coconut, green coconut, chili pepper [atá (Capsicum fructescens, L.)].

 

Oba: persimmon, plumrose, coconut, papaya, mango [oro].

 

Orí: white or green apples, green pears, white grapes, coconut, breadfruit [gberefú].

 

Odua: green pears, white grapes, coconut, sour sop [eko omondé (Annona muricata, L.)], breadfruit [gberefú], figs [opotó (Ficus carica, L.)].

 

Osain: chilli pepper [atá (Capsicum fructescens, L.)], coconut.

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New Class: Ebos and Obras for the Orishas

The new ebó/obra class begins December 3rd, and meets weekly on Thursdays from 9:00 to 10PM Eastern Standard Time. As with all my classes, this is an online class using gotomeeting.com as our online classroom. Classes are taught in four week blocks, and the derecho for each four weeks of instruction is $50.00. Seating is limited to 15 students.

The work learned here is not the type of work one prescribes in conjunction with odu or diloggún. Instead, they are ebós used to get work done. And work well, they do!

The first four week block of instruction is as follows:

December 3: One hour of instruction on the symbolism used when working with one’s ashé and with the orishas.  Everything from the cloths we use to the animals we depend on have meaning; once you understand those meanings, many of our most traditional ebós, seemingly senseless, make sense. An understanding of the items used increases success in one’s works. Also, some orishas are used, traditionally, for certain workings while others are not. We will study that traditional material.

December 10: Our focus for this day will be on ebós for the orisha Elegguá. 8 to 10 ebós will be presented to solve a variety of human conditions.

December 17: Our focus for this day will be on ebós for the orisha Elegguá. 8 to 10 ebós will be presented to solve a variety of human conditions.

December 20, 2015 through January 3, 2016: Holiday break!  All classes are on vacation; all classes resume on Monday, January 4.

January 7, 2016: Our focus for this day will be on ebós for the orisha Elegguá. 8 to 10 ebós will be presented to solve a variety of human conditions.

January 7 finishes the first four-week cycle of instruction for Ebós and Obras for the Orishas. We will cycle through a month of ebós and obras for other orishas in the following order: Ogún, Ochosi, Oyá, Oshún, Yemayá, Shangó, and Obatalá. Classes for ebós and obras with other orishas beyond these “might” be presented in future four-week offerings; however, at this time I have no plans to do so.

As always, thank you for allowing me to be such a huge part of your spiritual lives. I am honored.

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Announcements

There are two new class opportunities coming, one in December and one in January. All classes are online. We use gotomeeting.com as our classroom platform. Please consider the following courses. [All times are Eastern Standard Time — please adjust accordingly for your own time zone.]

 1. Odu Lecture Series

 This class begins on Tuesday, December 1, 2015. The time is 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM EST. I have 7 seats open. It is a unique concept in lecture. There are two sister classes running on Mondays, one at 7:00 PM and one at 9:00 PM. Each of these three classes studies the same odu each week. Each class will have a unique focus: interpretation through proverbs, interpretation through patakís, and interpretation through orientation (general, iré, and osogbo). One class each week will focus on pulling the “tonti” interpretation together while two classes will focus on the actual composite. Various topics of Lucumí ontology will be presented: spiritual principles born, philosophy, material manifestations of odu, and ebó. Students in any of these three classes will get 1 ½ hour of live lecture (plus a recording of their lecture) and 3 hours of recorded lecture (the material studied by its two sister classes). This provides 4 ½ hours of instruction on each odu studied.

 The cost: $300.00 for 16 weeks of lecture, or $150.00 for 8 weeks of lecture. Yes, since this is a new class beginning December 1st, a $100.00 non-refundable deposit will hold your seat.

 Starting December 1st, a lecture schedule will be available for all three classes. The lecture schedule will be distributed on December 1st to all three sister classes.

 Please email me at bstuartmyers@gmail.com for registration. Payment for all classes is made by invoice through PayPal.

 2. The Basics of Lucumí Divination

 This class begins on Wednesday, January 6th, 2016. The time is 6:00 to 7:30 PM EST. This is a new course. Its goal is to teach both the casting of obi (obi agbón, the coconut oracle) and the casting of diloggún. Basic obi interpretation is included in this course; however, basic diloggún interpretation is included in another course to be announced at a later date. The cost for this class is $250.00. Although the class does not begin until January 6th, 2015, registration is open now. A non-refundable $50.00 deposit holds your seat (seating is limited – please apply early) with the remainder due when class begins.

 Please email me at bstuartmyers@gmail.com for registration. Payment for all classes is made by invoice through PayPal.

 I hope to see everyone in class soon! Openings in current courses will be announced soon! Please subscribe to my blog and my Facebook page to remain updated on current offerings.

 Ócháni Lele

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My New Year’s Resolutions

There are about 50 days until 2015 ends and 2016 begins, and I’m thinking about my New Year’s projects and resolutions. It’s never too early to plan. For those who, like me, are pondering important projects for the New Year, I thought I’d share part of my “to be considered” list. 

1. I plan to teach more, write more, and work less. Many of you know that after my best friend passed away in September of 2013 (Rebecca Brown, ibae), I went back to work on a PRN basis. That turned into part-time work (because my employer has excellent health-care benefits), and then, because of a staffing crisis, I remained part-time but worked full-time hours. I’ve written very little. I’ve not taught as many classes as I have in the past. But punching a time-clock was very healing for me; after Rebecca’s death I became house-bound and reclusive. In 2016 I’m planning to cut back on my work hours, going to a PRN basis just to keep my foot in the door. Because . . . well . . . let’s just say my job is my security blanket. Not just that, but I love my coworkers and I love the work I do. 

But my mission in life isn’t to take care of the sick, the elderly, and the dying. My true mission in life is to teach and work as an olorisha. Teaching and writing are a huge part of that mission, and I need more time devoted to those things. Plus, let’s face it; I’m too old to be this exhausted all the time! 

2. I plan to start two Lucumí writers’ groups. There are a lot of talented wordsmiths among our laity and priesthood; they just need motivation and feedback to become more productive. Fiction or nonfiction, it matters not. What does matter is that those among us with the gift of words hone our gifts, bringing our unique knowledge and experience to print. 

One writers’ group will be local. We’ll meet somewhere in public, maybe a botanica or maybe a Starbucks, to read and critique each other’s work. Weekly meetings are my goal. Hopefully, by the end of 2016, I’ll have a group of writers ready to submit their work to various journals or book publishers for publication. 

One writers’ group will be online. Using the online service gotomeeting.com (which also hosts all my online classes) we’ll meet weekly to read, discuss, and critique our work. The goal for this group will be the same as the local: for each writer to produce something worthy of publication. 

So there you have two of my possible goals for the year 2016. As previously written, this is my “to be considered” list of resolutions. I need to think more, plan more, and prioritize more. There are other projects I’m pondering in my head, and I’ll share those over the coming weeks. I want 2016 to be my most productive and fabulous year yet! What are the resolutions and projects you’re considering for 2016?

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