They say it’s your birthday…

So what is it to me? It’s not the annual birthday event most of us have in mind when we celebrate with balloons, cake and candles. There will be no ‘Hokey Pokey’ or ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey.’ This weekend marks my initiation into the Orisha tradition six years ago. Just writing the number six down reminds me that I’m very young and still newly finding my way on this spiritual path. I breathe easier.
Six years ago, I was crowned a priestess of Yemaya. The knowledge I had of ‘Yemaya’ prior to the event was that she is the Great Goddess Mother celebrated in different forms in many different spiritual and religious traditions. She presides over all in this great big Universe! I first identified her during “The Journey of the Waters” many years ago. With the guidance of my Native teacher, Oh Shinnah Fastwolf I experienced water ceremonies in the Southwest that included pipe, sweat lodge and initiations in the various natural water springs, lakes and rivers. I took on the aspect of Changing Woman and have never looked back! It was there I heard the word “Yemaya” whispered into my ear at Pagosa Springs, Colorado.Years later, as I did my theoretical thing, I was steeped in literature regarding Yemaya, Orishas, Spiritism and Santeria while I researched the literature for my doctoral dissertation.
The visions that swirled in my head about Yemaya were that she is a nurturing, loving, and forgiving mother that treats her children with the utmost devotion and love. I wanted some of that and raised my hand asking for ‘more’. So when I consulted the oriate and he threw some cowry shells on the mat and declared, “Yemaya wants you!” and “She said don’t touch that dial!” I was smitten by this vision of loveliness wearing swirling blues and whites ready to cast her net over me and draw me under the ocean waves where she could feed me all the lobster and shrimp that I could eat.

That never happened. Instead, I found out after my initiation that yes, I am a child of Yemaya, but not the one I envisioned. I am the child of Yemaya Okute- one bad-assed mother who hauls butt making things happen. Yes, I tend to my flock but it’s not babies. I usually tend to a bunch of also bad-assed men who happen to need a little care and compassion in their daily existences. Listen to ‘em, talk to ‘em, give them a “you ok?’ and send them back onto the beach or actually, the streets of the lower east side of Manhattan- Loisaida to you natives of this rocky island.  Any traces of tears can be attributed to them being waterlogged while under my watchful Yemaya vision. The truth is that I do see beauty in everything based on my relationship with Her. We all need somebody, don’t we?

What I’m getting at is that I believe I’m only just beginning to figure out who I am in this spiritual life, what my gifts are and certainly my blessings. I gather that this is a basic feature of opening to a spiritual tradition during adulthood. I haven’t turned my back on the religious tradition that my Earth mother loving created for me beginning during babydom. The two traditions actually complement each other quite well, as shown by my ancestors who hid their African traditions while they went to Mass in order to avoid severe and corporal punishment from their plantation masters.

So, I’m still learning. I’m grateful. I’m in awe that Yemaya didn’t want me to channel surf Orishas. I’m open to whatever She brings me on this coming day of celebration and the years to come. My choice to be initiated into a most complicated, unlikely tradition is something I’m proud of! I find that as more is revealed that I am thrilled that I decided to give over to my Higher Power. I could never have thought some of my life up. I’m hanging onto my seat during this delicious ride. All I need to order is the cake. Aché

 

7 thoughts on “They say it’s your birthday…

  1. Congratulations, Theresa on your sixth”birthday” in your chosen spiritual life! You inspire me and I salute your openness and willingness to share your experience, strength and hope. Namaste!

  2. Another song comes to mind – you can’t always get what you want, you get what you need! It’s wonderful that you have been open during your spiritual process and growth, to the lessons that have been presented to you. So often, we get stuck on what we think should be happening and fail to see what is right in front of us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *