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Obatala



                                                                                                                                                              Images by Danilo Lejardi at Lejardi.com
 
 

The orisha of the white cloth is Obatala. Obatala is the only orisha that has male and female aspects. He is the orisha that is the owner of all heads whether crowned or not crowned. Obatala is the orisha that Olofi entrusted to judge justice on the earth. Obatala is the purest of all orishas and one of the wisest orishas. He is said to vary from an old man that is always trembling to a young person that is riding a horse. Depending on the path, his main color is white with touches of other colors. Everything put to Obatala is white. He lives in a white tureen that contains his secrets and mysteries. He is a compassionate father and a good listener. He is the father that all that the orishas look for.

Obatala created mankind and it’s said that Olofi came and breathed life into his creations. Obatala as much as he is the owner of peace and tranquility, he is also a great and fierce warrior when he wants to. With his sword he battles against evil and triumphs over all. But when he is summoned it is to bring order and peace. He is the white pigeon that is seen flying over to announce peace is here. Obatala is associated with the mountains and high elevated place.


Pataki of Obatala

Olofi was thinking one day in the heavens about the creation of life down on the planet earth that him and Olodumare created. The planet earth was just water where Olokun ruled. Olofi called his wise court to sit and discuss the creation. Orula who was present told Olofi that life can be created on Olokun’s kingdom but an ebbo needed to be performed. Orula looked into the divination oracle that he had some knowledge of and told Olofi that someone wise had to perform this ebbo so that life can be created. Olofi told Obatala that he would be entrusted to perform this task. Orula looked deeper into the oracles and told Obatala that he had to descend with some items to create the lands where civilization and life can exist. Orula told Obatala that he had to descend on a long chain from the heavens with a hen and sand. Obatala asked Orula if that was all in which Orula replied yes.

The day came and Obatala descended onto the watery domain of Olokun and performed the ebbo that Orula spoke to him about. Right before his eyes the land started to appear right beneath his hanging feet. Obatala jumped down and was the first orisha to hit land. When Obatala looked up Elegua was descending on the chain. Obatala asked Elegua what was he doing and Elegua responded to him that he was seeing if he needed any type of help. Obatala started to walk the lands that were created from the heavens. Obatala and Elegua noticed how trees started to grow, grass started to grow, flowers were springing out. Obatala was happy and told Elegua to go back and tell Olofi that the work on earth is being done. Elegua climbed up the rope to tell Olofi what was going on. Olofi pleased, sent a white pigeon down to earth to Obatala which this became his symbol.

Olofi came to the earth and told Obatala that it was needed for some type of life form to be on the earth. Olofi said that he wanted mankind to walk the earth but did not want them to have the ashe that the orishas have. Obatala agreed and told Olofi that he would help him create mankind. Olofi told Obatala that he would give him that task as he had other things to create within the heavens and space. Obatala bowed his head and agreed to create mankind. Obatala asked how should he create mankind and Olofi told him to make them in human form just as the orishas. Olofi told Obatala to form them and when he was ready to call him and he would come down and breathe life into them. Obatala agreed and with the sands of the earth he started to form and mold what we are today. After a few hundred of molds Obatala called Olofi to come breath air and life into the molds. Olofi came and saw miles upon miles of human molds lying on the sands of the earth and proceeded to blow life into them. Once life was blown, these humans stood up and were told to make prosperous and humble lives praising Olodumare as the creator. They went in different directions and started to live their lives.

This went on for days and Obatala worked hard making human forms. The sun was hot supplying light and energy to the land and it made the job hard to do. But one day Obatala grew very tired and decided to take a break of his task that Olofi asked of him. He walked over to a tree that was giving shade to the land and sat underneath it. He took a breather and reached for his white pouch where he had his oti. Obatala sat under the tree and started to drink his oti to quench his thirst. Without realizing, he drank all of his oti and he had none left. Obatala stood up and staggered over to where his molds were. He began again molding and shaping human forms. But without noticing, his molds and creations were coming out a little weird. He made molds that were missing limps, he made deformed bodies, he made molds with no type of pigmentation and so forth. When he finished he did what he usually does and summoned Olofi to breathe life into them.

