Pataki (Sacred Stories) About The Orishas Oya, Oshun, Yemaya
This is the pataki (sacred story) telling of Oya, Oshun, Yemaya setting up shop performing cowry shell divination (merindilogun). Pataki are sacred stories in Yoruba based religions of Ifa, Lukumi (Santeria), and Candomble. Similar to the scriptures of the Islamic Koran and the Christian Bible, they tell of stories about the lives of people, profits, and spirits when they walked the earth as mortals. Just as with the Koran and the Bible, there are moral lessons to be learned and applied to our daily lives. This is just one of the many many stories.
Oya, Oshun, and Yemaya who in the Yoruba based Afro Cuban branch of Lukumi (Santeria), are sisters decided to make a business of divination. Divination is the act of uncovering the will of the Orishas (spirits of nature), the desires of the Egun (ancestors), and the trends of the future. The Lukumi faith employs three systems of divination: obi (the coconut, merindilogun or diloggun (cowry shells), and Ifa (òpèlè or divining chain). Non initiates can use the obi system of divination where a coconut is divided onto four pieces and cast to answer simple yes/no questions asked of the Orishas or the ancestors. Fully initiated priests and priestesses can use the diloggun system where 16 cowry shells are cast to learn the will of the orisha. The òpèlè is a divining chain made up of eight concave disks connected together on a single chain. Only Babalowos (High Priest of Orunmilla) can use this system.
Back to the story, Oya, Oshun, and Yemaya decided to make a business of divination. They also decide to involve Eleggua Laroye in the business. This particular path of Eleggua who was a great communicator, and also had the gift of gab, would be used to get the word out about the business. The money made from the sessions was to be divided four ways, with Eleggua getting his share at the close of the business day.
Oya, Oshun, and Yemaya set up business in a small hut on the beach by the ocean. Eleggua position himself at a crossroads where there was high traffic, to better get the word out about the three diviners. Business was thriving as many went on the mat to be divined before the Orishas. Eleggua would come by to collect his share of the profits at the close of business each day.
Soon the ugly head of greed set in, Oya, Oshun, and Yemeya began thinking. They began to think that they give Eleggua way too much money, they do all the work they thought. So at the end of each business day, Eleggua would come by to get his share, which began to get less and less. Eventually Oya, Oshun, Yemaya would tell Eleggua that there was no money, for business was slow. Eleggua being not only a great communicator, but also a trickster, decided he would set the sisters straight.
Each day, all day, where people came to have divination performed. Eleggua would tell them that Oya, Oshun, and Yemaya no longer live there in the hut on the beach, and he would inform them of there new location. As time pasted, business came to a standstill. Realizing that no one was showing up to have divination done, and money was not being made. Oya, Oshun, and Yemaya called in Eleggua to have a talk with him.
With Eleggua standing before them, the three sisters asked him what’s going on? We’re starving, where have the people gone? Looking Oya, Oshun, and Yemaya in the eyes, Eleggua said to them, apparently the people have gone the same way as my money, away. Eyes wide open, the three sisters quickly realized the error of their ways.
Oya, Oshun, and Yemaya then promised from that moment on, to always set aside Eleggua’s share of the profit first. The sisters also promised when preparing meals, that his meal be prepared and side aside for him first as well. Just as Eleggua’s share of the profits returned, so did the people return to have divination done, and business thrived and all prospered.