Susanne Wenger, österreichische Künstlerin und Priesterin von Osun (Oxum) geb. 1915 Graz, Austria, gest. 2009, Oshogbo, Nigeria
Paths of the Orixás
Even we humans are thrown into the great nature, her cycles and elements, her nurturing earth and her beathing heaven, into the perpetual balancing play of fundamental forces.
Where there are man celebrating this affinity, where there are people approaching a deeper understanding of this interplay, where there are us humans wishing to regard our loving and measured acting within the big picture, there arose and still arise spiritual traditions based on nature.
The Orixá tradition cultivated in this terreiro is one of them. A way of spiritual experience demanding dedication and discipline; rituals expressing the magic of Life, and healing rooms allowing for lavation, revival, and re-connection. Even we humans are thrown into the great nature, her cycles and elements, her nurturing earth and her beathing heaven, into the perpetual balancing play of fundamental forces.
Have a time full of inspiration while reading this page, as well as benedictory encounters within the Giras and other healing places.
Ya Habiba de Oxum, July 2015
Rôra yèyé o - Modúpe Ìyá dé o
Oxum, Oshun o, Yèyé o – flowing in a thousand manners, over and over anew.
As queenly Mother loving wealthiness.
As silent Elder reading destiny.
As beautiful Rebel bearing departure.
Everthing through Thyself, Ye water. Here on earth, everything through Thee.
Arising. Going by. Beeing in flux. All through Thyself.
Come, Yèyé, rich in blessings. Manifest Thyself in thousand manners over and over again.
Let us live Thyself, along all our ways, over and over again.
Let us recall Thyself, profound and wise, dance Thyself affectionate and tall.
Let the world and us see the light of day over and over again, Yèyé o.
Boundless our gratitude for Thy being, Yèyé! Modúpe Ìyá dé o!
Yá Habiba de Oxum, Juni 2014
Casa da Cura
Within indigenous perceptions of the world, the sacred and the healing belong together, and both are directly connected with nature. From this point of view, the human being, its worries, needs, diseases and wars are never merely human – by humans, in relation to humans, living among humans. They are part of a greater family, a greater “we”, a greater sphere addressing landscape, earth, plants, stones, waters and animals likewise.
The sacred lives between human beings and nature, and so does the healing. Ritual healing arts call for and inspire the power of relation between mankind and space; they remind people of that connection and melt the autism of our human self-involvedness. In this perspective, each Orixá is deity and healing power, even though some of them are consecrated to healing in particular.
As for example is Ossaim. And when Ossaim is being effective notably, he is by no means effective, because he knows human beings and their organism very well. Rather, Ossaim is effective, because – as the myths are telling – he ranged the woods for a long time, harkening, in wonder, learning. Because he studied the relationship between human and wood, because he saw balance and imbalance. The medicine of Ossaim isn`t that of a herb simply curing wounds. The medicine of Ossaim awakes memories for the greater commonality, the common ground on which wounds might take place as well as wonders. Saravá Ossaim! Euassa!
Yá Habiba de Oxum, März 2014
In the Summer of the 7th Year…
the garden of the Terreiro is blooming and growing gorgeously. It wants to be touched, worked, treasured, and it also wishes to be perceived in silence or even left alone from time to time. Only by this, it may become apparent in its beauty and vitality.
The path of the Orixás, which Terra Sagrada is pursuing in middle Europe for seven years by now, is a garden. It calls for commitment and demands patience. It wants to be challenged, but it wants to be exploited and enjoyed, too. We may enjoy what seems to flow through the old roots and through the hands of time, appearing as ‘religio’, as something ‘connecting again and again’.
Such a way is a wide stream and a fine line at the same time. Where is dedication a gesture of love, and where does it turn into a blind or even destroying act? Where does the experience of protection call for an opening of our being, and when does the same protection serve as breeding grounds for fundamentalist seclusion? Where does the perceived sacred act as a call to enduring research, and when does it become an instrument of strange power structure? Where is the good place for the clear mind, for matter-of-fact reflection, for straight and logic discussion on a path which gives lessons in ecstasy?
I am not only grateful for the richness of the path. I am also grateful, that the path of Terra Sagrada and the present times admit those questions as well, actually request to ask them. In the summer of the 7th year, we are located amidst a splendid garden, and we are profoundly appreciative for the dance of Olorun and Aiyê, the invisible and the visible sphere.
