Revisiting Charcoal and Ojuani

As I reflected on the intersection of charcoal and Ojuani Meyi, I discovered something interesting. It turns out that the sign Ofún-Ojuani represents an important nexus of the various themes that surround Babalú-Ayé. I have a tratado that says explicitly that in this sign is born:

  •  the secret of charcoal (and ashes);
  • the curse of the color black;
  • the pilgrimage; and
  • the great secret of Shakuaná.
 It is interesting to note that the sign also includes a recipe for the creation of Ibako, the prenda of Oluó Popó.

While there is no story explaining the secret of charcoal or the curse of the color black, there is a story explaining the use of colored cloth in the crowning of new oricha priests. It lists black as the color for Shakuaná (though I should say that I think most people would say it should be red).

The tratado does provide some detail about the great secret of Shakuaná. It says that before he was Asojano, he was called Kelejewe Kuto, and he had to die in order to be reborn. It also says that here Shakuaná set out on the road to another land to be crowned. If we look at this as an analogy, in which the link is pilgrimage or movement, we could chart the transformation:

Kelejewe Kuto : Asojano:: old life : rebirth:: uncrowned : crowned

It makes you wonder about the charcoal. It has an old life as wood, and its rebirth results in a crown of new, hotter flames.

So all this suggests—I find it difficult to be too definitive about these things—that breaking charcoal into the basket of the awán is essentially the same as using Ofún-Ojuani as an atena. It suggests that the charcoal promises a movement from old life to rebirth.


  1. Benediction. I am learning how to perform an awan and have received quite a bit of information from my Padrino which confirms much of what you say here. He states that Ofun Ojuani is also where the the awan itself is born, including the placing of the basket and the plates.
    Thank you for your information in this and your other blogs.


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