My Iyaworaje: The First 200 Days (part 1)


Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls;

the most massive characters are seared with scars.

Khalil Gibran


Most religions recognize some form of honoring the divine, this invisible presence and representation of a force and source that is passed down as religious text, from person to person, culture to culture and from belief to belief. Traditions that are practiced and shared in various forms throughout the eastern and western hemispheres. What connects them all regardless of dogma, is something called FAITH, a belief in something invisible. In some cases this “faith” is so powerful that people do what they they must to maintain it–some give everything they have to find it.

I too have a belief, a spiritual and religious practice. I believe in a force that is in fact invisible, and what I practice, I believe in so deeply  that I have committed my life to the practice and preserving of this oral tradition. I am a priestess in training. A newborn in La Regla de Ocha, a religion that arrived to the Americas with the enslaved Africans. The Yoruba tradition, born in Nigeria, and brought to Cuba over 500 years ago is one I felt a belonging to. For many years I have felt a connection to Nigeria and during my travels and research more and more I felt the pull, the calling to learn more about my roots and the spirit world.

Before I began my journey into making kariocha (this was my initiation into the Afrocuban religion Santeria). This right of passage was one that I did not enter into lightly and I will delve deeper into this process and my journey in the essays to follow.  What I will share is that most people enter this religion for health reasons. My personal reasons for entering this tradition is grounded in the search for truth, healing and honoring my ancestors–and a deep love for my orishas.

There is important back story about the history of the religion, the roots if its birth, and legends of each of the orisha, as well as the significant roles of Olorun, Olodumare and Olofi, which I will come back to. I wanted to start where I am today smack in the middle of my year in white and this incredible journey that is “My Iyaworaje!”

The iyawó is a small child. S/he is very protected during this time of their journey. It is something incredible, something beautiful, something sacred and very special. It is also very secretive. I am a newborn in the religion and there are things that I am learning. There is so much I am unable to share. But in these entries I will explore what life has been like for me as an Iyawó dressed in white and walking down these mean streets of New York.

– to be continued – (for new posts follow my blog).



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