In Trinidad, Osun is associated with the color pink. Oriki Osun teach us how Osun is synonymous with patience and attention to detail.
She is the one who removes every bone from her children’s food. She is a master braider, whose precision beautifies and adorns heads.
When we speak of Osun, we are talking about the highest standards of excellence. She is synonymous with precision.
Consequently, when the babalawo concludes his ritual, he will turn his attention to Osun to verify that things have been done to satisfaction.
When Osun approves of your work, you can be confident that you have achieved high quality. When she disapproves, you know that it is in your best interest to improve.
As the Cubans say, It is preferable to begin one thousand times than to finish one time poorly. Coincidentally, Osun is the patron of Cuba!
Today, let us hail Yeye Otooro Efon! May she guide us out of mediocrity! Àse! May she help us to shun all inattention to detail! Àse! May she not allow us to accept second best! Àse!
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Obafemi Origunwa, MA | OrisaLifestyle.com
Ogun kills on the right and destroys on the right.
Ogun kills on the left and destroys on the left.
Ogun kills suddenly in the house and suddenly in the field.
Ogun kills the child with the iron with which it plays.
Ogun kills in silence.
Ogun kills the thief and the owner of stolen goods.
Ogun kills the owner of the house,
and paints the hearth with his blood.
Ogun is the forest god.
He gives all his clothes to the beggars.
He gives one to the woodcock — who dyes it in indigo.
He gives one to the coucal — who dyes it in camwood.
He gives one to the cattle egret — who leaves it white.
Ogun’s laughter is no joke.
His enemies scatter in all directions.
The butterflies do not have to see the leopard -
As soon as they smell his shit
They scatter in all directions!
Master of iron, chief of robbers,
You have water, but you bathe in blood.
The light shining in your face
Is not easy to behold:
Ogun, with the bloody cap,
Let me see the red of your eye.
Ogun is not like pounded yam:
Do you think you can knead him in your hand
And eat of him until you are satisfied?
Do you think Ogun is something you can throw into your cap
And walk away with it?
Ogun is a mad god
Who will ask questions after seven hundred and eighty years.
Ogun have pity on me:
Whether I can reply or whether I cannot reply:
Ogun don’t ask me anything!
The lion never allows anybody to play with his cub.
Ogun will never allow his child to be punished.
Ogun, do not reject me!
Does the woman who spins ever reject a spindle?
Does the woman who dyes ever reject a cloth?
Does the eye that sees ever reject a sight?
Ogun, do not reject me.
from Yoruba Poetry (1970),
ed. Professor Ulli Beier
Alchemy is a scientific tradition, practiced in many parts of the ancient world. Each culture's manifestation of alchemy has been characterized by a particular set of objectives. One of oldest alchemical documents is called the Emerald Tablet of Egypt. It contains thirteen recipes for creating the philosopher's stone, an unknown substance sought out for its ability to transform base metals into gold and silver. In China, the ancients referred to lien tan, the pill of transformation. Principal among their concerns was immortality. Chinese alchemists ultimately aspired to become transformed into hsien, immortal beings who could shuttle between heaven and earth at will. The ancient Indian word for alchemy was rasayana, the way of mercury. Nagarjuna is revered as the father of Indian alchemy. He wrote the first book of Indian alchemical practices, called the Rasarathnakara. The objective of Indian alchemy was to discipline the body in order to expand consciousness to the point of being able to access any entity in the universe. 
And while each is different from the other, all of these alchemical traditions made use of animal symbols. More precisely, animals did things like helped the alchemist create the philosopher’s stone, change base metals into gold and develop the elixir of life that promoted immortality.
WHAT IS YORUBA ALCHEMY?