Que Oxalá lhe abençoe. Yá Habiba de Oxum, July 2013
Iroco - Tempô - Tree of time
Trees play a vital role in many cultures of this world. The axis mundi, the world tree, connects heaven and earth, turning the events and fortunes of life into meaningful stories under its crown.
Iroco may melt our definite life stories down into the colourful sequence of eternal motives and spit them out imbued with new depth. Iroco is also a symbol for the “We” in which we as human beings are placed. Even if we sometimes appear to be only people among people, we are people among trees, between plants, on an earth with stones, in the midst of animals and other beings. We are a “We” in a complex world.
To bear and to enjoy this “Beeing-melted-down and Beeing-spitted-out” among a large “We” in all its contradictions and originalities, is the great lesson of Iroco, the Orixá of the trees, who often goes by the name Tempô in the line of Angola, and holds all the rituals of this tradition under his top. Tempô, the tree of time, the protecting force of memory, the incessant bridge between the worlds. Saravá o Tempo! Tempo oiô!
Yá Habiba, Februar 2013
The courage of one's heart
There are so many ways of healing: the ways of plants and saps, the ways of surgery, the ways of words of wisdom.
Caboclos and Caboclas are spiritual beeings who have access to and allies and teachers along several of those ways. However, they are achieving real mastery in connection with the courage of one’s heart: To acceed to life decidedly. To keep the vital spark treasured. To accept the gifts of life with joy. That’s what they are dancing for, that’s what they are recalling and encouraging.
Ya Habiba de Oxum Abalô, march 2012
Remembering the task within creation
Until dawn each ray of sunlight is in vain if we see what we want1
Says a poem by Michael Lehofer, and amongst many other things, tells about a crucial element of spiritual leraning. Not to see what we want, but to see, what wants to be seen through us and what can be seen by us. Not only to live what we want to live, but to live what will come into life through us. Not only to do what we enjoy, but growing into actions that correspond to us, to our history and to our present.
Working with spiritual forces, as orixá traditions offer it, is a way that reminds us on our soul and it`s task within the whole. A way, which by little, often unspectacular steps may connect us with our secret, our call.
Recently, I read an apt sentence in the daily newspaper: “Move yourself, too, not only your Avatar!” That’s just the point. That we simply and really take the little steps, not only in mind - as small or overwhelming they may seem.
And I ask for the power of the Caboclos, with their verve, their courage, and their energy in order that the delight at the little and concrete deeds broadens, and that the tasks, which obtain their sense from the background, may become apparent more and more clearly and multi-layered. Sarava os Caboclos! Okê Caboclos!
Ya Habiba de Oxum Abalô, november 2011
1 Lehofer, Michael; Was wir der Liebe schuldig sind; Drava Verlag, Klagenfurt/Celovec, 2007
In the Service of Commitment
In times of dull consumption dictating social organization, of blind exploitation of elemental, social, and spiritual resources, in times in which we are still tied to so many past and present traumatic occurrences – in such times, it does not seem likely to act in love.
In love with ourselves, with the world as a society of human beings, with everything that represents Creation – now.
Nevertheless: continuing to gravitate into love, letting emerge the space of confidence, being entirely present – and disposed to life and to deeds. That is the road.
How glad I am, that the call of the Orixás has attained me on this road, and that I may explore, experience, share, and pass the deepness and the plentifulness of that spriritual tradition and its ritual acts step by step. They offer guidance and challenge, concentration and departure.
I am much obliged to all the people and all the elemental forces contributing, that our ritual work in the service of commitment may have a lasting effect. May the protecting mantle of Mamãe Oxum be present at the coming autumn Giras and Assentamentos – and beyond. Ora iê iê ô!
Ya Habiba, August 2011
What is a filha or a filho de santo doing?
Orixá traditions invite people to go the many roads of a filho de santo. Orixás stand for holy forces being immanent in nature. They qualify spiritual dimensions of springs and mountains, of oceans and forests, of wind and suns…
Being a filho, a child, of such sainthoods, sometimes means taking their nectar in blissful ecstasy. It also means, to adopt the tradition of guarding those powers, elements and areas. Singing for them, dancing for them, being present and responsible for them, appreciating them, treasuring them in a lively way, cultivating and celebrating them.
Furthermore, it implies to face the world and the course of the world with dignity and responsibility, as generous, courageous and open-hearted as possible. Not only within the rituals, but also concretely in every day life. To do one’s bit, may it seem brilliant or petty - despite this: contributing. That is exactly what a filha or a filho de santo does.
