Its begun! I’m coordinating a residency project in Valparaíso, Chile with the eminently capable and foxy Felipe Rivas San Martín (Chile), with support of friends at Áncora517 and Crac Valparaiso! It’s going to be 2 intense weeks in January 2015. If you want to slip out of midwinter to collaborate with an incredible group of international queer artists in one of the most breathtaking cities in the world in summertime, we’re accepting proposals until October 15.
Ya, se armó. Estamos coordinando este proyecto de Residencia Cuir en Valparaíso-Chile con Jamie Ross (Canadá), y con apoyo de lxs amigxs de Áncora y CRAC. Serán 2 semanas muy intensas (en enero - 2015). Se reciben postulaciones hasta el 15 de octubre. Información y formulario on line. Besos!
New Order - Dream Attack
Fall turns on the Toronto Islands
Rigoberto and Fredisvinda
There was once a great Santero named Rigoberto Rodriguez Duque Oshunyemí (iba’ye). He was great for many reasons. He initiated many, many priests in Madruga. According to Afolabí (iba’ye) he was the first white, Cuban born Olorisha to travel back to Africa, and he brought back with him many important “elements” of Orisha worship, such as the koide or loro feather (of the African Grey Parrot — this feather denotes priesthood in our religion and is indispensible). He also happened to win the Cuban national lottery six times, and in thanks for this amazing good luck, he bought the most beautiful objects for his Orisha. He had a solid gold, six inch pilón (mortar used as a throne seat) made for his Shango. So beautiful were his shrines for his Orisha that, rather than destroying them as is custom when a priest dies, they turned his house into a museum which still stands today.
My late Godfather had a deep love for Rigoberto and used to tell me many stories about him. One story he told was about how Rigoberto survived the revolution. During the Cuban Revolution and afterwards, “re-education camps” were opened for homosexuals and transvestites. Rigoberto, like many priests in La Regla de Ocha, was a known homosexual and so it was only a matter of time until this confirmed bachelor ended up in one of these camps. Thinking quickly, he decided the best course of action was to do as homosexuals had done for so long: marry someone.
In Lukumi, it is expressly forbidden for sexual relationships to happen between Godparents and Godchildren, as it is incest. However, Lukumi is an incredibly practical religion, and it’s practitioners follow suit. Rigoberto married one of his Godchildren, Fredisvinda Rossell, a young priestess of Oyá, who Afolabí says is a lesbian. By marrying her, they saved each other from the re-education camps.
They lived together until his death. The story I’ve been told is that one day Rigoberto decided that he had lived long enough. So, he brought his Orisha down to the mat and performed the itutu ceremony (funeral ceremony) for himself, sending away his Orisha. And when he had finished, he simply went to sleep and never woke up.
I guess he killed himself, though the implication in the telling of this story is always that he decided to leave his body — nothing so crass as how he killed himself is discussed, and the word suicide is never used.
Fredisvinda lived on after his passing and ran their house in Matanzas as a museum. Afolabí spoke to her once over the phone sometime in the early 2000s. I assume that by now she has passed on. He said of her that she dressed for Oya every day, always in floral prints. I’ve always had an admiration for those who dress for their Orisha every day, probably because of the way he described Fredisvinda doing so. I wish I knew more of her story, all I know is that she had fierce glasses.
My Godmother Odofemi for the history win!
Brazilian Muay Thai fighter, Felipe Nascimento.
For more of my Muay Thai portraits, follow me:
Ore yeye o Oshun!
- Nacido en Cuba 1947
- Graduado de la Academia San Alejandro 1975, La Habana Cuba
- Diseño de libros e illustraciones del Ministerio de Educaion, La Habana Cuba 1970 a 1979.
- Restauracion y diseño de murales y pinturas, Ciudad Habana 1985 a 1995
Celina y Reutilio - Viva Yemayá
Sept 7, Día de la Virgen de Regla, Yemayá
" | until very recently batá drums accompanied the procession | "
por Carrie Viarnes | UCLA
Cabildo leaders were actively involved in the procession probably beginning in the late 1860’s. They conducted ceremonies to ritually transform the Virgin and other saints’ statues into representations of the orichas. During mass, the priest blessed the images and the batá drums to be played during the procession. The images were then carried by cabildo members to the homes of respected religious leaders before finally arriving at Regla’s cemetery. At key thresholds – the entrance of the sanctuary, the edge of the bay, the doorways of important religious leaders’ homes – that marked significant moments in the procession, cabildo leaders performed divination to ensure that the orichas were pleased. Possession priests were mounted by their orichas, whose presence confirmed the efficacy of public devotion.
This trajectory highlighted the centrality of African religion, reinforced the social and moral power of African and Afro-Cuban authorities, and sanctioned alternate interpretations of colonial space and images. The route of the procession from church to sea to cemetery enacted non-Western modes of interpreting the Virgin/oricha and her domain, thus reappropriating colonial space and challenging the European “spatial paradigm” that “segregated the living from the dead,” symbolically uniting them in a non-linear cycle that better represented African conceptions of life and death. This functioned as a performance that rendered the Virgin as a multivocal symbol, central to the worship and identity of Afro-Cuban devotees who understood Yemayá as embodying both life and death.
In Lydia Cabrera’s account of the procession, it is clear that she understood the procession as a performed transformation, the result of devotees’ agentive use of a Catholic icon to illuminate the presence of an African oricha. The narrative illustrates African elements in the celebration, but also speaks to the issue of ritual transformation:
dancing to the son of the batá, the three liturgical Yoruba drums, and singing songs (oriki) in the “lucumí language” [sic], they took the image of the Virgin from the house or cabildo of a santera to the doors of the church, where she was received by a catholic priest, and from there to the shores of the sea…the Virgin of Regla is transformed in the course of this festivity into a Yoruba divinity, into Yemayá, and everyone calls her that… (Cabrera 1980: 17)
Saint day procession of the Virgen de Regla (Yemayá), Chipiona, Cádiz, Spain, 1896
Procesión de la Virgen de Regla (Yemayá) en la costa de Chipiona, Cádiz, Spain 1896
Spruce roots, the ropes of this country from the Atlantic to the Rockies.
- wadabiin in Anishinaabemowin (wadabiyaabiin if they’re already peeled and split for working)