Olofi came to the earth and saw the molds lying lifeless on the sands and since he trusted and reviewed Obatala’s work in the past he did not notice that these molds were different. Olodumare proceeded to breathe life into these humans. When life was given to them, they stood up and Olofi noticed that they all had different deformed bodies. Olofi got upset and questioned Obatala on this creation he did. Obatala seeing this, knew that he did something wrong and disrespected Olofi’s overall dream. Obatala told Olofi that he was drinking and it made his mind blurry and he did not mean to do this. He begged Olofi for forgiveness and told Olofi that from this day forward he would take all of those creations as children of him. He would take care of them and look after them and keep them from harm. Olofi shook his head and accepted Obatala’s apology and request. Obatala also told Olofi that he would never drink again due to what he did with the creations of man.

Obatala’s feast day is September 24th, the same day as the catholic image, The Virgin Mary. His number is 8 and all multiples of it. Obatala is a loving and caring father not only to his children but to the other orishas. The orishas seek advice and give a high respect to the great orisha. Obatala which means father of the cloth is said to cover all man and earth from harm. He loves all that is white and all of his offerings are made of white, whether it is foods or animal sacrifice. He loves white yams, snails, fruits, white cloths and etc. Everything given to him must be topped with efún (powdered egg shell) or orí (cocoa butter). Obatala walks with a tall walking staff and with his white iruke, cleaning himself and the world. Obatala does have children as said above and he is initiated on their heads. His children are very smart and wise and they can also be very sneaky. He is the patron orisha of all deformed humans such as albinos, down syndrome humans, and the medically challenged. He also has children that he created who do not have any of these symptoms but he took their heads due to he loves them dearly. Obatala’s sacrificial animals are all white and they are female goats, hens, pigeons, guinea hens. In some of his aspects he eats roosters and turtles as well. His abode is made up of nothing but the finest and purest white cloths found. He is the owner of silver that the orisha Boyuto found and gave to him. He is a swift and just judge. He is the one that contains the key to his son Ochosi’s house. Whenever there is war or disagreement amongst the orishas, humans or nations, Obatala is summoned to bring peace and restore order.

The paths of Obatala.

* Only listing a few paths as there is about 24 paths of Obatala

Baba Ayaguna

Ayaguna is the young and warrior aspect of Obatala. His colors are white with touches of red. He is said to have brought war to the world while in his warrior aspect. Ayaguna rides on a white horse swaying his sable. This Obatala takes everything that has to do with war. You can place bullets, swords, spears, arrows, a white horse that is packed with different secrets and covered with a red cape. Ayaguna is said to have drank a lot as well and he is always bring revolution to where he goes. In this aspect he fights and guards his children with a heavy hand. When he comes down, he imitates the act of swinging his sword and riding a horse. He is the son of Osagrinan and he takes a white and red flag next to him or in the house where he resides. He is the ONLY Obatala that in certain cases of war and battle he will take corojo in his osain or foods.

Baba Osagrinan

Osagrinan is an old Obatala who was married to Oshanla. Osagrinan is said to walk with a walking staff or preferably 2 crutches that he uses. Osagrinan’s color is white with touches of coral or red. It is said that he hears all and when this Obatala gets upset he releases his crutches and dances on one leg. He is the father of Orula. When Osagrinan comes down, he dances and trembles like an old man. His vessel is broken into 4 different compartments where different secrets live including some of Ifa. He also lives on top of a table of Ifa that was given to him by his son Orula.

Baba Agema

Agema is the Obatala that lives high in the cieba tree. His colors are white with touches of green. He is represented by a chameleon in which the skin is so transparent that Odudwa can see all the bad that the world is doing. Walks with Oduduwa every where he goes. He’s also said to be seen on top of the ceiba tree leaves or by the walls of the river where Oshun is at. There is a special hat that is made for his children whenever they are sick that they put on their head and do a cleansing with. He also takes inside of his vessel a silver chain with 9 silver pigeons alongside with 7 arrows in which he uses to send messages to Olofi. When he comes down he imitates the look of a chameleon.

