Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer Solstice with those of the Yoruba Tradition

This Friday, I've been invited to join in a Summer Solstice ceremony with the Yoruba Tradition. Most of you have probably never heard of this faith tradition. It's largely unheard of due to another system with a similar type of origin getting most of the attention: Vodou (commonly called Voodoo).

Yoruba is not Vodou, and the two systems come from different origins, but do have overlap with each other in some fundamental ways:
  • Both traditions come from the African Diaspora, that is, Africans who were brought (mostly, if not exclusively, by force) to the West, bringing with them their tribal beliefs. Vodou originated in Ghana, Yoruba in Nigeria, and both traditions incorporated elements from the New World into their faiths.
  • Both traditions believe in a distant, supreme deity which is incomprehensible, outside of gender, the first, the state of existence itself, the ultimate. Vodou calles it Bondye (Good God), Yoruba calls it Olodumare (Ruler of Heaven). Generally, this being is not directly interacted with by humans.
  • Because this supreme deity is generally unreachable to humans, practitioners of Vodou and Yoruba work with lower gods that are manifestations of natural energies. In Vodou, these are called Loa, in Yoruba, they are called Oshiras.
  • Both traditions believe they work with these deities to alter conditions in their own lives and the world at large.
Some things about Yoruba:
  • Yoruba believes in reincarnation.
  • Yoruba has various schools of thought that differ in teachings, practice, and culture.
  • Much of their practice is handed down in traditional teaching and not taught in a public forum.
  • Some of the primary Oshiras (deities) are:
    • Orunmila: The Grand Priest, keeper of knowledge, healer of illness.
    • Esu: The Adversary or Trickster responsible for misfortune, but also the messenger, and the force between positive and negative.
    • Ogun: Lord of metal.
    • Yemoja: Mother of Water and nurturer.
    • Oshun: Lady of grace, beauty, and sensuality.
    • Shango: Lord of Virility.
    • Oya: Lady of the Tempest and Guardian of the Cemetery.
I'm not sure what it will be like as I have nothing to truly compare it to in my spiritual past. I'm just going to go in with an open mind ready to learn and get the full experience. I'm honored to have been invited, and will let you guys know how it goes.

Until next time, peace be with you.

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