Walking with Babalú-Ayé in San Francisco

I am still trying to figure out how to talk about my recent trip to San Francisco to lead a public awán for Babalú-Ayé. I am still a bit uncomfortable with the fact that I don’t have a big, overarching narrative that wraps the whole thing up, but I have a number of small stories that show how delightful it was to be in service to the Old Man.

I wanted to do something special for Babalú-Ayé at this awán, so several weeks prior I learned a new rezo, a fast-paced and verbally complex chant to invoke him. I had been practicing for several weeks. My plane arrived early, and as I waited for my ride, I practiced the chant outside in the arrivals area:

Ago yéme du quina quina su salva su gome du quina
Ago yéme du quina quina su salva su gome du quina quina

Mero goyeme dupe-un pe-un
Mero goyeme duquina
Mero goyeme duquina quina
Mero goyeme dupe-un

Gudun bite kodo kiodo ni sawa ni soniye
Gudun mite kodo kiodo ni sawa ni soniye mode ni amo emanoso ijenoso

Ella keleguesun keleguesun keleguesun kelewe mode ni amo emanoso ijenoso

As the last syllable echoed off the concrete, I turned to see a man limping toward me. His face was red and wrinkled from living in the open for many years. His open-toed sandals reveals his swollen feet, and his dirty clothes had a strong odor. He moved slowly past me and sat on the next bench, took out a cigarette, and proceeded to blow clouds of smoke in my direction. Here was Babalú-Ayé responding to my prayer.

Two days later, when we arrived at Heron’s Head for the awán, a man appeared out of nowhere and asked my goddaughter for change. Recognizing the presence of Asojano, she pulled out two dollars and wished him luck. As we began the ceremony in the driving rain and wind, a couple appeared at the head of the trail, and as they came closer, it was clear that they were accompanied by two dogs walking by their sides.

It's no surprise that Babalú-Aýé gave us strong blessings at the end of the ceremony.

These little gestures were not the only messages from Babalú-Ayé over the weekend, but they were perhaps the ones that touched me most deeply. I never tire of them, and I never tire of the gratitude I feel.

(Thanks to Artemis for the great image.)


  1. Benedicion thank you for the rezo. I haven't heard it before but now I, too, have the opportunity to learn it.


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