Reporting from Cuba:
Review: “On the Orishas Roads and Pathways, Obatala, Odua, Oduduwa” Miguel W Ramos, Ilari Oba PhD. Eleda.Org Publications.
It seemed fitting reading material to take with me to Cuba to read from time to time as I work as an Oyubona for the first time in the Kariocha of a child of Obatala. In fact, although I am Oshun’s child, my father in Ocha is Obatala as he is of my two children. In addition, I was born from Obatala and his energy is forever present. I was really quite happy to find out that Willie Ramos’ second book in his excellent series looking at each Orisha was dedicated to Obatala and Odua.
This book is really phenomenal. It is a mixture of extensive historical and comparative research together with personal knowledge and experiences, stories, Suyeres, Patakins and additional interviews with various Olorishas. What I found particular interesting was the examination of the gender fluidity and assignment of gender depending on Geography and Historical Circumstance.
I have always been interested in comparative studies in particular in relation to Orisha Song. In his Chapter on Baba Fururu ( Page 300), Ramos looks at the Brazilian and Lucumi Suyeres and the translations. Last year I recorded three versions of the Suyere described by Willie Ramos in his book, and the London Lucumi Choir recorded a remix of the two sequences including the two traditions, Lucumi and Candomblé. I was really pleased. to see the lyrics of the two Suyeres from the different traditions, and the various translations.
Three tracks, different roots.
What is special about Willie Ramos’ writing is that he is both a historian and an experienced Oriate which makes him privy to information and experience that other writers about the religion may not have. He understands the importance of historical and economic context which is vital when looking at the development and practise of this religion wherever it takes root and he is careful to explain and add disclaimers when necessary. He writes about the different paths of the Orishas and origins and variations in addition to explaining tools, attributes, sacred animals, herbs, taboos and Eleke patterns of each path. As in the book on Oshun, he lists typical names for children of Obatala and photos of Obatala Olorishas of the past.
I was happy to put the face to a name that I had in my own Moyuba. Dulce Maria Gallegos, Ewin Leti, who is my Great Grandmother in Ocha. I was told her birth name by my godmother but not her Ocha name, so I was not aware of who her Orisha was. This added to my knowledge about my own lineage.
As the day of the Ita of my Iyawo arrived, it was interesting to find out that although the new initiate was a child of Obatala, she was a child of Oshanla which in Lucumi is seen to be a female path. I was fascinated to read the history and comparative information regarding Oshanla ( page 396) and was able to understand a little more about the process that my Iyawo was going through
I recommend this book to all followers of La Regla de Ocha. Willie Ramos’s quest is to educate the next generation of Olorishas. He tirelessly works to teach us about our customs and history as the religion grows, travels and expands. This growth and expansion, has the unfortunate consequence that there is a loss of connection to the essence of our philosophy and Raison de Etre. Regarding ceremony, this way of life is very much, “ monkey see, monkey do” many new initiates do not have a background in understanding the whys and wherefores. There is a lack of explanation and education and new “inventos” seem to pop up due to the fact that there is often a lack of knowledge as to why we do certain things and the reasons for our rituals and customs. This is why Oba Willie Ramos’ courses and books are so very important for us to read and take on board. His constant research and work is noted, and his work is a blessing to all of us in this community.
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