Ócháni Lele (1966 – ) was born in Richmond, Virginia, to an unwed, 16 year old teenage mother and an absent father. He spent the first five years of his life living in an extended household with his maternal grandparents, mother, and aunt. In 1972 his mother married; his biological father gave up parental rights, and within a year he was adopted by his step-father. The first year of their marriage was spent living in Colonial Beach, Virginia, after which his family moved back to rural King George, the entrance to Virginia’s Northern Neck, where he spent the next 12 years of his childhood. Growing up rurally was anything but idyllic; it was a period filled with alcoholism and abuse. At age 17, after graduating from high school in 1984, he ran away with a local summer stock theater, The Fredericksburg Theater Company; and there he pursued his first love of acting and drama.
When the season was over, he spent four semesters studying at Mary Washington College in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia, planning to pursue dual degrees in English Literature and Psychology; however, his desire to experience the exotic world of magic and alternative spirituality sent him on a journey that ended with his initiation in the Afro-Cuban world of Santería, a religion known to adherents as the Lucumí faith. Over the years he has written a number of books about that faith: “The Secrets of Afro-Cuban Divination” (Destiny Books, 2000); “Obi, Oracle of Cuban Santería” (Destiny Books, 2001); “The Diloggún” (Destiny Books, 2003); “Teachings of the Santería Gods” (Destiny Books, 2010); “Diloggún Tales” (Destiny Books, 2011); and “Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santería, A Complete Guide to its Rituals and Practices (Destiny Books, 2012). In the spring of 2014, Destiny Books will release his next title: “Osogbo: Speaking to the Spirits of Misfortune.”
This summer, he returns to Seminole State College of Florida to finish his final four classes for his degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. By late 2014 he plans to transfer to the University of Central Florida to finish his bachelor degrees in both fields of study. Future educational plans include his MFA in Creative Writing with the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop. Currently he is writing his next manuscript titled, tentatively, “Okana: The World Began with One.” It is a collection of short stories based on the patakís of the family of Okana in the diloggún.
When neither writing nor studying, Ócháni Lele teaches both obi and diloggún divination online using WebEx as his teaching platform. For information regarding future classes (and to be put on the ever-growing wait list), please email BStuartMyers@gmail.com for more information. Ócháni Lele is also available for book signings, media interviews, living room readings, and various lectures or personal appearances. To book him for such an event, please use the email address OchaniLele@gmail.com.