An old journal entry about Obatala

December 10, 2007
I was in my ocha room this morning, putting fresh flowers to Obatalá and redecorating her shrine. Each time I add something to her, each time I rearrange her implements, each time I clean her and refresh her, I stand back, and cry. Being her child, I know I am heavily prejudiced, but I can’t think of any orisha more beautiful than Obatalá.

Especially my road of Obatalá, Obánlá.

Today, however, I remembered another iyawó who was about to go to the river. She thought I had Oshún crowned; and while she was waiting for ebó de entrada to begin, she told me, “I really wanted to be crowned with your orisha, Oshún.” Before I could correct her, she continued, “I wanted to be crowned any orisha EXCEPT Obatalá.”

The word “except” plunged into my heart like a sharp knife cuts through butter. Only one word came out of my mouth, “Why?”

She, as many I have met before her, lamented the fact that while Obatalá was a great orisha (“they all have wonderful ashé,” she said, as if she knew what ashé was), he was still a “boring old man.” She went on and on about how colorful the other orishas were, and how much fun they were. I listened until she was done.

And then, I corrected her.

I told her that Obatalá was more than an old man. He was a young man. This she knew.

“But did you know that Obatalá is also . . . a woman? I have a female Obatalá crowned.”

The iyawó listened as I explained to her that out of all the orishas, none knew what it was to truly create save Obatalá. Obatalá created all the heads in heaven; he crafted all the bodies on earth. Obatalá knew what it was like to be drunk; Obatalá even knew what it was like to be high. Obatalá knew cold, hard logic, and he also knew the throes of madness.

Obatalá knew what it was like to be murdered; and, Obatalá knew what it was like . . . to murder. He knew passion. He knew rage. He knew heartache. He knew despair. He knew war.

He created war.

But SHE . . . also knew what it was like to be a young girl. She knew what it was like to be an old woman. She knew what it was like to be a virgin; and, she knew what it was like to be a whore, to use her body to get exactly what she wanted.

She knew what it was like to be young and locked in a loveless, sexless marriage to an older man, and, yes, she knew the pleasures of sexual ecstasy.

And while other orishas might control the moment of conception, it was Obatalá who reached into the womb to mold and guide the new life to birth.

“What does Obatalá NOT know?” I asked the iyawó. “What does she NOT do?”

Before she could answer, they came to take her to do ebó de entrada. I never found out if I changed her mind, or if she ever came to love Obatalá as embracing the full spectrum of divine and human experience. But I do know one thing . . .

Those who have Obatalá crowned are among the most blessed in this religion. At the end of the day, when the other orishas fail us, or even turn their backs on us, it is Obatalá who is the most forgiving, and it is to her . . . or him . . . that all of us must one day turn to for help.

Maferefún Obatalá!

The Basics of Lucumí Divination

On Wednesday, June 15, a new online class begins: The Basics of Lucumí Divination. This is an online course open to olorishas. I use gotomeeting.com as our classroom. There are two learning objectives: teaching the techniques of casting and interpreting obí (the coconut oracle) in a ritual context, and teaching the techniques for casting diloggún. Basic interpretive skills for the diloggún are taught in a separate class.

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. I provide additional reading and resource material throughout the course.

 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

Animal Recovery Mission: Their Vendetta

Lawsuit 1

Lawsuit 2

 

As promised, the filing of Animal Recovery Mission against Rooterville, one of the animal havens for the animals they confiscate from family farms. It seems having a poor opinion of A.R.M. lands you in court. Read the documents . . . and give them some critical thought. Some interesting allegations against them were allegedly made.

 

Animal Recovery Mission: Lawsuit Alert

Look what I found. Back in 2015, A.R.M. filed a libel/slander lawsuit against Rooterville. It’s for an amount greater than $15,000. It’s over the condition of the animals from the Coco Farm Raid. And the paperwork is very interesting. I’ll be posting the paperwork soon.

ANIMAL RECOVERY MISSION INC VS ROOTERVILLE A SANCTUARY INC ET AL

Local Case Number: 2015-015148-CA-01

Filing Date: 07/06/2015

State Case Number: 132015CA015148000001

Case Type: Contract & Indebtedness (Greater than $15,000)

Consolidated Case No.: N/A

Judicial Section: CA22

 

Animal Recovery Mission Bio: Richard Couto

Never give an English Major a research assignment – we go big and we go deep. For the next few days we’ll be looking at who Richard Couto is. I’ve done some digging and background research. And because he is an enemy to Olódumare and the orishas, I’ll be publishing everything that I find. It all starts . . . here.

