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Iyaworaje

De Una Hija De Ochún

5.5

Being presented to the drum was an absolute honor. I felt so little next to the Aña drums, as they roared like warriors. I walked in, led by my Oyugbonakan, whom I trust with my life, and a fellow esteemed brother, a son of Oshun. The first (the eldest) of the three Iyawos to be presented (followed by a daughter of Oshun, and a daughter of Yemaya), I felt safe and prepared. I felt absolutely grateful to be in my gown once again, and for the last time during this waking life. I saluted, danced with honor and love in my soul, laughed and cried. Engulfed by Aña’s majestic sound, I felt my Mother as if she were holding my hand and shining her love into my life. And just like all beautiful moments, it was all over way too soon. I shed a final batch of tears of joy as I hugged my Godmother on my way out of the room. I was somewhat relieved to slip back into my whites to spend some more time reflecting and eating dinner as family with the other iyawos.

Fast forward to this week, I was to be presented to the Santo room during a crowning of a daughter of Oshun, but I had to cancel my trip due to extreme weather in NY and all along the east coast, from Maine to Florida (it snowed in FL, people). I can’t get away from it, it’s following me! Haha I’m quite disappointed, but also wondering how in the world that poor soul will be at the river in 6 degree weather. 😯 It reminds me of my experience in NY on that brisk February day, temps were in the high 20s or low 30s, but kind of like giving birth, I’ve forgotten how cold I was and only remember the ocean of emotions making themselves at home across my chest.

Regardless, sending you my warmth, Iyawo! The best is yet to come 💛

My “River” entry, here: https://iyaworajeblog.wordpress.com/?s=River

EN ESPAÑOL 💛

Ser presentado al tambor fue un honor absoluto. Me sentí tan pequeña al lado de los tambores Aña, rugían como guerreros al llegar a una batalla. Entré, conducida por mi Oyugbonakan, a quien confío con mi vida, y un compañero y hermano estimado, hijo de Oshun. Era yo la primera (la mayor) de las tres Iyawoses que se iba a presentar (siguió una hija de Oshun, y una hija de Yemaya). Me sentía segura y preparada. Me sentí absolutamente agradecida de estar en mi vestido bello una vez más, y por última vez durante esta vida. Saludé, bailé con honor y amor en mi alma, me reí y lloré. Envuelta por el majestuoso sonido del Aña, sentí a mi madre como si estuviera sosteniéndome de la mano y brillando su amor en mi vida. Y al igual que todos los momentos hermosos, todo terminó demasiado pronto. Lágrimas de alegría en mi rostro al abrazar a mi madrina antes de salir del cuarto. Me sentí algo aliviada al volver a ponerme mi ropa blanca, tenía más tiempo para reflexionar y cenar con las otros iyawoses.

Esta semana, iba ser presentada al cuarto de Santo durante la coronación de una hija de Oshun, pero tuve que cancelar mi viaje debido al clima extremo en Nueva York y en toda la costa este, desde Maine hasta Florida ( hasta nevó en FL). No puedo alejarme del frío, ¡me está siguiendo! Jaja Estoy bastante decepcionada, pero también me pregunto cómo esa pobre alma estará en el río con un clima de 6 grados. Esto me recuerda de mi experiencia en NY durante aquel día de febrero, las temperaturas estaban en los 20 o 30 grados, hacia frío pero sólo recuerdo el océano de emociones que hicieron su nueva casa permanente en mi pecho.

¡De todas maneras, estaré enviándole mi calor a la Iyawo! Lo mejor esta por llegar aún 💛

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Who’s Counting

FFE63B20-3C14-4B6E-9C34-525080AC080D8 weeks of iyaworaje left. It sounds like so little!

