Saturday, January 01, 2022

The Orishas Speak: The 2022 Letter of the Yoruba Association of Cuba (Letra del Año para el 2022 de la Asociación Yoruba de Cuba) and My Preliminary Interpretation


Posted to the Facebook page of the Yoruba Association of Cuba (of interest, one of the comments noted the absence of more senior members of the babalawo community; a response noted that "ha sido un año.duro de grandes pérdidas hasta en la vida religiosa" (it has been a hard year with great loses even in the religious community)

Pix Credit Asociación Cultural Yoruba de Cuba

Orunmila! Elérí Ípin, Ìbikeji Olódumarè, A-je-jù-Oògùn, Obìriti, A-p'ijó-ikú-da, Olúwa mi, A-to-i-ba-j'ayé, Òrò à-bi-kú-j'igbo, Olúwa mi, Ajiki, Ógégé a-gb'ayé-gún; Odúdú ti nídú orí emèrè; A-tún-orí-tí-kò sunwòn se, A-mo-i-kú. Olówa Aiyere, Agiri Ilé-Ilógbón; Olúwa mi; amoimotán, A kò mo O tàn kose, A ba mo tàn kose, A bà mo tán ìbà se ke. [Orunmila, the witness of our fate, Second to Olodumaré, you are more effective than medicine, You are the immense presence that avoids the day of death, Lord Almighty save us, mysterious spirit that battles death. Salutations are due you first in the morning, for you are the force than produces equilibrium among the forces on Earth, you are the one than can reconstruct  the creature  whose lot in life is bad, you are the repairer of bad luck, those who come to you encounter immortality. Lord and undeposable ruler, perfection in the house of wisdom, Lord infinite in knowledge, we who fail to know you  fully will fail, if we could but know you fully, all would be well with us.]   (Afolabi A Epiga and John Philip Niemark, The Sacred Ifa Oracle (Brooklyn, NY: Athelia Henrietta Press, 1995))

So begins the invocations of the Babalawós of IFA to Orunmila, that divine manifestation of wisdom and the conduit through which such wisdom is sometimes made available to humanity. Such wisdom is, as is traditional in many places and among many cultures, oracular. It is provided through manifested by other divine manifestations, in the case of IFA, through  Ellegua/Esu, the tricky and quite moody divine manifestation of divine spirit of connection, before the work of divination, of connection to the divine, may be commenced.

Every religion connects the structures of divinity to the human communities around which their worship is structured and social, political, economic, and cultural communities are organized. To that end, the priestly caste platys a very specific role as mediator, interpreter, and as the incarnation of a social order grounded in divine principles and rules.

In most states, the priestly role has been transformed.  But it is useful, as one examines the priestly role in modern western states, to consider a more traditional relationship between the priest and the state.  One of the more interesting manifestations of the role of religion within political life is that of the priests of the practitioners of the old religions of Africa as re-established in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Marxist-Leninist Cuba.  (here)
That priestly role is exercised in very specific ways among the great traditions of Western Religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  It shows a more variegated vigor among Non-Western religious traditions.  These are well known.  Yet most of these have sought to marginalize the great traditions of African religions as a barbaric variant of primitive idol worship that had been suppressed elsewhere.  And yet those religious traditions remain as vibrant, their theologies as complex, and their practices as rich as those other religious traditions that have sought over many centuries to supplant them.  And so it was in the early hours of the 1st of January that leaders of the various branches of the Afro Cuban religious communities met.
To that end, at the start of every year the leaders of the great indigenous religion of Cuba conduct, through a series of ceremonies, a general divination for the country.  The results of that divination, and its advice, is organized into a "Letter of the Year" (Letra del Año) (on the history of the Letras del año see HERE (Historia de la Ceremonia de la Letra del Año )).
La letra indica que es lo que comunican los Orichas a las família de santo y creyentes, como les irá en el transcurso del año en curso, y lo que deberán hacer para que, las posibles tragedias venideras no los agarre tan desprevenidos. Por esa letra, se regirán todos los familiares de ese ilé (casa) sin excepción, durante todo ese año, y en ella quedan determinados cuales limpiezas (Ebbós) deben hacerse todos los miembros. [The letter indicates what the Orishas communicate to the orisha communities and uninitiated believers (the laity), how they will fare in the course of the current year, and what they must do so that possible coming tragedies do not catch them so unprepared. The letter serves without exception as the rules and instructions that serve as the basis for the governance (and guidance) of those religious communities, each ilé (house), throughout that year, and in it are determined which cleanings (Ebbós) all the members should undertake.] (EcuRed, Letra del Año)).

The object of the annual letter is to provide guidance for the nation and its people, as well as more technical advice for the orisha communities of initiates and believers. More specifically it is meant to provide guidance for faith practitioners otherwise unable to receive more specific guidance within their own branch.