From various websites and professional intelligence sources, I have compiled the following. I have maintained the documentation in my personal archives.

Richard Martin Couto is in his 40s, probably 45 years old or so, and currently lives in Miami, Florida. The last mailing address I have on file for him is 565 53rd St in Miami, Florida, 33137. His personal phone number is 305-494-2225 [I’ve called it – it’s active and it’s his – but the voicemail is full]. His personal email is kudoreef@yahoo.com. Feel free to write him or call him and let him know how you feel about his personal vendetta against us.

He has used various aliases and permutations of his name over the years: Richard Martin Couto, Richard M Couto, Richard Couto, Rich Couto, M Couto Richard, and Richard Martin Couto.

The man seems to have moved many times over the years. These are all the addresses I can find that have been associated with Richard Couto. The date listed with “first seen” is the date he may have become associated with that address. The date listed with “last seen” is the last date of association that can be found with that address. A “last scene” of n/a means he might still be associated with that address somehow:

7308 BELLE MEADE ISLAND DR MIAMI, FL 33138

First seen: 01/09 /2008, Last seen: 01/06/2009

 

208 JEFFERSON AVE APT 114 MIAMI BEACH, FL 33139

First seen: N/A, Last seen: N/A

 

3083 N BAY RD MIAMI BEACH, FL 33140

First seen: 01/11/2004 , Last seen: N/A

 

PO BOX 892 LA JOLLA, CA 92038

First seen: 01/03/2000 , Last seen: 01/03/2000

 

808 NE 73RD ST MIAMI, FL 33138

First seen: N/A, Last seen: N/A

 

3917 N MERIDIAN AVE APT 2 MIAMI BEACH, FL 331400

First seen: N/A, Last seen: N/A

 

PO BOX 1191 NEWPORT , RI 02840

First seen: N/A, Last seen: N/A

 

935 JEFFERSON AVE APT 4 MIAMI BEACH, FL 33139

First seen: N/A, Last seen: N/A

 

17880 NE 31ST CT APT 2112 AVENT URA, FL 33160

First seen: 0 1/0 3/19 9 5, Last seen: 0 1/0 3/19 9 5

 

15 WEBST ER ST NEWPORT , RI 02840

First seen: N/A, Last seen: N/A

 

1830 MERIDIAN AVE APT 1405 MIAMI BEACH, FL 33139

First seen: N/A, Last seen: N/A

 

PO BOX 1151 NEWPORT , RI 02840

First seen: N/A, Last seen: N/A

 

29 PLEASANT ST APT 3 MARBLEH HEAD, MA 01945

First seen: N/A, Last seen: N/A

 

397 GIBBS AVE NEWPORT , RI 02840

First seen: 0 1/0 3/19 9 5, Last seen: 0 1/0 3/19 9 5

 

Tomorrow, we’ll continue looking more deeply into the life of Richard Couto.

Animal Recovery Mission Bio: Maia Chrupcala

We learned earlier this week that Maia Chrupcala is a cousin of A.R.M. figurehead, Richard Couto. Although this obituary has her listed as a sister, this seems to be misinformation on the part of the writer. In this website, she is listed as the daughter of Peggy Couto, making her Richard’s cousin: click here for website where this information was found. On that cyber-guestbook, Maia wrote, “I can only hope that John and my mother, Peggy Couto, one of his very best friends, are smiling down on us this moment. His memory will never fade. I’ll miss you JP.” Those are Maia’s words. No matter whether she is a sister or a cousin, she is blood-family.

Bizapedia has Maia Chrupcala listed as both the Vice President of A.R.M. in Miami, Florida. She does, however, have other business interests of which we need to be aware. The Bizapedia website lists her as the director of Northbound Pound Puppies (a Rhode Island Domestic Non-Profit Corporation). Northbound’s registration lists its location at 40 Callender Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island (zip code 02840). Please note that Rhode Island is the former state of residence for Richard Couto and the rest of the A.R.M. family. If we click on that address in the listing, 40 Callender Avenue, we find another business listing for that address: The Wiggle Room, LLC (Rhode Island Limited-Liability Domestic Company) This is another of Maia’s businesses. There are websites available for both businesses: click here for Northbound Pound Puppies and click here for The Wiggle Room.

On Wiggle Room’s webpage, they have the following information: “The Wiggle Room was established by Maia Chrupcala in the summer of 2010. Maia is a Newport, RI native who has always loved animals. After working in the hospitality industry, and then in the social services field, she felt she needed a serious career change. Maia began working for the Newport Animal Hospital as a veterinary technician in 2005. Always interested in opening her own business, the thoughts of owning a doggie daycare began to take shape, and in May 2010 she left the Newport Animal Hospital to pursue The Wiggle Room. Having an animal experience background is what makes The Wiggle Room such a success.” It’s interesting to note that she began her LLC the same year she helped Couto begin his Not-for-Profit, A.R.M.

For those who are interested, the actual address of Wiggle Room is: 741 West Main Rd, Middletown, RI 02842 (it differs from the Bizapedia listing). Their email address is: info@thewiggleroomri.com. And their telephone number is: 401.849.0044. All of this is public information given on their website.

Nicole Barnes again takes us back to Florida. She is listed as the Vice President of Barfield Fence and Fabrication, a Florida Domestic Profit Corporation. They filed paperwork on September 8, 1998. Their website is here: http://barfieldfence.com/

Northbound Pound Puppies

This is where our threads and loose links begin to show interesting associations. On Wiggle Room’s website we find the following information: “ In the winter of 2013 Maia teamed up with her friend Nikki, who lives in Alabama, to establish Northbound Pound Puppies, a rescue organization committed to helping forgotten southern animals find loving forever homes primarily in the north. In the first year alone Northbound was able to rescue 165 homeless dogs and cats! Now, just over 2 years, that number has soared to nearly 500! A few of these lucky dogs even attend The Wiggle Room. From a cold kill shelter to a room full of happy friends to play with, Maia, Nikki and the rest of the Northbound team are so happy to be able to give these animals the chance that they all deserve. If you would like to become involved in Northbound Pound Puppies please visit their website for more information! You can also visit them on Facebook!”

Northbound Pound Puppies writes on its webpage: “Northbound Pound Puppies is a small 501(c)3 non-profit organization started in the winter of 2013 by two girls who really love dogs! From Alabama to Rhode Island, we have teamed up to help find homes up north for those forgotten southern puppies. As a rescue, our primary goal is to facilitate adoptions of homeless dogs into perfect and loving forever homes. We are not breed specific and have quite a variety that comes through our rescue!” They list the following as their mailing address: PO Box 4676, Middletown, RI 02842. Their email address: northboundpoundpuppies@yahoo.com. No phone number is given. Here, however, the current webpage lists Maia Chrupcala as the Northern Director and Nicole Barnes as the Southern Director.

Turning to the Bizapedia listing, however, we find the following information about Northbound’s founders: Kahlia Shmerer, 17 Sherman Street, Newport, RI 02840 is both director and incorporator; Maia Chrupcala is also a director; and Nicole Barnes of 3477 Deer Track Drive, Semmes, AL 36575 is also a director.

Of these three names, Nicole Barnes appears to be the most significant at this time. She is the director of the Mobile County Humane Society, an Alabama Domestic Non-Profit. It’s website is here: http://www.krewederescue.com/home.html.  They have a FaceBook page here: https://www.facebook.com/KreweDeRescue/timeline. They filed their papers on July 26, 2013, listing their address as 7400 Portside Circle South, Mobile, AL 36695; however, they are a fostering service and own no physical location for their business.

The business and financial reach of Maia Chrupcala travels far and networks with many people, individuals who may or may not have bearing and influence with A.R.M. and other animal welfare (I say terrorist) groups. These are names that we will need to look for in the news and other media in the future.

Animal Recovery Mission Bio: Maia Chrupcala

We learned earlier this week that Maia Chrupcala is a cousin of A.R.M. figurehead, Richard Couto. Although this obituary has her listed as a sister, this seems to be misinformation on the part of the writer. In this website, she is listed as the daughter of Peggy Couto, making her Richard’s cousin: click here for website where this information was found. On that cyber-guestbook, Maia wrote, “I can only hope that John and my mother, Peggy Couto, one of his very best friends, are smiling down on us this moment. His memory will never fade. I’ll miss you JP.” Those are Maia’s words. No matter whether she is a sister or a cousin, she is blood-family.