März 2011, Mãe Habiba de Oxum Abalô
Earth, Heart and Hands – Ritual Gestures
It was just a small gesture, which told us something about the motion being at work between earth, heart and hands. It told of hands beginning to act confidently while listening to the rhythm of the heart and sensing the bearing power of the earth. Bringing together earth perception, heart beat, and action would deeply serve life and its steady and peaceful renewal.
Many gestures and traditional postures in the spheres of dance, contemplation and ritual are supporting us in keeping lively such knowledge in our consciousness and in perceiving it with our entire body and all our senses likewise.
With all my heart, I wish that the world and we, the people, will not stop teaching each other gestures and movements containing stories full of deepness and kindness. And I wish that we may experience the joy and the ecstasies coming into being when they unfold their whole magic.
December, 2010, Yá Habiba de Oxum
As Orixá traditions perceive it, the world is permanently imbued with visible and unvisible energies. In this world, the living and the ancestors, devine as well as nature dimensions are performing a “dance of primeval times and myths”, linked to each other in a complex manner.
Turning to this dance make us sense the real extent of our embedding into life. A peaceful connection with that “otherworld” of great ancestoral power becomes as important as a distinct boundary towards it.
This year’s autumn Giras das Ancestrais in Vienna, Graz, Zurich, Berlin and Rhine-Valley are particularly devoted to that peaceful connecting in the knowledge of a protecting border.
Yá Habiba de Oxum, September 2010
"Tief in dir, bist du, oh Mensch, der Gott als Baum, als Stein, als Tier"
The traditions of Orixás discover holiness in the powers of nature. Through dance, rhythm, chant and ritual, they open up a space where these powers cannot only be experienced, but rather become alive. Through sensuous experience, they endow a fond relation between human and nature and they vitalize a natural state of being integrated in the flow of life. Vibrant or even holy relations between humans and nature and the inspirited, dialogical and cooperative understanding of the world appear like jesters in these times dominated by technology and economy. Those jesters are near and dear to me! How beautiful that they invite us to dance and contribute to our joyful and profound practicing of the tradition of Orixás in terra sagrada within the German speaking part of Europe. Olorum motumbá!
Ya Habiba de Oxum Abalô, April 2010
To be in joy
people who attend a gira or another public ritual of this tradition regularly report their amazement at the joy, strength and discipline that this spiritual practise is lived with.
They speak my heart. Indeed it is sort of a miracle when joy spreads while dancing and singing together in ritual to pervade the space like a magic fluid fulfilling all beings in it.
Joy cannot be forced, nor practised nor produced – it is a gift, which we can accept. Caboclos, Pretos Velhos and Orixás are apparently generous about joy. They rejoice in joy themselves. In this way many opportunities arise for filhos (sons and daughters of the divine beings) and guests, to experience receiving of gladness and of letting its power flow, discovering what is healing and sacred in it all along. As Mãe de Santo I am infinitely grateful for this.
Yá Habiba de Oxum Abalô, February 2010
As Aguas de Oxalá
At the beginning of a new year many communities who follow the Orixá traditions celebrate the “Waters of Oxalá”.
Several times they immerse themselves into the myth: they revive it, they re-experience and sustain it and the power that dwells in it, in the condensation of ceremony.
The story goes about an elder who suffers many humiliations on the journey to his son, ending up in jail innocent.
He is confined there for seven years – silent and patient but assured of his righteousness at heart -
while the land outside suffers of drought and turns barren.
Only when the son discovers his father in jail and sees to it that he is set free,
washed, tended to, nourished, dressed in new garments and returned to the world, do blessings came anew to the land.
The “Aguas de Oxalá ” are thus a season of renewal and re-connection to deep insight, to order that creates clarity, and to that essential nature, which lives and nourishes.
May this new year be guided by the wise patience of Oxalufá ( Oxalá in his state of an elder) and by the open-minded preparedness to receive the healing powers of water in re-connection to the righteous course of the world, so that blessings will be renewed upon the land.
Likewise the determination and strength of Xangô, to seek balance where it has been lost may be invoked, and last, not least, the renewing love of Oxum, dwelling in sweet waters, that transforms. In love and attachment to all, Ya Habiba de Oxum Abalô, January 2010
"Il faut manger la vie"
Indeed, African healers say that "life must be eaten", David Signer told the audience in Zurich at the public presentation of the audio-book Ilê Axé Oxum Abalô
. Yes, life wants to be eaten, completely, not merely to be observed at a distance. It desires to be lived intimately. The path of the Orixás, is likewise a path of ecstatic abandonment and devotion to life, in which sacred and profane realms interpenetrate each other. We have to eat life, with everything that belongs to it, and to immerse ourselves into the constant transformation in which we find ourselves and the world.