Traditionally each of the major houses provided their own annual divination.  In Cuba a process of consolidation resulted in agreement among the major houses for a major joint divination and the production of a single national augury.  The year 2021 marked the 6th year of an important change, in which many of the most important branches of the faith came together to produce a unified letter under the aegis of the Asociación Cultural Yoruba de Cuba (ACYC). It also marked the last year of that union.   

The rupture was a long time coming.  In 2019 there was some confusion over the authenticity of the Letter of the Year with two appearing in the early hours of the new year.  That was cleared up but not to everyone's satisfaction. 2020 proved to be a more difficult year. It caused the IFA practitioners to change their divination ceremonies in light of the realities of the pandemic.  

La Asociación informa además, que Las Ceremonias de La Letra del Año 2021, se realizarán a «puertas cerradas», participando los Sacerdotes que sean Convocados, siempre que no excedan el total de 100 personas como medida sanitaria frente al Covid-19, enfatizan la necesidad de entender que quienes no sean convocados no podrá acceder a las instalaciones.(Consejo Cubano De Sacerdotes Mayores De Ifá , Letra del Año 2021).

But 2021 saw major fracture.  First ACYC responded harshly to efforts by women practitioners in Holguin to divine their own letter of the year for Cuba. That was condemned in the harshest terms ("Asociación Yoruba de Cuba acusa de profanación a mujeres que emitieron Letra del Año: Hasta el momento el grupo de mujeres que dictó la Letra del Año no se ha pronunciado al respecto," CiberCuba (11 January 2021) which includes the original denunciation posted to the ACYC Facebook page). The letter from the women of Holguin was never widely circulated.  Fatal to the union of the various branches of Afro-Cuban religion in producing the Letter of the year was the decision, bitterly denounced, to severely limit those who participated in the divination that produced the 2021 Letter. 

Pix Credit ADV Cuba
La tradicional "Letra del Año para Cuba", que cada primero de enero se da a conocer en la isla con los vaticinios de lo que sucederá de acuerdo a la divinidad regente, este año no contó con la participación de los babalawos independientes integrantes de la Comisión de la Letra del Año Miguel Febles Padrón. Desde La Habana, el sacerdote de Ifá, Víctor Betancourt, dijo que la oficialista Asociación Cultural Yoruba rompió con los acuerdos establecidos desde 2016 y este año hicieron la ceremonia "a puerta cerrada, sin convocar a nadie de la comisión". En 2016 ambos grupos de babalawos cubanos decidieron por el bien de la religión establecer una sola letra del año, pero acordaron ciertas reglas para el día de la ceremonia. Pero este año, la Asociación Cultural Yoruba incumplió con lo acordado aduciendo medidas por la pandemia, ("Asociación Yoruba dejó fuera a babalawos independientes en ceremonia de Letra del Año para Cuba," (4 January 2021)) 

The official explanation was pandemic related, but for an important segment of the community it appeared political.  Those excluded tended to be members of the so-called independent babalwo community. Accusations were then traded and rupture became inevitable between the "oficialistas" and the "independientes" (for reporting see, e.g., Conflicto por Letra del Año: ¿yorubas oficialistas dejaron fuera a babalawos independientes?," ADV Cuba 2021). This is a rupture that is likely to have staying power.  And it is unclear where women practitioners in the community may also influence events or begin to serve as an independent source of divination, something traditionalists will likely to continue to oppose.   This fracture has carried over to the diaspora community, especially in Miami and speaks to a wider dialogue (see, e.g., here; for my discussion of the difficulties in the last years of the union, see 2021; 20202019; 2018).

The result changes the complexion of the Letter of the Year, and perhaps ts stature.  It may also affect its oracular strength.  That remains to be seen. But this context is important in considering the Letra del Año that was divined in the early hours of 1 January 2022 after earlier preparation in ACYC in December 2021 ("El 1 de diciembre la Asociación Cultural Yoruba de Cuba ya había dado a conocer una "profecía de Preapertura para la Letra del año 2022", que en ese caso marcó "mal de enfermedad" y dispuso como ofrenda "dos cocos, dos velas y una jícara con agua"." CiberCuba Reporting here ("On December 1, [ACYC] had already released a "Pre-opening prophecy for the Letter of the year 2022", which in that case emphasized "sickness" and arranged as an offering "two coconuts, two candles and a gourd with water "")). In neither case were these ceremonies or rituals undertaken without the participation of the major branches of the religious community. I suspect that while the oracular pronouncements will be no less sound than in the past, the interpretation of that pronouncement might be subject to greater interrogation.

For the last ten years I have written of the annual letter of the Cuban Council of the High Priests of Ifá (Consejo Cubano De Sacerdotes Mayores De Ifá), the practitioners of traditional religion brought over from West Africa with the slave trade and now naturalized as a powerful indigenous religion throughout the Caribbean and now growing in the United States. (e.g., 2021; 20202019; 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015; 2014; 2013; 2012). 

