Episode 73: Orishas

This week, we get excited about religious traditions and physics, which is… on-brand for us. Julia teaches Amanda about the Orishas of the Yoruba tradition with the help of liminal spaces, our Ocean Mom, your own personal deity, and reflections on third culture kids.



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Amanda: Welcome to Spirits Podcast, a drunken dive into myths and legends. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.

Julia: And I'm Julia.

Amanda: This is episode 73, Orishas.

Julia: Yeah. It's going to be a good one. I'm excited for this. There's so much we didn't cover, but I am very excited to, in the future, cover even more.

Amanda: Yeah. We got into some pretty cool discussions, as we always do. But I've been thinking in particular about this kind of mythological, the larger kind of cosmology of it for days and days after we recorded, so I'm excited to share it with all of y'all.

Julia: Yeah.

Amanda: And also excited to welcome a few new members to our community on Patreon, Jessica, Kiley, Buster, Aaron, and Tila, Vinny, Catelynn and Evy. Welcome, so, so much.

Julia: Welcome, welcome.

Amanda: Welcome so much. What does that mean?

Julia: We have snacks for you.

Amanda: And thank you as always to our supporting producer level patrons, who never forget to bring a snack to a part, Neil, Phillip, Julie, Christina, Josh, Eyore, Jessica, Maria, Cammy, Lindsay, Ryan, Lynn, Mercedes, Phil Fresh and Deborah.

Julia: Yes. You guys are awesome.

Amanda: And finally, thank you to our legend level patrons. Buggy, Rachel, Sandra, Ashley, Marie, Leanne, Davis, Ashley, Shannon and Cassie get physical stuff from us every single month, packed with our own hands, brought to the post office by our sweat and tears. And it is very cool. We love choosing those gifts for you every month, so I've you've been a patron for a long time and you're thinking that would actually be pretty awesome to get a little care package team from the Spirits team to me, it's always a great time to up your pledge. And that's at patreon.com/spiritspodcast.

Julia: Yeah. And if you are a legend, you are the spirits of song and dance that we know and love.

Amanda: It's very true. And Julia, what were we drinking during this episode?

Julia: I was inspired by the fact that one of the Orishas that we covered, Oshun, is the spirit of the sweet waters. So I picked up a pack of Sweetwater Waterkeeper Hefeweizen.

Amanda: It is one of my one of my favorite kinds of beers. Normally, Julia don't overlap much in our beer taste, but this is one of the few.

Julia: Yeah. We both really enjoy it.

Amanda: And finally, we are really excited to be sponsored again by Talis Clothing. This is this incredible line of clothing from a sort of indie creator based in Los Angeles that's clothing for psychic protection. And we are going to tell you a whole lot more about it later in the episode.

Julia: Yeah. I rock my T-shirt all the time. I love it. It's great. It's super comfy. But you can find out more by going to bit.ly/spiritstalis, that's S-P-I-R-I-T-S-T-A-L-I-S, with the code spirits and you get 15% of your order.

Amanda: Hell yeah. Well, without further ado, enjoy Spirits Podcast episode 73, Orishas.

[Theme music]

Julia: So Amanda, I've been reading the Children of Blood and Bone, as I've mentioned before I think.

Amanda: Can I borrow it after you?

Julia: Actually, Schubes has dibs on it after.

Amanda: Ooh, burn.

Julia: Yeah, burn, sweet burn, because he mentioned it in his first Audible ad and I'm so proud.

Amanda: Yay.

Julia: So the book is by Tomi Adeyemi. And I'm bringing it up again because this book is influenced by Adeymi's West African heritage. And in it, she kind of bends religious deities, which are known as the Orishas, in a diverse landscape into this really new, refreshing take on fantasy.

Amanda: Amazing.

Julia: So it's kind of like, imagine Harry Potter didn't take place in England. It took place in West Africa and it was much more interesting uses of magic, and there was limits to magic.

Amanda: That's why I want to read it, Shoobs. Hurry up.