Baba Oba Moro

Oba Moro is very old and frail Obatala that suffered for the bad of mankind. His color is white with touches of purple. He is said to have held the cross that the Catholic Church Jesus was said to be crucified. When he comes down he acts like he is carrying the cross of the world on his shoulder. He takes thorns, a ladder, a silver axe and other tools that he uses inside of his vessel.

Baba Ochalufon

This Obatala is an old man and he is the Obatala that invented the tongue and showed mankind how to speak. His colors are white with off white beads. He is the constant and honorable right hand man of Olofi. He is the rays of the sun when setting. Ochalufon gave Chango the secrets to pack Oggue. He invented the art of sewing and he is the preferred child of Odudwa. You place to him a quartz stone and a crown that holds 16 African grey feathers. His followers place him behind a curtain where not that much light touches his tureen.

Okè

Okè is the orisha of the mountains, hills and peaks of the Earth. He is a very important and special orisha in which is he is the first orisha to actually symbolize a birth of a priest or priestess within our community. This is due to that one of the first ceremonies is of Okè initializing the consecration of the herbs to make the ashè for the birth of the priest or priestess. He represents firmness in our lives. Just as a mountain is tall and strong so is Okè. This orisha is part of the Obatala court and he is represented by a large white stone. Usually this stone is found on the floor in the house of a priest/ess in a white bowl covered in cascarilla, cocoa butter and covered with cotton. In some houses, priest/ess place Okè inside of Obatala or even next to him. I like him on the floor because of the representation of a mountain or hill starts from the ground and grows up tall and strong. Okè sacrificial animals are the same as Obatala in all aspects. They must be clean and white. Some people tend not to work with Okè as I believe maybe they don’t know how to work with him but he is an orisha just as the others and his ebbos are very powerful and strong. When you want to strengthen something or calm a situation or someone you can use Okè.

Baba Oloyu Okuni

This aspect of Obatala is said to be the creator of eyes of humankind. He is petitioned when there is a problem with the eyes. His colors are all white.

Baba Asho

This Obatala is a young path of his as well. He dances on one leg and is the owner of the cloth. It is said that he climbed the cotton tree, fell and brought the seed of cotton to humanity. His colors are white and he likes to be covered in different types of cloths. He takes a white horse that should be packed with different secrets and placed next to him. Even though he’s young, he takes a cane that is covered all in his beads and then covered with Ache of Orula. He’s also a warrior and has a red cloth around his waist.

Baba Yelu

This Obatala is missing leg and is old. He is the son of Osagrinan and the brother to Ayaguna. He wears the same color just like his father and he takes a osun next to him. Baba Yelu takes an additional tools that go with his mysteries with a wooden figure inside.

Ochanla/Orishanla

This is a female aspect of Obatala. She is a very old woman who is always trembling. She passed over to the land of Ifa where she was incorporated there. She does not like any noise and the light bothers her. She is said to have big hands where she pulls her children out of situations and maintains order. They say her tools are mysteries live apart from each other. Both contained in the same white vessels but they live apart. She loves to sit and knits different cloths and shawls. Her color is white and adorned with pearls. Ochanla lives behind a silk curtain in the house of who worships her. She sits in a chair and is very respectful and when Ochanla comes down she likes to be covered with a white shawl and she consults under candle light. She doesn’t dance much but when she dances, she portrays an old women until she lets her cane down. She takes strands of pearls, silver combs, a silver mirror, a silver Ifa divination charin, sewing needles and her cane should live next to her which is also packed. The chair that Ochanla’s children are consecrated on should be washed and packed with a specific Osain.

Elufora/Eluforo

She is a young Obatala that is depicted as a young virgin. She came to the land of Ifa riding an elephant where she was made queen. She is the owner of all oils as to light her, it must be an oil lamp and you can use vigin olive oil. She is said to talk to her children through dreams. She lives in the house of her priest behind a silk curtain. She works closely with Ifa as well. Her tools as well as Ochanla live apart and she takes a cane that has 3 curves that are packed with her Osain. All of her offerings should be placed in a white basket that sits in front of her and you must talk to her from afar because she does not like anyone to raise their voices in her house or in her presence. She takes a sable, a silver Ifa divination tool and a horn. She also has a Osain that lives next to her that her children must have and this is something between her and her children that are consecrated by a babalow.