The 2021 Letter of the Year is particularly interesting after several years of oracular suggestions (2019-2020) of turmoil and explosion--ones which culminated, in a perhaps unexpected way in the pandemic and its production not merely of death and suffering, but in the rage that it set free, a rage beyond reason but triggered byreasoned reaction. For 2022, more rupture is predicted--and a quite dynamic one. The guiding aspect of the Divine spirit for the year is Obatala; representing rule by the divine aspects of reason and of reason that is also disordered. It recalls the Letter of 2020:

  Consider Obatala, the elder Orisha, the embodiment of deliberation and reason. This is the church Elder; this is the Daoist monk, this is the Hierophant in a tarot deck. This is Oba Moro, the old man who requires quiet and does not like being disturbed, or Oshanlá, the old woman who prefers to sit all day on her porch knitting in the way of the Norse Norns the fates of everyone. But this is also Ayaguna, and Obanlá, fiery tempered warriors. This is the Obatala who created the Earth for Olodumaré, but also the drunken Obatala who in his inebriation created a malformed humanity which he was thereafter obligated to protect. This will be the year of the rational Obatala seeking creative perfection from reason, but also the drunken Obatalá creating obligations through imperfection. Rationality will itself serve as its own challenge. (Larry Catá Backer Analysis Letter of the Year 2020).

But 2022 is the year of a double Obatala. The accompanying guiding divine force is Oshanla. She is grandma and Erda--she who weaves the fates of people and their collectives. She is sometimes understood as a path of Obatala. She helps humans, but that does not mean she helps them in ways that they think best. This is a taste of what can be expected in full measure in 2022.  
 The Letra del Año 2022 follows (in Spanish and with English translation in parts) along with my analysis and discussion (in English). The letter may be accessed in full on the ACYC Facebook Page (here) or from CiberCuba (here). The Letra del Año of the independistas (Fraternidad Miguel Febres Padron) may be accessed HERE.




A los sacerdotes de Ifá, Obá Oriate, Babaloshas, Iyaloshas, Iworo, al Pueblo en general y a quien pueda interesar:

El 31 de Diciembre de 2021 en la sede social de la “INSTITUCIÓN RELIGIOSA ASOCIACIÓN CULTURAL YORUBA DE CUBA”, sita en Prado # 615 entre Monte y Dragones, Municipio La Habana Vieja, Cuba, se reúnen los Sacerdotes de Ifá para realizar la ceremonia de LA LETRA DEL AÑO 2022, Presidida por el Sacerdote Mayor de Ifá Antonio Sevilla Rodriguez “Awo Babá Ofün Meyi” y el respaldo de La Junta Directiva, Consejo de Sacerdotes Mayores de la República de Cuba y sus Extensiones de Funcionamientos Provinciales e invitados de otras naciones. Sacó la Letra el Sacerdote Mayor antes mencionado.





ONISHE: OSHUN YALORDE ALADIMÚ OSHINSHIN (Revoltillo de huevo, berro o verdolaga) 







En este signo nacen:

-Los ríos.

-Los vasos sanguíneos y la linfa.

-La dispersión de los idiomas.

-La gran consagración de Orí.

Refranes del signo:

-El elefante es muy fuerte pero no lo suficiente para derrotar al viento.

-Ningún gorro puede ser más famoso que una corona.

-La cabeza lleva el cuerpo y un solo rey gobierna un pueblo.

-Rey muerto rey puesto.

-Todo lo tengo y todo me falta.

-Es un error no aprender de los errores cometidos.

-Mientras hay vida, hay esperanzas.

-Dios le da barba a quien no tiene quijada.

Enfermedades que se pronostican:

-Problemas cardiovasculares, sobre todo en la válvula mitral.

-Enfermedades de los vasos sanguíneos y la linfa.

-Trastornos del sistema nervioso.

-Enfermedades de la columna vertebral y el esternón, sostén de la caja torácica.

-Enfermedades de ceguera y afecciones visuales.

-Problemas respiratorios.

-Enfermedades de transmisión viral y de transmisión sexual.



-Este Oddun sugiere la organización en todas las esferas de la vida.

-Se recomienda a la población darnos un pargo a la cabeza previa consulta con Orunmila.

-Se recomienda paciencia y serenidad ante los problemas de la vida.

-Debemos ser humildes y sencillos, evitar la soberbia y las malas formas.

-Se recomienda velar por el cuidado de la higiene y las medidas sanitarias para evitar la propagación de enfermedades contagiosas y/o producidas por vectores.

-Baldeos de los hogares con agua añilada.

-Mantener una atención sistemática a los ancestros con sacrificios y ofrendas de todo tipo.

-Prestar mayor atención en el hogar a la educación de los niños y jóvenes.

-Establecer Acuerdos favorables sobre Políticas Migratorias para evitar pérdidas de vidas humanas.

-Fortalecer el trabajo educativo y social para reducir los hábitos de tabaquismo y alcoholismo en la población.