Julia: So this has definitely piqued my interest because while we've talked a little about West African and Yoruba religion in the past, it's definitely not something that I know a lot about. So I really wanted to dig in today to the Orishas, who they are and then kind of highlight some of the ones that I found really interesting.

Amanda: I would love to learn more.

Julia: The best way to describe the Orishas is that they are spirits or emissaries of Olodumare, who is the supreme god of the Yoruba people. As a side note, the supreme god is supposedly ... He has three manifestations. Olodumare is specifically the supreme creator. So the other manifestations include Olorun, who is the ruler of the heavens, and Olofi, who is the conduit between Heaven and Earth.

Amanda: Very cool.

Julia: Yeah. It's like beautiful kind of world building for mythology and it gets really, really interesting. I really enjoyed doing the research for this episode because, one, I love learning new things about new cultures that I don't understand. And also, I like seeing the connections that human beings make in regards to how they interact with the world early on when they were creating their mythology.

Amanda: Absolutely. Yeah.

Julia: It's really, really cool.

Amanda: I can't wait.

Julia: The Orishas are subordinate to Olodumare and specifically are said to be manifestations of him.

Amanda: Wow.

Julia: So they are said to rule over the forces of nature as well as the endeavors of humanity. I love the term endeavors of humanity. Isn't that cool?

Amanda: I know. And it also implies a really interesting divine perspective, I think, where it's almost like a parent looking at a child, an adult child, being like, "This is what my child does. This is what they endeavor to try." And it doesn't imply judgment, I don't think, or condescension in any way, where you're like, "Look at that kid trying to do whatever." But it's like, "This is what this human being that I'm responsible for, but ultimately separate from, is doing with their life."

Julia: Yeah. It's what they want to do and what they're achieving to do.

Amanda: Yeah.

Julia: It's really cool.

Amanda: What they're setting out to do, it's like the journey of your life and there are few words that kind of imply that level of perspective. It's so cool.

Julia: And that's a really great perspective to have as a supreme deity, or deities and spirits that are ruling over everyday life.

Amanda: Yeah.

Julia: So Amanda, you're probably wondering how many Orishas there are.

Amanda: I am.

Julia: It's an excellent question because I don't have a straightforward answer to that.

Amanda: Please tell me in all its intricacies.

Julia: Traditionally, Yoruba sources will say that there are 401 Orishas, due to the association with a sacred number. Other sources will say that it is an innumerable number, specifically as many as you can think of plus one. Isn't that great?

Amanda: That's so sweet.

Julia: It's so good. It's so great. But we're going to talk about some of the more well-known ones in this episode, and not the innumerable number that the sources refer to because that would be impossible.

Amanda: Listen, it's not my place to put a number on a number of deities.

Julia: That is true, that is not. That is not your place. Okay. So we are going to start with Orunmila, who is the Orisha of wisdom, knowledge, and divination. Orunmila is one of the few Orishas we're going to talk about that is an Irunmole, which is a title for an Orisha who is there at the creation of the universe.

Amanda: Wow.

Julia: So he was present at the beginning of creation and the beginning of humanity, and such has a special relationship with humans.

Amanda: That's kind of beautiful. It's like your longstanding teacher, or babysitter, or family member, who's been there from the jump.

Julia: Well, he's exactly that because he walked among the people as a priest, teaching them an advanced form of spiritual knowledge and ethics during his visits to Earth.

Amanda: Wow. And it's over one human lifetime, or occasionally he visited?

Julia: I'm not entirely sure. I think he probably took a human form several times it seems like. And we'll talk a little bit more about practicing and channeling a little bit towards the end of the episode. But it's very interesting.

Amanda: I love that, though, because I always thought when we were young and learning in our tradition, the Bible, I was like, "Why would you just live until 32 or however old Jesus was, and then go?" I get the theological reasons why he had to die. But being human sounds so fun. And if I were a god, that's all I would want to do. If I were in Westworld, like Anthony Hopkins, I would want to walk among the people. I just think it sounds so fun to me. And obviously, being a god's not all fun and games. It's having a purpose. But I like the idea of kind of repeated visits. I think that's really, really cool.

Julia: I do too.