We changed courses, my Godmother decided to present me to the Aña drum this upcoming weekend. Being that a lot of the time is spent waiting patiently apart from the crowd for the Iyawo for this particular ceremony, she figured I’d enjoy our trip to Cuba more if I could actually participate in dancing and singing at that tambor. I am absolutely ecstatic, being presented to the drum is one of the last functions attended as an Iyawo. To deliver the final message to Olofi by way of the Aña drums that an Iyawo is born. The drums themselves are an Orisha, they are to be respected and revered. There are certain taboos when it comes to this particular ceremony for Aleyos and Santeros alike. There are many special aspects of this beautiful presentation, and I am moved just by the thought of partaking in the honor.
I’m in NY, feeling melancholic about the city that never sleeps. It’s not like I moved years ago, my umbilical chord is still attached. Christmas season in FL is a bit odd. Palm trees for Christmas? Haha It’s very amusing, people think it’s cold when it hits 50 in FL. I smile and appreciate it all. They’re so cute, with their hoodies and coats.
I can’t tell you I’m not excited about nearing the end of my Year & Seven Days in White. I look back and I remember my Itá and it makes me want to cry. I love Oshun, my father Obatala and all my Santos with such deep love and respect that it aches my chest. I feel protected, loved and understood. Each Orisha brings me another type of comfort, another type of love or guidance. Best of all, this is only the beginning.

Aftermath

I recently reached my 8 month mark and I have to say, it has become more difficult. It sounds stupid in the grand scheme of things but having put vanity on the back burner all these months, I am now realizing how I look to the outside world! Not one drop of nail polish, perfume, makeup and my boyish short hair are all taking their toll. These sacrifices seem minuscule at first, you’re excited willing and able. Even having watched my husband through his iyaworaje, I thought I had this down pat. I didn’t. Thankfully, my faith and love for Orisha push me through. I heard someone once say, “If you have your health, you don’t have to ask Olofi for anything.” I will not complain. I have my health and this is temporary. 
I also had a stint of negativity enter my psyche recently. Brute disrespect where I least expected it, but I’m re-learning. I had somehow forgotten that inevitably, in life there will be people around you that will challenge your self control. Being an iyawo, the challenge is two-fold. But I’m too GOLD. My duty is to stay focused, and be thankful, giving and open. So I will keep my head high and I will not drop my crown. 

In my spare time, between studying, working and being a wife and mother — I’ve been thinking up all the things I want to do as of February 11th, once I reach the end of my year in white. Primarily, I look forward to growing spiritually, learning more and more of our beautiful religion once I am officially a Santera and can partake ceremoniously. I can’t wait. Literally. In the meantime, I am learning as many Orisha songs as possible, as I’m hoping to sing the Oro for my godmother’s next Ocha birthday with one of my godbrothers…. we’ll see 😉

Personally, the list goes on! Here goes my 0-5 Year Bucket List in no particular order:

1. Learn! Take Yoruba and Portuguese classes

2. Grow! Become a mentor locally and volunteer my time and heart to help a child reach his/her full potential. 

3. Travel! Visit Cuba, Nigeria, Peru, and Brazil (+ family trip to Europe)

4. Sing! Perhaps start my own choir? 🙂 But definitely will be recording more of my own music.

5. Dance! Take Orisha dance and Flamenco classes. 

Excited for the future, con mi bella guerrera Ochún a mi lado siempre. 

Hurricane Irma!

Renaissance 

“When I think back and reflect on the best moments in my life – I had them with you…”


There’s something happening in our household. The puppy love we hadn’t felt in 7 years has been…. reawakened? Something about moving and forging ahead with the person you love with the force of stampeding bulls is bringing us closer than ever. See, we have always been accompanied by our parents and family (thankfully) raising our children while working long days and weekends. Now, we’ve reconfigured what a workday looks like and moved thousands of miles away, alone. No helping hands, no one else to rely on, just each other. Organizing, communicating, planning ahead. This new anonymity and seclusion for our little family is proving to be therapeutic for our relationship and family dynamic. 

Recently, my husband has been… different. His shoulders have dropped and his body language has changed, he’s… calm. A calm I’ve never ever seen. He looks at me differently and says the sweetest things… we’re flirting! What’s happening? Ochun!

Ochun has been raining her love over my life, giving us the rebirth of love we so deeply needed and desired. I feel passion and gratitude and, best of all, I have time to breathe and appreciate it during my hibernation as an Iyawo. Obatala, continue to blanket our home with your peace and tranquility. I’m ever so thankful for the serenity you are planting in our hearts, we’ve absolutely needed it. 

