Ochún Is Golden

Ochún is Golden

Waking up at dawn, I hear a lively smattering of bird calls as they make a harmonious cacophony. I leave my slumbering family in the motorhome to take a solo walk towards the forested river of the Ochlockonee River in Florida. I quietly slipped out to trek off to salute the rising sun in the East and experience the river at dawn. I was treated to an incredibly immense beauty: a visual dance of light, colors and shadows interwoven onto the stream as I walked along the path of Ochún’s majesty.

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One of my greatest reasons for this journey was to discover and learn from the Orichas in their natural element. As you may imagine, the city of Los Angeles, with its concrete river as the only significant watershed in the urban metropolis, was a poor study area in this regard. As I approached the River, I thanked Ochún for allowing me to be in her presence. The river was calm and serene. And as I continued along the path I saw the crack of the Sun’s ray coming over the horizon. Ache Olorun! I prayed to the four corners, Oldumare, Olorun, Olofi, Eggun and all the Orichas for this day and for giving me this opportunity to witness the rising of the sun.

A Calm and Serene Ochún
A Calm and Serene Ochún

What I witnessed unfold in front of my eyes was breathtaking, and the ensuing kernels of knowledge received filled me with gratitude which in itself helped further deepen my spiritual understanding.

Gazing at the awe inspiring scene in front of me, I was treated to a jaw dropping display of the immense, tightly woven tapestry Olofin and the Orichas weave, where it becomes difficult to truly know where the work of one Oricha ends, and the work of another begins. I was being allowed to witness the magnificent interplay between these forces of nature as they interweave and illuminate one another as they constantly create the world in front of me. And I saw how each of the Orichas are multi-faceted, none more so than Ochún herself.

The Sacred Efe or Manatee... Maferefún Ochún, Maferefún Olokun, Maferefún Obatalá
The Sacred Efe or Manatee… Maferefún Ochún, Maferefún Olokun, Maferefún Obatalá¡. Manatee Springs, FL.

And all of this wondrous interplay was being revealed through the magic lens of Ochún’s mirror… the river.

Here is a series of photos (with editorial input) I took in order to try to share some of the beauty that was witnessed. Of course, pictures never do justice to the immense beauty that surrounds us as they are only two dimensional. When we wander in the forest, in nature we are in the presence of abounding life that uses all our senses to experience it fully. All pics are of the Ochlockonee River near the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida, a remote part of Florida unless mentioned otherwise….

What I learned about Ochún from this morning’s walk…

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The River is Ochún’s mirror…

Ochún is often pictured holding a mirror as she gazes at her beauty. The river is a mirror to the sky and the heavens up above. She reflects back exactly what is in front of her, but one of Ochún’s mysteries is that somehow more is revealed through the reflection she presents than without it.

Her mirror reflects not only our physical appearance but also creates a window to our soul. In order to speak to Ochún you need to be pure of heart and speak with clarity as her reflection reveals everything, good and bad and there is no crevice to hide our soul. To be able to see yourself in the mirror everyday, our actions and our hearts must be pure.

How Ochún got her colors:

Ochún’s colors are gold and yellow. When Olorun shines on Ochún she is golden. She glistens like gold.

Ochún, messenger of Heaven:

All Yawos are taken to the river before making Ocha, We are taken to the River to give account of the rites we are undertaking to Ochún who then passes the message on to Olofi. I guess Ochún’s mirror does reflect directly upon the heavens. Interestingly enough we do not just throw coco to Ochún’s otanes but we need to visit with her directly at the river.

Ochún the Orisha of Love…

Ochún has so much beauty in her we are left mesmerized and enchanted by her that it is easy to fall in love with such beauty. Nuff’ said…

Fertile grounds…

Ochún is the Oricha of fertility. The river supports and creates so much life around her from the fish, the trees and forest, to the birds that eat the fish and animals and even humans who all need her in order to eat as we sustain ourselves from her sweet waters.

When I first read and learned about Ochún’s attributes, I too saw them through the lens of the modern world where Ochún is described as coquettish and vain who constantly looks at herself in the mirror, who also loves material things such as gold and jewels. Ugghhhh! I hate to say it but in those terms Ochún sounds downright shallow and somehow profane. Yet, I realize that in this modern world we tend to reduce knowledge into easily consumed bite-sized morsels for our modern convenience. In the process we are losing the depth of knowledge to learn about the Orichas and the significance of their attributes. And even an apparent shallowness merely hides an unsuspected, incredible depth. The Orichas’ Aché comes from the depths of their nature. In order to harness that Aché it is important to understand it. Walking in Ochún’s beauty has helped me gain such insight that I can now call upon when needing her aid. Maferefun Ochún! May we all be blessed by your beauty.

