Based around 256 different configuration or letters (called odu) the Diloggun is a sacred conversation with Elegguá the god (Orisha) that owns all roads, knows all destinies and can intercede on our behalf to change our fates. Each cowrie shell reading will reveal no only the current energetic pattern that surrounds the client, but also explains whether this energy comes with blessings (iré) or misfortunes (osogbo). If the reading comes in misfortunes, it is the nature of the Diloggún oracle to prescribe a solution or ebbó to change those misfortunes into blessings and put you back on track to a balanced and blessed life.
Santeria is a religion that is gaining greatly in popularity in the United States. The term Santeria is actually a derogatory term that means "that saint stuff" but has fallen into popular use. The correct term for the religion is either La Regla Lukumí or La Regla de Ocha. Priests of the faith are often called Santeros or Santeras (meaning "practitioner of saint stuff") but the proper term is Olorisha (meaning "owner of the orishas"). Those who believe in the orishas and practice the religion but are not crowned priests are called aborishas.
Santeria (Lukumí) is one of the African Diasporic religions that evolved in Cuba with the slave trade. It is the compilation of the religious practices of the Yoruba and Fon people of West Africa (mainly around Nigeria and Benin). Santeria believes in the creator god Olodumare, his/her eldest children - the Orishas, and working with the spirits of the dead (egun). Olodumare created the world but grew tired of the noise and bustle. He appointed his eldest children, the orishas to act as his agents in the world, and gave each of them dominion over a portion of nature and some of his aché (power). The orishas are the focus of worship in Santeria.
Santeria is a beautiful religion that focuses on humility, obedience to the orishas, and living a balanced life by using the Diloggún to work in alignment with the orishas' wishes. Santeria has been maligned by the media and those who are intolerant of other faiths. It is not an evil religion and it does not believe in hurting people nor in throwing curses at others. In fact, the Diloggún advises in multiple odu that people should avoid cursing or maligning others.
Santeria is also a syncretic religion. The orishas are often aligned with corresponding Catholic saints as a way of teaching the religion to new-comers. Syncretization is often attributed to slaves hiding their religious practice from slave masters but this is not the sole reason. Christian missionaries had already arrived in the Yoruban kingdoms long before slaves were stolen away to the Americas. The alignment between the orishas and the saints was a popular practice in Africa and they continued their practice once they arrived in the Americas. The Catholic façade drops away quickly once you study the religion at any depth.
The Orishas are the eldest children of Olodumare (the creator God). The word Orisha means "selected head" - as in a selected leader. In this case it was God's selection of these spirits and his aché that gave them power to help us and keep the world moving.
Faith in the Orishas is at an all-time high in the world. The Orishas are known for interceding on the behalf of the faithful, for their quick and measurable results, and for their vested interest in humanity's success. The Orishas are often referred to as "saints" due to Catholic syncretization.
The primary Orishas that are worshipped in the Lukumí religion are:
- Eleggua (Elegba, Elewa): The first and most important orisha that owns all roads and lives behind every door. He witnessed the birth of creation and knows everyone's fates. He is our greatest ally and is to be honored and respected before all other orishas. It is his shells that are used in a typical Diloggún cowrie shell divination.
- Ogun (Oggun): The divine blacksmith, crafter of metal tools and weapons and father of invention, civilization and war. He is the cutting edge of the knife, the force of innovation and that of destruction.
- Ochosi (Ochossi): The hunter whose arrow never misses its mark. He is the force of justice and rules over the legal system and police.
- Obatala: The eldest and senior of the orishas. He is the father or white cloth, peace, logic, diplomacy and high minded resolution of conflict.
- Oya: A fierce female warrior who fights with fire and lightning, owns the marketplace and the cemetery. She is the force of change and revolution.
- Oshun (Ochun): The female orisha that lives in all of the world's rivers. She is the orisha of love, beauty, wealth and the journey of every woman through life from bitterness to joy.
- Yemaya (Yemoja, Yemoya): The mother of all living things who owns all the waters of the world. She makes her residence in the sea and is a fierce protector of her children.
- Chango (Shango): The king of the religion and the force of male virility. He teaches strong leadership, cultivation of power, wise communication and is a fierce warrior that fights with thunder, lighting and a double-headed axe.
All of these orishas - actually ALL of the orishas - can speak through the Diloggún. Any one of them can intercede on the behalf of the person being read through the cowrie shells.
What is a Diloggun Cowrie Shell Reading Like?
A Diloggun consultation begins with a series of prayers all recited in the Lukumi language (a mixture of Yoruba and Spanish). These prayers invoke God, the orishas, the ancestors and honor all of the priest's lineage that has given him the license and ability to cast the cowrie shells (only priests can cast the cowrie shells). Then the diviner presents the shells to various points on the client's body to indicate to Eleggua that the reading will be for that person. Next the 16 cowries shells are tossed on a woven grass mat and the number of shells that have the natural opening (it looks like a mouth) of the shell face up are counted. This reveals the first half of the odu (letter) that is speaking. The shells are cast a second time to complete the composite odu. There are 256 possible odu that can emerge (16 x 16). This odu indicates the general energy pattern that is around the client. Will then determine the orientation of the odu, whether it comes in iré (blessings) or osogbo (misfortunes) and the origin of that misfortune. The diviner will then begin to explain what Elegguá is saying through that composite odu and its orientation to the client.
A typical Santeria Diloggun Consultation will involve some parables, explanations of what to look out for in your life, things you can take advantage of and many guidelines on how to live your life in the coming month. The reading's energy will be in effect for the next 28 days and any prohibitions or warnings that are issued as part of the reading will apply for those 28 days. The diviner will usually speak for about 30 minutes on the odu. After this period of the reading, the client can ask specific yes/no questions of the oracle to gain clarity on issues in his or her life. At the end of the reading, the diviner will then mark an ebbó (sacrifice or offering) if it is required in the reading to overcome misfortunes. Eleggua will indicate the proper ebbó that needs to be made through the shells and once the solution is determined, the reading will be closed out.
The client and the diviner then discuss the ebbó that needs to be done and how much it will cost to complete the work. Ebbó can take many forms. Sometimes ebbó is as simple as an offering of cool water and coconut to the orishas. Other times it is more complicated like taking ritual baths, or undergoing an initiation in the Lukumí faith. As always, your free will is completely sacred and you will not be pressured to do anything you don't want to do, just understand that if Elegguá indicates that ebbó is the solution to your problem and you don't complete the ebbó that you are conceding to the misfortunes in your life.
Get a Santeria Diloggun Reading
Dr. E. is now offering Diloggún readings through his website. Once you pay for your consultation, Dr. E. will follow up with you via email with the available time slots he has for readings.
Learn more about the Orishas at the Santeria Church of the Orishas website.