Amanda: Also, course correcting because humans are going to take your lessons and do whatever they want with them.

Julia: Right.

Amanda: So being able to reappear-

Julia: That's not what I mean.

Amanda: Hey, actually this is how you do it.

Julia: You're doing great sweetie, but ...

Amanda: Or, you have to wait and wait and wait and wait and wait until humans invented the thing that you need them to invent, like until they invent painting, or clay tablets, or printing. And then you're like, "Oh, thank God. Now we can talk." You've discovered fire. Here is what you need to do. I love it.

Julia: That's really funny. I like the idea of that being like, "Okay. Okay. I think they got it. I think they figured out the fire." Okay, great. Let's talk about it. Cool, cool, cool. It's like when your friend is reading a book that you've already finished, or watching a TV show that you've already finished. And you're like, "Okay. Did you get to that part yet? Okay, great. I want to talk about it now."

Amanda: Yeah. The other day I was watching my partner read the Name of the Wind for the first time. And I was just reading along and being like, "Okay. Are you at? Are you at? Are you at? Okay. We can talk about this." I really just needed to be like, "Have you figured out the construct in which the story is happening yet? Oh, thank God."

Julia: That's pretty great. So in practice, his priests are known as Babalawos, or the fathers of the secrets. And they practice divination and help his followers to unfold the secrets of the universe, and by extension, the secrets unfolding in their own lives.

Amanda: Wow.

Julia: Yeah. There's a lot of really deep stuff in this mythology and I'm super, super into it.

Amanda: My first thought was, normally we hear oracles, and kind of soothsayers, truth tellers, as being female. And so it's interesting that this kind of knowledge oriented Orisha and their kind of practitioners are male. But it's amazing. That's why we read stories. Right? It's to use a kind of big example to say something about our individual lived experience.

Julia: Yeah. The colors that are associated with him are yellow and green, and he is also known as Ibikeji Olodumare. The second in command of Olodumare, the supreme deity, and eleri ipin, or the witness of fate. We'll talk a little bit more about fate towards the end of this episode.

Amanda: I'm curious to learn more because that idea of deified figure, somebody who has power, being subservient to fate, or kind of standing to the side and watching something higher make its will known, is so compelling.

Julia: Next we are going to discuss Elegua, whose name means the master of force. He is said to be the owner of all roads and doors in this world, and stands at the crossroads of the human and the divine, acting as the messenger between the two world.

Amanda: Whoa, liminal spaces are the best.

Julia: Yep. I knew you'd be excited about this one.

Amanda: Yes.

Julia: So his colors and red and black or white and black, depending on the tradition. And it is supposed to represent his dualistic and often contradictory nature.

Amanda: I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it.

Julia: As he is connected to both the human world and the divine world, he has a close relationship with Orunmila, our divination Orisha from before, and that divine knowledge has to be transferred to the human world by Elegua.

Amanda: Oh, of course. Yeah.

Julia: It is said that nothing can be done in either world without Elegua's permission. He is always perpetuated and called first before any other Orishas because he is the one that opens the door between the worlds, allowing them to interact.

Amanda: That's so cool.

Julia: Yep. Let me finish this and then we'll talk about it for a little bit. In some stories, Olodumare gives Elegua the keys to the past, present, and future, and so he's often seen in depictions holding these keys.

Amanda: Oh my God.

Julia: Yeah.

Amanda: Can I talk now?

Julia: Of course you can. Go ahead.

Amanda: I am so in love with this. I love the idea that you have to have an emissary, or a messenger, or a divine decontamination, depressurization chamber. Of course, there has to be some kind of conduit and translation, transition between these two things. The divine can't just exist in the real and vice versa. I love it so much.

Julia: Yeah. I mean, the messenger between the divine and the human is something that is seen across the world in a lot of mythologies.

Amanda: Yes.

Julia: But the way that the Yoruba tradition just does it is so interesting. And like you said, the second I started saying that you were like, "Liminal spaces."

Amanda: Yes.

Julia: And that's just something that is about beautiful and really played on in this tradition.

