About

cropped-old-man-river-old-father-thames1.jpgLondon based Iyalorisha, crowned with Ochun; passionate about the arts

Grew up in London, mixed background, third generation musician, went to study music in Cuba in 1986, since then I have done many things. Was one of the first Salsa Dance Teachers in London in 1989, before it became the sport of a million suburban housewives; formed Orchestra Salsa Y Ache in late 80’s, toured and did many gigs for seven years; then Salsasonica which recorded with Buena Vista’s Guajiro Mirabal. Have taught Cuban Music to children, amongst many other things. Have written about Latin Music. Have been a practitioner of Santeria since 1986 and became initiated as a Priestess of Ochun in Havana in Feb 2006. I have organised small trips to Cuba plus I run and direct the London Lucumi Choir which sings Afro Cuban songs to the Orisha and other Afro-Cuban genres; I also feel passionate about everyone’s right to sing and teach those who are scared about singing that they too can and should sing. I am interested in lots of different things, I love singing, spending time with family and enjoy sharing any knowledge I may have picked up with others and equally always prepared to learn.

This blog was inspired by the fact that the experience of being a practitioner of Lucumi ( or Santeria) in London and the UK is a different one to those elsewhere. The community is young, dispersed and resources are few.

Please enjoy the articles, please feel free to comment.  and also the playlist which comes from my projects  two recordings and several demos. If you enjoy what you hear, please support the London Lucumi Choir and the musicians who have taken part by downloading the CD.  We are a non funded non audition community based project. Guest musicians and Soloists include Juwon Ogungbe ( Yoruba Lullaby Medley) Sonia Kounasso Singing “Tou Tou Gbovi” ( Lullaby from Benin) and also Nana Aldrin Quaye and lilli Elina ( Lacho)

30 Comments

  1. Iyawo Odu Ala

    I came across your blog and I admire your sincerity. I was recently crowned in Philadelphia, US.

    1. Santo Iyawo. Thanks for writing!

  2. I also live in London, and found your blog searching for London Santeria resources. I currently have no contact with Santeria outside books and the internet, but I feel drawn to it and don’t know where to go from here. I’m hesitant, as it is outside of my cultural background, and I’m not sure how important that is within the Lucumi community, but after years of searching for my path within paganism I consistantly find something missing and myself drawn back to my books on Santeria.

    Do you have any advice for me?

    1. Yes you are right. Reading about Santeria is a good introduction if it is outside of your experience and cultural context but it is not the same as following the path. I feel that if you are drawn to it there is always a reason why. I think the first step is to get a reading with either the Dilogun or Ifa by a reputable Olorisha or Babalawo. This may give you an indication of where you are right now and what has led you and also if this path is for you on a deeper level. I can email you options and advice and you can take it from there.

      1. Martin Hasani

        Ashe!

        I would like to find out who my Orisha is. Who do I need to contact please?
        My email is nataglondon@gmail.com

        Thanks

      2. Following this path, I would say there is no need to find out who your head Orisha is. What is more important is to build relationships with all Orisha. There always is that curiosity, however there is no need to find out unless you are on the path and perhaps on the way to becoming initiated. Just as a point of interest, I was walking this path for thirty years before I found out who had claimed my head. It was however not a surprise when I found out, since I had been developing my relationship with all the Orisha for many years. Continued readings give you many clues before you are marked. With my Godchildren I have found that the history of readings will give clues to the head Orisha. I have not been wrong yet!

      3. Hi, love your blog! I also feel drawn to an orisha based tradition. Please can you put me in touch with a reputable Olorisha or Babalawo as you mentioned for a reading also, that I might get some clarity?

  3. Hi, we recently shot a short doc on Santeria in LA ( http://youtu.be/XtrsLGzjaNA) We’re London/Bristol based and would love to shoot a pt2 on Santeria’s place in London/UK. Would you be interested in discussing this with us?

    Many thanks

    James Cheadle

    1. Hello James. Thank you for contacting me. I will be brutally honest, having seen the films you have made, I am not sure how helpful they are on representing the religion. I did find them voyeuristic. It’s important that our religion is not misrepresented and I think that I would only be prepared to work with a director or film maker that has been initiated into the religion or at least practising another African traditional Religion. Thanks, however for asking. Regards and blessings.

