An Essay By Obalorun Ala Aganju

Alafia all,

At the request of a member of the forum am going to reprise a couple of essays from years passed in the hope that they will be of interest to the forum members.

Be well,

Obalorun Ala Aganju

Aborisa, a religion with clear and strong ethics and morals

“The basic difference between the African priests and the Santero is that the latter practices his magic in the asphalt jungles of big cities instead of in the African wilderness. Santeria is simply jungle magic adapted to city

living. Its ritual practices are based on sympathetic magic. That is, they are natural magic based on the laws of similarity and contact”.

The quote sited above came from, Santeria : African Magic in Latin America by Migene Gonzalez-Wippler.

It is statements like these found in books by writers like Gonzalez-Wippler, Lydia Cabrera and others that promote and foster the very mistaken idea that the Lukumi/Yoruba peoples were nothing more than a bunch of half naked Jungle Bunnies who were snatched from ” the African wilderness.”

” The African wilderness,” Where they passed their days living solely off of the wild produce of the land, when they weren’t casting spells upon each other.

Writers like Gonzalez-Wippler, Lydia Cabrera and others have worked very hard to promote and foster the very mistaken idea that the religion of Lukumi/Yoruba peoples was and is nothing more than a hodge podge of OOOGA BOOGA Mumbo jumbo, superstitions and foolishness.

Writers like Gonzalez-Wippler, Lydia Cabrera and others have worked very hard to promote and foster the very mistaken idea that the Orisa and the priests who serve they have nothing better to do than to lay about waiting for clients to show up looking to buy spells, potions and petty evil.

Writers like Gonzalez-Wippler, Lydia Cabrera and others have worked very hard to promote and foster the very mistaken idea that the religion that I have been involved in since I was 18 years old and that I have served as an Olorisa since I was 28 years old has neither morals nor ethical underpinnings.

Writers like Gonzalez-Wippler, Lydia Cabrera and others have worked very hard to promote and foster the very mistaken idea that the religion that I have been involved in since I was 18 years old and that I have served as an Olorisa since I was 28 years old is a religion is one where the power and blessings of God are for sale, and that the Orisa and Olorisa who serve them are the marketing agents for this celestial huckster who doles out blessings for a price.

Writers like Gonzalez-Wippler, Lydia Cabrera and others have worked very hard to promote and foster the very mistaken idea that the religion that I have been involved in since I was 18 years old and that I have served as an Olorisa since I was 28 years old is where any and everyone can come to God ask for what they would be ashamed to ask for in any other religion.

The captive Lukumi/Yoruba peoples who established Aborisa in the Cuban Diaspora were anything but a bunch of half naked Jungle Bunnies who were snatched from ” the African wilderness.”

For the most part the Lukumi/Yoruba peoples were city dwellers, even those who were farmers lived “in town” and traveled to their farms to work. As for the Olorisa who came to Cuba as captives they were stewards and teachers of a very sophisticated religion.

A religion deserving of the very same respect that is accorded the “Major world regions,” a religion with clear and strong ethics and morals.

Ethics, a system of moral principles. The rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.

Morals, of, or pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong.

Character, the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.

Character, Qualities of honesty, courage, integrity.

Integrity, adherence to moral and ethical principals, soundness of moral character, honesty.

Iwa, conduct, behavior, disposition, nature, character.

Ethics= Iwa

Morals= Iwa

Integrity= Otito inu, iwa tito,

Otito = truth Otito = honesty

Otito inu= inner truth. iwa tito= truthful character, honest character.

Character, the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.

“Concede to each person or thing their own particular character (Iwa).” (Mo iwa fun oniwa)

Another person’s character (Iwa) may or may not be like unto yours or to your liking, but it is his/her Iwa and you must live with it as they bring it to you. Those with hard character (Iwa Lile) lack all of the requisites necessary to accommodate and appreciate the character (Iwa) of others. This does not imply that you must tolerate abuse at the hands of another. Since you cannot change someone’s character (Iwa) you must change your relationship to it.

As I have been taught it, there are two types of Iwa, character one can develop in one’s life, Iwa lile that is hard or difficult character and Iwapele or Iware.

Iware can be translated to mean “good character” and Iwapele can be translated to mean gentle character, dignity, and humility.

The development of Iwapele/ Iware, “good character” gentle character, dignity, and humility is a goal without equal in life.

There is a proverb, which says “Iwa l’ewa, Character (Iwa), is beauty (Ewa), Gentle character, (Iwapele), imparts inner beauty, (Ewa Inu).”