This deep confidence which arises there enables us to live and to die – in many of our lesser and greater tasks. Over the past few weeks we have been accompanied in this process by the old Orixá Omulú – and I am grateful for the mostly inconspicuous and yet mighty force, which resides in this Orixá of transformation and of healing. In this sense, the current giras are special festivals in honour of Omulu/Obaluaiê - Atotô Ajubero!
Ya Habiba, November 2009
"Olorun está no Aiyê …"
it says in one of the hymns, telling about Olorun, the Force of Creation, ever-present on earth. The hymn is simple and profound as soon as it turns to experience. "Olorun está no Aiyê …" is an attentive and permanent turning to life and its mysteries. To dedicate space, time, a setting and means to this movement is the task of a terreiro.
I owe thanks from all my heart for the hours of dance together, of song and of the beauty of the ritual spaces indoors and in nature outdoors.
And especially for countless moments of grace, which may unfold in mischievous, grand, comforting or breathtaking ways.
Ya Habiba, summer 2009„Ogum foi ao mar, para saudar a Yemanjá"
The last rituals were dedicated to the encounter of Ogum, of Fire, and Yemanjá, of Sea. And as the setting of the sun over the ocean is followed by darkness before light arises again, the Barcos were filled with a sense of the abyss of life and of its generous gifts.
I give thanks to all guests and devotees for their trust, their dedication, as well as to all spiritual entities and Orixás for their generous protection and their guidance.
May that great power be felt to be present in future in the "giras" in Graz, Vorarlberg and Zurich and in the public "assentamentos" in Landsberg and Berlin.
Mãe Habiba de Oxum Abalô, March 2009Travels at the turn of a new year
Still I am stirred, full of wonder and fascination, in the aftermath of a great journey, which led to the Indian cultures of South America and thus to an important root-source of our tradition. I thank every gate, each trace and every moment which disclosed this vast and deep spiritual realm to us, with its sense of community, of an immediate connectedness with the earth and of an inner orientation to the sun.
May these experiences and encounters contribute to a good order and may they be effective as loving forces in the ritual and work of Terra Sagrada.
Ya Habiba, January 2009The mystery of the Orixas
Perhaps the idea of dedication is not considered to be modern nowadays. Dedication to a mystical dimension of existence even less. And yet the Orixás are none less than the sacred, the numinous, which dwells in the forces of nature. They are principles, formative energies of life, mysteries.
Through the “assentamento of feitura” (ritual of confirmation) in November 2008, Terra Sagrada is literally “inspired” with divine breath of the blessing of five Orixas: Xangô, Logunede, Oxum, Yemanjá and Tempo. What a rich blessing and what a gift, to be able to be so close to their manifestation, their beauty, their uniqueness and their powerful presence. Grace be a thousand times to the protective spirits, who have made all of this possible and who guide it!
Axé, Ya Habiba, December 2008Forms of spiritual organisation
The true leaders of a terreiro are the Orixás. They give impulses, they present tasks, they set limits, they reward, they send visions, insight and order. They are the life and blood, the heart, the spirit of the system.
Thus the art of the mundane organisation and personal structure of leadership of a terreiro consists in providing a basis for the Orixás to manifest themselves, to have their impulses understood and put to action. It is about creating forms of leadership and of community in which the Orixás shall be agents of awareness at the focus of attention and inner sources.
Ya Habiba, August, 2008Living mysticism
Cultivate the love for life, follow the meaning of things and times, expose ourselves as sentient beings to constant transformation, be present here and now, breathe, behold the whole even in ordinary tasks, listen to the mystery, and be responsible for every step.
Deeply grateful for the blessed moments of the “vivencias” (rituals of experiencing) and the “giras” (the major services) of the bygone weeks, deeply confidential about what calls us next.
Ya Habiba, June 2008Following the call…
It is a great pleasure, honour and responsibility to follow the tradition of the Orixás in the realm of our culture. To take care, that the rituals are profound and imbued with meaning, that the broad oral tradition shall continue to live, to safeguard the structures that serve spiritual learning and to create a space here, in consciousness and movement, in which the material and the immaterial shall permeate each other lovingly.
From the depth of my heart I thank all people as well as all inner and outer powers, who have contributed to enable Terra Sagrada to pursue this task focussed and with a sense of humour.
Ya Habiba, May 2008