In all sincerity, the Yoruba are not known to practice alchemy in the strictest sense of the word. That is, there is no Yoruba equivalent to the philosopher's stone. The Yoruba do not have a process of transmuting base metals into precious ones. There are no Yoruba treatises that we might compare to the Emerald Tablet or the Rasarathnakara. Instead, Yoruba ritual specialists limit the application of their crafts to spiritual empowerment, magical displays and the fulfillment of personal destiny. And while most people are familiar with the activities associated with the babalawo and olorisa, Yoruba ritual specialization also includes herbalists, dream diviners, bone throwers, surgeons, birth attendants, general medical practitioners (gbogbonise) stroke and hypertension healers, bone setters (teguntegun), pediatricians (elewe omo) and pharmacists (lekuleja). In an attempt to examine aforementioned disciplines through the lens of alchemy, let us consider the role of animal symbolism in Yoruba spirituality.
From time immemorial, the Yoruba have considered animals to be totem creatures, imbued with mystic powers. Rodents, fish, mammals and birds are all recognized for their unique, spiritual properties. From an alchemical perspective, animal symbols function as a guide for how human life transforms both internally and externally, if we interpret them with precision.
In an article on animals in Yoruba worldview, Ajibade George Olusola details "the Yorùbá perception of animals with regard to their classification, habitat, and their role and position in religious, political, social, economic, and domestic domains of humans. This leads to an appraisal of relationships that exist between the Yorùbá people and animals in their communities. 
As is the case with all things Yoruba, we can look to the oríkì - praise poetry - of various animals in order to gain a better understanding of their importance to the indigenous worldview. Recitation of oríkì is thought to awaken one’s potential powers. The spiritual world is translated into the human world and directed through strategic recitation of oríkì. They hold the secret of the subject - the principles of its being - and the utterance releases its true power. Oriki, in this way, open channels between beings through which powers can pass and potentials emerge. In the same way that there are oríkì for kingdoms, orisa and individuals, there are also oríkì for animals. Here are a few examples, starting with Etu, the antelope:
The one who has legs painted red with camwood
The one who has thighs with which to touch the dew
Eranko tíí lé tìróò
The animal that put on eyelashes
Eranko tíí wa gònbò
The animal that wears gònbò tribal marks
This antelope oríkì describes its appearance. It mirrors the way the Yorùbá formulate and chant oríkì about human beings. In fact, the oríkì for Etu seem to personify the animal by highlighting its similarities to Yoruba beautification rituals. The antelope's natural marks on its face likened to gònbò tribal marks. Likewise, the use of camwood is synonymous with beautification, as well as spiritual empowerment. In these ways, Etu is praised for its natural beauty.
Òbo, the monkey is another animal considered worthy of oríkì, mainly because of its close resembles to humans:
Òbo akájá lóde
The Monkey that teaches the dog how to hunt
Ògbójú Akítì tíí gbàbon lówó ode
The brave Akítì who seizes the gun from the hunter
Eranko tíí tan ode wògbé sùàsùà
The animal who lures the hunter into the thick forest
The above oríkì shows that animals, like humans, are able to think and plan their activities in advance. Not only that, the monkey is bold enough to seize the gun from the hunter. Furthermore, while it is the duty of the hunter to teach the dog how to hunt, we see from the oríkì that monkey is also capable of teaching the dog how to hunt. Here we see that oríkì of Òbo praise the attributes that are reminiscent of human characteristics.
Also, the leopard, Ekùn has its own oríkì. It goes as follows:
Ekùn, Ògíní omo Ìyáyò
Leopard, Ògíní offspring of Ìyáyò
Leopard who fights fiercely
The animal that eats flesh from the head
The one who has knife in its palm
All attributes in the oríkì of Ekùn praise its powers and heroic character. Here, Ekùn is recognized for its ferocity. By its oríkì, we are to understand that Ekùn is the embodiment of danger. For this reason, Yoruba kings adopt the leopard as their regal totem once they ascent the throne. In the oríkì of Ata (king) Gabriel Osho of Ayede, he is praised for his “hot, dangerous and unlimited power:
Leopard, who scrutinizes restlessly
Who eats fire
Who eats sun
Sango, the orisa of lightening, is one of the few orisa visibly associated with the leopard. Leopard imagery associated with Sango refers to two aspects of his being; royalty and temperament. Sango is an aggressive king, who uses lightning as a destructive and violent force that strikes quickly and devastatingly. Similarly, Ekùn is considered a “hot” animal related to aggressive power, who strikes with merciless speed. An oríkì to Sango informs us this way:
...Strong person, leopard spotted, like Orisa Obaluaiye
Leopard Father of the King of Ede
White sky, sign of richness
Owner of the terrifying thunder waller
Owner of laba [wallets] filled with ase, like seasoned warrior
Leopard on the hill...