-Cuidar y fomentar los programas de protección materno infantil.

-Respetar la institución del matrimonio.

-Cumplimentar y recibir Orishanla todo aquel que lo tenga pendiente.

-Continuar prestando especial atención al grupo de edad denominado Adulto Mayor.


The Divinination for 2022 appears at war with itself.  That is the divination itself and its interpretation do not align. They do not align in significant ways.   But it is possoble to develop something  like a bridge that may help bring a little clarity both to the Divination and to  what it may suggest for proplee facing 2022.  It speaks to hierarchy and order; to order and prosperity, and to the vertical arrangement of power that cannot be displaced.  Thus from the oddu's the Letter suggests a singularly well aligned set of "sayings (refranes): Sayings of the sign: 
"-The elephant is very strong but not strong enough to defeat the wind; -No hat can be more famous than a crown; -The head carries the body and a single king governs a people; -Dead King Replaced King; -I have everything and I lack everything; -It is a mistake not to learn from the mistakes made; -As long as there is life, there is hope; -God gives a beard to those who do not have a jawbone."

These suggest a binary with a likely outcome: challenges to power and the ultimate defeat of the challenge because of the inherent character of power.  Elephants cannot defeat the wind, but can distract it; hats are not more famous than crowns, but they can certainly seek to displace the crown, or over it with the common; the head carries the body like the king carries the nation, but a dead body or nation, or a body or nation that reacts badly to what the head does can kill both; one can simultaneously have and lack everything, yet the concept of being sated and hungry suggests pathology rather than profundity because it suggests that what one wants and lacks is the capacity for satisfaction; it is a mistake to fail to learn from mistakes yet what one learns may what one is expected to learn and thus learn nothing at all; life and hope exist simultaneously, yet hope itself; and God indeed gives to those in need, but God has a sense of humor--to the person without a jaw he gives a beard to hide his jawlessness. And so on.  But the thrust is clear: respect authority, be grateful for the serendipity of responses to need, understand one's needs by what is told to need  or want, and accept the learning from those in a leadership position that can teach, and that the collective leadership is fungible but leadership is not.  

That uncertainty is what Obatala-Oshanla as guiding manifestations of the divine suggest. The reigning Orishas suggest the fundamental character of the year 2022, at least with respect to the way that human activity will likely be framed--a tension between the rationality of the surface and the irrationality that lies underneath; of the interplay between restraint and passion; and of the powerful attacks on order and those who hold its reins. This is a year of unsuccessful revolution, of challenges that may not succeed but that may weaken all orders. This is the year of rational irrationality, of creative destruction that is both rational and irrational. It is a year of great passion, if dishonesty, and of violence.

This fundamental tendencies that will mark all events in 2022 are nicely expanded in the principal oddus for 2020.  The oddus (reflections based on the translations and oddus in The Sacred Ifá Oracle (Afolabi A. Epega and Philip Neimark, Brooklyn NY: Athelia Henrietta Press, 1995). Let us consider each in turn briefly:


Baba Ejiogbe (no. 1) reminds us that the learning from the letra del año of 2020 is not yet done. Ejoigbe was the second supporting oddu then, it is the principal oddu now. It appears positive, and powerfully so at first glance.  It speaks to victory, awakenings, and peace of mind, but also of the price of victory, and its context in which challenge, deceit, and exploitation  are inexorably tied to the first principles of power and wish fulfillment. Ejiogbe corresponds to the IChing's male power hexagram (Qian-Force) and the tarot's major arcana designation of Strength. This is the father of oddus (Obatala this year), one in which both sides are identical; its converse is Oyekumeji, the mother of oddus (Oshun in 2020 but now, and quite signficantly Oshanla in 2022). 

Only at the peril of analysis and interpretation can one choose to receive the wisdom of Ejiogbe without thinking of the shadow of Oyeku.  On the surface Ejiogbe speaks to wish fulfillment and the positive.  But force without context is uncontrolled--the passion of the positive which can destroy everything in its wake; which can drown the rest of the world in its self-reflexive drive toward the fulfillment of the self; it speaks to the power of the positive and to its distortion. Egiogbe is about fecundity--the power of generation and the protection of progeny. It initiates the cycle of forward movement--but that movement is only possible within the nurturing space of Oyeku.  Alone it is the essence of will that goes nowhere--it cleaves, it destroys, it creates that space for the new, it is forward motion; but once it dissipates, once that pulse is spent, there is nothing, or things turn out badly.  The story of Obtala and the creation of humanity is instructive here.

