Casa Pueblo and the Posterriqueño – Innovations in 21st Century Lighting


Casa Pueblo

by Francisco G. Gómez

Casa Pueblo is a project of community self management with the commitment to value and protect natural resources, both cultural and human. It was born in 1980 when the government of Puerto Rico wanted to initiate mining exploitation of silver, gold and copper on 17 sites. The mining would have caused an ecological and social catastrophe on 36,000 acres of land in the municipalities of Adjuntas, Utuado, Lares and Jayuya. The founding members who began the struggle and continued on are Tinti Deyá Díaz, Alexis Massol González , working with an exemplary group of volunteers.

As part of the group’s evolution, in 1985 through their own efforts, they acquired a large old house, transforming it into the organization’s headquarters and an independent community cultural center. It has slowly been restored through their own efforts, developing into a meeting and exhibition hall, library, handmade/handcrafted shop, hall of antiquities, hydroponic system, butterfly sanctuary , all operating on solar energy.

The name of the cultural center , Workshop of Art and Culture, so captured the people’s interest that the organization became known as Casa Pueblo.” Translated from Casa Pueblo’s website

I’m still learning about all the wonderful things that Casa Pueblo is doing besides, the butterfly sanctuary, solar powered movie theater and radio station, ecological forest learning center, music school, coffee growing and so many other projects underway.


Of all the many innovative and remarkable projects Casa Pueblo has undertaken in their long tenure doing sustainable/renewable work, the “Posterriqueño” is by far my favorite. The word means “Puertorican Lamp Post.” The lamp was designed by engineers from the University of Puerto Rico at the Mayagüez campus several years ago.

The purpose of the design was to improve the system of lighting on the island. The lamp’s technology is based on the L.E.D. (Light Emitting Diode) and promises a 55% reduction in energy consumption. This reduction could represent a savings of 63 million dollars, if not more, a year for the island.  And where a conventional lamp only lasts from 3 to 5 years, the Posterriqueño would have a 20 year life span.

Here is an in depth article by Elma Beatriz Rosado, writer for “La Respuesta – A Magazine to (Re)Imagine the Boricua Diaspora,” about the Posterriqueño.

Will the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico see the benefits of this cost effective and far superior innovation in lighting for the island; it’s been a while now since its inauguration. The fact that Puerto Rico was in financial crises before hurricane María hit in September of 2017, with a debt of 73 billion plus, should have answered that question positively. Of course, the realities of money, corruption and divided politics overshadow the logic of implementing the Posterriqueño islandwide, I dare say internationally, but only time will tell.

Reflections in the Aftermath of Hurricane María


by Francisco G. Gómez

I couldn’t think of a better way to begin to share my experiences in Puerto Rico after the catastrophe that hurricane María brought upon the island, than to start with the thoughts of a young Puertorican woman who is a true eco-warrior and part of the independence movement on the island, Jariksa Valle Feliciano, affectionately called Kari.

In her writing she incapsulates a sentiment that struck me almost immediately when I began to talk and interact with people that were victims of Maria’s wrath. I say wrath because these feelings transcended the obvious physical destruction we saw before us, but more so, an apparent internal trauma after the storm, that was augmented by centuries of government ineptitude, colonization by the United States and the incompetence of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Below Kari’s piece in Spanish, I have translated the piece to English.

                                    “ La cicatriz que dejó María abarca tantas cosas

La cicatriz que dejó María abarca tantas cosas.
No sólo por su destrucción natural o material también por lo social, psicológica, política, moral entre un tanto más, trás la historia.

Un gobierno inservible que no responde y corresponde a las necesidades de un pueblo, la cual tristemente e ironicamente el pueblo mismo así lo quiso. Nos siguen pisoteando e insultando sin medidas.

Hay muchas cosas pasando tras bastidores de las que no se habla, cómo el aumento de suicidios y

puerta de tierra

problemas emocionales o mentales entre nuestros ciudadanos.

Reconstruirnos, apoyarnos, individual y personalmente, es tan importante como reconstruir lo colectivo.

Hay tanto por aprender, hacer y cambiar.

Ante toda la catarsis que tiene una colonia capitalista, y me atrevo a escribir con rasgos tercermundistas.
Dependiendo de gobiernos poco funcionales.
Siento que me preocupa el futuro político y social en general de Borikén.

Partes se unifican y partes se separan. Reconociendo mi lugar y prioridades entre tanto de lo que esta pasando.
Siendo empática y compasiva, entre tanto abatimiento y dolor.

Dandome cuenta que primero nos debemos descolonizar desde el nacimiento, cultivar un sustento individual para luego unirlo y extenderlo. Por que veo no se puede perder tiempo tratando de convencer a los demás que salgan de su conformismo condicionado.
Agraciadamente dando ejemplo es una forma simple de hacer cambios, pero aveces parece no ser suficiente.

