Working with Atenas: Irete Meyi

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Pedro Abreu—Asonyanye uses signs under the awán basket and includes Irete Meyi. He glosses the sign as the spirituality of Asojano, and I have heard other babalawos say the same thing. Some people add that this sign is Babalú-Ayé in person. Nothing else gets said; apparently it is not necessary in the laconic style of the religion.

Other things also appear in this sign: it is the birthplace of the bubonic plague, pleurisy, pestilent fevers, syphilis, leukemia, and leprosy. It speaks of illnesses in the legs and even paralysis. It also seems to rule skin diseases: it is the birthplace of eczema, abscesses, and furuncles. Some people say that smallpox was born here, but others insist it was born in Odí-Eyeunle.

The sign also rules pimples on the skin. In Cuban Spanish, the word granos means both “pimples” and “grains.” So in some way, the universal offering to Babalú, the gourd filled with grains and beans, can be thought of a gathering of sores offered back to their source.

Irete Meyi seems to focus on many of the destructive aspects of Asojano, but when it comes out in divination, it promises long life. So maybe Irete Meyi, Asojano in person, seems to embody a long life filled with pustules, pestilence, and plagues.


  1. Why should you be negative. Perhaps the sign means babaluaye in person. Because if the person performs healing practices, health will be restored by Baba. I should quote you an irete meyi saying" the goat dies from his own mouth".

  2. Of course, the elders teach that this sign indicates "Babalú-Ayé in person," and as you say, his presence can result in the difficulties listed above or the healing you mention.


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