As we say goodbye to this unforgettable year, we need to look back and ponder on all that we have experienced in 2001, in this so-called “new millennium.” Undoubtedly, as a people we find ourselves in the midst of an era unlike any other in all of human history. More than ever, we need to deposit our faith in God, regardless of the name we give the Creator, or the system we use to address Him or Her. We should pray for the souls of all those innocent people who perished unexpectedly on September 11th. Most importantly, we must pray for the living, for all those parents, children, spouses, lovers, friends, and others who lost their loved ones during this horrendous episode of grief and turmoil. We must pray that they find the serenity they need to continue to move forward in the world of the living, in spite of their pain and their submersion in a surreal, nightmarish world that basically collapsed when the Twin Towers came plummeting down to earth.

Additionally, we need to pray for serenity, guidance, and understanding. We need to ask the Creator to make us all more human, and to teach us all the meaning of humility; two words that we often forget share the same root. Most of all, we need to pray for peace, world peace, so that humankind may continue to prosper and evolve, without feeling threatened with extinction by our own kind. Olofín, Olorún, Olodumaré, we need you more than ever!

On the 21st of this month, Miami’s Council of Oriatés made an agbán for Babaluaiyé that was recommended by Oshún in the wemilere held for Ogún in November. On the 23rd, itá was made and Elegbá and Babaluaiyé brought us their divine guidance, including ebó that should be performed by the community at year’s end. The itá indicated the following ebó:

  1. An offering of coconut and water to Elegbá to rest before him on the 31st. Take a coconut, present it to your head while standing in front of Elegbá, and pray to the orisha for peace, guidance, and prosperity. Break the coconut and place the pieces, shell and all, on a white plate with a gourd of water in the center. Light two candles and allow this offering to remain before Elegbá until January 1st. Afterward, ask Elegbá where it should be taken, keeping in mind to stay away from public places where offerings may be considered a nuisance to other members of our society.
  2. Babaluaiyé asked for a roasted yam with plenty of epó—palm oil. This should be placed on a plate before him with a gourd of dry, white wine, and two candles. When making the offering, cast obí and ask Babaluaiyé the number of days it should remain before him and the eventual destiny of the ebó. Those who do not have Babaluaiyé should take the offering to their elders’ Babaluaiyé.
  3. Babaluaiyé also recommended that we perform ebó for the iwín—lost souls and spirits that roam the earth endlessly. We are to take tubers of all sorts—potatoes, yams, and the like—and boil them. Once cooked, these should be placed inside a basin. On top of these, place three smoked herrings (or other type of smoked fish), candies of all sorts, sweets of all sorts, sugared fruits, raspadura—a hardened by-product of sugar, usually available in Cuban markets (panela in Venezuela and Colombia)—brown sugar, raw corn meal, gofio balls, and any type of foodstuff that is appealing to children. The basin is to be placed behind the doorway to one’s home, dedicated to the Iwín. In front of the basin, place glasses or gourds with sugar water, rum, boiled cinnamon with anisette seeds and brown sugar, soft drinks of all sorts, sweet liqueurs, three cigars, coffee and other drinks. Finally, light three candles in front of the basin. As one prays to these often forgotten entities, call on Eshú Lagbana, intermediary between the Iwín and humankind. The basin should remain behind the door for one whole night. Once the entire offering is mounted, cast obí before it to see if ebó’dá—if the ebó is acceptable. At this time, also ask where the ebó should be taken. The first destination, for those who have homes with back yards, should be a corner in one’s back yard. This corner should then be set aside for future offerings to the Iwín. The ebó may be taken to other places, especially lonely or solitary places, those that are not frequented often.
  4. Finally, baths with collard greens shred in water, and cleansing the home with this infusion were also recommended. One should ask one’s orisha if this bath is acceptable and if anything else should be added.

On the evening of the 31st, the typical custom is to change the water of those orishas who have water inside their vessel. The old water may be thrown in one’s doorway or used for bathing, according to one’s custom or the orishas’ indication. Any adimú that may lie in front of the orishas should be removed and discarded at this time, other than those specifically recommended for the year’s end.

Many Olorishas, and especially those with spiritist influence, burn incense throughout the home on the 31st. This is optional, though if it does not do any good, it cannot do any harm either.

At midnight, the Olorisha—preferably dressed in white—should enter the igbodu and salute his/her orishas and pray for prosperity, health and other things in the coming year. Two candles may be lit at said time. Family members should prostrate before their elders as well as their orishas. Some Olorishas, especially those who have large ilés, tend to perform divination for the year at this time. Others perform it early the next morning. This divination is not meant to undermine the Babalawos’ reading for the year, but to complement it and offer guidance to the particular Olorisha and the ilé osha. All Olorisha should go for divination at the beginning of the year to ask if there are any ebós or recommendations from the orishas for the New Year.

Those who have Oduduwá may place offerings before the Orisha. In the Lukumí tradition, Oduduwá’s day is the 1st of January. Many Olorishas observe this day and hold celebrations for Oduduwá, often receiving their om’orisha who come to pay their respects on this day.

During the first seven days of the year, it is advisable to go before one’s godparents to pay homage to their orishas. Likewise, this is the time of the year for doable to one’s elders. It is customary to prostrate before older Olorishas at the beginning of the year, even if one has attained levels within the priesthood where prostrating before elders other than one’s Olorishas is optional and no longer mandatory.

Additionally, it is a good idea to feed Elegbá at the onset of every New Year. Some Olorishas have indications from their itá to do this and other ebós at the beginning of each year. Those that do not should at least offer Elegbá a chicken to start the year on a fresh note.

Happy New Year to all. May Olorun grant that the year 2002 be a year of peace and prosperity for all of us.

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