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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One thought on “Basic Course in Casting Diloggún (Expanded)

  1. I pass this email to my godmother.  However, I believe the time of the class will be a problem for her.   Willie I am the Living Proof

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