In this oríkì, Sango’s iwa (essential character) and violent personality become apparent. The leopard imagery repeated three times reiterates the aggressive and dangerous power associated with him. “The leopard has water, but bathes in blood” is an oríkì for Sango and for Ogun, both of whom share aggressive traits.
In Yoruba ritual space, where oríkì are brought to life, sacred icons, as well as people are often painted with spots. These spots, referred to as finfin, are meant to stabilize sacred space. They “convey transformation and transcendence of worldly entities united with otherworldly forces” (Drewal and Mason 1998:78). John Mason states that “The finfin are often associated with the spots of the leopard,” who is not only able to see in the dark, but as lord of the forest has links to the “other world” and is the “ultimate avatar of transformation” (Drewal and Mason 1998: 78; Drewal and Mason 1997: 346).
Sango is not the only orisa associated with the leopard. Osun, who is revered as the harmonious orisa of sweetness and high standards of excellence, also gives birth to leopards (Thompson 1993: 206-211):
Grant us the destiny of the leopard
In the house of my mother, the river
Royal wives give birth to stalwart leopards
Here, we glimpse Osun as the divine consort, who, in spite of her cool demeanor, gives birth to the firey and tumultuous leopard.
Another feminine force within Yoruba cosmology that makes use of leopard iconography is Gelede. In fact, the leopard is one of the most popular of animal motifs used in Gelede (Lawal 1996: 244). During the annual festival of Odun Gelede, one of the most elaborate of Gelede performances begins with an all night festival, Efe. The highlight of the evening and last performer is the Oro Efe mask. Oro Efe is masculine and aggressive. References to Ogun and warriors are emphatic in his presentation. Here, the leopard image signifies the “sacred leadership of kings, chiefs and priest” and its role as king of the night, played out only through the consent of the female “Mothers” (Drewal and Drewal 1990:101).
Oriki, praising “all-the-powers-that-be,” are sung by the maskers, ending with an oriki featuring Oro Efe’s own worthwhile attributes:
If a child sees a leopard, he will forget all about a matchet
If an adult sees a leopard, he will forget all about a gun
There is no animal like the leopard
I, Alabi, the knower of secrets, am here
Everything is under my control, just as a lion uses its urine to cast a spell in the forest
The elephant is a king among animals
There is nothing like a small snake
I am the senior historian
My father, Osefegbayi, Oseni Logo
Was a force to be reckoned with among Ketu performers
Offspring of Gelede who ascended the throne at Ohori Ile
The one with brass bracelets and anklets
Brass ornaments jingle rhythmically
(Lawal 1996: 125)
The leopard motif here evokes the proverb that says, "The leopard's quiet is not an act of timidity; whoever defies the king will be totally crushed.” (Lawal 1996: 244).
Around the world, alchemists delved deeply into animal symbolism to help them attain their esoteric goals. Within the Yoruba spiritual disciplines, we see how ritual specialists have made use of animal symbolism in order to conceptualize and even facilitate transformation. Thus, Yoruba priests have pursued spiritual expansion as a journey in which they encounter archetypal animal figures. The steps on their journey are paralleled in their rituals, ceremonies and preparation of concoctions. And while they do not aspire to eternal life, nor the transmutation of base metals into gold, Yoruba ritual specialists can be said to incorporate alchemical practices into their sacred arts.
 Cavalli, Thom. Alchemical Psychology. Pg 21-25
 Ajibade George Olusola. ANIMALS IN THE TRADITIONAL WORLDVIEW OF THE YORÙBÁ
 ANN BRISBANE BAIRD. THE SIGN OF THE LEOPARD: LEOPARD IMAGERY IN THE KINGDOMS OF THE YORUBA, THE KINGDOM OF BENIN, AND THE KINGDOM OF DAHOMEY .