Olodumare then sent Obatala to earth once more, this time to create man. Obatala went to earth with the materials of creation. He descended upon Ife, the wide landmass, and began to create man out of clay. As he did this work, he became very tired. He came upon a receptacle filled with palm wine, and he drank and became drunk. As he continued his work, he created the victims of his drunkenness, various afflicted people. Finally, exhausted, he fell into a deep sleep. Some say that Esu, the divine trickster, Orunmila's messenger, unhappy with Obatala's success as a creator, tempted Obatala with the palm wine. (Obatala is Tempted With Palm Wine)

Here it is worth noting the importance of the story to the 2022 oddus--Esu here represents the incarnation of the wisdom of the supporting oddu (discussed below)--ogunda bede. It also speaks to tasks that must be taken up by others to be completed.  That is the supporting role of Ishanla in 2022--to pic up the pieces after the violence of creation or challenge and then to nurture them into something positive--a prosperity and stability built on the shambles of failures, deception (Esu) and desire. Thsi applies in the personal lives of those who recieve tis wisodm as much as it appliues to the institutions and collectives (large, small, powerful and weak) who all appear headed toward the confrontation of the heart of the melee that is proffered as our lot in 2022 by the conjunction of ejoigbe, ogundabede, and quite significantly of ofun 'gbe.

Ejiogbe, then, speaks to light, to security and prosperity, to victory iver enemies, and to internal peace. That is, ejiogbe is divined for those seeking peace and prosperity--it does not promise either, but suggests the context in which it may be attempted (but not necessarily attained).  In these cases sacrifice is necessary--the price that will have to be paid. Ejoigbe reminds those receiving its wisdom that this price or sacrifice is not externally generated in whole but also represents an active and affirmative offering--the price may be set by the merchant, but what is paid, or offered comes from the purchaser. 

Oswó t'ara; ese t'ara; Otaratara lo difá f'Eleremojú ti ise Iyá;  Agbonniregún; Wón ni ki ó rú  . . . Kiófibo Ifá omo rè; Wón ni: Uwa rè a s'urè; O gbó ó rú. [The hands belong to the body; the feet belong to the body; Otaratara divined Ifa oracle for Eleremojú the mother of Agbonniregún; she was told to sacrifice. . . to be used in appeasing her child's Ifá; they said her life would be prosperous; she obeyed and made the sacrifice. (The Sacred Ifá Oracle, supra, p.2).
To protect what one wants, progeny (in every sense of the term--physical, abstract, social etc.) requires sacrifice but it also is connected to the whole. One sacrifices to preserve the whole, and the whole is deployed to protect its parts. But sacrifice is both externally offered, and internally consumed in Ejiogbe. It requires imposition of changing relations outside and internal changes to the body as well.  One does not come out unchanged from Ejiogbe and the prosperity and stability obtained through sacrifice reproduces  in victory a substantial change (depending on the greatness of the objectives sought). But one also uses one's feet and hands, one's children, one's dependencies, one's friends, family, retainers to enhance one's own power and attain fortune. Egiogbe is the divination of the sacrifice of the periphery to attain the objectives of the center. That is the essence of the story of Eleremojú's (the mother of Agbonniregún) sacrifice of animals and Ifá leaves (egbee) to attract good fortune--literally and figuratively--by enhancing the value of Agbonniregún's ikin (sacred palm nuts)--Oswó t'ara; ese t'ara. Egiogbe is also the reminder that the centeritself must sacrifice himself in the support of his peripheries, dependents and the like, is he were to expect to attain what he wanted.  He must, in that sense, offer a sacrifice of himself. That is the story of the overcoming of the sterility of Agbonniregún and his wives through the ingestion of a sacrifice of helpful herbs and nuts (The Sacred Ifá Oracle, supra, pp.2-5).

Egiogbe reminds one that all that positive is built on and around its inverse, and it speaks as well to the price of such victories, awakenings and peace.  There may be much violence, passion, and destruction that serves as the cradle on which peace, awakenings and victory are weaned.  It signifies the masculine principle--it projects; it is not necessarily a painless power.  And that is the emphasis here.  There is also a warming. The drunken Obatala making a mess of the creation of humanity is a reminder of not just the great power of the male principle but of the ease with which it may be debased. That is the warning for 2022. It is a reminder of the importance of sacrifice. It is the oddu of evil and of the unintended consequences of desire. It is the story of the relationship of the banana tree and of the farmer--the former offering its fruit fro good to the farmer (emiunkokunjú)  who repaid good with evil by beheading the banana as a reward for its offering of frruit--"I have everything and I lack everything" as the refranes of the 2022 Letra del Año explains.

Egiogbe warns as well as reassures--to those who sacrifice for the vanguard, for the leader, for the organizer, and is invariably repaid with nothing but exploitation and death. It speaks warning, effectively, to those who would put their trust in the dishonest (Ogunda-bede) and to those who will not heed the warning to protect themselves (Irete-sa), and promises themn that they will be consumed--like the banana--by those who cultivate them. This is the year in which those who cultivate the great fields of humanity will consume them.  It is the warning of exploitation by those who can by those who produce.  For those who are farmed in this way--most of us, the warning could not be more precise.  But it also a suggestion of the cyclicity of exploitation--the banana tree returns to produce more fruit, and the farmer remnains evil.

