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When you have an Oshun and/or Aje Shaluga working in progress…

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love workingOshun is the west African Orisha/Goddess of joy, prosperity, romantic love, and the sweetness of life.  Aje Shaluga is one of her husbands (or wives, depending on your tradition), and the owner of all material wealth and currency.  Many if not most workings or spells for love and prosperity call upon Oshun, and if material wealth is involved, Aje Shaluga as well.

When you go to a priest/ess or root worker for assistance in these matters, sometimes they will give you a nkisi that you are supposed to attend to or just keep safely, and sometimes they keep it with them.  Most of the time, these don’t require too much maintenance, but sometimes they do.  Sometimes this is unknown, and one has to wait and see whether or not Oshun will require more than the initial offerings.

With matters of the heart and with market forces, there are ups and downs though.  From time to time, there is a weird year or out of the ordinary weather or astronomical phenomena which mean that the relay between the root worker and the seeker will need to be strengthened.  More will need to be done by both in order for workings to be more effective and in a timely manner.

Generally, workings done with a female beneficiary or target take three lunar months to come to fruition.  Workings with a male beneficiary or target take a season (6 to 7 months).  What a season is depends on their local weather patterns.  Even though they take awhile to finish, something should move within a week or two of the offerings to Oshun and/or Aje Shaluga.  Various incidents should also indicate that the Spirits are on the move and have actively put their hands to the matter.

If things are exceptionally weird or there is stagnation for too long, this could be an indication of a blockage or too much chaos.  Although this has no effect on the final outcome, they can cause way too much anxiety that could lead to a blockage where there wasn’t one initially.  In order to smooth things out, the seeker should give small offerings to increase their own personal bond with the Spirits.

Because of privacy concerns, you may not be able to make an altar at home.  The good news is that most Vodun/Obeah/Santeria types are masters of stealth.  There were times in history when if we were caught, we’d be tortured and executed in horrible ways.  So we learned well how to give observances to our Orishas/Gods secretively.

In order to open the way to give offerings to other Orishas, you must give some to Eshu.  Fortunately, Eshu does not require more ceremony than directed thoughts and speaking one of his names or titles three times.  You can leave or bury offerings for Eshu at any crossroads/intersection, the inside corner of forked roads, or between two houses or buildings, in the doorway or entrance of a gateway, or believe it or not, your home trash can so long as it is to the left of a doorway or in a corner.  You can also give a small portion of your meals to Eshu first by tossing it to the left or out the front door or entrance to the left.

You will often see people from Brazil setting aside a portion of their food on a separate plate before they eat when they are having something that Eshu or another Orisha likes.  Quite often, when they have coffee, they will pour some in a corner if they are outside.  Eshu loves coffee.  Some will even blow some of the first puff of smoke from their cigarette or cigar to their left side for Eshu.  Here is a list of things Eshu likes:

  • chicken legs and thighs
  • caramel, toffee, cinnamon, and honey candy
  • coffee
  • tobacco
  • rum, or sweet “grog” (recipe later in this article)
  • coffee liquor or coffee vodka
  • spice cake
  • cinnamon and sugar toast
  • raisins and other dried fruits
  • peanuts, peanut butter, peanut butter ice cream, Snickers bars, and other peanut candies
  • spice cake, especially heavy fruit cakes and honey cakes or black cake

He likes many other things, but these are the best known standards.  Offerings to him should be in multiples of threes.  Meaning 3 chicken leg and thigh quarters, three pieces of cake, 12 peanuts, etc.  The best days to give offerings to him are Mondays and Fridays.

Then on Saturdays, you should give offerings to Oshun and Aje Shaluga.  These can be given at a body of fresh water such as a fountain, lake, or river.  If you have nowhere else, they can be given at the ocean/sea (give a little to Yemaya too if you do this) or your bathtub or shower.