I landed in NY today and I’m missing my family more than words can describe. I aim to grind “NY-state-of-mind-style” this week then jet back home next Tuesday.

Bendición 👳🏻‍♀️ all! 🌻💛👑

It’s Everything

Say hello to the 5 ducks who stopped by my backyard to say “Good Morning” the other day, maybe Yemaya wanted to remind me of the big picture and all the motherly love she has to offer my life 🙂

Ironically, that also happened to be the same day I had toyed with my first unhappy Iyawo morning. Some of the days of my first 3 months were tough, but I always felt so faithful and loyal to the process that I was able to excitedly overlook the hurdles. On this particular day, even with all the love that has filled my heart by Ocha, I did not feel excited to get dressed and begin my day. 

See, in NY, I was constantly working and meeting  face to face with people so I was in my whites only 50% of the time.  In FL, I’m working remotely (phone, email, conference calls) so now it’s more like whites 95% of the time. That, coupled with the fact that there are so many new places and things I’d like to experience – and cannot – adds frustration. I’m feeling unattractive, self-conscious with my awkward boy-cut hair and, frankly, overwhelmed. I know there are much more important things happening in the world right now, but internally this is where I am. Still, I am committed to my iyaworaje and learning so much through this volatility. This year is a collection of small sacrifices in the grand scheme of things, I have not lost my focus. Analyzing everything. Categorizing my priorities. Seeing through people and their actions – and inaction. Even strangers that pass me by tell a story, by what they’re wearing, doing and saying. Me, I am in all white, wearing my vibrant elekes proudly, effortlessly clinking my manillas loudly, humbly blending in with the wind. Being on the outside gives you great perspective, I am learning so much. 

On another note, the blessings have not stopped pouring into my life. Although I look disheveled, an old colleague that left my firm years ago recently learned of my move to FL. He’s a big-time producer in our industry, respected and admired by many. Somehow, someway (wink, wink) he’s chosen me and offered me an opportunity to join his team because of my credentials (and lots of butt-kicking work this last decade). I am strongly considering joining his firm, but just speaking of this opportunity is unbelievable for me, I would have never imagined it. Maferefun Ocha!!!!!

Another trip to NY is on the horizon at the end of this month, looking forward to hugging my Godmother. 

“Say Acheeeee!” 😉

“Santo, Iyawo”

Wow, words I heard 8 times in 1 week. I also saw 2 Iyawos on the street so far. There are so many Santeros down here in South Florida – what a beautiful feeling! One of my Ifa godsisters said, “In Queens, NY you can go your whole year without seeing ONE Santero.” She was RIGHT, I saw NONE in 6 months…. I still get some of the typical stares and eye rolls from strangers here but the love far outweighs those. Today when they delivered my couch, this guy asked me to sign for the delivery. I asked him to please put the pen down first. He said, “Oh, because you’re doing that white thingy.” Haha – yes, that. Being in my crispy whites feels so peaceful, I feel proud and I don’t feel alone. I’m normal here 🙂 Haha

Still unpacking, waiting for furniture, eating on top of boxes. HOWEVER, my Santos (and my husband’s) are finally home in their soperas and resting peacefully – prominently. Our home has slowly been coming together, around them. Dare I say, because of them.

This Sunday my Ocha House will be having a tambor for Chango. All I can do is cover my eyes in disbelief for the love that I feel for him. I’m so happy there will be a trono (throne), lots of adimuses (food offerings), and LOTS of dancing and singing in the name of this wonderful Orisha. Wow. ¡Que viva Chango!

It’s Happening

First of all, let me just say our religion is such a beautiful religion. At a tambor for Yemaya (camino Yemaya Okute, hence the deep colors of the trono) in my Ocha house this weekend, I looked around the room as we were all singing, dancing and enjoying worshipping Orisha and I couldn’t help but notice the rainbow of faces all coming together as one. People from all walks of life, some with eyes closed, others in tears, musicians giving their entire souls with each song, there were people with their voices turned all the way up, while others’ bodies moved to the drums, rhythms and for the love that Orisha sits on your chest.  💛

As an Iyawo, these events are especially important to me. It’s a time when my status as “the newborn baby” is recognized and our community takes special care of me. Words of encouragement and advice, here and there from strangers and family, alike. Lessons, patakis and Iyawo experiences shared…. what a wonderful time. As I approach the halfway mark of my iyaworaje next month, I can’t help but feel the urgency that this finite beautiful once-in-a-lifetime journey is soon to come to an end. Pretty soon, I’ll be speaking of it in the past tense just like my godbrothers and godsisters, professing of how the iyaworaje year passed “way too quickly.” Haha The next Iyawo will be born in my Ocha house and the circle will continue. Beautiful.

