Idols by Nicholas Roerich, 1901-1910.
from radical faerie digest, winter 1979
Olokun is an Orisha who is a Foundation of Ifa and OSHA and is related to the deep secrets of life and death. Olokun provides health, prosperity and material evolution. He is the Orisha of the ocean, represents the sea in its most terrifying State, is androgynous, half-fish half human, compulsive, mysterious and violent character. Olokun has the ability to transform. He is scary when he is enraged. In nature he is symbolized by the depths of the sea and is the true owner of the depths of this, where nobody has been able to arrive. He represents the secrets of the sea bottom, since nobody knows what’s on the bottom of the sea, only Olokun and Olofin. Olokun represents also the riches of the sea bed and health. Olokun is one of the most dangerous and powerful of the Osha-Ifa religion deities.
MAFEREFUN BABA MI OLOKUN!
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!
Temple of Isis, Egypt, early 20th century
The floodgates of my dreams. The inner sanctum of my heart.
I’iw ishkwaandem ninitaabawaadaan. Anami’ewigamig mnidookwe Isisinaan.
The KVB - Never Enough
Get To Know: Artist André Hora
André Hora is a Brazilian/British artist and freelance illustrator whom I met in a chilly New York last year. At that time, we found ourselves in the company of Artist Tim Okamura during a personal interview regarding his popular paintings. On the rooftop of Tim’s art studio, André and I looked over at the city of Manhattan splayed out in front of us and it was there I learnt about his art. We discussed his different influences within the art world and I was so fascinated by his work that I later had to contact him for an interview.
Y: Can you tell us a little bit about your art? Some of your pieces have a distinct African flare to them. With the several cultural and identity labels within Brazil, have any of them affected you as an artist and in what ways?
André: I would define my art as narrative, especially the late works, almost all of which are telling a story, a myth or describing a day-to-day situation. On my early works we see a lot of faces and skulls – I was obsessed by the human head! I didn’t attend a formal art school, although I learnt to draw at a very early age with my Dad (who is an architect), and since then I have attended several private lessons and workshops in Brazil, France and in the UK where I am based. I am drawn to Afro-Brazilian culture and particularly to Yoruba mythology as we find in Candomblé (a mixture of traditional Yoruba, Fon, Ewe and Bantu beliefs). Not only because I come from Bahia, but because my great-great-grandmother was a slave. I was always fascinated by this ancestor of mine I knew so little about. So from my Portuguese, Native American and African origins, I find myself very influenced on my art by the latter – both aesthetically and philosophically.