Things Oshun likes are:

  • sweets, especially golden, yellow, and green ones
  • honey, honey cake, and honey candy
  • pumpkins, yellow squash, butternut squash
  • wild lettuce, Roman lettuce
  • mustard greens, mustard flowers, mustard seeds, foods made with these
  • a handfull of sugar, five sugar cubes or rocks, sugar candy
  • stevia, stevia tea
  • honey grog
  • oubli berries
  • chamomile tea with honey
  • yellow roses or other pretty yellow flowers
  • gold leaf
  • pearls

Again, she likes many other things, but these are the standards.

Whenever you give offerings, tell your root worker.  It will make them feel better to know that you are taking an active role in your working.  They can also help you work through weird times with more patience.

Now here is the recipe for honey grog that both Eshu and Oshun like.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 liter of water
  • 1/2 liter of rum
  • 1 cup/glass of honey
  • 3-5 bags/6-10 grams of black tea
  • the juice of one lemon

Instructions:

Brew the tea in the water, and then add the honey while it is still hot.  When it is cool, add the rum and lemon juice.

Pour this into the ground at a crossroads or between two buildings for Eshu, or into a body of fresh water for Oshun.

Be the Hands

Not everyone can give offerings the same way, but you can raise energy by being the hands of the Orishas in humanity.  When you feed an Orisha’s children, you feed that Orisha.  When you do works that an Orisha would do on Earth, you praise that Orisha.

So, being kind and doing kind things for children and the elderly praises Eshu.  Giving gifts to a child of Eshu or to a child or old person feeds Eshu.  Joking, laughing, playing games, helping people get justice, and other positive Eshu-like activities all help to bring that energy to you in a positive way.

Making yourself and people and the world around you more beautiful glorifies Oshun.  Supporting local markets, business, fashion, artists, and others in the beauty industries…looking good and smelling good and cleaning your home…these all glorify Oshun.

So really, you don’t have time to ruminate.  You need to be busy.

Relating to Your Root Worker

Romantic and financial matters can be frustrating and very stressful, but please try not to project this stress and frustration onto your root worker.  In order to do their job properly, they have to remain optimistic and free of too much negative energy related to your case.  If it is still within the three lunar months for a female or full season for a male, then complaining to the root worker each and every time things don’t seem to be moving the way you want them to, will not help your case come to fruition sooner.  It causes blockages and delays that don’t need to be there because then you are applying negative energy to the work.

Some root workers are used to this and don’t mind it so much, but even the ones who don’t mind too many complaints and venting of frustrations will often ignore these messages or take their time answering because they want to sift through all the negativity to get to what might be some actual news.  So just know that if you have nothing to say but, “He hasn’t called me yet,” then save it.  This is not something your root worker needs to know unless or until at least a month has passed.  Even then, simply state it as a progress report, and do not gush about how sad and dejected you are, or threaten your root worker.

Threatening your root worker with destroying their work is very bad, to say the least.  You may have put money into it, but they have put time, energy, and their reputation into it.  Nobody wants to see something they worked hard on go to hell.  If you have not paid for it, or got it for a big discount because they were doing well and had extra time and supplies, and the work was done on good faith, then it is even more important that you not dump a lot of negativity on or threaten your root worker.  You and they have made a commitment, and they have spent their time and money and energy on you for free.  If it doesn’t work they know that they won’t get paid unless you are one of those super honorable and observant practitioners of Vodun who is thankful to the Orishas even when you don’t get what you want…and there are very few of those.

If you ask for a work, whether you paid for it or not, then you should follow through.  If you are a woman and asked for the Orishas to give you the love of a particular man, you should avoid having sex with someone else until the season has passed.  If you have asked for a reconciliation then whatever you do, do NOT allow yourself to get dragged into an argument with the person while the Orishas are working on rekindling their emotions.

Follow the instructions of your root worker.  I don’t care if it seems like it will break your ego to pieces to do so.

Helping the Orishas to Help You

When it comes to money, it is very important that when the Orishas bring you opportunities when the work is active, take them.  If you’re not sure about a particular one, get a reading to see if it’s okay.  Generally though, opportunities should be taken as they come.  Sometimes you may have to step a bit outside your comfort zone or do something you’re good at whether or not it’s what you want to do at the moment.