It’s 5am and I can’t sleep… our final departure to Florida has arrived. We leave NYC this afternoon. The most difficult part of moving across state lines as an iyawo has been figuring out the logistics of transporting my Santos! Do I check them in at the counter and risk American Airlines losing my bag? Do I ship them in boxes with the moving company and wait for them to arrive a week from  now in Florida? Do I store them in the trunk of my car and wait for them to arrive in Florida 3 days from now with the car transporting company? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

My Godmother and oyugbona helped me decide. Checking them in at the counter for my 3 hr flight is low-risk and would separate them from me the least amount of time. Originally, I wanted to take them as carry-on but they said some people have missed flights because TSA has asked them to discard items that could be seen as weapons. DISCARD?!?!?! I almost had an attack. And just the thought of being apart from my Santos for an unspecified amount of time literally made me cry just thinking about it the other day. I can’t wait to get to our new home and give them the utmost special place they deserve. Maferefun Orisha todos los días de me vida. Where was I without you, before you? Floating, cluelessly in this world for 32 years of my life. I’ve been humbled — all the way to the ground, forehead to the floor, lips to the Earth and I cannot picture my life without you. Not even for a couple of days. Check-in, it is. 😶

During different times of our lives, there are Orishas who come forward to lead us during a particular challenge or time, alongside our guardian angel. Elegua, I feel your hands in all of this. I am, we are, forever grateful! Oya, may you continue to help us during these whirlwinds of change for my family and I. Thank you for the opportunities; today’s, yesterday’s and tomorrow’s. 

Obatala, Ochún, there are no words — you know what’s in my heart. With you, I have all I need in this world. I can walk forward with my eyes closed, because my heart is wide open. Florida, here we come.

Back to Cuba

My Godmother had one of her many haunting ideas… they begin as a tiny spark in her mind and quickly become an obsession till she blurts it out to me the first moment the opportunity presents itself! “I was thinking…. what if we presented you to the Aña drums during our trip to Cuba next year?!”

WHAAATTTT!

Our Ocha house has been planning a trip to Cuba for early next year, OF COURSE I’d wait to be presented in Cuba. My mind spins at the thought… because I feel like my journey to Santo began in Cuba before I even knew it was a journey. It was there that I first saw and spoke to Eleggua in my friend’s hostel room. We were on a volunteer tour, she had scolded me for speaking negatively about the state of my life at the time. “Ask for what you want, be grateful for what you have, let the universe know what you really want your life to look like.” She took her Eleggua out of her drawer, showed me how to spit rum at him and told me to talk to him from the heart. I did just that, asking him for everything I could think of – but feeling a little odd about the whole thing. I knew nothing of the religion but I was respectful and thankful. I didn’t think of this experience again till 8 years later during my Itá when the first words Eleggua said to me were, “Por fin, llegaste.” (“Finally, you’ve made it.”) You may read more about that unforgettable experience here.

On a side note, a few months before my trip to Cuba 8 years ago, I dreamt of a large off-white house with 3 or 4 columns in front.  It was of colonial architecture but was somewhat decrepit, showing its age. In my dream, this house was very important to me. It felt very very important to me. Till this day, I don’t know why. But would you believe me if I told you I SAW THAT VERY HOUSE IN CUBA? My heart began to race as my mind tried to make sense of it. How could this be? That’s the house!!!! I managed to take a photograph of it just in time (this is not the photo, will post later), I was sitting on a moving bus and almost didn’t catch it. I wonder if I’ll ever see it again, but most of all, I wonder it’s significance…

Blessings to all.

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