Amanda: Yeah. And just that idea of being both and neither, of being a translator of being kind of ... Like we talk about third culture kids who grow up in the cultural tradition of country A, but in country B. They exist in culture C. It's just like it's so unique to them, and especially invoking this entity when you're doing ritual or when you're talking about one world or the other. It invokes math in the best possible way, where you have to have the right conditions to make a thing happen, or chemistry, or whatever it is.

Julia: Yeah. I was going to say it's like a science experiment.

Amanda: Yeah. Like setting the stage for the things that you need to occur. I don't know. Maybe it's partly because my professional skills are often around organization and setting the stage and behind the scenes making stuff happen to allow the main event to really take place. Any kind of foregrounding god, or I don't know, preparatory deity, I just find to be so inherently fascinating.

Julia: You're going to really like the tradition and the explanation of the traditions later. I can tell already. Actually Amanda, before we get into the lady Orishas, I think we need to head to a refill real quick.

Amanda: Okay. Let's do it quick. I want to know.

[Theme music]

Julia: Listeners, we are sponsored in part this week by Talis. Talis is a clothing line based in Los Angeles, and each garment is hand printed on 100% cotton. The images on the shirts are a reference to psychic protection, astrology, and divination, which are all things that we love here on Spirits Podcast, and they're meant to impart a sense of mental or psychic protection to the wearer.

Amanda: Yeah. It's really awesome. The clothes look like someone sort of drew on them in your kind of vulnerable places, on your back, on your side, on your sleeve, symbols to kind of inscribe you with some form of power and protection. And I love so much that they have historical roots. So the creator of Talis took these samples of handwriting from a spirit medium from the 1800s, actual person.

Julia: That's crazy.

Amanda: Doing actual, definitely not urban legends back in the day where there are names, there are symbols, there are drawings and also, other stuff borrowed from ancient Greek and Latin and Hebrew. So it is so steeped in history that it just makes me feel really, I don't know, connected to something bigger when I'm wearing my shirt.

Julia: Yeah. I'm rocking the Venus one that I received in his beautiful cobalt color. And I wear it just all the time because it's one, gorgeous, and two, super, super comfortable.

Amanda: And I have one of the Mercury shirts in black, which is just ... It's so pretty. It has a beautiful design on the back as well sort of one over the crest area, like where you put a crest of a school or something. But I think I'm going to have to go back and buy some more shirts, short sleeve ones for the summer, because it's super soft. It is super gorgeous, and we are so grateful and thankful that they sponsored us. So Julia, where can our listeners pick up a gorgeous psychic protection shirt of their own?

Julia: They can go to bit.ly/spiritstalis. That is bit.ly/ S-P-I-R-I-T-S-T-A-L-I-S. And use the code spirits for 15% off their purchase.

Amanda: It is gorgeous stuff. At least take a look, guys. Go to that link and take a look at their look book. It is really, really gorgeous photography with really pretty models. And that is Talis. So thank you again Talis clothing, and now back to the episode.

[Theme music]

Julia: Amanda, Oshun may be one of my favorites on this list. It's hard to pick a favorite, if I'm being honest. They're all really good. They're all really great so far. But you know how much I love a water spirit.

Amanda: I do.

Julia: So Oshun is the Orisha that rules over the sweet waters of the world, so specifically fresh water sources. And those include brooks, streams, rivers, or anything like that.

Amanda: This is the first time I've heard non salt water referred to as sweet, but obviously. That makes so much sense.

Julia: The drinking water, yeah. That would be sweet water. So she also embodies love and fertility, and is the Orisha that is most often approached when there is a need to help with money problems, which I really like.

Amanda: Yeah.

Julia: She is known as Iyalode, the great queen, despite the fact that she's the youngest of the female Orishas. She is said to be Ikolé, or the messenger of the house acting as the mouthpiece between the divine and humanity.

Amanda: Got you, so like relaying the message that will then get passed on to humans.

Julia: Yes, exactly. So interestingly, when someone is initiated as a priest, regardless of what Orisha they are attached to, they must go to the river and give an account of what they are about to do, so that Oshun might tell their story.

Amanda: I love that.

