Una identità in movimento

Afrocuban tradition and the Oriate

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  1. Oriate is a high authority on the Lukumi religion. Such authority is first earned then granted upon him by his elders.

  2. Oriate is a leader to his people. He leads through moral example, the teaching of the sacred literature known as odu, conducting ritual precisely and solving theological and other disputes amongst practitioners.

  3. Oriate is a servant to his people. It is his duty to help all people that come to him, usually by performing divination and ebo. He thereby makes the lives and destinies of his bretheren better by interceding on their behalf and supplicating God Olodumare, and the orisha.

  4. Oriate is a reference. As extensive knowledge of odu, tradition, ritual and history are all required of a man before he can be conferred the title of oriate, one who holds the title can and will speak on such pertinent matters pertaining to this expertise.

  5. The oriate is devout. He is prayerful, paying homage daily to the orisha and not only in the context of ritual. He teaches his family to be devout as well.

  6. Oriate has derived his authority from several orisha. Elegua who is the messenger of all 401 orisha in heaven, as well as the ancestors is the guide of the oriate. By performing divination with the cowry shells of Elegua, the oriate can know the will of any and every orisha and ancestor as well as an individual's ori/destiny. From Obatala to whom the art of cowry divination belongs and whom granted the vocations to each orisha, man and woman. To Oshun/Yemaya who learned the art of Ifa and cowry divination and gave it to all the other orisha. To Osain who grants the oriate the authority to use leaves, plants and roots to heal people and consecrate religious objects. To Shango his patron and finally, to Orunmila, who in antiquity granted the oriate with the full rights and authority to perform his initiatory and other rituals entirely and autonomously.

  7. Oriate is a king. He is not a political king and therefore does not involve himself in political matters. He is however a religious king. His authority extends to all matters pertaining to the religion of the orisha, which he has been authorized to approach, i.e. has received and has been trained in. As king, his title is obá. From the beginning to end of any ritual he participates in, he is the embodiment of Shango, the king of the Lukumi religion as a whole. And as his embodiment or deputy on Earth, he is cabiosile, he whose authority cannot be questioned. And as Shango is an orisha of justice, so too is the oriate's authority metered by justice, morality and fairness.

  8. The oriate is exempt from any personal taboos that would prevent him from performing a ritual in an otherwise lawful manner.

  9. Oriate is a member of his community. His words and actions will therefore always be in the best interest of that community without compromising his religious and moral integrity.

  10. Oriate is one priest amongst many. He engages the other priests in the spirit of sharing, fraternity and faith. He teaches them as much as he is taught. His role is related to, yet separate from that of the olubata, babalawo and osainista and each has authority in their own field.

  11. The oriate may be autonomous. He may perform all functions related to a kariosha ritual. Since antiquity, he has been authorized to perform all rites from the pre-initiatory divination to the closing ritual after the ita and all things in between. It is the decision of the babatobi or iyatobi (primary initiator) to determine if all these functions shall be performed by the oriate or if the responsibility of pre-initiatory divination (registro de entrada), preparatory ebo (ebo de entrada) and animal sacrifice (matanza) is to be performed by a babalawo. The decision does not belong to neither to the oriate or babalawo but to the convictions of the primary initiator. There is to be no rebuttal or false claims of divine rebuttal regardless of the initiators decision and oriate's willingness to exercise his divine right to carry out his responsibilities.

  12. The oriate is also an olorisha. And so, he may act in the capacity of babatobi and ojubona. He may not however act in more than one capacity for any one ritual. Should an oriate work in the capacity of babatobi or ojubona, he is subject to all personal and traditional taboos.

  13. The oriate is honest. He will demand a reasonable fee for his services relative to his time and place. He will not abuse his authority for financial gain nor will he exploit the desperate and needy. He will be charitable when possible to those who need him. The oriate however will not suffer to live in squalor or depravity. Especially after many years of service, an oriate may ask, within reason, fees that are sufficient to support himself and his immediate family.

  14. Oriate is a sentinel. His obligation is to keep the specifics of our rituals secret. He will not, nor allow any one in his presence to discuss our rituals in the presence of the profane, those that have not undergone proper kariosha ritual. This includes non-initiates, priests of other religions those who have undergone other priestly initiations within the Lukumi religion, such as the 'oath to Osain', 'oath to Anya', 'oath to Oro' or Ifa initiation. Nor may any individual who has not undergone complete kariosha ritual enter into the sacred space of Igbodu (or igbo ocha) demarcated by a white sheet and dried palm fronds. The fore-mentioned priests may enter a kariocha room (cuarto de santo) if they have undergone kariosha themselves.

  15. Oriate is an interpreter. As the ancient laws of our faith were spoken in an ancient language and in a long gone context, the oriate faithfully interprets the laws and rites of our religion so that it can be made accessible to all people.

  16. One does not become an oriate spontaneously. Only after an apprenticeship with at least one oriate may a bablorisha become an oriate himself. Such privilege is granted by ones mentor(s). An oriate will only confer this title upon another after the candidate has proven to have sufficient knowledge in all pertinent areas and is of good moral character. The office of oriate may be conferred by the Word. One mentor may verbally authorize his student to be oriate and it is so. The title may also be conferred upon by ritual. The specifics of such a ritual may vary, but authority must be passed from one oriate to another.

  17. An oriate may be assisted. An oriate may delegate some of his responsibilities to an assistant without conferring the title of oriate upon them. As qualifications for the office of oriate are many, any single or multiple ritual acts during the kariosha ritual can be delegated to an assistant without compromising the authority of the oriate. In fact, it is essential to the learning process that every student perform the parts of ritual before he is granted authority to do so autonomously.

Adekayin y la Santeria, secretos del oraculo afrocubano

Cuba. Una identità in movimento

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