Okunkun-birimubirimu li o difa f'Eniunkokunju; Won ni kosi eniti o maaq fi oore se ti ko; maa fi ibi suu; A niki o ru; Ada ati akaso; O ko ko ru; Eniunkokunju--oruko ti a npe Agbe; Gbogbo oore ti Ogede se f'Agbe; Ko kun loju; Bibe ni Agbe be Ogede lori nikehin.
[Okunkun-birimubirimu divined Ifa for Eniunkokunju. They said nobody had ever done hin a kindness that he did not repay with evil. We asked him to sacrifice a cutlass and a ladder. He refused to sacrifice, Eniunkokunju--the name we call the farmer. All the good things Ogede (the banana) provided for the farmer were not appreciated. The farmer beheaded Ogede in the end.]
The dishonest farmer and the sacrifice of the banana tree--that is the other side of the context of the sacrifices of Eleremojú and of Agbonniregún.  Together they suggest a coming together and a falling apart--peace and war. What may be peace and security for some (the essence of ejiogbe) will likely be its opposite for others--and that opens both to the dishonest and to violence in return. They suggest as well the atmosphere in which these events will emerge, one that will be torn apart by windshear that is produced in the interactions of rationality and passion. For 2020 one was advised to prepare for conflict, for the exploitation of the rational and the intuitive--for the ingratitude of those who burden life's producers.  For 2022, that advice now becomes an aspect of a positive force that is ejiogbe, what might be is now likely to happen. But for 2022, the contours of that prediction will be modified by ogunda biode (deceit) and ofun nalge (violence). These shaping oddu are discussed next.  


Ogunda Biode (or Ogunda-bede (No. 32)) speaks to integrity and the fiery consequences of failures of integrity (e.g., China's Social Credit System). Here we return to the Letra del Año of 2020.  And, indeed, there is a substantial congruence between the lessons--still unlearned--that were tasked in 2020, and the lessons that must be absorbed in 2022.  But those lessons are now much harder. The oddu could not be clearer:

Eke re'bi ogun pdun ko de Eke re ajo osu mefa ko bo Otito inu ni ajeku ju iro lo. A difa fun Baba Imale ab'ewu-gereje. A ni: biwon d'aye tan iro ni won mi maa pa. A niki won rubo, won ko won ko rubo. [The dishonest traveled for twenty years and failed to return. The dishonest traveled for six months more and failed to return.  Honesty is the best policy divined Ifa for Baba Imale, who was clothed in flowing robes. He was told he would be a liar all his life.  He was asked to sacrifice but he refused to do so.]
Dishonesty is a long road, especially for those who profit from it.  It represents, in the pataki not just an act (of dishonesty) but also its incarnation (the dishonest individual, community, institution, leader, state, business, etc.).   It is not just the person by the thing said OR DONE that speaks to the character of dishonest(y).  They have no intention of changing their character, but still, theirs is the road that never ends but appears to be rewarded. But this is not a reference to personal dishonesty (banal enough in any era); rather it is a reference to communal dishonesty and to the institutions created around dishonesty to reinforce its effects.  It is about the dishonesty in the forms of communal life and in its internal and external relations.  It is not just the person but the ritual, the premise, the practice that itself is both dishonest and that reinforces or provides the space within which dishonesty (the absence of integrity) can flourish. "Iro naa ni awon Imale npatiti di oniloni. Won a mawipe awon ngbaawe Olorun ni odoodun." [Up until today, the Imale are still lying.  They are always saying that they are fasting annually for God."]

But these are also bound up in contradiction--the dishonesty produces wealth but it also exposes that wealth to its own contradiction (and wealth is not necessarily measure din things). 2020 is the year of the dishonest.  Beware the leaders in flowing robes who are both dishonest--and dishonest about their dishonesty. But it is also the year of exposure--a continuation of the arc of events from the 2019 Divination.  But here there is an exposure of a different kind--it speaks to exposure and dispersion by a superior force--here one sees the combination of the incisive rationality of Obatala with the fierce passion of Oschun.
One day Esu asked them why they had been saying that they were fasting for God annually.  Are you saying God is dead? Or is God sad? Do you not realize that is the innate truth? Esu says: Hen! You fast for God; God never dies: Edumare is never sick. Olodumare is never sad. Esu was forced to disperse all of them. The song that Esu sang that day was; We have never heard of Olodumare's death, but that of the dishonest.     
Rationality is matched to passion (the aspects of Obatal); passion to the protection of humanity, though that protection may require painful lessons and confrontations with the limits of  the human capacity for self-destructive behavior (the aspects of Oshanla).  This is not the year for tolerance but for some, the passion of Oshun applied to the rationality of Obatala.  The result--communities everywhere will be put to their proof and there will be turmoil. This turmoil will exist both within and between organized communities, between and within individuals.  This is the year of accounting--accounting for oneself and to others. This is the year where some will be called to account. 

