I had a trip to Cuba planned for a month. I was supposed to be initiating my Goddaughter to Ogun. My Iyawo Oya was finishing his year. My Iyawo Obatala was supposed to be doing his Ebo Meta. Such a lot of preparation and logistics from me and saving and sacrifice from them. Just over a week ago, I had my bags packed to fly to Cuba despite the uncertainties of the news. My flight was not cancelled and Cuba’s borders were still open. Just over two weeks ago there were no cases in Cuba and I was looking forward to escaping the fear and growing worry about the virus in the UK. The day before my flight was supposed to leave, I had to take the decision not to go. The day after my flight was cancelled and I had to get my head around the fact that we were not going, I wasn’t going to see my godmother and all the ceremonies were on hold. In a week, Havana closed its borders, all non Cubans confined to their casa particulares or hotels. Nothing open, no transport and everyone asked to socially isolate. In a week, we have gone into lockdown in the UK also. The speed of everything happening has been super quick. Everyday is a new story. Personally I have had to be very careful since I have asthma. So I am isolating completely until further notice. All meetings, misas, rehearsals and group activities that take place in my house were suspended two weeks ago. My emotions have gone from 0 to 100 and back again very quickly reflecting the speed of our forever changing realities. But now, I am settling down and trying to get into some kind of routine.
Those that have gone through the year of being an Iyawo, know what it is to be isolated both socially and physically. In addition to wearing white, we stay away from people, we use one plate, one mug, one spoon, and we don’t hug or touch non initiates. We don’t shake hands. We don’t frequent places with a high concentrate of people. The year can be difficult for some people. The year forces you to look at yourself and face yourself. You spend such a lot of time on your own that transformation is inevitable. I never thought I would be here again, but here we all are.
When we go through the initiation of Kariocha, we spend a week inside confined to a small space. I clearly remember that after the week was up, I became super sensitive to all the noises, colours and sensations. I experienced something similar the other day when I went out. Here in the UK we are permitted to go for walks or exercise for an hour. I am lucky enough to be close to ancient woodland and have been walking with my granddaughter everyday in the morning. After being inside my home for the longest time, I noticed that all the colours were deeper and brighter. With less cars and less traffic, I am experiencing less pollution. The birds are singing louder, you can hear the bird song, the woodpeckers and other birds I rarely hear.
Apparently the effect of world wide lockdown, has had a positive effect on our planet, which counter balances my angry feelings as it is plain to see the incompetence and uncaring nature of global capitalism and its affects on the vulnerable. This crises is exposing the corruption of our leaders. I had a thought earlier this year to start planting my own vegetables with my godchildren and I have now the inspiration and possible necessity to do this now. The production of food and where your food comes from has never been so important. As people bulk buy and stock pile leaving our shelves empty of produce I am grateful for what my experience in Cuba has taught me. It is nothing new to Cuba living within blockade conditions for 60 years. Cuba unlike the rest of the world is used to living in the way that we are now experiencing. Not only that, but their produce apart from certain crops, are grown internally, unlike the UK where we import the majority of our produce.
Who am I praying to in this time? In addition to working with spirit, I have been working with Obatala and Oshun and following the advice from the global, Ifa reading of the year in addition to my own Ile reading of the year. I have been petitioning Babalu Aye, although, it is Obatala I believe that I have been turning to do cool this situation down. It is not easy now to access certain things one may need to make offerings, but there is always Omi Tutu. Cool Water. This is powerful at this time.
I have also been thinking about lock down and what it means to people that are in abusive relationships. This will be a difficult time for some people and lives will be lost not only from the virus but from abuse. It reminded me of the work I did on the behalf of a client with Obba, which was successful as she won her court case and now has a safe place to call her own.
Like our international leaders, this is a time where your elders should be stepping. Are they being supportive? What are they doing to motivate you? Are they working on your behalf? Are they suggesting things you can do if you are not initiated? Are they guiding you if you are initiated? This is an excellent time for new initiates to learn and take instruction from elders. Some elders will be exposed. Unfortunately like every other path in life, there are opportunists. There was a call by Baba Willie Ramos to do a ceremony called Nangareo every Saturday at 11. am. Starting on the 4th April. I will be posting about this ceremony on my next Blog. United we are stronger.
I have been thinking of the future, and what this will mean with regards to Ocha activities and initiations. I believe this will impact all of us and I think in terms of making Ocha there will be less emphasis on full initiation and we will be forced to really determine whether or not a ceremony is necessary. As I notice the community spirit in our local neighbourhood, a coming together to help one another out, I am thinking that there will be going back to basics with this tradition, that there will be more of a sense of community and mutual support. My plan has always been to learn in order that I may teach, and I am hoping that after a while I will be able to do more and more work here. I don’t want to be necessarily travelling four times a year to Cuba to do Ocha work. It really needs to be more accessible to those that are living here. Although I have a genuine connection to Cuba, many of my godchildren do not have the same connection and so it is imperative that we start to think of being home based. In terms of ceremonies like Itutu and what should happen if we cannot perform our rituals at the time of our passing, it is a lesson to prepare for that time. For Priests in the religion. What happens when we pass, is fundamental and we need to make sure that we are all prepared and that our loved ones know what to do when the time comes.
This has been a time, where everything is exposed and where we really need to think about what is necessary not only for this time, but for the future. We need to take time to think about the lessons we have learned in this time, and what we would like to implement for the future. Wishing you all love and support at this difficult time which ironically has united us internationally as we are going through parallel experiences.
I will be posting tomorrow on suggestions of work to do at home and more information regarding the Nangareo ceremony on Saturdays.