November 9th - 15th, 2019
Àrùn tí ńṣọ̀bọ ò ṣegún: igún pá lórí; ọ̀bọ̀ hùrù - "The disease that aﬄicts the monkey does not aﬄict the vulture: the vulture is bald; the monkey has a tail” ~ Yoruba proverb
The Odù for this week is Ìdí Ìrosùn and brings Ibi (off-path) with Ìká Ìrẹtẹ̀ and Babalú-Ayé (Ogbè Ìrẹtẹ̀) offering you guidance and protection from contagious or opportunistic diseases. The Odù warns of illness of the “buttock area,” which could include the digestive, urinary, or reproductive systems. The area of our lives of concern has to do with those close to us (Ọ̀kànràn Ogbè) as they may inadvertently expose us to disease or put us at risk somehow.
The proverb colorfully illustrates that some are vulnerable to disease, while others are immune. I find it interesting that the vulture has one of the most acidic digestive systems in nature and can eat practically anything that would make most other animals sick. The monkey, who consumes mostly fruits, would surely get sick if they ate what the vulture consumes.
Babalú-Ayé is both beloved and feared; also known as Shopona, O̩balúayé (father of the hot Earth), Omolú (child of heat) in the Diaspora. The guardian of Onílẹ̀ (Mother Earth) is a hot and dry energy that protects and defends the Earth from the abuses and excesses of humankind (e.g., deforestation, fracking, global warming). A powerful Òrìṣà known for both “miraculous healing” and diseases. He has a symbiotic relationship with Àrùn (spirit of infectious diseases, fever, and other afflictions) that could be unleashed to wipe out a population for the sake of the Earth. The Yorùbá honor and praise him by saying Alápa-dúpé, meaning “One who kills and is thank for it.” They portray him with an outfit made of raffia; covering him from head to toe; woven for him by Yemọja to hide his scars, a gift for taking on other’s diseases and afflictions. Raffia can be very itchy on the skin.
Shrines are usually in remote areas, as the belief is that he was driven into exile by Obàtálà. A necessary action that made Àrùn and Ikú (spirit of death) follow him outside the community, giving humankind “peace of mind” to thrive. He returns briefly under certain circumstances when the Earth is hurting, or disease is present. The Yorùbá discreetly make offerings to this Òrìṣà in remote areas and quietly invoke his name to not draw attention from Àrùn or Ikú. Quite the contrast, in Latin America, his name is called out.
I’ll share a personal story, a few days ago, I felt the presence of Babalú-Ayé. I have two dogs that ran into the woods chasing some animal and came back with biting insects that bit myself and family members. This is typical of this energy and how it manifested as insect bites and body itchiness. Babalú-Ayé likes dogs, and in the Diaspora is often portrayed with two dogs by his side. Mosquitos and other biting insects are also associated with him. I share this to point out that if you’re open to wisdom, Nature will speak to you in subtle ways.
Make Ebó (sacrificial offering) to Babalú-Ayé of a purple/red onion (Ọ̀sẹ́ Òtúrá) to repel disease-related energies. Offerings to this Òrìṣà are typically placed on a humble burlap cloth/bag or an old wooden bowl.
Èṣù/Ẹlégbá is the divine messenger in charge of Às̩e̩ and is the one that takes the offerings to their destination and returns with blessings and messages. For this reason, we always thank him in all rituals. We can share a part of the offering, or in this case, I determined through divination what he would like in appreciation. Offer “olive oil” (Òtúrá Ogbè); “cranberries” (Ọ̀sẹ́ Ogbè), they can be dry or fresh; and “seeds” (Ìwòrì Ìdí), you can choose from either pumpkin seeds, sesame, or other seeds that draw your attention. This is an interesting offering because these are things that Babalú-Ayé likes; in particular, seeds are sacred to him.