Second Earth Medicine Alliance conference. As we did last year, my goddaughter Phoenix Smith and I led a public ceremony focusing the oricha’s energy on healing the Earth. Last year we did an awán for Babalú, and this year Elegguá directed us to perform an awán for Olocun along the edge of San Francisco Bay. Phoenix found an amazing little park in West Oakland, right next to the port facilities, and just before the ceremony began, she learned that people refer to this area as one of the points of the toxic triangle in the Bay. The area where we worked last year is also one point of the triangle, and next year we plan to work the third point.
The ceremony was beautiful. We had about fifteen people turn out on a gorgeous day. We set up an altar right on the beach for egun, Elegguá, and Olocun. To honor the spirits of that place, we sat on the beach with the ancestors for an hour or so, sharing messages from the ancestors and cleaning people. Then we moved into the awán, where we cleaned everyone present and honored Olocun.
People always notice the similarity between the awán we do for Babalú-Ayé and the awán for Olocun, and there are other deep connections between these two mysterious deities. As I was flying out to San Francisco, I stumbled across this story from Ogbe-Yono that suggests that our movement from Babalú-Ayé to Olocun reflects a much deeper pattern.
Awó Ikokó was a child of Ogbe-Yono and lived in the land of Awó Bonu. He lived well because he was always feeding Olocun. He would carry cooked food in a large clay vessel and uncooked food in a basket, singing to Olocun. Then Olocun would come out of the sea and bless him. But in Awó Bonu, no one had been initiated for a long time, and no one had time for religion. Awó Ikokó was growing old and he tried to convince people that they needed to get serious.
The next day as he went to the sea to feed Olocun, Awó Ikokó encountered Molocun and told him, “I am going to initiate you so you can help keep this land prosperous after my death.” He began to prepare everything, and on his way to the market to buy certain things, he encountered Elegguá and Oluó Popó. They were both carrying two new clay vessels and an awán in a basket filled with every kind of bean. They prostrated before Awó Ikokó and said, “We were looking for you to give you what you need to consecrate Molocun. So Oluó Popó gave him the awán, saying “Place everything in here that you need.” Oluó Popó taught Awó Ikokó the whole ceremony. Elegguá told Awó Ikokó how to use the two clay vessels to honor his own head and Molocun’s head, and told him to place those in the awán as well.
So everything was ready for Molocun’s initiation, and they took the awán out. When Molocun was in the initiation room, Ogbe-Yono came out, and Elegba told him to maintain the tradition of the awán so that everything would go well.
Then many, many people began to come to Awó Bonu so that Awó Ikokó and Molocun could initiate them. Olocun was very pleased and sent a great deal of wealth to them so they would always live well. The people of Awó Bonu noticed this change and began to pay more attention to serving the orichas.
Babalú-Ayé is very active in this odu, and it seems Babalú-Ayé has taken pity on the people in the Bay Area and is trying to help them find more stability and well-being. It is interesting to note that since the ceremonies last year, the California drought has ended and water levels are in good shape, at least for now.
Next year we will see where Elegguá sends us and what that adds to the story.