But this is also the year for transition and positioning that enhances the positive in egiogbe: "Ki owo titun o wa mi wa; Ki aya titun o wa ni wa; Ki omo titun o wa ni wa ati beebee" [Let new money seek me out; Let new wives seek me out; Let new children seek me out.]" In counter to the active principle of ejiogbe, though, here one encounters the passive of positioning and the spirit of Oyeku. Here one encounters the protective spirit, the fate weaving energy of Oshanla. 

But for this there is also a need for sacrifice, protective as well as an assertive sacrifice.  But recall sacrifice in the old religion is not necessarily of living things--self sacrifice, the sacrifice of things, the sacrifice of the mind, of the will, of passion.  Sacrifice is the giving of a thing, a rite of purification in the sense of letting go of that which oppresses (abstract or material) for something else. It is Ifa medicine (Ewe Ifa naa). The fecundity of Oshun appeared to suggest the coming and going of things in 2020 when this Oddu also was a significant element of the divination; in 2022 Oshun guides from behind Oshanla. The pattern woven in 2020 will be brought to account in 2022; that may not augur well for those whose actions in 2020 now must account to themselves and to the human collective. 
Ofun nalge (or ofun 'gbe (No. 46)) is the second supporting oddu.  It speaks to conflict--conflict that is imminent and unavoidable--to passion that will  produce hot conflict. These are not merely violent conflicts, but also conflicts in the market, and conflicts based on betrayals.  It is the oddu that is in conflict wit itself--of Ofún intendeding to beat Ogbè to death and of  the tortoise (olobahun ìjapá) who deals with monsters (ewele) in the market and who knows they would kill him as well.  The import is clear.  In the face of challenge, of violence, one can only prepare to face it.  That requires sacrifice.  And sacrifice, the oddus tell us, is hard to make where, in 2022 one is guided by Ogunda biode--and its reminder of the atmosphere of dishonesty within which violence is threatened and made imminent..
This is the manifestation of Obatala Ayagunna--young, aggressive, and more than willing to project his will outwards toward and against others.  It is a path to peace through violence, or to its protection through the same methods. It has been put nicely this way:
He represents the will of the character, voluntary and not to regret the decisions are what they are. If there is no discord there is no progress and it does not advance the world. His wife is called Eyuaro, she is the favorite daughter of Olodumare (she has no power in Ocha ) .she is only represented by a doll dressed in white next to his sopera.This Obatala spreads gunpowder and war by wherever he wants and goes. He is strong, young, it does not shake, He dresses in white with a red strip that crosses his chest, Since when cutting heads with his sword he wipes the blood clean on his white clothes. It was this Obatala that said to Olodumare: I will make the war until the day's end. And Olodumare answered . Until you feel the need to rest they will spend a millennium till that day arrives. (Youruba Religious Concepts; Paths of Obatala)
Here one encounters the story of Ofún when he sought to beat Ogbè to death (Ôfún nlo na Ogbè pa), Ofun was advised to sacrifice.  Yet it is the context that is important--igi rere, igi igbó, igi rere, igi òdàn [good tree; jungle tree; sheltering tree; Odan tree]. The Odan tree is sometimes worshipped, though it can be punished when its branches fall on people who shelter beneath it and are killed or hurt.  Yet at the same time the Odan shelters and life goes on in its shade (e.g., here, here and here). Life is ended, but sometimes the tree itself springs back to life--altered but still viable (Fallen wonder tree in Oyo pulls crowd after rising again [Photos] ). Indeed the story of the fallen Odan Tree in Oyo in 2021 is instructive here:
Pix credit ("some of the criwd at the site of the resusitated tree))
Hundreds of bewildered residents of Oyo thronged the site of a fallen tree in Sabo, in the western Nigerian state of Oyo, after it miraculously rose again on Tuesday. The century old tree, called Igi Odan, had fallen Monday during a rain storm, killing four persons who had sought shelter under it. When it fell, it was severed from the roots. Loggers were called in to help retrieve the dead and injured victims on Monday. In a video shared by Inspiration FM, branches of the tree had been cut into fine wood by the loggers. But in a mysterious way, the tree rose back on its roots again, about 24 hours after on Tuesday. The Oyo people found it incredible, that a tree deemed dead could spring back to life. The Oyo people found it incredible, that a tree deemed dead could spring back to life. Hundreds of people were attracted to the scene, as they shared folk stories about the tree said to have been planted by a Sango worshipper. The Punch reported that the Oyo monarch, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, also visited the scene to commiserate with the families of the people who died when the tree fell.. .Bode Durojaye, the media aide of Alaafin said: “He went there. The fallen tree rose back again mysteriously. Kabiyesi condoled with the people there over the sad incident.”
Ôfún and Ogbè may beat each other to death; they will do this under the shade of the Odan Tree; the Odan Tree may itself fall on those who fight, and be cut down as a consequence by the followers of both camps, only to return again, if in altered form, to shelter those who will fight again. But the larger point here--so intent on fighting each other, it may be that neither look up to see the tree that shelters them falling on them and killing them both.
It points as well to the story of the tortoise (olobahun ìjapá) who deals with monsters (ewele) in the market.
Ofún no'ra, Aja no'ra; li o dífá f'Olobahun Ìjapá; nlo bawon n'ojá Ewele; a niki o wa rúbo kioma gbe s'ohun; Akuko adiye meta, egbètaelogbon owó ati ede; Ö gbó ó rú [Ofún no'ra, Aja no'ra; divined Ifá for the tortoise (Olobahun Ìjapá); when he was going to market with the monsters  (Ewele); He was advised to offer sacrifice in order to return safely; three cocks, sixty-six hundred coweries, and lobsters (ede) should be sacrificed; He heeded the advice and performed the sacrifice (he grew old: Ö gbó ó rú)].
The tortoise goes to market--the land of monsters--and he wants to grow old. That requires preparation, sacrifice. The market exacts a  price and requires vigilance.  But from it prosperity and stability. The monsters remain unsatisfied. And that keeps events dynamic.


