I recently visited a spiritual curio shop in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Everything about the experience was unique. For starters, the place was very bright and well-lit. No dusty figurines. No cluttered display cases. No shadowy corners. Instead, there were 8-10 shelves, stocked with a variety of spiritual healing oils. Some were labeled by their functions. Others were labeled by their contents. I was particularly intrigued by the High John oil because of the importance of John the Conqueror in Hoodoo.
However, the most distinguishing feature of this particular shop was the fact that it was operated by four Black men; the eldest and most authoritative of whom was very dark and lean… He reminded me of Snoop Dog, to be honest. His features and mannerisms were lanky and tree-like. The next eldest was very light skinned, with a white beard. There was a cunning, even mischievous aire about him. The third among them – who was in his mid forties - was tall, thin and brown skinned, with a very deliberate gaze. He wasted no time in demonstrating that was a seer, a living oracle. He spoke to me in proverbs, making sure I was properly reading between the lines.
There’s no doubt about it; Trinidad is Orisa country. The heritage is strong there and it has had an indelible impact upon Trinidadian popular culture. Everything from Calypso to provisions are direct manifestations of Orisa Lifestyle. Of course, the most tangible evidence of Yoruba tradition survives in the medicines, rituals and ceremonies dedicated to the Orisa. I was so deeply honored to spend a little time with the Iwori Meji Temple, lead by the family of Awotunde Elebuibon. Baba Mitch – as he is known in the community – is part of an important Orisa Lineage, rooted in Port of Spain’s Belmont district.
During our very brief time together, we could see that what elders say is absolutely true; When one ori is blessed it reaches out to two hundred others. Within ten minutes of meeting one another, Baba Mitch and I were on Trinidadian radio, in the presence of his family, as well as responsible elders, like Baba Neal Rawlins and Iya Fabunmi Rhonda Valentine, making prayers for the entire Nation! Shortly thereafter, we were in communion with the divinities through song, drum and chant. Finally, we were made privy to the wise directives of Ifa.
We pray that our ancestors will continue to allow us to envision good people and that our feet will continue to carry us to the place where good people meet. Ase! We remember what Ifa has taught us, that When we get to the house of a respected elder, we bend down low! Orunmila wanted to know who among all the Orisa could accompany their devotee on a long journey, even across the oceans, without ever turning back. One by one, all the Orisa claimed the ability and oe by one, they all failed. It was Ori alone who could accompany its devotee on a long journey, even across the sea, and never depart from him or her.
And so, we give eternal thanks to the blessings that Ori has seen even when we ourselves have been blinded. Ase! We give thanks that our feet have brought us into the presence of good people. Ase! We pray that soon, we shall reconvene in greater abundance at the feet of Ope, the sacred palm of Orunmila! ASE!!!
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | OrisaLifestyle.com