Tending Babalú-Ayé in the Sabalú Style
In the religion, there is a long tradition of honoring the spirits once a week with simple offerings. The most famous of these offerings is tending the Warriors on Mondays. Pedro Abreu—Asonyanye taught me to tend Asojano and his family every Thursday. Since Asojano only eats eat at night, so it has to be in the evening after dark.
After placing a mat before Afrá, Nanú, and Asojano, you kneel and press your forehead to the floor. Then you do the Arará version of the invocation of God, the fodunces (orichas), the ancestors, and the living. Unlike the Lucumí version that relies on the repeated use of the phrase “mo juba,” the Arará invocation revolves around the phrases “sofalú” and “emí chelé.” You can light incense if you want to.
Next you make the simple offerings. You spray Afrá with white wine or aguardiente (cane liquor, like rum). He also takes cigar smoke. Nanú and Asojano take white wine, rum, and gin. When you blow the alcohol from your mouth onto Nanú and Asojano, you blow it across your hand and then you squeeze out what remains on your hand and let it drip into the opening at the top of their vessels. Nanú and Asojano also love cigar smoke.
Still with your forehead on the floor, you speak to the fodunces, using your name and identifying yourself with your Orula sign if you have one. A man would say, “I, so-and-so, awofaka ni Orunmila omolodu such-and-such, come before you tonight to ask for…” A woman would say, ““I, so-and-so, ikofá fun ni Orunmila omolodu such-and-such, come before you tonight to ask for…”
You should speak out loud, as your voice and breath have aché. In the many years I have been in the religion, I have seen that people who speak from the heart have the strongest impact on the fodunces. It is good to pray for your elders in the religion and your family. Another thing I have learned: always pray for health. ALWAYS. Ernesto Pichardo—Obá Irawó says that the three blessings we seek are health, wealth, and tranquility.
After your prayers, you clean yourself with the já and then cast the cocos to make certain that Afrá, Nanú, and Asojano all accept the offering. The Sabalú have special songs before and after casting the cocos.
You can also offer a gourd filled with black beans and crowned with a red onion. When you offer it, you take two fistfuls of beans out and clean yourself with them, then place them in a second gourd. You do this each day for seven days. Carry the beans and the onion to the woods and are leave them for Asojano. This is a very powerful cleaning.