A Primer to use of the Ancestor Shrine and 4 Cowry (Obi) Divination
With the exception of our Ori, no Orisa approachs the level of closeness that we have with our Egun (Ancestors). Because we have shared life experiences with them we are at ease in their presence. Even when your dearest relative is gone you can pick up their favorite shawl, pipe or book. We maintain a level of connection that if need be, can be triggered by only remembering them and their ways. It is no wonder that we are taught as Orisa worshippers to take the majority of our problems to them first, before we approach the Orisa. We feel secure in knowing that just as when they were living, they still care for us and look out for our interests. However, in learning to perfect our communication with the Egun we must not take a “cookie cutter” approach, but rather learn the ways our specific Egun work for us. To build more effective relationships with our Egun we must take into account two prominent factors. First we must look at our own individual make up, our tenancies, our strengths and weaknesses, and needs and method of learning. Also, we must acquaint ourselves with the attitudes our family line has about self-reliance, spiritual growth, ethics and the manner in which our elders typically aid and teach.
While everyone has a grandmother, that relationship is not the same for each of us. Even within the same family relatives relate to one another very differently. Your grandmother may have spanked every child and grandchild that she had, except you. She might have sensed that this kind of care would make you rebellious, or that a simple “talking to” was suffice. Maybe you were very close to your father’s sister when she was alive, but your other siblings rarely spoke or spent time with her. So, when she was alive she loaned you large sums, or helped you study for exams. So, knowing the discinct nature of relationships sets the tone for who and how you approach in the Ancestral Realm.Unless that Egun transcends or takes on new approachs while in Orun (Heaven) we generally stick to the family that has been kind to us in life. Also, we steer clear from relatives that lived turbulent or unethical lives.
When we go to our Egun for assistance we must be aware of both how they teach and how we learn. It took me sometime to realize that my Egun teach in the only way I grasp. Even when it appears sometimes as if they are making it rought on me. In actuality it is me that is setting the scenerio up!
I might go to them with concern over obtaining a better job. Maybe I have done some legwork, picked a few positions out that sound interesting. So, I go to my Ile’Run (Ancestral Shrine) do my invocations, and perform Obi divination. I then ask them if the prospects I have in mind are worth my time. This is a good question. The world would be very different if everyone knew they could ask and get a reliable answer to such inquiries. Well, my Egun will almost always answer this kind of question in one or two ways.
Meanwhile, someone else’s Egun might go through each prospect, say “yes” or “no” then give specifics about the work environment, people, etc. My Egun know me. On other issues they might provide startling detail. But they are going to take this job hunting venture as an opportunity to teach, not simply find a way to pay bills. They want me to make sure I don’t count myself out of opportunites or underestimate myself. They want to condition my psyche in way that makes me feel “unstoppable.” Pick a job Thabiti, go get that job Thabiti! Knowing this is their way has saved me frustration and confusion. It has also opened me to the possibility of learning something about myself.
Everyone’s Egun have their own idea of right and wrong. When you know what your Egun think is right and just, you know to what extent they will go to take care of you. This is a point of contention within different Ile’s. Some godparents teach their house that when deceased relatives return to Orun (Heave) that they are automatically endowed with great wisdom and understanding. My godparents have taught that life is learning and even Ancestorship brings more opportunities to learn.
One of my favorite living relatives and now Egun came to me in a dream about 4 years after her death. She talked about all the hard work she had done in Orun to understand life better and strengthen her spiritual constitution. In death, she saw growth as her priority. No matter which side of the debate you take, for sure, no one disagrees the vantage point of the Egun is superior to living humans. You just have to know from what perspective your Egun are watching from to understand where you stand!My Egun don’t give luck numbers for the Lotto. My Egun don’t subdue women, because they strike my fancy. They do come from far and wide and show me things in my dreams that aid me in working with Spirit.
I wouldn’t dare try to comment on the ideal of right and wrong in this limited time. I can only say that is unwise to quickly condemn someone else’s lifestyle if they seem to have the backing of their Egun. Know YOUR Egun! It’s telling that what others may be able to do might warrant severe punishment from your Egun. In my humble experience, our Egun represent the sum total of our family’s spiritual progress or level of enlightment. So, right and wrong are judged from different levels. The Orisa then work with each of our families and spiritual houses to raise our level of understanding over time. So be careful what you ask for from your Egun. Never assume that what goes for another is okay for you.
Families carry both legacy and karma just like individuals. We say we stand tall on the shoulders of our Egun. We reap their good reputations. Neighbors take our word because the word of our family has always been good. The community watches us because we lead the way. When we are trying to nourish and communicate with our Egun we take these things into account. If we notice that our family struggles financially on a whole, generation by generation we must do something. If drug abuse or felonious conduct are our trademarks we must do something. When we notice no one is very spiritual in our family, we must do something. We take action, we work to elevate the spirits of our Egun. Why? Because they are our family’s spiritual head. We heal them and appoint them to aid others who are still living. On a sidenote, this is our equivalent to western methods such as genetic tapering. Through ritual we can effect even the cellular characteristics of our family! In time, we can see old problems or “curses” fade away, or become controllable. In turn, we find that our Egun are in a better position to aid us in our everyday lives.