Duele ver la injusticia y la desconsideración, pero todos tenemos voz y derecho para luchar y representar un pueblo indignado.

Me motiva ver los movimientos agroecológicos y mucha gente haciendo lo posible de salir adelante y utilizar los recursos que nos brinda Borikén para vivir en armonía.

Pero no podemos tapar el cielo con una mano cuando se trata de vivir en un estatus gubernamental sin un futuro prometedor o emprendedor a la isla y su gente.

¿Cuando nos levantaremos colectivamente de esta situación con precedentes?… No lo sé.
Ya ha pasado mucho tiempo como corderos.

Viendo mas allá de la superficialidad de el famoso slogan “ Puerto Rico se levanta ”.”

                             “ The scar that María left encompasses so many things

The scar that María left encompasses so many things.

Not only because of the natural or material destruction, but also because of the social, psychological, moral and so much more, our history.

A useless government that doesn’t respond and has no concern for the necessities of the people; sadly and ironically the people wanted it like that. They keep on stepping and insulting us without measure.

There are many things happening behind the scenes that aren’t spoken of, like the increase in suicides, emotional or mental problems in our citizens.

Reconstruct, support ourselves, individually and personally is as important as reconstructing the collective.

There is so much to learn, do and change.

Before all the catharsis that a capitalist colony has, I dare write with third world characteristics.

Depending on governments with little functionality. I feel preoccupied with the political and social future of Borikén (Puerto Rico).

Parts unite and parts separate. Understanding my place and priorities in all that is happening. Being empathetic and compassionate, within so much dejection and pain.

Understanding that first we must decolonize ourselves from birth, cultivate an individual sustenance to

semilla brigade

later unify and extend it. From what I can see, time can’t be wasted trying to convince others to leave their conditioned conformism. Thankfully, being an example is a simple way of making changes, but sometimes it doesn’t appear to be enough.

It hurts to see the injustice and disregard, but all of us have voice and the right to fight and represent our outraged people.

I am motivated by the agro-ecological movements, and many people doing what is possible to get ahead and utilize the resources that Borikén offers, in order to live in harmony.

You can’t bury your head in the sand when you try to live in a governmental status without a promising and enterprising future for its island and its people.

When shall we arise collectively from this situation that we’ve seen before?…I don’t know.

Too much time has passed, with us like lambs.

Looking past the superficiality of the famous slogan “ Puerto Rico will Rise”.”

For many on the island, the lack of clean water, food, medical care, electricity and a whole host of other things, many times taken for granted, was/is a horrible reality. And yet, what’s worse than all that is the toll that all that material loss and the reasons behind it have taken upon the psyche of Puerto Rico’s people. The magnitude of mental trauma experienced by those most affected is yet to be discerned.

puerta de tierra plaza vivero

Make no mistake, the air is not filled with only doom and gloom. María also brought with her a new vibrant way of Puertoricans looking at their surroundings, the way they do things now, and the way they will do things in the future! The resurgence of an augmented nationalistic pride that manifests itself through art, music, dance, helping each other and an increase in growing sustainable organic healthy food has taken over. Organic farms, solar panels and wind turbines are popping up everywhere – The New Jíbaro Movement is in full swing; they are a bunch of highly educated and  knowledgeable young people opting for a way out of the island Matrix by getting back to the land, sustainable living and ending their subservience to U.S. colonialism on the island. These are the remarkable people from Plenitud Eco-iniciativas, Casa Pueblo, Departamento de la Comida, PR Resiliency Fund, Copi, Tainasoy Apiaries, Finca Mi Casa – they are just too numerous to list here.

To all the individual people and organizations, here and abroad, who donated money, collected material goods or took it upon themselves to personally go to the island and assist in relief efforts, kudos and a huge thanks. You answered the call when the island most needed it! Big shout out to “Juntos Together,” a grassroots coalition umbrella comprised of a number of community organizations from the religious sectors, community workers, civil servants, non profit orgs. and a host of other individuals from Central New Jersey – Their work and generosity is an inspiration to all that do relief assistance here and abroad!

Stay tuned for in depth details…

Parranda – Paranda at the Bronx Music Heritage Center

by Francisco G. Gómez

Last Friday’s parranda at the Bronx Music Heritage Center was awesome; we had such a wonderful time at this community celebration.

For those of you who may not know about the BMHC, well, it was founded by the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation. It is a community development organization founded on the radically simple idea that all people deserve healthy, vibrant communities. They build award-winning, sustainable, affordable homes – but their work is not over when their buildings are complete. WHEDco believes that to be successful, affordable housing must be anchored in strong communities that residents can be proud of.