Julia: She is also known as a healer using honey and water, and both are associated with her. She's also shown as a femme fatale of sorts, managing to save the world in one story by luring Ogun, the Orisha of iron, war, and labor, out of the woods using her feminine wiles. Basically, she seduced him.

Amanda: Right.

Julia: After he left civilization and everything came to a standstill because he was the Orisha of labor.

Amanda: Right, right.

Julia: Isn't that cool as hell? I like the idea of the Orisha of labor decides, I don't want to do this anymore and just walks into the woods. And everyone's like, "I can't do anything anymore. What's happening?"

Amanda: I love logistics, as you know, and that is a very real consequence.

Julia: Yeah.

Amanda: Unlike the Greek gods, who are like, "I don't know. I don't want to marry this person," and then no more summer. Really? What do you mean? Stop. Please stop.

Julia: So Oshun's colors are gold and yellow, actually, which is interesting for a water spirit. And she's associated with peacocks and vultures.

Amanda: Both very good birds, I'm not particularly sure why, but go for it.

Julia: Yeah. Our next one up is Oya. And I instantly take back everything I said about Oshun because Oya's pretty God damn cool.

Amanda: Let's hear it.

Julia: She is the Orisha of winds, violent storms, and the gates of the cemetery.

Amanda: Let's hang out.

Julia: She is known as Yansa, or the mother of nine, and rules over the egun, which are the dead.

Amanda: Wow.

Julia: The mother of nine is a reference to a major river in the area, and it had nine tributaries.

Amanda: That makes a lot of sense, rivers, death, as we've discussed many times. Our favorite book, Sabriel, rivers and death have a long history, not just in literature but also in mythology of being tied together. Any god that wants to hang out at the cemetery gates and just be in a windstorm and drink some beverages, get at me.

Julia: She's cool as hell. So the name Oya literally means she tore. And she is a warrior Orisha and has never been defeated in battle.

Amanda: Wow.

Julia: She is known to ride into battle during war with the Orisha, Shango, who we'll talk about later. And they share control over fire and lightening with each other. She's associated and controls specifically the mystery surrounding the dead. And this might interest you, Amanda, because in certain traditions she's synchronized with St. Brigid.

Amanda: Really?

Julia: Yeah.

Amanda: No shit.

Julia: Yeah.

Amanda: That is a very good pairing.

Julia: Yeah, specifically Santeria.

Amanda: That is really incredible and I love we don't always see ... It seems like death is either associated with water or with fire. They seem like they don't always go together.

Julia: But she's both.

Amanda: A tradition that combines both.

Julia: And she's [crosstalk 00:19:53]. All three of those things, earth, wind and fire, they're going to mesh it up. That makes total sense that they can all lead to death, or they can all be involved in death. The process of getting rid of bodies and actually doing death and honoring the dead, all of these traditions can involve all three of those.

Amanda: Yeah. Oh, man.

Julia: Oh, man. All these Orishas, I'm just in love with. Every one's great.

Amanda: This is a very, very good tradition.

Julia: Now while Oshun was all about that sweet water, Yemoja is the Orisha that rules over the seas and lakes. She is known as the mother of all, but also known as Yeyé Omo Ejá, which means the mother whose children are like the fish, because supposedly it represents the fact that her children are uncountable because she is literally the mother of all. They make a reference to the primordial ocean and the fact that all life comes out of it. I'll get into it. Hold on.

Amanda: All right.

Julia: So because all life started in the ocean, she is therefore considered the mother of all life, basically.

Amanda: Which, is true.

Julia: Yeah. She is also the source of all riches, which she freely gives and shares with her little sister, Oshun.

Amanda: Aww. Adorable. I love when we see female friendships and sisterhoods not as rivalries or choices for men, but as like sisters being sisters.

Julia: Yeah. I do like that quite a bit. Interestingly for an ocean goddess, she's extremely benevolent, motherly, and protective.

Amanda: Not always the case with our beloved water spirits.

Julia: Almost never, really.

Amanda: Yeah.

Julia: But there are some stories where she loses her temper and becomes destructive and violent because, Oshun.