Bizapedia has Maia Chrupcala listed as the Vice President of A.R.M. in Miami, Florida. She does, however, have other business interests of which we need to be aware. The Bizapedia website lists her as the director of Northbound Pound Puppies (a Rhode Island Domestic Non-Profit Corporation). Northbound’s registration lists its location at 40 Callender Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island (zip code 02840). Please note that Rhode Island is the former state of residence for Richard Couto and the rest of the A.R.M. family. If we click on that address in the listing, 40 Callender Avenue, we find another business listing for that address: The Wiggle Room, LLC (Rhode Island Limited-Liability Domestic Company) This is another of Maia’s businesses. There are websites available for both businesses: click here for Northbound Pound Puppies and click here for The Wiggle Room.

On Wiggle Room’s webpage, they have the following information: “The Wiggle Room was established by Maia Chrupcala in the summer of 2010. Maia is a Newport, RI native who has always loved animals. After working in the hospitality industry, and then in the social services field, she felt she needed a serious career change. Maia began working for the Newport Animal Hospital as a veterinary technician in 2005. Always interested in opening her own business, the thoughts of owning a doggie daycare began to take shape, and in May 2010 she left the Newport Animal Hospital to pursue The Wiggle Room. Having an animal experience background is what makes The Wiggle Room such a success.” It’s interesting to note that she began her LLC the same year she helped Couto begin his Not-for-Profit, A.R.M.

For those who are interested, the actual address of Wiggle Room is: 741 West Main Rd, Middletown, RI 02842 (it differs from the Bizapedia listing). Their email address is: info@thewiggleroomri.com. And their telephone number is: 401.849.0044. All of this is public information given on their website.

Nicole Barnes again takes us back to Florida. She is listed as the Vice President of Barfield Fence and Fabrication, a Florida Domestic Profit Corporation. They filed paperwork on September 8, 1998. Their website is here: http://barfieldfence.com/

Northbound Pound Puppies

This is where our threads and loose links begin to show interesting associations. On Wiggle Room’s website we find the following information: “ In the winter of 2013 Maia teamed up with her friend Nikki, who lives in Alabama, to establish Northbound Pound Puppies, a rescue organization committed to helping forgotten southern animals find loving forever homes primarily in the north. In the first year alone Northbound was able to rescue 165 homeless dogs and cats! Now, just over 2 years, that number has soared to nearly 500! A few of these lucky dogs even attend The Wiggle Room. From a cold kill shelter to a room full of happy friends to play with, Maia, Nikki and the rest of the Northbound team are so happy to be able to give these animals the chance that they all deserve. If you would like to become involved in Northbound Pound Puppies please visit their website for more information! You can also visit them on Facebook!”

Northbound Pound Puppies writes on its webpage: “Northbound Pound Puppies is a small 501(c)3 non-profit organization started in the winter of 2013 by two girls who really love dogs! From Alabama to Rhode Island, we have teamed up to help find homes up north for those forgotten southern puppies. As a rescue, our primary goal is to facilitate adoptions of homeless dogs into perfect and loving forever homes. We are not breed specific and have quite a variety that comes through our rescue!” They list the following as their mailing address: PO Box 4676, Middletown, RI 02842. Their email address: northboundpoundpuppies@yahoo.com. No phone number is given. Here, however, the current webpage lists Maia Chrupcala as the Northern Director and Nicole Barnes as the Southern Director.

Turning to the Bizapedia listing, however, we find the following information about Northbound’s founders: Kahlia Shmerer, 17 Sherman Street, Newport, RI 02840 is both director and incorporator; Maia Chrupcala is also a director; and Nicole Barnes of 3477 Deer Track Drive, Semmes, AL 36575 is also a director.

Of these three names, Nicole Barnes appears to be the most significant at this time. She is the director of the Mobile County Humane Society, an Alabama Domestic Non-Profit. It’s website is here: http://www.krewederescue.com/home.html.  They have a FaceBook page here: https://www.facebook.com/KreweDeRescue/timeline. They filed their papers on July 26, 2013, listing their address as 7400 Portside Circle South, Mobile, AL 36695; however, they are a fostering service and own no physical location for their business.

