Updated: Feb 25, 2020
In heaven’s courtroom, the body of angels and divinities are gathered. Presiding is the council of sages on behalf of God. The Orisha's petitioned for a trial to seek justice for the persecution of their people by the followers of Christianity. Representing Christianity were the Saints and Christ. Obatala rises and speaks, “ Our people have been taken in chains. They cross bodies of water to a distant land. Many will not survive, and to those that do, what shall become of them? The captors of our people say this is done with the blessings of Christ. We seek rectification!” The room began to chatter; the Saints bow their heads in shame. Christ rises and says, “What has been done in my name brings great shame. Rectification you shall have. For how this is to be done, I do not know.” Orunmila was among the council of sages, presiding over trial. Orunmila spoke, “I have consulted Ifa and there is a path for rectification. In this new land, there will be much osogbo (negative) to face, but we the Orishas will be present. Our people will find us through them.” Orunmila points to the Saints. A treaty was made; the Saints and Christ will recognize the crown of all Orisha devotees. The Orisha will be synchronize and given the faces of a Saint counterpart. From there a new age came forth that brought Orisha and Christianity in accord.
The above write up is not a real Pataki, but a vision I received during a meditation a couple of days before writing this blog post. For quite some time the subject of Seven African Powers was on my mind. For a while, I was asking my guides for inspiration on how to explain the Seven African Powers to people. The response to this question to my guides was the above write up. This vision was placed in my mind and followed that I performed divination to confirm with my spirits that not only they gave me that vision but precisely said to me that it will be through this I can explain the S.A.P to others.
The Seven African Powers (clockwise): Shango (Saint Barbara), Orunmila (St. Francis), Ogun (Saint Peter), Elegua ( Holy Infant of Atocha), Obatala (Our Lady of Mercy), Yemaya (Saint Teresa), Oshun (Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, all surrounding Christ aka Olofi (God of Earth) carrying the cross, meeting with the Virgin and Magdalene. The rooster presents Osun, protector of the Ori (head), and the announcer in the heavens.
The Orisha worship has become a global phenomenon. A factor of the globalization was due to the new world spiritual traditions that evolved from West African spirituality. The Lucumi traditions are one of the many daughters of West African spirituality and its existence was meant for our current postmodern era. The postmodern age we live in does not have borders. Communication proves this, and the dissemination of information grants access to different cultures and philosophies. To be African or African descendant in today’s world does not mean you embrace an African spiritual tradition. And to be Anglo or European in today’s time does not mean you will embrace an Abraham faith. The Lucumi is multi-ethnic in regards to practitioners and spiritual essence. The pioneers of the Lucumi faith could not have possibly seen the arrival of this postmodern world. Under a hostile oppressive existence, the only thing they had was the guidance of their spiritual traditions. The Seven African Powers (S.A.P) is a common symbol of syncretism between the Orisha's and Catholic Saints, yet, beyond the symbol of syncretism, at its core the S.A.P houses a spiritual power that represents the rectification of two spiritual faiths thriving in a symbiotic relationship that invokes a strong tie to ancestral wisdom.
There is a saying that goes, “All Santero’s are Spiritualist. Not all Spiritualist are Santero’s”. This means that the path of initiation as an Orisha priest/priestess is not marked for everyone, but the saying denotes that everyone is a Spiritualist, and has the ability to connect with spirituality. Connecting to Orisha energy is not exclusive. What are exclusive are the rights and rituals conducted by the initiated priest/priestess. How can Spiritualist or non-initiates safely and respectfully connect with the spirituality of Orisha? The S.A.P. grants the opportunity to connect to Orisha. Note that the Orisha’s have legions of spirits that do work for them. Heaven (Orun) is the land of the Orisha’s, and Earth (Aje) is the land of Egun (spirits of the dead). In order for the Orisha’s to intervene in matters of Aje and to manifest things we seek their help for, they utilize Egun. Looking into Ifa and Dillogun (the literary corpus of traditional Ifa and Lucumi faith) within the sign Odi-Ogbe (7-8) speaks of the ancestral power that resides in the S.A.P. The forces behind the S.A.P are the ancestral Egun of the enslaved Africans whose spiritual traditions make up the Lucumi. Egun be it ancestral or spirit guides can be worked and connected to by anyone. Working and connecting with egun is the core of Caribbean spiritualism (Espiritismo) and the Lucumi. Hence, as the S.A.P powered by Egun provides the opportunity to connect as mentioned.
There is great debate today on whether the Catholic counterpart to Orisha is necessary. The argument is made that because syncretism occurred for the purpose of survival and presently that slavery is no longer a factor, is syncretism even necessary? Furthering the argument comes sentimental grudges of the abusive of Christianity towards indigenous traditions. One can choose to not acknowledge the Catholic Saints, but one must still have to honor the ancestors that have passed in the New World whom made the link possible and continue to work via the S.A.P. Within the sign Odi Ogbe is a ritual for the S.A.P that initiated priest/priestess can perform either for themselves or on behalf of clients. If one divines and the prescribed spiritual work is for you to do the S.A.P. ritual in order to resolve or manifest a thing which you need, would you permit your biases against Christianity for not doing what is marked for you to do? Any dedicated Lucumi initiate or practitioner will do the prescribed spiritual work marked, its part of authentic and discipline practice.
From the Diaspora came tremendous atrocities. With such negativity there has to be a positive. Recall the Newton’s third law: “to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. A reaction of the Diaspora were new world African spiritualities powered by the slaves whom perished ensuring that future generations can have the opportunity to continue the traditions. As said, I doubt the Lucumi pioneers could have predicted the postmodern world we live in today, and yet here the Lucumi and other African spiritualities continue to stand, and grow in popularity. This is why the S.A.P will always carry an importance as the continued connector for the past and future.
4 Reasons Why I am an Orisha practitioner and a supporter of Christianity
1. I choose to honor the treaty between the Orisha's and Christianity and thus respect the spiritual link early Lucumi pioneers made between the Orisha's and Catholic Saints (as guided by Orisha and Egun for the preservation of spiritual tradition).
2. I see the Lucumi traditions are a reflection of my ethnic heritage as a person who identifies as Creole. The Creole is multi-ethnic of both African and European origins. Being Creole, I have African ancestry and European ancestry. If I am to revere my ancestors as dictated in Lucumi-Yoruba traditions, then the European ancestry cannot be neglected; it must be venerated alongside the African.
3. “All Santeros are Spiritualist. Not all Spiritualist are Santeros.” I identified as a Spiritualist and practice Espiritismo as a way of connecting with Egun.
4. All prayers at its core contain universal recognition in the eyes of God. The recitation of prayers that can elevate one’s spirituality and help elevate Egun. Catholic prayers are no different, the Psalms are no different, and hymns are no different. All when applied with faith, love, devotion, honor, and respect will do the work it is intended to do.