Ochún's Iridescent Beauty
Ochún’s Iridescent Beauty



Huautla de Jimenez II

Nindo Tocoxo, Spiritual Center of the Mazatec world
Nindo Tocoxo, Spiritual Center of the Mazatec world

“The more you go inside the world of the Ndi Xti Santo (Little Saint Children), the more things are seen. And you also see our past and our future, which are there together as a single thing already achieved, already happened… I saw stolen horses and buried cities, the existence of which was unknown, and they are going to be brought to light. Millions of things I saw and knew. I knew and saw God: an immense clock that ticks, the spheres that go slowly around and inside the stars, the earth, the entire universe, the day and the night, the cry and the smile, the happiness and the pain. He who knows to the end the secret of the Ndi Xi Santo can even see that infinite clockwork.”
– Maria Sabina, Mazatec Chota Chjine (Woman of Knowledge)

Shortly before making our trip to Huautla, consulting Ifá about the trip had yielded the oddun Ojuani Boka. In this path of Ifá, Orunmila had divined for humanity using grains of corn. What I found particularly amazing was that shamans among the Mazatec Indians often divine with corn kernels. In fact, I was first drawn to La Santería because while planning a trip to Huautla years before I went to be seen in hopes of gaining insight into the Mazatec corn kernel divination through experiencing what I hoped to be a similar form of divination in Santería! The Mazatec Indians had led me to Ifá and now Ifá was pointing me back to the Mazatecs.
How the events unfolded was equally amazing. As I mentioned in the last blog entry, soon after we arrived we had made contact with a woman who had agreed to perform a velada ceremony with the Little Saint Children with us… Until she learned we had come from Los Angeles. She had been told by the Little Saint Children during a prior ceremony that people would be arriving from Los Angeles and that she could not do the ceremony for us, but instead must take us to an elder Woman or Man of Knowledge.
The Chota Chjine carefully made three piles of the Ndi Xti Santo (Little Saint Children). When I first saw the huge mound of the Saint Children she intended for me, I was taken aback for an instant. I had read from a number of sources that the Mazatecs never gave outsiders more than a one or two pairs and here there were probably a good twenty pairs – a massive amount even for a Mazateco. But it quickly occurred to me that she too had obviously had been told of our coming by the Saints and had been told what to do, so without question I ate the entire amount given to me in exactly the manner she described.
She began her prayers and songs and in less than an hour I felt I was sinking into the depths and knew I was to have little control over what would follow.
When the Ndi Xti Santo first took me to “the place where everything is known,” they explained that they were offering me a rare gift: but I couldn’t withstand the journey as I was: if I wanted to go I must allow them to kill me and have every particle of my being torn apart, but promised me they would ‘rebuild me’ into something greater than I was before. I agreed and after my constituent elements were torn apart, they led me to “the place where everything is known” where I saw the entirety of the past, the future and the present, from the birth to the end of the universe itself, happening all at once. The immenseness of time and space could be found in a single conscious moment. The universe itself was not only alive but conscious, from the littlest particle to the universe as a whole. And all the wisdom and knowledge of the whole universe was laid bare in front of me. This was the place where the odduns of Ifá lived! I was experiencing the immensity that is Ifá!
Everything occurring in front of me was also being explained by the Little Saint Children. I knew at that moment why it had been necessary for me to have become initiated as a babalawo and to have received Olofin and Orí before going to this place.
The Chota Chjine knew what had occurred of course and the Little Saint Children began teaching me some of the Mazatec healing practices what I needed to do to help the Chota Chjine as even the healer needs to be healed.
She began to cry as we saw how the traditions taught to the Mazatecos by the Ndi Xti Santo – that had been kept alive for hundreds if not thousands of years – were being lost due to the lack of people willing to devote their lives to learning them. I assured her, and the Little Saint Children, that the traditions are not dead if there is even one person on earth who keeps them.
At this point the Chota Chjine told Lisa Chango and myself that we had a lot of work in front of us and that since we had been given a priceless gift: knowledge, we must follow the prohibitions including refraining from sexual activity, not for the usual four or five days, but for fifty two days, the same number as the number of years in a century according to the sacred mesoamerican calendar.
I found Santería and Ifá while searching for insight into the Mazatecs, and in turn the Mazatecs gave me a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the knowledge and wisdom that is Ifá. And I am just beginning to fathom just how much the two ways of knowledge complement each other to make a complete whole.

Iború, Iboya, Ibocheché