In love as well, it’s very hard for the Orishas to help you if you won’t help yourself.  If they bring someone you love to you or back to you and you mistreat them or settle for a less than positive situation, then it is your fault, not the root worker or the Orishas’ fault that the working goes south.

Don’t behave as if you’re okay in the friend zone when you’re not.  If you’re a man, be territorial and stake your claim.  “My way or the highway,” is the proper male attitude.  If you’re a woman, then your attitude should be submissive but in a hard core way.  Make it clear that you want a relationship in which you can trust a man enough to be a good girlfriend or wife, not a “friend with benefits”.  FWB, unless it happens naturally between people who are already long term friends with a history of “ride or die” trust, is not a natural situation so the Orishas aren’t going to help sustain that.

In summary, to help your love and/or money spell to work well, you should:

  1. give offerings
  2. stay positive
  3. don’t pester your root worker with your negative feelings, but DO give them actual news about the situation
  4. follow the root worker’s instructions for your conduct
  5. take opportunities the Orishas give you

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them.

Why do people post Voodoo spells on the internet?

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There was a time I thought this was a bad idea, but then I saw how much fakery and misinformation there was out there. Someone needed to speak up for the witches who didn’t grow up in sheltered bubbles wherein they could afford to avoid the fact that witchcraft was spawned in the blood of the oppressed. There is also the problem that most of our parents’ generation moved out of the rural areas and into cities and suburbs. When they left behind their old towns, they also left behind what they viewed as the “superstitions”, and further dug into their oppressors’ style of religion to fit in. So it was time to share some knowledge, at least get folks up to speed to what everybody interested should know.

On the internet with “Voodoo spells“, in some cases, it is a joke.  In some cases, the authors have co opted the convenient aspects of Vodun and put it in a western frame.  In some cases, they are workings that are common for laypersons and aspiring mystics to do for themselves, and only called spells because the term “working” isn’t as well understood.  In a few cases though, it is that a mystic and author wants people to know what is involved in doing a working, so that they appreciate the cost and effort of their priest.

So long as they are posted in the context of educating people, and spiritual and psychological readiness is taken seriously, it is not a bad thing.  The problem is that readiness is seldom approached because the author either takes for granted that anyone doing the working would be a consistent practitioner who is at least doing regular offerings to Eshu, or they are overly westernized and don’t consider it important.

Take amarres, for instance.  Most people who would search for how to do an amarre would be practicing Santeros/Lukumi or somewhere else in the spectrum.  They are wearing or carrying amulets, and do weekly offerings to Eshu and whoever is their head, if it is known.  So they would be ready to do a normal amarre.  Because they live in awareness, it would also have a better chance of working.

If they are not practicing consistently and giving regular offerings, because of a lack of time or because they are mystically aware, but not so mystically inclined, they would read the instructions and easily understand to put this in the hands of a priest.  So knowing how it is done lets them know that they are not equipped or should not try to do it themselves.  No harm is done.

However, for some people, posting the instructions leads them to believe that they can jump in without any preparation or protection.  Even worse, most of the instructions I’ve seen online do not begin with offerings and asking the permission of Eshu.  Without asking Eshu, all of whatever efforts and expenses people go through to do Vodun and diaspora like “spells” are wasted.

This is not to say that all spells anywhere must start explicitly with the name Eshu or Elegua.  People who are not Eshu aware may still have the equivalent in their belief system.  In some faiths, there is another similar Spirit or a kind of abbreviated word to open prayers.  What I’m saying is that something must always be done to approach the Spirits with the right mind, and in Vodun, this is the call to Eshu.

So if you come across a “Voodoo spell” that does not begin with calling Eshu, it is not going to work and probably posted by someone who knows nothing of Vodun.  If it does, then they are likely posting it with good intentions for the sake of educating the public and increasing appreciation of the work of priests.

Helping Your Root Worker to Help You

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Ceremonies and talismans work best when you respect the Spirits behind them.  Here is a guide for helping things along.

