Eggun tile (teja de eggun), Eggun pot, Boveda ??

topic posted Tue, August 14, 2012 - 3:10 AM by  Oni Yemaya
Which of these do you guys use to work with your muertos and egguns ??
posted by:
Oni Yemaya
New York City
  • Unsu...
    Both the tile and the pot are marked by Odu - they should only be added to the Egun shrine when marked.

    The boveda is the appropriate place for your egbe spirits (meaning any spirit that is NOT Egun to you). You will sometimes hear people refer to the spirits of the boveda as "iwin" spirits, but iwin are actually just egbe spirits that are related to the iwin tree (all trees have spirits and ashe in Lukumi and Yoruba theology).

    I know it falls on deaf ears most of the time now, but Egun are only spirits who you are related to by birth: either by birth in blood (your genetic lineage and family) or by birth in ashe (your god family and your rama elders). One person's egbe spirit can be another person's Egun - this is probably where so much confusion stems from.

    I purposefully did not respond to Darell's "egguns" question for this reason.

    Egun are propitiated at their own shrine with their own rites. Some of the chants we use descend from the larger Egungun cult in Yorubaland, but realize that when we feed and propitiate Egun, we're working with a stronger force/energy than when we're before the boveda/gonga (umbanda altar for spirits similar to a boveda). There is always a direct tie to Egun that an individual doesn't have with egbe spirits.

    Spirits at the boveda can come and go, just like friendships. Egun never leave you because they ARE you and you ARE them. Have I lost any one?

    I hope this helps.

    • This post was deleted by Oni Yemaya
      • @ nomad yes that is where my own confusion stands because I have my boveda set up for my own ancestors or spirits that walk with me. And had been instructed as well by my own elders to put things like a bible to honor your passing grandparents cause that was there religion and to pay respect to them or a cigar and some brandy for my other spirit that walks with me. Then I have a seperate spot in my Gerage for my egun's. Which is set up differently and I have my palo there to bang. So I was a bit confused as well.
      • Unsu...

        The differentiation has nothing to do with my ile or rama. It's part of the traditional theology that both Yoruba and Lukumi teach.

        The problem, I believe, stems from spiritism versus Lukumi philosophy. It has ALWAYS been taught that Egun has their own shrine (most ideal is outside the home under a banana tree, or in a small shed/alcove) on the floor/ground. That is only for Egun rites and offerings.

        The boveda is for EVERYTHING else (spirit-wise).

        In addition, even the mere fact of Spiritism and working with spirits at a boveda has NOTHING to do with worshiping Orisha in Lukumi or Yoruba practices. Egbe spirits are a part of the theology, and they are very "real" entities, but my point is that not all spirits are Egun. It's a nomenclature that has been distorted and is to this day being used incorrectly.

        Any educated lagba in Lukumi will tell you the same.

        I hope this helps.


        PS - I do realize some Latin cultures keep ancestral shrines on altars/tables - but this is not what I'm referring to when I discuss the boveda in Lukumi context. If your family keeps such a tradition, you would still offer to them in your family's tradition on its own, and still give offerings to Egun at the Egun shrine when the offerings are marked by Odu.
        • This post was deleted by Oni Yemaya
    • Hey Jim how are you doing? Good I hope:) I'm kinda confused on just one part, now after reading your response about the boveda and Egbe shirts and the boveda being ( non- related spirits). Now here's the confused part I have seen people who have had pictures of there own ancestors( brothers, mothers,etc) in or on there boveda. Should they have a seperate boveda for them?
      • Unsu...
        Hey Jeremy,

        I see it all the time too. Again, as I just mentioned to Nomad above, in some Latino cultures, they keep an ancestral table or altar. And in other cases, it's just a matter of Lukumi communities synchretizing the rites of Egun with spiritual practices like Kardecism, Sanse/21 Divisions, Espiritismo, etc.

        It comes down to personal preference, honestly. But from a purely theological, ritual, and cultural point of view, Egun are considered more important to your Ori and your development due to the interrelated nature of their ashe and yours.