“The BMHC is a performance and community space designed to showcase and  amplify the Bronx’s rich musical legacy. Envisioned as a “lab” space, the BMHC encourages artists and community members to gather, participate in performances, and express their vision for this cultural facility. Building off the success of the BMHC lab, WHEDco will open a permanent music venue and cultural center, the Bronx Music Hall, in Bronx Commons, it’s third affordable housing development, currently under construction. Bronx Commons will transform the final underdeveloped parcel of the Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Area into a vibrant center for living, working, learning, shopping and entertainment – including 305 affordable apartments, a landscaped public plaza, places to eat and shop, all anchored by the Bronx Music Hall.” See their website here.

Back to the night’s festivities. The celebration began with a set of heated Garifuna tunes performed by several musicians from Belize – Andy Ordoñez, Honduras – Emilio Nuñez and Guatemala – Alex Kwabena Colón. Singing in their language, a mixture of Carib and Arawak indigenous words, the choral harmonics were simply beautifully backed up by two drums called the segundo and the primero, very similar to the drums used in the Puertorican musical tradition of Bomba. To top it all off, two guitars carried the rhythms, creating the most delightful toe tapping fusion of incredible sounds.

The Garifuna performance was followed by an “Asalto Navideño” performed by a compendium of Puertorican musicians from a number of different bands that perform locally and internationally. Some of the headliners were, six time Grammy nominee percussionist Bobby Sanabria , guitarist Bryan Vargas, vocalist Genevieve (Eva) Morales and percussionist Jorge “Georgie” Vázques, as well as, other outstanding musicians from the New York area.

In a retumbe of aguinaldos backed up by bomba drums pounding out sicas and yubas and danzones executed with the unmistakable traditional Puertorican cuatro, the entire BHMC came alive with the holiday songs of Borinquen – It was simply electrifying! The event culminated in a jam session of Garifunas and Puertoricans coming together to throw down in a musical collective spirit  that is signature of Indigenous, African and Spanish people from the different parts of the Americas.

Kudos to BMHC for their production of “Bronx Rising Season 6,” an annual musical event not to be missed in the years to come!





Raíces Welcomes Miraida Morales BACK to the Crew!

by Nicole Wines

Raíces Cultural Center is proud to welcome Miraida Morales back to the Raíces Crew. Miraida, who is the original creator of our online archive interface, has agreed to become a member of the new Raíces Digital Archive Advisory Board. We couldn’t be more excited to work with her again!

Miraida is a Ph.D. Candidate in Library and Information Science at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information, and has a MLIS degree with a certificate in digital library technology, also from Rutgers University. As a taxonomist before pursuing the Ph.D., Miraida used her expertise in classification, taxonomy development, and data management to develop the navigational taxonomy for an eCommerce website and to design the software tool to manage that taxonomy. Prior to the MLIS, Miraida worked in trade book publishing for 8 years. During her time in the book industry, she managed export sales for a number of international regions including Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. Miraida also has a M.A. in French Studies from NYU and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the same.

Welcome back Miraida!

Raíces Welcomes Dr. Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan to the Crew

by Nicole Wines

Raíces Cultural Center is thrilled to announce that Dr. Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan will be joining the Raíces Crew as the head of the Digital Archive Advisory Board.

Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan teaches public and US history at Rutgers University New Brunswick, where she coordinates the undergraduate public history program. She holds a PhD in US History from the University of Leicester and an MA in Modern History from Queens University Belfast. O’Brassill-Kulfan is a SHEAR fellow at the Library Company of Philadelphia and Historical Society of Pennsylvania for 2017-18, and has previously worked as an archivist and research analyst for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives, and with museums, archives, and libraries in the US and the UK curating exhibits, managing archival collections, and creating inclusive public programming. She is currently completing a manuscript titled Illicit Mobility: Vagrancy, Poverty, and Movement in the Early American Republic, forthcoming from New York University Press.

With her experience in public history and digital archives, we are looking forward to having her on board, helping us to expand our own digital archive in an impactful way. Dr. O’Brassill-Kulfan has already jumped into action, helping us to identify our first archive intern from the History Department of Rutgers University for the spring semester of 2018. We are looking forward to growing our Raíces Digital Archive with Dr. O’Brassill-Kulfan as part of the team.

Welcome to the Raíces Crew!

Raíces Sustainable Disaster Relief Fund – THANK YOUS!

Raíces Cultural Center gives our supporters a huge THANK YOU for making last week’s Giving Tuesday fundraiser drive a success. This thank you extends to all who have contributed to our Sustainable Disaster Relief Fund for Puerto Rico to date and those who have donated their time and talents to help us raise funds.