Offerings

Generally, you want your priest/ess to handle the more complicated things, but there is plenty you can do day to day to stay in reasonable awareness.  As a believer in the Vodun, you will find things in your life or at least your emotional state will improve with offerings of dressed candles and incense.  Some people do this as a daily observance, while others don’t have the time or energy to do it more than once a week.

I recommend that if you’re new at this and don’t have a specific cultural tradition around it, that you at least start to do something for Eshu on Mondays.  If you need to do more than this, he will actually show you through dreams and signs.

Opportunities

The Orishas may open a door for you, but you must walk through it.  Many of the complaints about a ceremony or spell not working are due to a person having their desires delivered to them but not taking the steps to receive the blessing.

I have seen many works for love go to waste because when the person they wanted comes to them, they chicken out.  Works for money go to waste when people get an opportunity, or are given a generous gift, they turn it down.

In general, you shouldn’t run from a blessing, but if you run from blessings you’ve specifically requested and paid to have work done about, this is a catastrophe.

One big problem is that many of us are westerners who are re-embracing a west African belief system or at least encorporating it into our lives.  Most of us are Christian, but were raised with a Eurocentric rather than African or Middle Eastern flavor.  So we have guilt about money because we don’t want to be greedy.  We hear words like “slippery slope” ring in our ears whenever we’re close to something that, in the eurocentric flavor of Christianity, might be a sin.

It is great if, due to your principles, you want to wait for marriage to have sex.  However, there is no sin in speaking up and holding hands.  If you slide down the slope, it’s not as if God doesn’t know that you are human and that we all have weaknesses.  So long as you are responsible about it, then according to the way Christianity is practice in the very home of Christianity, you’re in the clear.  It is God who joins people together, not man and his papers.

If there is a worry, it is in displeasing the force of Nature named Orunmila, also known as Natural Law and Rules of Honor.  So have no worries so long as you conduct yourself with honor.

The same goes for money and business blessings.  Not everybody has the luxury of operating  100% above board at all times, but you should honor your agreements and never forget those who helped you gain your wealth or get through a hard time.  So when the money comes to you, take it.

Timing

Vodun is about working with Nature, not against it.  So some things can move quickly while others more slowly.  Most works have been done so many times that it is well know how quickly or slowly things will move if there are no serious obstructions.  The initial readings also tell whether or not a work is allowed, or what may be in the way of its being successful.

When things take longer than expected, there could be many reasons aside of the work being ineffective.  A good priest/ess will do followup if something appears to be going wrong.  So don’t just give up and go to another without checking first.

Also, many if not most of us are active in communities of mystics.  If we don’t understand what went wrong, we will ask others who are either more experienced than us or who have a different expertise.  As an example, if the one doing the work for you is a child of  Eshu, they will have a different approach than say, a child of Oshun.  Different perspectives are helpful in getting the most consistent results because every case is different.

I hope that this helps you to get the most out of work that has been done for you.  If you have talismans or charms that you’ve put aside because you think they didn’t work, take them out and give them another look.

Oshun, Ochun, Oxum

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Oshun as Romantic Love

Oshun as Romantic Love

Some say that in Africa, before western influence, there was no such thing as romantic love.  The truth is much more complicated than this.  There was romantic love, and it was well recognized.  It was just referred to as intense lust, so in daily life, familial love and admiration was given a higher priority.

People did respect that intense lust so much though, that they named its Orisha: Oshun.

Attributes

  • Sacred number: 5 and multiples of 5
  • Colors: yellow, yellow and green, yellow and amber/honey/champagne, yellow and blue, yellow and white, honey, champagne, amber, shades of yellow until standard orange
  • Domain: beauty, prosperity, feminine charisma, female sexuality, sweet things, oratory skills, pride, romantic love, sexual attraction, dance, feminine wiles.
  • Symbols: yellow hearts, peacock feathers, mirrors with yellow, bronze, or gold frames, yellow sashes, yellow headwraps, yellow belts, yellow skirts, yellow headbands, fans, fans made from peacock feathers

There are many apatakis about Oshun’s ways and antics.  Many of them were to teach people a lesson about the nature of beautiful women.  Some, like the story of Oshun and Iroko are cautionary both for people who take the promises of beautiful women too seriously and those beautiful women who procrastinate or forget promises they’ve made to get their way.  Some are epic like the ones about Oshun defending Shango in a way that people didn’t expect from such a beautiful woman.  Some are tragic like the story of Oshun’s fight with her mother Yemaya.