        The Egun shrine always sits on the floor or ground. This is the shrine where your pictures of family should go (according to our theology) along with any of their belongings. The home you invited me to two weeks ago for the wemilere had examples of both proper shrines: they had the elevated bovedas for Egbe spirits, AND they had 2 different Egun shrines (one in the corner by the kitchen and the other outside under the hut).

        Realize it's not a matter of being "bad" - just inconsistent with what the theology teaches.

        Each energy has its time and place - and upholding multiple traditions in their specific dogmas without interchanging them has always been a constant pillar of wisdom taught in Lukumi. You can be Palo and Lukumi. You can be Jewish, Palo, Lukumi, and Vodun, you can be Lukumi and whatever else you want to be! :) The point of this teaching is that you keep your traditions separate. When you're working with Orisha in Lukumi, you stick to the igbodu protocols. When you work with Palo, you don't use Lukumi chants/osayins/resources/rhythms/etc. It's the same concept but being applied to Egun versus egbe spirits.

        I hope this helps clear up any confusion my initial post may have caused.

        Talk to you later,

  • I don't work with los muertos as much as I probably should. I have a Boveda and a baston de muerto, that's it. But I would like to know more about this subject, so I hope some people post their experiences here. For example, I know we need to work with egun so they'll help us, but I'm not sure exactly how close we should be to them. I have been told that it's good to keep egun at arm's length. Sometimes they want to stay here on earth with us and they shouldn't, or sometimes they want us to go with the to the realm of los muertos and it's not our time to go. Too much closeness with egun will lead to problems. Although we should always honor the egun and take care of them, we shouldn't really "hang out" with them too much, because the living and the dead are supposed to keep to their own territories. Maybe I just got this advice because of my particular sign when I got cofá de Orula, I was warned a lot about egun then, and have not really wanted to get too close to them since then. I would like to hear what others think about it. Also I'm interested to know what people think about the possibility of the ori of a dead ancestor coming back to the earth in the form of a newborn child. It's not exactly reincarnation, but the idea is that the ancestors' energy returns to earth through another person. I've heard this happens sometimes in families, and the idea interests me. Any thoughts?
    • Unsu...

      Egun are your life source. Without your bloodline interacting and procreating, your Ori would not have incarnated into your physical body. We owe everything to Egun.

      They are the active energy giving you life. You should propitiate Egun daily. Whenever you eat, the first bite of every dish should go to them. If you're out eating in a restaurant, prepare a plate at the table (or if you need to be really discreet, just leave the last bite from each item on the plate for them).

      Why would you want to keep such energy at "arm's length?" Orisha is beholden to Egun. There's a very real reason why Egun is always propitiated and sacrificed to BEFORE Orisha.

      Iku lobi Osha

      This simple phrase encapsualtes SO MUCH of the theology Lukumi and Yoruba teach. Without Egun, Orisha does not receive new heads. Without Egun, Orisha doesn't eat. Without Egun, Orisha doesn't mount. Likewise, without Egun, we have no identity. Without Egun, we have no purpose. Without Egun, we have no legacy to pass on.

      Now, if someone has an Odu in ita that tells them to not work with Egun or the dead in general, that's different. But in general, there is no reason to fear Egun or not give them constant attention. The more you tend to Egun, the more you're tending to your own welfare, health, and life.

      Some people are not comfortable dealing with Egun, and that's fine. Just realize, Lukumi theology and philosophy would collapse if it weren't for the role Egun plays in our rituals and beliefs.

      I hope this helps!

