Many years ago I had a reading with a Babalau who told me that I had a strong connection to Oshun, the river goddess of love and one of the Orishas from the African Yoruba tradition. Throughout my life path, I have encountered the Orishas through friends and in dreams. The Orishas are spirits or deities connected to specific natural energies who are akin to vast archetypical knowledge held by the wisdom of places on earth. I relate to Orishas in a similar way to my deity work in Tibetan Buddhism, as bridges to the divine with helpful methods to work with our daily life. Although I have never been initiated, I love the passion and beauty and also the precision and clarity from such a strong tradition found in the Yoruba system. When I wrote about Mami Wata in Fire of the Goddess, I discovered connections between her and the Orisha goddess of the sea, Yemaya who is like a sister to Oshun. This week Oshun has swum back into my awareness, she who is the beautiful loving goddess of the rivers.  Oshun is the orisha of love, beauty, femininity and sensuality which leads many people to compare her to Venus or Aphrodite. Living in Portland now, a place that is essentially surrounded by rivers, Oshun is wonderful way to connect with the earth. Oshun, as beautiful, sensuous and loving as she is, often times she faced dark and troublesome times as well, like we all do. In one myth, she sees the Orishas are having a difficult time and feels she must fly to Olofi, the orisha of the skies, to talk to him about this problem. Taking the form of a peacock she begins her flight. Of course many try to convince her that what she is doing is ridiculous and dangerous, that she will get burned by Olorun, the sun. As the peacock flew closer to the sun her feathers burned and charred and she turned into a vulture. The vulture is one of Oshun's forms and she was recognized for her bravery and diligence in wishing to help the orishas. This story reminds us to be brave and follow our heart, even amidst the naysayers.
Altar for Oshun

Altar for Oshun

I recently had the fortune to receive another reading from a friend who has been initiated into the Yoruba tradition. Using cowry shells for divination, we explored my questions and she gave me answers to help me work with the relationships in my life. As in any spiritual practice, receiving a way to work with the ups and downs of life is always useful. This particular reading called for a 'remedy' to give offerings to Oshun and reconnect with the sweetness of life. Oshun is particularly fond of honey, pastries and other sweets, yellow flowers and candles and golden coins. I created a shrine for her, and a way for me to reconnect with beauty, love, forgiveness and honey in the heart. Honey in the heart is actually a saying I heard from Martin Prechtel, the wonderful artist, author, teacher and healer who carries the wisdom of the Mayan people.  The saying from the Tzutujil Indians of Guatamala is:  

Be blessed with long life, honey in the heart,  no evil and thirteen thank-yous

Honey in the heart is the deep well of deep gratitude and love that arises no matter what is going on in our life.  There is so much to be thankful for, it's overwhelming when you give yourself the opportunity to tune into the abundance surrounding you. I am always amazed how trees put out hundreds of fruits and each fruit has so many seeds! The potential of trees in just one tree flowering and fruiting is mind boggling. Oshun is the reminder to bring our minds and hearts back to the beauty and abundance that is all around us in every moment. To infuse our lives with delight and honey in the heart. Resources: http://santeriachurch.org/the-orishas/oshun/ http://www.amazon.com/Long-Honey-Heart-Mart%C3%ADn-Prechtel/dp/155643538X http://www.aboutsanteria.com/ochuacuten.html http://www.aboutsanteria.com/ochuacuten.html The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky, Illustrated by Hrana Janto