Oshun is regarded as vengeful if crossed, but otherwise extremely generous.  She can be impulsive and sometimes overly flippant about things others take more seriously, but she is not evil.  She just is the way she is because she can be.

Her domain is the pleasures of life, and often with great pleasures come great pain.  Life would however, be extremely boring and dull without her.

Oshun is very popular these days.  Though it is good to honor her, one should bear in mind that there are other female Orishas too, and other good and important things about being a woman than being pretty and lusted after.  Some people tend to forget others, and this is understandable, but I somehow don’t think Oshun appreciates the paradox and conflict that giving things to her that belong to her sisters Oba and Oya creates.  So be respectful of her and what she likes, and don’t appropriate things to her that she doesn’t like.

As an example, there’s the new feminist standard for “beauty” that people try to push on her.  It is a good thing to go to Oshun to make yourself more beautiful, but if you go to her to try to look like the skin stretched over bones and silicone ideal from Hollywood, it’s not going to work.  The more you go to her, the more you are asking her to make you look naturally beautiful, not synthetically beautiful.  You’ll end up looking aerobics instructor beautiful or dancer beautiful, not skeleton beautiful unless you’re Gothic and that’s the legitimate aesthetic goal.  If it’s the latter though, Maman Brigitte is going to do more for you in that since fat cell shrinkage rather than just distribution needs to happen.

Gay and intersex persons who are outwardly male but inwardly female, as well as crossdressers who need to go there occasionally can benefit greatly from communing with Oshun.  It will help you to gain more of the essence of feminine grace and beauty.

Origins

Originally, Oshun was the Goddess of the Oshun river in Osogbo, Nigeria, but as her followers increased and spread, so did her duties.  She came to be recognized in just about all pleasant, drinkable and bathe-able freshwater springs, fountains, streams, creeks, and rivers around which grew palm and eucalyptus trees.  Almost everywhere there are adherents of Vodun and similar west African systems, there is at least a fountain dedicated to Oshun where offerings are brought.

To this day in Osogbo, there is an annual festival of Oshun where people from all over the world go to honor her.  Prospective priests of Oshun also go there to gain the blessing of the ancestral priests.

Offerings to Oshun

Wild LettuceOfferings to Oshun should be taken to fresh water streams, ponds, lakes, and especially rivers.  If you can’t get to one, a fountain or pool will do.  Oshun loves natural sweets.  She loves honey the most of all sweet things.  All food offerings to her should be coated with honey or have honey in the recipe.  Just remember to always taste a little of it first.

She likes pumpkins, butternut squash, and other yellow, golden, and orange fruits.  I’ve had very good results from giving her golden pears and apples.

She likes yellow flowers, and ambery, honey, sweet smells.

Of the more savory things Oshun likes very much, wild lettuce and eggs are the most popular.  I have also had good results from offering delicacies such as baby corn, hearts of palm (ethically cultivated), artichoke hearts, and white asparagus.  She likes the finer things.

Some offer her sea food.  I don’t particularly like this idea unless you know you got it from a traditional fisherman or diver.  Oshun and Yemaya wills can become conflicted within if someone contributes to the destruction of the oceans for the sake of looking more pious and extravagant.  So if you feel you must give sea food to Oshun, do so, but make sure you were actually led to do that.  Do some readings to confirm.

If you’re returning freshwater fish or plants back to the river or a lake, please check with local wildlife authorities beforehand.  Sometimes people have given catfish to a place and they have taken over, or this happened later when the area was closed off.  Only return animals or plants that may take root, to their native area.