The business and financial reach of Maia Chrupcala travels far and networks with many people, individuals who may or may not have bearing and influence with A.R.M. and other animal welfare (I say terrorist) groups. These are names that we will need to look for in the news and other media in the future.

Animal Recovery Mission [A.R.M.]: A Family Affair

When researching your enemy, never leave any stone unturned. Yesterday I spent hours poring over news stories, trying to draw connections between the officers of the Animal Recovery Mission, which is, as far as I’m concerned, a terrorist organization that has declared war against the Diaspora and all connected indigenous, and now globalized, African-based religions. I’m all for animal welfare; I’m the proud father of two wonderful dogs, and have cared for animals all my life. Olódumare teaches us that animals have their orí, and with that, their place and purpose in creation. But a few weeks ago, the leader of A.R.M., Richard Couto, vowed to wipe us out and our right to practice our faith in peace. That, my readers, makes him our enemy.

By accident, I stumbled across an obituary connecting many members of A.R.M. into one big, happy family. That’s right: Animal Recovery Mission is a family business, although they don’t make that known to the press. With Richard Couto’s criminal activities (and why he hasn’t been arrested and prosecuted as a criminal, I have no idea) that makes them, in my humble opinion, a crime family.

Click this hyperlink to read the obituary I found: click here.

On September 26, 2014, Michelle (Couto) Tormey, 45, of Wrentham, MA and Portsmouth, RI passed away. Mrs. Tormey was the sister of Richard Couto. If you read the article carefully, it identifies not only Richard Couto as her brother, but also Kristine Lowney as her sister. This is the same Kris Lowney listed as an officer of Animal Recovery Mission; not only did they shorten her name on the official document to protect her identity, but her maiden name is Couto. She married a Rhode Island cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Mark X. Lowney, thus the Lowney name. Maia Chrupcala is named as another of her sisters; however, on later research for verification I discovered that Maia Chrupcala is, more than likely, a cousin of the Couto family. Her mother’s name was Peggy Couto.

As for the other officers named over the years, I’m still working on finding out if there are family connections. They all seem to hail back to Rhode Island, so I’m sure there are very strong connections between them. There also seem to be ties between the Couto family and the race-horse and thoroughbred industry, but I’m still working on those connections. With all these things available as public record if one is willing to put in the time to dig it up, I can’t help but wonder “why” all the secrecy. If this is a family-based animal welfare organization, why not publicize it as such?

There are so many questions for which we need answers. Give me time – I’ll find them all.

Following the Web of A.R.M.

To fight the enemy, one must know the enemy. For two weeks, I have researched Animal Recovery Mission from several angles, and what I found is an amazing web. We must know every strand. For those who want to know who’s involved in these organizations for purposes of prayer and ebó, I’m putting their information here. One thing about being in a public nonprofit – your information becomes public. The links from which I obtained this information is included; just click on the hyperlink of the organization or name to follow the thread yourself.

Animal Recovery Mission

They are a Florida Not for Profit Corporation, listed as Animal Recovery Mission, Inc. They filed paperwork on January 28, 2010. Their principle address is at 927 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Fl. 33140. They list their mailing address as PO Box 403344, Miami Beach, Fl. 33140. Currently, their officers are as follows:

Richard Couto [Director]

927 LINCOLN RD

MIAMI BEACH, FL 33139


Kris Lowney [Treasurer]

PO BOX 403344

MIAMI BEACH, FL 33140

 

Maia Chrupcala [Vice President]

PO BOX 403344

MIAMI BEACH, FL 33140

 

Rachel Ann Taylor [Chief Financial Officer]

PO Box 403344

Miami Beach, FL 33140

While these are the four current officers, the listing has changed since their filing in 2010. To understand the scope and reach of A.R.M. today, I had to pull the Florida Department of State Division of Corporation listings for this organization each year they have been in operation. What I found was interesting, and in some ways disturbing.

2010 Records

These list Richard Couto as the only officer for the organization.

2011 Records

This lists Richard Couto as the only officer and the director of A.R.M.

2012 Records

This lists Richard Couto and Kris Lowney as officers. Couto is the director and Lowney is an officer. This year we find a new name added to the mix: Ken Ogrodnick, listed as an officer.

2013 Records

Now there are four officers listed: Richard Couto (Director), Maia Chrupcala (Vice-President), Kris Lowney (Treasurer), and Ken Ogrodnick (Officer). 