  4. I currently run all of the marketing of Originalbotanica.com. Would you be interested in writing a guest blog post for our website, or would you be open to us writing a post for yours? We think it would be good promotion for both of our websites. Please let me know if you are interested and we can talk more about it. Thanks!

  5. I will be in London this coming up week and am interested in getting an Ifa reading while there. Do you know where in London offers such a service?

    1. Hi Emily. I have been in Cuba and so not around until now. I will inbox you. Thanks for writing.

  6. Allan Gardersøe

    Hello. I’m a Danish percussionist, child of Obatalá. Can you tell me if there is a place in London where it’s possible to buy herbs, statues etc? And if so can you give me an address? Years ago I found a place in Barcelona, but it seems as if the place has closed down. Thank you so much. from Allan

    1. There are no Botanicas as such in London, although there are a couple of shops that sell candles, floor washes and cascarilla at extortionate prices. Most things I get from the markets in Brixton or Dalston; anywhere, where there is an African community you will find what you need, although herbs is another question and complication!

      1. Allan Gardersøe

        Thank you so much for your answer. Yes it’s a bit difficult here in Europe to get hold on all that you want, Allan

  7. Hola como estas?
    Sabes me siento atraída por esta religión.
    Buscando por Google encontre esta página web.
    Quisiera hacerme ver por un santero o un Babalawo.
    Y saber más sombre esta religión.
    Mi correo es pucallpa84@hotmail.it
    Gracias por todo.

  8. Rachel Charles

    Hi there, I feel very drawn to this for some reason. I’ve been told that my grandmother was a very spiritual and powerful woman in her practice but I never met her and that’s all I know, but it feels like I know her… Maybe that’s why I’m drawn. .. I don’t know but would like to know more.
    Can you send me information on how I can have a reading done? Thankyou for your blog

    1. Hi Rachel, are you in the UK? I will email you

  9. Hi, love your blog! I also feel drawn to an orisha based tradition. Please can you put me in touch with a reputable Olorisha or Babalawo as you mentioned for a reading also, that I might get some clarity?

  10. Hello,
    I have been working this path for the past 5 years, many things have happened including a car accident that all most lead to death. Than a serious court case, the list can go on. Hoverever in the middle of all this I had the privilege of traveling to Nigeria and visiting a good Babalawo, after doing somethings for me he told me I needed to be crowned with my Orisha. At the time I wanted to do it, however financial resistant would not allow. I am at the point where I know exactly what I need to do, with out a doubt. I can not travel to be crowded, could you please advice me on the process in London and where I can start. Peace and blessings to you.

    1. Greetings Rita, I will inbox you.Thanks for writing.

  11. Thank you very much, I am greatful for your response.

  12. Hello i am from the uk I feel very heavily drawn to this path I’ve been looking for resources and where to get a reading any help and advice would be appreciated thanks

    1. I will email you Isaac. Thanks for writing

    2. Actually if you can email me oshunschild@me.com it would be best

  13. Hello,

    Thank you for this blog!
    I am very drawn to this path and but I know that I need some personal guidance. Could you help point me in the right direction?

    Thank you

    1. Thanks For Writing Lisandra. I will email you.

      1. Can’t seem to find out how to email you, but you can send me a private email oshunschild@me.com

  14. Hello
    I would like to understand how I can follow the Orisha path in a respectful way. I have been working with two Orishas and there were serious clashes especially when giving offerings. I have read good resources but I strongly feel I need to find someone who can do a traditional reading so that I don’t cause offense to the Orishas as I sense the energy is very complex. I am now only working with one Orisha but the other one is trying very hard to get my attention. Do you have any recommendations you could send me via email please? I would really appreciate it please

    1. Hello Andrew. It is entirely appropriate that you should get in contact since this is not a do it yourself tradition. It is fine to honour Orisha in nature, but “working” with Orisha can only be done when supervised by elders. This is a community based, hierarchical tradition which focuses on alignment with your destiny. You can only practise this within a community setting and guided by INITIATED elders. There is no reason why there would be clashes between the Orisha. The clashes are probably taking place because you are not aware of what you are doing nor do you have the authority from Orisha themselves. Have you thought that the offerings themselves are not appropriate? How would you know which offerings to give and how unless you were guided by Priests of this tradition. I am answering here, since I think this may be a common perception or rather misperception. It seems also that there is a lot of appropriation of this tradition particularly amongst ” new age” practitioners. I am directing this, therefore to anyone that may be reading. I will contact you in private however.

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