Something new for the science savvy is the offering of Brassica Carinata, also called Ethiopian mustard or y’abesha gomen.  They have pretty little yellow flowers, and are very attractive to honey bees.  Their greens make excellent mustard greens dishes.  According to researchers in New Zealand, they also naturally filter nanoparticles of gold from the ground.

Love Spells

Since Oshun is the Orisha of romantic love, she is often called upon for love spells.  Although in Vodun proper, these wouldn’t really be called love spells but love petitions, workings, or offerings, they do basically the same thing: draw love from a specific person or help someone to attract a lover.

If you have a love working pending, there are things that you can do to help it along.  Read this article for things you can do to increase the success of your current love working.

Oshun Incense

Oshun enjoys sweet smelling, fine incense, but you must make sure it is of the highest quality that you can afford.  If you are handy with the spoon, you can also make your own.  This is the recipe for a basic devotional incense, adapted for the western kitchen.

  • a pinch of cinnamon or cloves for Eshu
  • 10 spoonfuls fenugreek
  • a handful of louisa
  • 5 eucalyptus leaves
  • 5 spoonfuls sandalwood powder (African camwood or Baphia nitida if you can find it)
  • a spoonful of yellow mustard seeds
  • a small handful of myrrh or copal
  • a small handful of dragon’s blood chunks
  • 5 gold leaves or a dash of gold dust

Crush and powder everything as well as possible, consecrate, and keep in a cool, dry place.

Oshun Oil

The basic recipe for Oshun’s devotional oil, again adapted for the western kitchen.  All of these ingredients should be dried

  • A 1 inch cinnamon stick, 3 guinea peppers, 3 English peppers (allspice), 3 coffee beans, a vanilla bean cut into 3 pieces, or 3 cloves for Eshu
  • 1 liter of sunflower oil
  • 1 ml vitamin E oil
  • 1/4 cup fenugreek
  • 1 handful of louisa or dried orange peels
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 5 freshwater pearls or cowrie shells
  • (optional) 1 tablespoon honey
  • (optional) 5 gold leaves

Put all of the other ingredients in a large jar or bottle.

Pour the sunflower oil over all.

Close the jar for 5 months in a cool, dark place.

Strain before use unless you like it “chunky” looking (which I do).

Click here for an article on some of the uses for Oshun oil.

Fashion for Oshun

One thing you should do for Oshun that carries some of the weight of an offering is wear yellow clothing, especially on Saturday, which traditionally starts at sundown Friday night and goes to sundown Saturday night.  The same day is an auspicious day for Yemaya as well, so it’s good to wear a combination of yellow and blue.

Oshun is famous for her beautiful head wraps.  So take the time to wrap up nicely on Saturdays as well.

Don’t skimp on the accessories.  Wear earrings (clip on or magnetic if you’re not pierced), necklaces, and five rings on your fingers, or five bracelets on your arms.

Attracting and Maintaining the Blessings of Oshun

Oshun is very generous to those who keep her ways, and do things to glorify her.    If you need more love and prosperity in your life, here are things you can do.

Be grateful for your beauty.

We are not all beauty queens or hotties or whatever, but we all have a little beauty in us.  We should never take it for granted.  So as much as you can, take care of your physical appearance.  Love your skin, your organs, your bones, and do what you can to keep them healthy.  You may not own the finest clothes, but what you have should be clean and in good repair.  Basically be well groomed, even if you think nobody is looking.  Oshun is looking.

Be grateful for your material possessions, and clean your home.

The price of having things is that you must take care of them.  As best as you can, keep a clean home.  Your bed should be a clean and comfortable place, since Oshun is the Orisha of romantic love.

Take care of those around you.

Help others to maintain their beauty and material possessions.  If your friend is ill or unmotivated, help them clean their home and keep themselves healthy.  Be positive about it, and not too preachy.  The idea is to spread joy, not judgement.  Feed people.  Host meetings to treat people when you can.  Be generous.

Dance.

Oshun lives in dance.  So once a day, turn on some music, and move.

Basically, be the hands of Oshun in humanity.  Spread joy and love where you can, and try to make the world a more beautiful place.