I have noticed that there is a general confusion regarding initiations, the reception of certain things, and what it means. So here is a general breakdown of what to expect and from whom. Just a reminder to let you know that in Lucumi, there are houses that work with Ifa and houses that do not. There is no “correct” way. There are different ways of working and each way is legitimate.
- WHAT ARE THEY: Elekes are the reception of the sacred beaded necklaces of the four Pillars of the Regla de Ocha. Obatala, Chango, Yemaya and Oshun. Some houses also give the Elegua Eleke. This happens in a ceremony.
- WITH WHOM: You can only receive Elekes with an Olorisha. NOT a Babalawo. They do not give Elekes.
- WHY: Usually, it will be marked in a consultation and more than likely you will be already involved in an Ile where you have chosen godparents. There are cases where some houses don’t give Elekes, only when you are making Ocha.
- WHAT IT MEANS: It means that you are under the protection of an Ile Ocha ( house of Ocha) and that you are connected in a spiritual and physical way to the four pillars of the Orisha, ( and Elegua on occasion depending in the house).It is the first connection that you may have to the Orisha. Sometimes it is the first ceremony that individuals may go through. But not always. If one of your Elekes break, don’t panic, it generally means that something has been absorbed and has hit the Eleke and not you. Get in contact with your godparent. You don’t go through the ceremony again and can ask your godparent to prepare you another one. If you buy one in the shop, it needs to be washed by a godparent. You cannot do it yourself.
1.WHAT THEY ARE: The warriors consists of three Orishas. Elegua, Ogun and Oshosi, Osun is also usually included in the receiving of the warriors. For information on these Orishas please click the link below:
2.WITH WHOM: It is possible that you could receive your warriors from an Babalawo. It is also possible that you may receive your warriors from an Olorisha. It depends what house you are connected to.
3. WHY: Again, usually marked in a consultation, how and with whom would depend on many factors including who gave you your reading whether via Ifa or the Dilogun.
4. WHAT IT MEANS: It means that you have received Orisha and that you will have to learn how to look after them and learn how they can work for you. Your warriors will have been born from your godparents warriors whether In Ifa or Ocha. It does not mean that you have any authority to guide anyone else or that you are a Priest/ess of the religion. Osun is the Orisha that looks out for your well being. If he falls, it is a sign that you need a reading with your godparent to find out what is going on.
Other Orishas that you may receive before Ocha: Other Orishas maybe prescribed to be received before Ocha including the Ibeyis and Olokun. Sometimes an Orisha is given for health without the person being crowned. I know several people that have received Obatala Lavado without having to make Ocha.
For More Information about the Orishas mentioned above please press the links below:
AWOFAKAN/IKOFAFUN ( hand of Orula).
- WHAT IT IS: It is a three day ceremony officiated by Babalawos where you receive a hand of Orula ( women don’t usually receive a whole hand in Lucumi). You also receive a main Odu Ifa which will be your sign for life and an Ita ( advise from Orula) which gives you advise on how to live your life, taboos and recommendations. Also it is traditional to find out who is the Orisha that owns your head.*
- WITH WHOM: With Babalawos. Olorishas do not officiate these ceremonies although they may assist in various capacities.
- WHY: Again it normally happens recommended during a consultation. Sometimes it is received at the same time as the Warriors, but not always. Houses that work with Ifa, usually use Babalawos to mark the heads of godchildren.
- WHAT THIS MEANS: This means that you will have to learn how to attend to Orula. You will have Godfathers of Ifa, and you will have an Ita that will be your life guidance that you will have to follow and taboos that you will have to keep to. It does not mean that you are initiated, that you can lead others, or that you can work on others behalf. It does not mean that you are a Babalawo or an Iyanifa. If you have a path that recommends that you make Ocha eventually, you still have to work with Godparents within an Ile Ocha. A Babalawo cannot crown you. It will also mean normally that you will know which Orisha has claimed your head. That means different things to different people.
*there are two ways of marking the head and finding out which Orisha claims the head. One is via Orula ( Ifa) and the other is via the Dilogun of Elegua. Each way is acceptable and it depends which house you belong to and how they work. Orunmila and Elegua are both witnesses to our destiny.
- WHAT IT IS: This is when the Tutelary Orisha is seated within the head of a new initiate in a Ceremony. Various Orisha are also received as well. The process takes over a week and there are many ceremonies that the new initiate will have to go through in addition to a strict regime to adhere to for a year and seven days.
- WITH WHOM: The ceremony is performed by a community of Olorishas and cannot be done by just one or two people. It cannot be performed by a Babalawo, although in houses that work with Babalawos, the godparents in Ifa are somehow involved.
- WHY: This is a really important. if you do not need Ocha, there is no reason to go through the ceremony. Usually individuals will have to make Ocha for health reasons, although there are a couple of signs in divination which will point to Ocha. There are 256 signs when going for a reading with an Olorisha or a Babalawo. It is rare that you will be told that you NEED to make Ocha. Please be aware of this.
- WHAT THIS MEANS: It means that you have made a life long commitment to Orisha. That you have Orisha in your head. That you also will be responsible for various Orisha in your house also. That you will have an Ita and advise from several Orisha. That you will have many rules to follow and many taboos. You will also be told if you need to receive any other Orisha throughout your life time. That your life and Ego will be given over to the advise that you will have. It means that your Orisha will have been birthed by your godparent. That you will belong to a lineage. That you will have to learn an awful lot of protocol. That you will have a responsibility to learn for yourself and possibly for others also. Making Ocha does not give you responsibility automatically to lead other individuals. It is vital that if it is you path that you learn before you take other individuals on, if it is for you. It’s not always meant to be. Some signs may come up which let you know that you cannot be godparent to anyone. In any case, your responsibility is first and foremost to yourself. Absorbing the information from your Ita and understanding what everything will mean in the long term.
For a description of some of the Orishas you may receive please see above under the Warriors.
BECOMING A BABALAWO:
- WHAT IT MEANS: going through an initiation in order to become a priest of Ifa.
- WITH WHOM: Only a Babalawo can initiate other Babalawos. In lucumi, entering the world of Ifa as a Priest is generally an all male domain and although there is a branch of Ifa in Cuba which initiates women, it is still taboo in general.
- WHY: There are certain signs which indicate that a devotee of Orisha would go to Ifa. It is not for everyone. There is power in Ocha. Ocha and Ifa are two separate but related practises. Babalawos sometimes are referred to as high priests of our religion. This is not true. Babalawos are high priests of IFA. Ocha have their own priests; Iyalorishas and Babalorishas who should be respected equally. Each role is different, and have different abilities and jurisdictions.
- WHAT THIS MEANS: It means that you have to go through a special initiation to become a Priest of Ifa. It means that you have to begin to learn and work with elder Babalawos regarding everything to do with Ifa. This takes a long time. You don’t go through the ceremony and automatically become a Priest.
There are other roles within Lucumi. Some of which need extensive training, for example Oriate/Oba and others which require initiation for example Omo Añá ( who are initiated and sworn to Añá) the Orisha that lives in the sacred drum.