Amanda: I mean, if she has lots of kids, I understand that happens sometimes.

Julia: But they make a point of saying she has an extremely high tolerance and patience and stuff like that.

Amanda: And so when it happens, it's real, folks.

Julia: So she governs over everything pertaining to women, childbirth, conception, parenting, child safety, love and healing. Because the oceans are deep and unknowable, she is also the goddess of deep secrets, ancient wisdom, the moon, and the collective unconscious of humankind.

Amanda: A real grab bag of femininity for sure.

Julia: She's amazing. I want her to be my mom. She is my mom, technically, I guess.

Amanda: We all come from the ocean. But I love too that these are all challenges that people go through in a similar phase of life, from fertility, child bearing, child rearing, understanding the kind of deep life mysteries of loving someone and letting them go, and whatever other things it is that you face. That's why I kind of was always drawn to this concept of patron saints in our own tradition because you're able not just to appeal to saints based on their area of expertise, but also, you can have a patron saint of your own and just call on that person in times of need, no matter what kind of need it is. And so to have this one Orisha governing so many related disciplines and related areas of life, I see as potentially being really reassuring.

Julia: Yeah. I agree with that. I do like the idea of someone specifically out there for your interests and specifically the interests of what aspects of your life need to be touched upon.

Amanda: Yeah. It's like you have a college major advisor, but you also have just a regular advisor. You've got an advisor you can go to with problems with your roommate, or choosing a minor, or whatever. And then you also have the specialized one. What should I write about? That thing, cool, thanks. I want to take this graduate level seminar because I want to. Can you help? Yeah. They can.

Julia: So in some versions, particularly in West Africa, Yemoja is portrayed as a mermaid.

Amanda: Yay.

Julia: Her colors are, of course, blue and white like the seas and oceans that she is associated with.

Amanda: Good colors.

Julia: We're going to finish up our Orisha roundup with Shango, who is considered by some to be the most popular of the Orishas. He is a warrior Orisha, who rules over lightening, thunder, fire, drums and dance.

Amanda: Sounds like you make sure that you should invite him to a party because if not, what are you doing?

Julia: Yeah, because he is known for his quick wits, but also his quick temper, and is known for his relationships with both Oya and Oshun.

Amanda: Oh.

Julia: His temper is said to be so quick that it's like watching lightening, the way it suddenly strikes.

Amanda: That is very appropriate.

Julia: He is strong willed and loves the pleasures of the world, including dance, drumming, women, song, and eating.

Amanda: Same.

Julia: So we would get along great.

Amanda: Yep.

Julia: He and Elegua are ocanani, which means they are of the same heart, which I kind of love as just a phrase.

Amanda: Yeah.

Julia: Like they are of one heart. They are of the same heart, and I love that.

Amanda: Yeah. That's what it feels like. Right? When your partner is struggling, so are you. And when you are having a great time and really sailing, your partner feels that love as well.

Julia: Yeah. I think it's sort of like a brotherhood intimate friendship kind of thing. We are so close that I feel your pain when you feel your pain, and I feel your joy when you feel my joy, and all that.

Amanda: Yeah. You're exactly right where it's true of, no matter the nature of the relationship, when it's somebody that you're really close on and can depend on, it's really like the deepest empathy. It's kind of when your emotions spring from the same place.

Julia: Yeah. So his colors are red and white, and he is often represented as a double headed ax. But probably most interestingly, at least for me, is that he is historically a royal ancestor of the Yoruba people. And he was said to be the third king of the Oya kingdom.

Amanda: Wow.

Julia: And then when he died, he was deified in death as the Orisha Shango.

Amanda: That is pretty incredible when you can have a historical root to a mythological figure.

Julia: Yes. I mean, it's a practice that we see in Christianity with the saints.

Amanda: Exactly.

Julia: Which is, like, these are people who lived an actual life and they were deified.

Amanda: Yeah. They were significant enough and had an impact such that in the afterlife, they're going to represent more things and be worth of worship.

