Yewa crown by Beth Pert Weekes.
This crown gorgeously incorporates a mixture of Brazilian Candomblé, Cuban Lukumí (Santería), and traditional Yoruba crown styles. Yewa is the Orisha who lives in the grave. She is the Orisha of virginity, and is very austere. It is strictly taboo to swear in her presence, and men are not supposed to cook for her. Ideally, the people who serve her are virgin women and post-menopausal women. Along with Oya and Oba, she is one of the rulers of the cemetery. She lives in the grave because Shango tried to have sex with her, and she ran away, only finding refuge in the grave which is the one place Shango will not go.
The artist Beth Pert Weekes recently made a crown for my Yemoja Ogunte, which is stunningly beautiful.
The London Lucumi Choir sing for Oshun
Lead by Daniela de Armas, an Olo Oshun and friend of my Godmother’s, the London Lucumi Choir sing traditional Lucumi songs with bata accompaniment in London, England. Though the choir is lead by a Santera, it is open to the public to join. They really sound wonderful!
My Godfather Afolabi’s (iba’ye) Oshun Ibu Kole.
Oshun Ibu Kole is the Vulture, the witch. She is an older Oshun associated with witchcraft and the Iyaami Oshoronga (literally “Our Mothers,” a euphemism for the Grandmother witches that rule Yoruba society).
Here’s how she saved the world:
One day the Orisha stopped making ebo to Olodumare (God). They said they had all that they needed because they had every power in the world! What use was God when they had their own powers? And so, quietly, Olodumare retreated from the world. And with Olodumare went the rain.
Without rain, the world began to dry up. Food stopped growing, animals and humans starved, and everything began to die. The Orisha panicked and tried to go apologize to Olodumare for disrespecting Her (or Him or Them), but Olodumare had gone home to His (or Hers or Their) palace in the middle of the sun, and no one could reach Them (or Her or Him) there.
The Orisha couldn’t get there, and so they sent the birds. But no kind of bird could fly high enough. Every Orisha tried to go to the Sun by using their magic, but to no avail.
Oshun, the youngest Orisha, offered to fly up to the Sun, but everyone laughed at her. No one would believe that someone so young, much less a woman, could do such an important task. But people were dying, and no one was able to help. Oshun took the prayers of the world on her bank, turned herself into a peacock, and began flying to the Sun, even while the Orisha laughed at her.
As she got closer to the Sun, the Sun’s heat turned her feathers black. The fire of the Sun burned off all of the feathers from her head. And somehow she made it! The Sun had turned her into a vulture, but she made it, and, exhausted, she carried the prayers of the world to Olodumare’s feet and begged for forgiveness. Olodumare was so impressed by Oshun’s heroism and perseverance that They turned the rains back on in the world, and She blessed Oshun for having saved the world.
And this is why we must never take Oshun for granted. Oshun, the youngest Orisha of them all, saved the whole world.
This is the most common pataki (story) of Oshun Ibu Kole!
Moforibale! (I put my head to the ground.)
Maferefun Oshun Ibu Kole!
This was my first Godfather’s Oju Shango (Face of Shango), with a real leopard skin, in his home in Mount Clemens, Michigan. Afolabí (iba’ye) really knew how to turn out a beautiful Orisha shrine. Kawo! Kabiesile, Babami!
(Also, note the Wizard of Oz Dorothy and Glinda snowball on the floor between his Oshun and Shango shrines. Oh, honey, I miss your Wizard of Oz memorabilia obsession! May you rest in ruby red slippers forever and ever. <3)
Miguel “Willie” Ramos, Ilari Oba in his book Obi Agbon: Lukumi Divination with Coconut.
(Seriously. As much as we all love Oshun, many fear her because she can become offended, and you don’t want to offend the Orisha in charge of everything that makes life worth living, you know? Her wrath is as fierce as her countenance is splendid, to use a line from Angels in America.)