Thursday, January 21, 2010
Ogbe-Yono: Where Omolú Rode a Goat and its Relationship with Ochún
Elders often stress the centrality of the odu Ogbe-Yono when they discuss Babalú. The sign is called Eyeunle-Ogundá by the babalochas. Here is a classic story from the sign:
In his travels toward the land of Dahomey, Omolú traveled with his guide Ogbe-Yono, and they took their own sweet time in arriving, slowing traversing the long, rough road. When they arrived at the town of Shaki, they encountered its queen, a woman named Ottanagoso. She had many large, bearded goats that were strong enough to ride in those parts. When she saw how tired they were, she offered a goat to Ogbe-Yono, so they could continue their trip, and she gave him a special insignia so that wherever they arrived, her servants would offer him gifts and fresh goat. The insignia was beads and beautiful stones from her kingdom in the form of a necklace that people would identify as the mark of the Queen of Shaki.
It took five days for Ogbe-Yono and Omolú to travel from Shaki to Saya, and each day they passed a new outpost. In each one, they showed Queen Ottanagoso’s insignia and received beautiful gifts of fruits and shells. From then on, the power and fame of Omolú grew, until he was crowned in Dahomey and given the title Asojano.
So in the purifying ceremony for Asojano called the awán, the beneficiary of the ceremony mounts a goat. Together they travel around a basket five times in memory of the five days that Ogbe-Yono and Asojano spent making the trip from Shaki to Saya.
I first heard this story from Pedro Abreu—Asoyanye when I attended my first awán in his house, but he always stresses that it was Ochún who gave Omolú the goat on which he traveled to Dahomey to become king. Abreu uses this story to justify the ritual action of mounting the goat and to explain the strong loyalties that often tie Omolú’s children and Ochún´s children. I have heard of some priests who understand that they must move to a foreign land to prosper, just as Omolú moved to the land of the Dahomey to become king.
It is interesting to note that Ogbe-Yono is also the birthplace of crutches, a common symbol of Omolú and where a person was initiated to Ochún for the first time.