As I have mentioned before, the Letra del Año is not a prediction in the sense of TV movies, or of fairy tales. It is meant to work like the I Ching and perhaps in its own cruder way Tarot, to provide a basis for guidance in thinking through actions planned or against which response is necessary, or to prepare for the possibilities of things or events following a particular pattern. And indeed the archetypes built into the oddus provide advice and direction but not instruction in the sense of precise prediction of action and reaction.  But it does suggest the pattern that is likely to be manifested in the year and the points of emphasis at evey level of social existence--each manifesting in different ways and with substantially different consequences (e.g., fight with my children versus invade Ukraine; versus challenge the power of leaders in collectives). What is suggested, though is a continuation of the dynamic state of the world at every level. This remains a year of deception, of the exercise of power and its challenge, of the imminence of persuasion through violence--whether physical or coercive--and of the resentment and reaction to such violence.  It is clear that all matters remain unsettled, and that everything is subject to questioning, and to the responses that result from the very aggressive exercise of imperium--at home, in the office, among peers, with inferiors, or more formally and collectively. 
This will be the year of explosions--sometimes subtle and unnoticed at first, and sometimes quite showy. It is the year where people and institutions will pull rank and seek to use status to advantage; it will be a year where tolerance of challenge will be inversely related to position in status hierarchies; and a year where those who can will succomb to the temptations of revenge and retribution.  It is a year to be wary of one's superiors, but also one in which one's superiors will be necessarily undermined. It is the year of resentment, and of a lack of empathy in the face of the lust to grasp the fruits of one's desire. It will be the year that expands the human capacity for gaslighting--for the sort of deception that suggests that what one experiences, sees, or experiences does not. It is the year for people to plan defensively to protect what is important--but also to question the importance of the thing to be protected.  It is a year that even the measure of winning and losing may be changed--it appears the Odan Tree will fall without regard to status or desire--and that, having been chopped away, will appear again to shelter and destroy those who seek its shelter.  That is the human condition for 2022, and that is what egiogbe, ogunda biode, and ofun nalge suggest. That applies with greater force for those who increasingly mindlessly or capriciously exercise the power that has been placed in their charge by operation of social, economic, political, or religious rules.  Those are the great Odan trees of this year--and they may fall down and hurt a lot of people even as people beneath them seek to beat each other to death in the service of their vision of security and prosperity.  But with collapse comes rebirth--changed, violent, bloody (in physical or abstract senses) but bloody all the same. As the 2022 Letra refane notes: Rey muerto rey puesto. Under the Odan Tree the king may survive or die, but there will always be a king--and the Odan tree. 
A final note: I have not spoken to the obvious--the pandemic. It is unnecessary in this context because it is woven into much of the oracular points aleardy made.  The pandemic plays a central role still, to be sure, but does not need an oracle to make that clear.  What is more important is the nature of the conseqeunces and of the manifestaiton of those conseqerunces in the 2022 year. It is to that which the oddus are directed. The pandemic is a space within, through abd against which the trajectories of human interactions--in this case of violence, deceit, power will play out.  The pandemic presents the danger to the tortoise as well as in the markets where the tortoise must deal. The focus on economic danger becomes clear. The physical violence of Ôfún and Ogbè may be backgrounded by the pandemic or arise within it. States weakened by pandemic are easier to beat--even to death.  Certainly political leadership made weaker by the panemic may also be beaten to death by their own people or from outside.  Emiunkokunjú, the farmer replayingthe faithful banana tree with evil--taking its fruit and beheading the tree--speaks qite clearly not just to ecobnomic relationships but to the potential this exploitatve relationship may be based on deceit which when exposed will produce violence. And the mechanism for such exposure is the pandemic.  The oracle suggests thiese possibilities in this year as points of focus.That is its value--the focus on certain tendencies that may be far more submerged in other years.

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