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Proverbs

Ifa says:
'The Creator Made Us with Different Qualities'

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Shakpana

Shankpanna, or Shakpana, who also came from the body of yemaya, is the Small-pox god. The name appears to be derived from shan, to daub, smear, or plaster, which probably has reference to the pustules with which a small-pox patient is covered, and akpania,[1] a man-killer, homicide. He is accompanied by an assistant named Buku,[2] who kills those attacked by small-pox by wringing their necks.

Shan-kpanna is old and lame, and is depicted as limping along with the aid of a stick. According to a myth he has a withered leg. One day, when the gods were all assembled at the palace of Obatala, and were dancing and making merry, Shankpanna endeavoured to join in the dance, but, owing to his deformity, stumbled and fell. All the gods and goddesses thereupon burst out laughing, and Shankpanna, in revenge, strove to infect them with small-pox, but Obatala came to the rescue, and, seizing his spear, drove Shankpanna away. From that day Shankpanna was forbidden to associate with the other gods, and he became an outcast who has since lived in desolate and uninhabited tracts of country.

Temples dedicated to Shankpanna are always built in the bush, at some little distance from a town or village, with a view to keeping him away from habitations. He is much dreaded, and when there is an epidemic of small-pox the priests who serve him are able to impose almost any terms they please upon the terrified people, as the price of their mediation, To whistle by night near one of Shankpanna’s haunts is believed to be a certain way of attracting his notice and contracting the disease. As is the case with Sapatan, the small-pox god of the Ewe tribes, who have perhaps adopted the notion from the Yorubas, flies and mosquitos are the messengers of Sbankpanna, and his emblem is a stick covered with red and white blotches, symbolic, it seems, of the marks he makes on the bodies of his victims.

Yoruba Fokelore

Tortoise and the Fly

Once Tortoise and his family fell on hard times and had nothing to eat, but they noticed that their neighbour, Mr. Fly, seemed to be very prosperous and feasted every night.

Tortoise was curious to know how he obtained so much money, and after watching him for some days he discovered that Mr. Fly flew away every morning early with a large empty sack on his back, and returned in the evening with the sack full, and after that his wife would prepare a feast.

One morning Tortoise hid in the sack and waited to see what would happen. Soon Mr. Fly came out of his house, lifted up the sack, and flew away.

He descended at last in the market-place of a large town, where drummers were beating the tones of the dance, and maidens were dancing before a crowd of people.

Mr. Fly laid his sack on the ground, and Tortoise saw him standing beside one of the drummers. When the people threw money, Mr. Fly picked the coins up and hid them in his sack, and by evening he had collected a great quantity. Then he took up the sack again and flew home. Tortoise quickly got out and took most of the money with him, so that poor Mr. Fly was surprised to find the sack almost empty.

This happened several times, until one day as he put money in the sack Mr. Fly caught sight of Tortoise hiding inside it. He was very angry at the trick, and going to the drummer asked him if he had missed any money.

said the drummer. For some days I have been losing coins.

Look inside this sack, replied Mr. Fly, and you will see the thief sitting among the money he has stolen.

The drummer peeped inside the sack and saw Tortoise.

How shall the thief be punished? he cried angrily.

Just tie up the sack, said Mr. Fly, and then beat upon it as if it were a drum.

So the drummer tied up the sack and beat upon it until Tortoise was black and blue, and this is why his back is covered with bruises.

Then Mr. Fly picked up the sack, and flew high up in the air and dropped it. By chance the sack fell down just outside Tortoises house, and neighbours came to tell Nyanribo, his wife, that someone had left a present outside the door. But when she opened the sack in the presence of a crowd of people, she found only Tortoise inside, more dead than alive. Then Mr. Fly made a song and narrated the whole story, and the drummers also played it, and Tortoise and Nyanribo were so ashamed that they left the place and went to live in another country.

Ifa Related

Adechina brings Ifa to Cuba

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Adechina
Remigio Herrera (Obara Meji)


Adechina (“Crown of Fire”) is credited as being one of the most important founding fathers of Ifa in Cuba. A Yoruba born in Africa and initiated as a babalawo there, he was enslaved and taken to Cuba as a young man in the late 1820s. Legend has it that he swallowed his sacred ikin ifa used in divination in order to take them with him across the ocean. An intelligent and gifted man, He worked at a sugar mill until his freedom was paid for in 1827. He later became a powerful property owner in the Havana suburb of Regla. In addition to his large African and Creole religious family he had many influential godchildren from Havana’s Spanish, white elite and had important high society connections. He set up a famous religious institution, the Cabildo of the Virgin of Regla (the Cabildo Yemaya) in around 1860, which became a powerful center of Ifa and Orisha worship. Along with his daughter, the famous Ocha priestess Echu Bi, he organized the annual street procession on the feast day of the Virgin of Regla, every September 7th. Each year seminal Afrocuban drummers like Pablo Roche Okilakpa would sound the mighty Ilú batá in honor of Yemaya as they processed around the town. Incredibly, Adechina is also reputed to have returned to Africa, the land of his birth, in order to acquire the sacred materials needed to initiate babalawos. He returned again to Cuba with these sacred items in order to build Ifa there.

All the mojubas (prayers and recitals of lineage to honor the ancestors) of babalawos in Cuba include Adechina.

A great man who helped carry African profound spiritual knowledge to the Americas.
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