When I was finishing graduate school, I had a dream. It started as a graduation procession. Everybody was wearing purple caps and gowns. Suddenly, I floated above the procession and entered into a room. There, I saw two old time, Back men. The one on the right was sitting down. He wore overalls, boots and a red pendleton shirt. The one on the left was standing up. He wore a white suit. They were engaged in a silent negotiation.
The man in overalls seemed to be explaining his position. At one point, a huge engine appeared between them. He stretched his arms, with his hands toward the engine, as if to say, "THIS is what I want to do!" The man in the suit remained completely unmoved. Then, a desk appeared behind them and behind the desk, a door. In walked another Black man, wearing a tweed suit. He leaned on the desk and looked very seriously at each man. Then, all three of them looked at me. I awakened.
The man in overalls was my maternal grandfather, Mr. Williams. He was known as a Two Headed Man in the Ville. According to family history, people would come to Mr. Williams with their problems. After listening, he would tell them which herbs to gather. Then, he wold use a #5 tub to wash their feet with an herbal infusion. The man in the white suit was his senior brother, John. While Mr. Williams functioned as a neighborhood healer in his spare time, John Williams was a professional healer, who had used the earnings of his craft to pay for his younger brother's vocational education. Their father, Green Green, was enslaved in Mississippi. Perhaps it was he who taught them the craft. Based upon my understanding of the dream, John wanted Mr. Williams to join him in his Hoodoo practice but when he refused, the obligation fell to me.
Living in Accordance With One's Destiny as Defined by the Ancestors
In a study on dream analysis among the Nguni people of South Africa, several informants reported dreams wherein their ancestors came to them and demanded that they comply with the obligations of their lineages. In one instance, a man recalled a dream wherein an old man, who was probably his grandfather, did not say anything to him but revealed a certain bag. He interpreted the dream by firstly recalling that his grandfather had been diviner and herbalist , and continued:
"If a person looks at you in a dream without saying anything he is cross with you. So my grandfather was cross with me because I was stubborn. Six. months later I got sick and... have been sick since then. the (traditional priests) say I must not look straight but also at the back (past). They say "You are supposed to work for yourself... because your grandfather prepared things for you before you were born'".
In the interpretation he expresses his responsiveness to the mood of the person in, the dream. The figure presents as being annoyed and dissatisfied with the informant's actions which are described as "stubbornness". There is a conflict within the dream between the wishes of the informant on the one hand, and the "ancestor" on the other . The conflict relates to the person fulfilling a destiny prepared for him "before" he was "born".
The informant is apparently not living in accordance with his own possibilities as revealed by his ancestor. His destiny is revealed as not being within his own control, but through dreams and events, he is made aware of his potential life possibilities, which involves a relationship with a cosmic mode of existence. His failure t.o follow the life which had been "prepared" for him results in him becoming sick. His sickness, however, is meaningful, as it is instrumental in causing him to review his life and life-possibilities, and take cognisance of his ancestor's wishes.
His life process is defined not only in terms of the present, but in terms of the past, as well as the future. His past determines that he has been called to be a healer, like his grandfather. His future, if he is to recover and be well, determines that he be a healer and take on the responsibilities implied therein.
And so it is for all people of African descent. if we are to be well, we must awaken and fulfill the demands of the Ancestral Promise.
NOTES: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL EXPLICATION OF DREAM INTERPRETATION AMONG RURAL AND URBAN NGUNI PEOPLE
When our obi is accepted, we eat one, downward-facing lobe and one upward-facing lobe. They represent negativity (ibi) and positivity (ire), respectively.
When I asked Chief Lanre to explain why this is the case, he replied, it is because good and evil are born together, tibi tire. The baby is the ire. The placenta is the ibi.
Eating the ibi and the ire represents the synthesis of opposites. It signals the ability to transform both good and evil into fuel for self discovery, growth and expansion.
May your obi be accepted. Ase. May there be no limit to your ability to be healed and made whole. Ase. May you work tirelessly to fulfill your ancestral promise. Ase.
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | OrisaLifestyle.com