2014 Records

The officers listed remain the same as in 2013. 

2015 Records

For 2015 there are only three officers listed: Richard Couto (Director), Maia Chrupcala (Vice-President), and Kris Lowney (Treasurer). Ken Ogrodnick is not listed as an officer for this year.2016 Records

The same three officers are listed: Richard Couto (Director), Maia Chrupcala (Vice-President), and Kris Lowney (Treasurer). The date they filed this document is March 7, 2016. But on April 4, 2016, an amendment was filed (click this link) giving us our current officers: Richard Couto (Director), Kris Lowney (Treasurer), Maia Chrupcala (Vice President), and Rachel Ann Taylor (Chief Financial Officer).

Over the next few weeks, I will blog about the people involved in A.R.M. and their varied special and business interests. We need to know our enemies, people. I intend to help you know them and every nook and cranny of their lives.

“Up in Arms” Against A.R.M.: What Can We Do?

Family: every day I’m getting emails about the recent threats by Animal Recovery Mission to bring an end to our religion by attacking one of our most essential sacraments, animal offerings. False propaganda and misleading photographs are being used to manipulate emotions; and in the process, the organization is generating obscene amounts of cash and support from their dishonest rhetoric. Their leader, Richard Couto, is a master of manipulation and marketing. With this attack against our rights gearing up, aleyos, aborishas, and olorishas are asking me, “What can we do?”

First, I need everyone to realize that in this war, I’m not a leader. I’m a follower. I have chosen to follow the lead of Oba Ernesto Pichardo, who is THE expert on defending our religious rights. He has fought wars like this before, winning against people greater than Richard Couto. I need everyone writing me to follow him on Facebook at the following URL:

https://www.facebook.com/oba.pichardo?pnref=story

If you are not following Pichardo, then you are not receiving your information from the one man most qualified to lead us in the battle. Please understand that Oba Pichardo and I are not friends [but I do hope that changes in the coming years – he is brilliant, and I love surrounding myself with brilliant people]. I am not associated with the C.L.B.A. Until recently, I have not interacted or spoken with the oriaté in five years. But he is the expert on these matters. If we are going to have our best chance, we need to take our cues from the best.

Second, I need everyone to realize that information is power. Not everyone has the time or the luxury to be politically active, but everyone needs to take the time to be informed. I’ll be using my blog to spread relevant information that Pichardo wants shared with the community, and I’ll be using both my Facebook page and my blog to spread relevant information that I find on the internet regarding A.R.M. and other animal “rights” organizations. Me? I devote all my time to research, study, and teaching, and I have been up until 5:00 A.M. most nights following financial threads on these organizations that both scare and anger me. Try to spend at least 15 minutes of your internet time searching and researching information about A.R.M. Look at the people he bullies. Read what is in the news relevant to our rights and our fights. Be informed – EVERYONE needs to be informed.

Finally, I need everyone to realize that prayer works. Pray for the safety of Oba Ernesto Pichardo as he prepares to lead us in this war. Pray that he has the abundance, the workers and helpers, the knowledge/wisdom/guidance he needs, and, more importantly, the health he needs to see this battle to its end. Since the 1993 SCOTUS ruling that protected our rights, I know of no one who has apprenticed with him on how to continue his historical and groundbreaking work. Since 1993 he has stood alone to save and protect us from prejudice and oppression. Love him; don’t love him; criticize him; praise him – I don’t care what you do or what you think of the babalorisha. But he is our best chance; he is the expert; he is the one who did ebó so all of us could practice our faith in safety. We need to do all we can to protect him and support him for this next battle.

With all of these things said, Oba Ernesto Pichardo has my full support in this fight. I know nothing about protecting our rights. I know next to nothing about the court system and how it works. Animal Recovery Mission has strong ties and deep pockets; and Richard Couto has aligned himself with those who have power in this world. He has partnered with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. He has ties with the National Humane Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He is well-connected nationwide. These people have lawyers on retainer. They have marketing specialists. They have lobbyists. The have politicians and lawmakers at the local, state, and national levels. They have ties to the media.

We, however, are the keepers of the sacred stones. We have ashé. We have Elegguá at our feet, orisha on our heads, and Olódumare in heaven watching over us. We have the ancestors who lived and who knew oppression. Worldly power is ephemeral. Spiritual power is eternal. We can win this. We will win this. We have no choice but to win this.