Yeku Yeku

She is portrayed as an old woman. Her tureen should be kept well covered with cotton and she takes an additional set of mysteries that only are put together with her when she is going to feast. When this Obatala eats its recommended to brind Oke down to eat with her. and she is no where near any type of light or wind. She is always cold.

Yeye

She is the oldest of all the woman aspect of Obatala. She is the Obatala that originated the secrets of the female Obatala’s. Through this Obatala, it is why the mysteries of the female Obatalas are separated. She is the owner of the monkeys and guerrillas which are sacred to her. She also takes bows and arrows with her additional mysteries.

Obanla

She is the Obatala that it is said to be the shining light. She accompanies Obatala everywhere he goes. Obanla is also the protector of marriage as it is said that she was suppose to marry Baba Ayaguna, but due to his adventures in war he left her at the alter. She wears a white dress with a white veil. She too as Ochanla sits in a chair and watches all. She walks with a cane that has 3 crowns ranging from small to large and on top of the cane, it has a silver pigeon. She takes a silver sun that has 16 rays and a special osun that lives next to her. In Ifa they place a wooden male figure next to her dressed in white that suppose to represent Ayaguna who left her at the alter.

Enuayé/Eluayé

She is an old woman in the court of the female Obatala’s. She is the favorite daughter of Olofi and she is always seen sitting in a chair like a queen. Her children who have her crowned she have her sit in a chair of high status. She takes 2 sets of shells and like the other female her tools and mysteries are kept separate. She takes an additional of 4 silver stars and adorned with 16 African grey feathers.

Ogan

This Obatala is known to be the guardian of Obatala and Ayaguna. Ogan is a young warrior that guards the sacred heart of Obatala. He is summoned when one has problems with the heart. His color is white with touches of red just like Ayaguna.

Ogbón y Ogbóni

Ogbón y Ogbóni are the brothers of the orisha Ogan. These 3 orishas are the guardians of Obatala. They are similar to the divine twins as there mysteries are very small and similar and there secrets are kept in small white vessels or tinajas. Only a few people have these orishas as they ceremonies are somewhat fading. They take arrows and marbles alongside with there official secrets that are covered entirely in white cotton. They are said to be in charge of the souls of the children of Obatala when they pass on. They live high in the room of the priest/ess near Obatala.

Bromú and Brosiá

Bromú and Brosiá are the orishas who guard the orisha Odduduwa. When you receive Odduduwa, they are given to you and they live next to him. Bromú represent the bones of deads, and also the desert lands. They also are incorporated in the Obatala family. They say that Bromú is also represented by sea currents in the ocean. Bromú is the orisha that was borned from Yewa and who she taught all of her secrets. His secrets are placed in a white sopera or tinaja. Bromú’s colors are green and white. When one is performing an Inle initiation, the godparent must have Bromù as since he is dealt with the bones and structure of the human body and Inle is the medical diviner.
Brosiá is represented by strong winds and tornadoes. This orisha is very strong and it can be calm as a soft wind or turn strong just as a whirling tornado. Brosiá’s color is a dark red. The sacrificial offerings to these orishas are roosters, pigeons and guinea hens.

Baba Airanke

This Obatala is the warrior that guards Ochalufon. He walks aside him wherever he goes. His tools are made of cedar wood and also sits behind a curtain beside Ochalufon. His Osain is a special one and it is packed on to a horse that goes with him.

Baba Oyedade

This Obatala is seen in the woods with Ode. He is a great hunter and helps Ode in all of his matters. He takes a deer antler and arrows. His Osain goes packed inside of a wooden figure that lives next to his vessel.

Baba Bibinke

This aspect of Obatala is a giant cyclops that has a spear protruding through the front of his forehead. He is always elegant and likes fine things.

Baba Oshereibo

This Obatala accompanies Chango in everything. He is always watching over Chango and clears his path for battle. He also has an oshè that Chango gave to him in which he uses for battle which is one of his tools. He takes a wooden statue of a male and female which is packed and placed together. One holds a silver ladder and the other a double axe.




 


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