All the images you will see in this post, except the one of the Child of Atocha, are from my new Eleggua altar. I can’t reveal many details from the ritual, which was both a homage to Eleggua and a cleansing ritual, but you can enjoy the eye-candy! Instead of explaining the ritual I’ll post about Eleggua himself, so you can know my Santo better…
Who Is Eleggua?
Eleggua is my “santo” – he is my father, adviser, guardian, my everything. In the Yoruba-origin religions, Eleggua is the first Orisha – that means that no matter which is your santo, everyone has to “receive” an Eleggua, and it has to be praised and attended before and after every ritual. The Pataki (legend) says that Olofi (primary God, God of all Orishas) was very ill and none of the doctors could do anything to make him feel better. Eleggua, who was very poor, offered himself to cure Olofi; he went into the woods and cut many herbs and plants, preparing a concoction that healed Olofi; Olofi then told him to ask for whatever he wanted: Eleggua chose to be fed before all Orishas and to be positioned at the entrance of Olofi’s castle, so that everyone would have to salute him first. That’s why today, Eleggua is placed at the entrance of the house, and has to be saluted and fed before all Orishas, whether if the ritual is for him or not. The is a Cuban saying that goes like “nothing is achieved without Eleggua”, meaning that he is the beginning of all rituals in Santeria, Palo Mayombe and other religions coming from the Yoruba root.
In an archetypical side, Eleggua is a threshhold between this world an the others, the Divine Messenger, the one who knows it all from everyone, as he hides behind the doors listening to all conversations. He is the owner of destiny, the “abrecaminos” or road opener, and he controls the good or bad luck in humanity’s life. There are 101 “caminos” or aspects of Eleggua, all with very different looks, powers and characteristics, and every witch/wizard (which are called santeros and/or babalawos) has one of them – I can’t reveal mine because that is a secret. He is the owner of the “Aché”, which could be translated as luck, destiny, power, and surveys that whoever is at peace with the spiritual world is filled with Aché and protected from all evil. Eleggua is, without a doubt, the most controversial of all Orishas, as he is much loved and much feared as the same time, as his rage closes the paths of man. He can see evil and trouble from afar and there is no-one like him in making creative solutions for a problem. Leaving aside his playful nature, Eleggua is one of the four Warrior Orishas (Eleggua, Oggun, Ochosi and Osun), so he is also very fierce and protective with their sons and daughters. He loves children and protects them from harm and illness.
His colours are red and black, his animals the mouse and all insects (small animals that can enter the houses unnoticed). His favourite foods are coconut, guava and green bananas, and all kind of candies and toys are offered to him as he often appears in this world as a small child, often poor and abandoned. His magick numbers are 3, 21, 13 and 33. As all Orishas, he is offered candles, cigars and rum and other spirit alcohol. His week day is Monday. I do not sacrifice animals in any ritual, but in case you wanted to know, mouses, chickens and goats are offered – it is banned to offer doves to Eleggua.
When the African slaves were taken to America and forced to take Christian faith, they syncretized all the Orishas into christian images, giving Eleggua the image of the Holy Child Of Atocha.
(this statue is not mine, just a reference image)
Eleggua’s sons and daughters are extravagant, playful, talkative and completely out of the norm, as He is. They prefer to work on their own and love food, music and dance. They can be mischievous, unpredictable and ungovernable. As Himself, Eleggua’s sons are full of contradictions, though Olofi (God) is extremely tolerant with their behaviour as they are “living talismans” for the people around them. As in the legend said above, all of Eleggua’s sons are great “yerberos” or herbal healers, and also heal through words and singing.
Well I hope you enjoyed this little trip into Santeria! I’m really looking forward to talk more about it as I’ve found it’s not easy to find good info on it in English. Until them, MAREFERUN ELEGGUA!!! (Blessed be Eleggua in Yoruba language)
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