Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Modupue Baba!

Today is the fourteenth anniversary of my initiation into Santeria as a priest of Obatala Yeku-Yeku.

I don't perform many of the proper rituals of the religion; I have no godchildren; I'm not marking my birthday with the typical celebration. Not because I don't love Obatala, or the religion which so informs my inner world, I do. I will refresh my orisha shrine, and offer some fruit. And then go to work in the regular world, carrying a secret flame inside my head. I'll light a candle for them in the evening. Play some orisha music. And another day will pass. Another day that I thank Obatala for explaining me, for blessing me with his identity, his ways, his ori, his aché. I thank Obatala for my sense of identity, for a sense of completion, for a sense of destiny. I thank Obatala for bringing me closer to God; for seeing all the connections in the Universe, all the spirit and energy and life. I thank Obatala for wisdom and knowledge, and for all my quirks and eccentricities as well as for my intelligence and creativity. I thank Obatala for love and my family and my home and my job and my health too, these things are all wonderful and important. I thank the people in my life who helped me get here: my godfather and elders in the religion as well as my ancestors and parents and friends. I thank Obatala for teaching me that religion isn't for show; it doesn't make me any better, or more or less human than anybody else, it just deepens my experience of the mysteries of life. Most of them joyful. Some of them sad. A few of them frightening. And even some of them dull and dreary. But all of them worth it, sewn together in a tapestry with rough white thread.

This day is not really any different than any others. It's my lucky day; like yesterday, like tomorrow. I get to be who I am.

Thank God for that. Thank Obatala.


  1. I may be misreading, but do you treat your Santero initiation anniversary as your birthday?

    Do you still celebrate your literal anniversary of birth, in the Western medical sense?

  2. I do still celebrate my actual birthday (and that's coming up next week!) but you're right, most Santeros treat their ocha birthday a lot more significantly. You're supposed to have a party with a giant special altar called a "throne" and invite all the santeros you know and feed them.

    A friend of mine calls her "medical" birthday her earthday, which I quite like.

  3. that's neat! well, happy birthday in advance then, in both senses!