      • hi Jim, yes this helps. Your explanations are very clear. My understanding of egun is the same as yours, I was taught they are my ancestors by blood and through my religious family. I do honor my egun, I am careful to do that. But I was told in itá to keep them at arms' length because I have problems with egun. They like me TOO MUCH, and stick to me like glue. It's not they're bad or scary or mean me harm, but they were too intensely attached to me, they loved me and wanted to take me with them, they didn't want to leave me alone. So I was told that I needed to be respectful and show I love and honor them, but tell them we need to keep some distance. I understand this isn't the norm, I was just wondering if anyone else had had a similar experience. Thanks for your clarification.
        • This post was deleted by Oni Yemaya
  • And now for something completely different:

    (***) Both the tile and the pot are marked by Odu - they should only be added to the Egun shrine when marked. (***)

    Se Alafia Ni Jim,
    Not to be adversarial, but which Odu indicates someone needs to receive an Egun Pot or Tile? To be fair, I pose the same question to any Awo’s reading. It’s a rhetorical question by the way as there isn’t one.

    Your "Babanla" Babalorisha Afolabi (Ibaye) spoke extensively of the non-orthodoxy of the "Egun Pot" and how it fell outside the boundaries of Odu based protocols, yet he would make them for people if directed to during a Misa. I wouldn't be surprised if Ochani Lele's book(s) says some Odu requires the reception of an Egun pot, but I would be thoroughly shocked to hear that Willie Ramos is instructing this. Is that the case? If so, just another “combo item” on the Santeria drive thru menu I guess.

    The Egun Tile has its basis in Ifa, i.e: the Ifa Orisha Orun . That is the only time a tile is used relating to Egun and it has Odu Ifa painted on it. The tile is used to shield Orun from the view of the uninitiated (uninitiated into the mysteries of Orun .) . The basis of the "Opas'iku or Ancestor Staff, Baston de Muerto also stems from Orun. As this is another of his tools that the New World Oriate grafted from Ifa.

    Properly, a Babalawo should be used to call Egun - they have bigger and better tools - if there is one available and knowledgeable via “atena” or sacred Odu used for that express purpose. More often than not, Babalawo’s are also Omo Orun . Omo Orun can use the staff [ for lack of a better term] of Orun to tap on the ground as they Mojuba and Oro Egun. Orun is owner of the land that our ancestors reside in and it is only he that can open the door (between our realm and that of the dead) when needed in concert with a particular Eshu.

    On a side note: This is also why an Itutu is incomplete unless the Priest performing it is Omo Orun. That is relayed in both Merindiloggun Odu and Odu Ifa.[ As I am not an Awo or an Olorisha I will refrain from mentioning which ones.] He also imparts “Afudashe” into the individuals that receive him. In addition to Afudashe indicating the power to speak with prophecy during divination it also indicates the gift in a person that Egun and the Orisha ALWAYS hear. Afudashe = Ashe (power) of the Mouth (speech).

    No disrespect intended just adding - Iwin to most Elders that I have spoken with means "snails" not trees. As a matter of fact, I have yet to speak to anyone unrelated to Willie Ramos and his teachings that confirms “Iwin” to mean spirits or Tree Spirits. I have been the recipient of several "WTF is this dildo talking about" stares when using "Iwin" to refer to what is commonly called "Ara Orún". To further my point: personally I have to add 8 “Iwin” to every rogation and carry 3 “Iwin” in my pocket at all times.

    Worthy Digression: spelled with a lower case “I”… “iwin” refers to fairies, or sprites in proper Yoruba. Spelled with a lower case “o”, “oro” refers to “tree spirits”. Context is everything, as oro also means to sing.

    Lastly, I will gladly eat a heaping helping of crow should you - or anyone else - be able to provide said Odu based advises on the reception of Teja de Egun and/or the Egun Pot. This is just another step in the "assembly line process of Orisha initiation" that needs to stop!
    • Unsu...
      Hi Sean,

      That's interesting because Clay was the one that told me both the tile and the pot were both Odu-specific items. He also taught me that the tile was related to Odu Ifa. But at that time I was aborisha, and he didn't tell me the Odus that do refer to it.

      During my time in Michigan, however, I never saw him create either the pot or consecrate the tile for anyone; but several of my godsiblings do have the tile on the Egun shrine.

