A loyal reader in the Caribbean recently asked me about the relationship between Asojano and Orula. As I have said in other posts, the Arará-Sabalú insist that Asojano only speaks through Orula, that is, only through Ifá divination. When Pedro Abreu-Asonyanye gives Asojano, Orula eats in the ceremony; in the divination for Afrá, Nanú, and Asojano, all three speak through Ifá. Here is one account from the odu Ojuani-Odí that explains the origin of the partnership between Oluó Popó and Orula.
Once upon a time in the land of Lodoni, everyone owed Oluó Popó and no one paid him. In fact, they made fun of him. So Oluó Popó went to the house of Death and made a pact to do in all the people in nine days. When the people found out, they rushed to Orula’s house to see how they could be freed from this curse. Orula pulled this sign and said: Death through OIuó Popó. Then he explained the ebó they needed to make. The people made the ebó and then hung up the dead animals, and the odor of the rotting meat spread through the city. When Death arrived at the city to do his work, he was very happy because of the smell of rotting flesh. Laughing he said, “Look at me. All these people have died because they are afraid of me.”
With this boast and without entering the city, Death turned around and went to tell Oluó Popó that everyone in that land had died. But Oluó Popó went to see if Death was telling the truth, and he was surprised to see the people well. Angry, he returned and said Death was a liar and Orula had more power than Death because Orula had made ebó and nothing had happened. From then on, Oluó Popó united with Orula.
This story begs the question: are Asojano and Oluó Popó the same? Are they names for different stages—or etapas—in the life of the same deity? Might he have spoken through the shells at one point and then changed over later?
There are cases in which people have made up stories and inserted them into the odus to justify some particular point of view. Could it be that someone made up this story and inserted to emphasize the connection between Asojano and Orula?