Olorishas: The Power of Depression

Over the course of our careers as olorishas we will have both clients and godchildren who are depressed. Those godchildren who we are closest to are the ones whose depressions we will note first; while for others, we might have to wait until an odu on the mat screams in our faces, “This person is depressed.” Other signs might speak of things more subtlety; however, when the client expresses feelings of anxiety, sleeplessness, and hopelessness on the mat no matter the odu (and please watch out for 2, 4, and 8 in either the first or the second position) we know we have a huge problem. What can we do.

First, we can educate ourselves. Here is an excellent article about depression:


Note the last paragraph which states, “Treatment for depression often includes medication, such as antidepressants; lifestyle recommendations, including exercise, stress management, and dietary changes; and psychotherapy to help uncover the cause of your depression. Putting your feelings into words can be very powerful, says Shrand. And with professional help, appropriate treatment, and the right lifestyle changes, you can improve your mood and overcome your depression.” As olorishas and as diviners, we are fully within our scope of practice (basing our advice off both practical experience and the odu at the mat) to advise light exercise, slow dietary changes, and some stress management techniques (deep breathing, Reiki, and meditation are a few I love). I’ve also suggest yoga training for some of my clients. But the absolute best thing we can do is to learn to outsource our clients and godchildren to the appropriate healthcare professionals when depression hits.

As a priest with an active practice, make it your duty to know the free community resources: the mental health and suicide hotlines, alcoholics anonymous, al-anon, narcotics anonymous, and the free mental health services your community provides. Try to build up a list of professionals who work on income-based sliding scales: LMHTs and Psychologists.

And, finally, realize if you are ever faced with a godchild or client who is not only experiencing suicidal ideations but also has a plan with an express desire to carry it out, you should, ethically, pick up the telephone and call for help. Dial 9-1-1 and let the dispatcher know what is going on.

It’s true that divination, ebó, and ashé can work miracles; but when we combine what we do with the resources in place in the modern world, we not only overcome osogbo, we also crush it.

Ócháni Lele


3 thoughts on “Olorishas: The Power of Depression

  1. In the new curriculum I’m working up, this type of assignment might actually become homework. I think it would be a great idea: building up your professional referral and outsourcing list.

  2. I have battled with depression, addiction and other emotional issues and am actively in recovery. I am happy to speak to anyone that may need info or someone to listen who has been through the same thing. You are absolutely 100% right when you say that someone who is having suicidal ideation needs to take themselves to the emergency room at the closest hospital and ask for help. Addictions and emotional instability is a fatal disease that requires medical and psychological intervention by professionals.

  3. Ashe! Being a santera and psychotherapist, I would also add that an expressed, clear desire to seriously harm another person (homicidal ideation), particularly with a plan, may indicate an individual in need of professional help and also constitutes a 911 call. Interesting question – Should santeros have a stated confidentiality policy? Food for thought.

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