      Hopefully the babalawos here can shed light on these two items. :)

      Take care,

  • Unsu...
    Nomad et al:

    The Lukumi Egun shrine, as mentioned previously, is set up on the ground or floor and if outdoors it should preferably be under a banana tree, or under its own little hut/shed, and if indoor it should be either against a wall or in a corner where supporting walls of the home meet. Other lineages also place their Egun shrine on the floor in the bathroom close to the sink or toilet - but I do not know why this particular location is sometimes used (my rama doesn't do this).

    Either way, the shrine itself is enclosed by a circle drawn with efun half-above and half-below the floor line where the wall and floor meet. It should look like the setting sun as it descends below the Western horizon. We scratch 9 lines with the efun on the bottom half of the circle to indicate 9 rays of light.

    Within this sacred space we store the Opa Egun (staff/baston) along with any personal belongings from our relatives. This is also where we keep their images (one taboo I've encountered in most ramas is that you never put a picture of a living person on the Egun shrine, only those who are deceased). Beyond these items, for daily observance and devotions, we make offerings of the first helping of each dish we cook/serve throughout the day, as well as sharing any beverages served as well. I like to give the traditional offerings at least once a month; more often if I can afford them. (See below for their descriptions.)

    Now, here is what my rama teaches with regards to setting up the Egun shrine prior to rituals/initiations:

    Flowers - Glass of water - Glass of water with honey - Glass of water with molasses - Cigars and/or cigarettes (I always put one cigar for any Egun who liked them and I put my Father's favorite brand of cigarette) - any alcoholic beverages your Egun liked (I always put rum as a minimum, but usually beer and wine too) - Cup of coffee - Plate(s) of foods being served to the house - 2 or 9 candles (my rama uses 2) - a chunk of efun - a plate with 9 chunks of coconut topped with palm oil and guinea pepper - Opa Egun - and finally 5 pieces of coconut for obi divination.

    These items are essential whenever you're working ceremonies, but again, whenever I can, I incorporate the drinks, flowers, and candles into my daily/monthly devotions.

    I hope this helps!


    • Wow Jim! That sounds like it takes up a lot of room!

      In my bathroom, right next to my sink and in between my stand up shower, I have a small clay urn, with an aluminum lid, my Baston, a large snowflake obsidian skull, 3 small chipped glass cups (1 for rum, 1 for black coffee, and 1 for water), and a large white candle in a glass. Every monday night I spray them 3 times with gin, and give them a little bit of food.

      Normally, I'll get ready for my shower, let it run so it gets nice and steamy, turn the lights out, light their candle, and talk to them while smoking a cigar.

      It's very relaxing, and really helps me unwind.

      Then I hop in the shower and go on with my night.
      • When I *used* to have a padrino, he had the circle-sun around his egun shrine, but he he told me you only needed it if you kept your saints in the same physical room as your egun. Is that normal? He said the circle was used to prevent the egun from pestering the saints.
        • Unsu...
          I've never encountered that belief or practice since I've been Lukumi. Also, as far as "pestering" Orisha, that just doesn't sound right, let alone vibe with the theology. hehe

          And it doesn't need to take up much space, either. I've seen some beautiful Egun shrines on apartment balconies or in the corner nook of a kitchen. You work with what you have. Same with bovedas and gongas. I've seen some ENORMOUS bovedas and gongas, as well as "urban living" versions on shelves or small stands. Again, you work with what you have. hehe

          My current Egun shrine takes up a small corner of my indoor balcony, but my gonga takes up 1/4 of my entire living room. :)

          In NYC is where I most-often encountered the Egun shrine in the bathroom...and even there, it's quite a beautiful thing to behold.

          Take care,

          • i work with my eggun with my palo de muerto along with my boveda espiritual.bovedas mainly used for our spirit guides such as negras ect.and el palo for our ancestor lineage ...yet this is in our ile.we have backrounds in sanse ,lukumi, and palo mayombe:)
  • My mom's path is embedded with eggun, she has her stick outside. I believe you use an eggun stick for your eggun altar.
    Also, my mom has an eggun eleke even, that I dont know how many people have, or how mainstream it is.
    Eggun, are really the heart of this religion as Ive observed though.
    We are nothing without eggun.

Recent topics in "Santeria"