Iwapele/ Iware, “good character” gentle character, dignity, and humility are developed through the acquisition and use of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, caution, stability, dignity, maturity, patience, caring and thoughtfulness. There is a proverb, which says “Iwa l’ewa, Character (Iwa), is beauty (Ewa), Gentle character, (Iwapele), imparts inner beauty, (Ewa Inu).”

Character, honesty and truth were cornerstone principles in Ile Lukumi before the incursions of both Islam and Christianity.

There is no concept of “Original Sin,” nor is there a need for salvation in Aborisa, Orisa worship. Aborisa, Orisa worship, does not teach that humankind is lost from God nor is God lost from humankind. While there is no concept of absolute “good” or absolute “evil,” in Aborisa and it is taught that all things have constructive and destructive aspects to them.

It must be made clear that we are not free to act as we please as though there are no consequences.

Odu Ogbeate teaches us:

Even if the beginning of wrongdoing is pleasant, the end of wickedness will not be good. We cannot use evil to secure goods and expect them to be anchored firmly. These are the teachings of Ifa for the upright one, the offspring of the initiated one who treads the Earth in humbleness.

Olodumare is the lord of the land.

Olodumare is owner of judgement.

Retribution belongs to Olodumare.

The wisdom of Odu Ofun Meji counsels:

Ifa says we should not break a commitment to a friend, lest we die an unexpected death. If we discuss something with a person and that person wants to break a promise to us, the Ancestors will judge them. The king of the world will reward everyone precisely according to the work of his or her hands. What Aborisa, Orisa Worship, does teach is that we must develop our character:

Odu Ogbe Iwori teaches:

Bad conduct is what is attributed to youth.

Bad character is what is attributed to elders

Ogbe Ogunda says:

Character is all that is required. Character is all that is required. There is no Ori that needs to be unfortunate in the city of Ife; Character is all that is required.

Ogbe Tura advises:

If we have money and do not have character,

The money belongs to someone else.

Character, iwa, is what we are looking for, character.

If we have children and do not have character,

The children belong to someone else.

Character, iwa, is what we are looking for, character.

If we have a house and do not have character,

The house belongs to someone else.

Character, iwa, is what we are looking for, character.

If we have clothes and do not have character,

The clothes belong to someone else.

Character, iwa, is what we are looking for, character.

All the good things we have, if we do not have character,

These good things belong to someone else.

And so, it’s character, iwa, we are looking for, character.

Ofun Iwonrin advises:

Ofun, the Giving One, gives to them so that they might nurture.

Ofun, the Giving One, gives to them so that they might care for others.

This is the teaching of Ifa for Oduduwa who was doing good all over the world.

He said, “doing good worldwide is the best expression of character.”

They said a part of the world would not thank him for his kindness.

And others would not even recognize its value.

But he said “a father cannot help but give good things to his children

And a mother cannot help but give good things to her son or daughter.”

They said that Orunmila should sacrifice

So that all the good things which he gave to people, if they were wasted in the world

They would return to him in good order.

He heard and sacrificed.

“Sacrifice means nothing if you do not have good character. . .”

Irete Oyeku:

Orifusi, father of Elu, was searching for way to avoid death before it was his time. So that death would kill him his children and his wives before it was their time. He if you want to avoid death you must sacrifice and following the teachings of Ifa. Ifa will teach you the conduct and character, which will enable you to avoid death before you time. They said, when you sacrifice you should begin doing good from his day on more than ever before. Because your sacrifice means nothing if you do not have good character. Therefore you should take the sacrificial pigeons and chicken home. You should release them; you should not kill them. You should feed birds that come to your house. And you must not kill anything from this day on. For one who wants death not to kill them should not kill anything either.

Ethics= Iwa

Morals= Iwa

Integrity= Otito inu, iwa tito,

Otito = truth Otito = honesty

Otito inu= inner truth. iwa tito= truthful character, honest character.

Morals, ethics, Character, honesty and truth were cornerstone principles in Ile Lukumi before the incursions of both Islam and Christianity. If these core concepts were in truth imposed from the outside by invader cultures then we need to give thanks that such a thing has occurred! And we need to be working 24-7 to see to it that all we come in contact with are inculcated and yes even indoctrinated with these concepts!

The proverb from Odu Obara Meji tells us, “He who knows doesn’t die like doesn’t know.”

Odu Ogbe Irosun teaches us:

If we would listen to the teachings of Ifa, we would last like our ancestors lasted.

If we would follow the teachings of Ope Orunmila, we would grow old like the ancient ones.

Be well and may we all ever and always “Strive to increase good in the world and not let any good be lost.”

Obalorun Ala Aganju moderator of the Santeria list.

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