Julia: Right. And have a spiritual connection to the world still. In these descriptions that I gave you about the Orishas, I did hint a little bit about how one would practice worshiping the Orishas, but I want to dig a little bit into deeper before we wrap up.

Amanda: Let's do it.

Julia: One of the most important things to practitioners is the proper alignment and knowledge of one's ori. So an ori literally translates to head, but it specifically refers to the main part of one's soul that determines a person's destiny and success. One's ori is basically one's personal deity and it helps a person receive messages from the Orishas.

Amanda: Wow. So kind of like a higher part of the self.

Julia: Yes. And that has to do a lot too with Orunmila and also with Elegua because it's through the ori that they're able to communicate. And it's through the ori that Orunmila was able to teach these people the wisdom and how to connect with the gods.

Amanda: That's true.

Julia: And through Elegua, they were able to actually make that connection, the bridge between the divine and the human world.

Amanda: I'm almost picturing a receiver, like a radio tower, or some that is tuned and able to have a connection with that higher plane.

Julia: It vaguely reminds me of ... You remember the shitty James Cameron Avatar move?

Amanda: Yeah.

Julia: Where they had the braid thing where they could connect to people, like a non physical version of that.

Amanda: But I love that too because I've been reading a lot of memoirs recently about addiction and other forms of struggle. And especially, I think, when you feel like your life is not your own, or you feel kind of out of control, or you feel like something is controlling you that isn't your deepest voice of rightness and reason. The idea that every person inherently in them has this thing, this place, whether that's physical or kind of representative, that is attuned to and inherently in sync with the divine. That's so empowering and that's so encouraging because no matter what you do in your human form, that remains.

Julia: Yeah. It's kind of beautiful. I really love traditions that have this very clear pathway for communication between the divine and human world. It's not just like hanging out and being like, "I hope the gods will listen to me if I sacrifice this bull," or whatever.

Amanda: Right. Right.

Julia: But it's very much more specific and much more direct it seems.

Amanda: Yeah. And we have a lot of friends, too, who through practices of modern Wicca or other kind of paganism and animism are able to have a really physical ritual and a really, I don't know, embodied practice of their faith. Just that idea that there is ... Christian friends, Jewish friends, there are lots of people who have ... I think most traditions have physical symbols, or shrines, or things that you can go to in your house, places of your house you can kind of set aside for contemplation communication, thinking about your life as a whole. And to me, the idea that you can kind of make that place in your home for yourself, or even in the tradition, one step further, it's inside your body. That's really amazing.

                        As someone who grew up where you have to go to church, that's where you do your worshiping. You do it through these prescribed prayers and these prescribed songs, and that's kind of how you do it. This idea that it's very, very personal and in this case, you don't even have to speak it, it seems. There's something inherent in you. I don't know. It's pretty beautiful.

Julia: Yeah. It really is. And I think it ties in nicely to our next section, which is about the Ashe. And so the Ashe plays a really important role in the worship of the Orishas. It is basically a life force that runs through all things either living or inanimate. So it is the power that makes things happen, what they describe it as. So it is the concept of spiritual growth, and practitioners strive to obtain Ashe through iwe-pele, which is basically inner peace and satisfaction in life. This also helps lead to the alignment of the aforementioned ori. And ashe is said to be divine energy that comes from Olodumare, and to an extent is associated with Olorun, who is the ruler of the heavens, and therefore associated with the sun, because without the sun, no life can exist.

Amanda: That is true.

Julia: Ashe represents the link to the eternal presence of the Orishas, Olodumare, and their ancestors.

Amanda: Wow. That's a really beautiful continuity and link between what came before, what is, and what will be.

Julia: It reminds me a little bit of Dream Time, if I'm being honest, which we talked about in our rainbow serpent episode. But the idea that your ancestors are always there with you and they always have been there with you and they always will be there with you. The idea that time and essence is very non linear.

Amanda: Exactly.

Julia: And it's constantly flowing, and the connection to the ancestors is extremely strong because of that.

Amanda: Yeah. And I think, too, an implication in my understanding that you will be someone's ancestor one day. And you already have been, and that is such a more kind of integrated view of life and death, where it's present in our lives all the time. And life comes out of death, and life turns into death. Everything really is such a cycle and a kind of continuous loop. So it makes total sense to me that these would be really closely related. And also, frankly, it makes it easier to think about and to deal with.

Julia: Yeah. Absolutely. When you think that everything has the same force and it's just moving through us all differently, it's an easier thing for your brain to connect to.

Amanda: Yeah. It's literally true in terms of the atoms that were created when our elements were created in the universe are the atoms that still exist. There aren't new ones.

Julia: Matter is neither destroyed nor created.

Amanda: Exactly. [inaudible 00:32:12]. But it's really beautiful. I remember when I was learning first about biology and physics in that way, being really, I don't know, feeling really at peace with the fact that the atoms that make up my body once did something else and will do something else again. I don't know. The universe is a closed circuit in that way and I think it's pretty cool.

Julia: Finishing up, one of the interesting things about the Orishas, at least to me, is the fact that they're one of the aspects that spread to the Americas.

Amanda: Really?

Julia: Obviously, the reason for that is the Atlantic slave trade, which is terrible, but the spreading of religion across the Atlantic that isn't a European religion is definitely something that interests me. So worship of the Orishas is featured in a number of religions, including Santeria, Candomblé, Trinidad Orisha, Umbanda, and Oyotunji, which is an interesting thing, and I would love to go into those a little bit further traditional wise. But I think that we're going to wrap up this episode.

Amanda: Yeah. But that's a wonderful kind of place that we can jump into in future episodes.

Julia: Absolutely.

Amanda: I would love to have something on Santeria. There's just so much there.

Julia: I'd love to speak to an actual practitioner for that, for sure.

Amanda: Exactly. A living tradition that has really, really rich roots. We would love to learn from other people about what that's actually like, but tracing the kind of elements that birthed these sort of newer syncretic religions in our hemisphere, I think would be a really dope thing to do.

Julia: Yeah. I totally agree. And I do want to say that this is a living tradition as well. I did my best to not use past tense when talking about it because people are practicing this to this day.

Amanda: Beautiful tradition. I got very excited at multiple points over the course of this episode. But I think the one that stands out the most to me would be this Orisha in charge of communication between the divine and the real.

Julia: Elegua.

Amanda: Yeah, between the divine and the physical kind of Earth realm, and needing to invoke them before you start a ritual, it's like opening a parenthesis in an algebra equation. It is just, to me, I love logistics and I love infrastructure.

Julia: I know you do.

Amanda: And that is the coolest thing, so thank you so much for bringing it to me.

Julia: My pleasure, my friend. And I am glad to tell you these stories. They're obviously not my stories. I'm not trying to appropriate them or anything like that, but it is information that I think is extremely interesting and deserves to be known by everyone.

Amanda: Exactly. And if this is something that you have a tie to, we would love to hear from you.

Julia: Absolutely.

Amanda: First person, or from your relatives or kind of wherever the tie may be. You can email us anytime, spiritspodcast@gamil.

Julia: Yeah. We'd love to read about it and we would love to have some people on who do practice it. Or maybe you can send us a voicemail telling us your story. Send us a little audio file.

Amanda: Call your parents. Call your grandparents. Tell us about the stories that you grew up hearing. We really, really want to hear them.

Julia: We do, really do. Cool.

Amanda: Well, in the meantime, remember listeners,

Julia: Stay creepy.

Amanda: Stay cool.

[Theme music]

Julia: Spirits was created by Amanda McLoughlin, Julia Schifini, and Eric Schneider, with music by Kevin McCloud and visual design by Allyson Wakeman. Keep up with all things creepy and cool by following us on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram at Spirits Podcast. We also have all our episodes, collaborations and guest appearances, plus merch on our website, spiritspodcast.com.

Amanda: Come on over to our Patreon page, patreon.com/spiritspodcast, for all kinds of behind the scenes stuff. Throw us as little as one dollar and get access to audio extras, recipe cards, directors' commentaries, and patron only live streams.

Julia: And hey, if you like the show, please share us with your friends. That is the best way to help us keep on growing.

Amanda: Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.