2/11/2017: This weekend we broke the halfway mark and have raised a total of $5,262 thanks to a generous donation from a neighbor while grocery shopping and the funds raised at our presentation for Marc’s Place Coffeehouse. Thank you to all who have contributed and to Marc’s Place for giving us the opportunity to share with our community.

12/31/2017: We just broke the $4,000 mark on the last day of 2017! In just one day we have raised over $400 in a year-end push from individual donors and Soma Yoga’s generosity in offering their year-end practice donations to our Fund. So proud of our community!

12/22/2017: Thanks to some really generous donations this week we are now above $3,500 and going strong. We just heard today that Soma Yoga will be designating their Year-End Practice donations collected to our Sustainable Disaster Relief Fund. Go and get your yoga on for PR, December 31, 10am-noon at Soma Yoga. We will be there!

12/17/2017: We have gotten a few more online and in-person donations this week and we broke the $3,000 mark! Our fund is now up to a total of $3,191! We also received about 1,000 seed packets from High Mowing Organic and Hudson Valley Seed Companies. We are overjoyed at all the generous donations by our family, friends, community and collaborators.

12/10/2017: Extra special thank yous to Lisa Bagwell and Dottie Ji who sent in generous donations by check this week and to the Rutgers Yoga and Reiki Club who held a fundraiser yoga class for PR today. Our total is now up to $2,955.

12/6/2017: Huge thank you to Kati Pope, who is one of the artists who participated in our recent Water Is Life art project. Kati saw our call out for an $80 donation to cover the shipping of 400 packets of organic seed from High Mowing and sent a message over to let us know a check was in the mail within minutes. You are an angel Kati! Today we received additional online donations, bringing the full amount so far up to $2,615!

12/4/2017: We are up to $2,460, almost 1/4 of our campaign goal Additional donations will be used for sustainable relief & rebuilding supplies requested by the organizations we will work with and donate to on the island. Thank you to all who donated this weekend!

11/29/2017: Our Giving Tuesday campaign raised $1,271, bringing our full total for our PR Sustainable Relief Fund up to $2,408 as of Wednesday, November 29 at noon! We are well on our way towards our goal and we have our family, friends and supporters to thank for that! Your contributions will make a huge impact on our upcoming Disaster Relief Trip to Puerto Rico. We will be updating you all on our work with grassroots organizations on the island to fulfill the long-term goal of sustainable and resilient rebuilding. Read more about the goals of this trip and the organizations we will be working to support on our campaign page.


This would not have been possible without the generous donations of the following family, friends and community members. We will be updating this list as we continue to take in donations of funds, supplies and time spent working to raise funds and awareness. Thank you to:
  • Jaquelyn A. Juricic
  • Sophia McDermott-Hughs, Melanie McDermott and David Hughes
  • Ayelet Shacham Ben-Zvi and Ori Ben-Zvi
  • Rosemarie Kuruc
  • Lynn Fryer
  • Rosemary Szegda (2x!)
  • Bobbie Ellis & Soma Center
  • John Bianculli
  • Heather Fenyk
  • Deana Stevens
  • Lubov Moskolski
  • Leslie Pomeroy
  • Bob Pomeroy
  • Chris Young
  • Stacy Ho Richardson (2x!)
  • Sheila Roth
  • Rachel Weintraub
  • Daniel Cohen
  • Michelle Kang Parelius
  • Jay Frat
  • Ana Pairet Viñas
  • Rob Pastorio-Newman
  • June Verderosa
  • Damian Catera
  • Erica Evans (2x!)
  • Sylvia Hove
  • Marisol Gonzalez
  • Udita Markovich
  • Allison Baldwin
  • Sheila Shukla & Neil Patel
  • Laura Tatham
  • Mikayla Sciscente
  • George Heibel
  • Egypt Pringley
  • Dio Cholula
  • Gabriela Elise
  • Jill Park
  • Sabrina Piraneque
  • Jilliam Cimilluca
  • Patch Pepe
  • Abril Jimenez
  • Dotti Ji
  • Lisa Bagwell
  • Jonathan Vorchheimer
  • Narendran Sundar
  • Kati Pope
  • Maura Carey
  • Cate Manochio
  • Wendy Weiner
  • Debi Malinoski
  • Angela Lugo
  • Emilie Stander
  • Rivka Greenberg
  • Cassandra Oliveras-Moreno
  • Evelyn Rosa
  • Laurel Rogers
  • Billie Starr-Husk
  • Dave Tucker
  • Paul Alirangues (2x!)
  • Brittany Wines
  • Francisco G. Gómez
  • Nicole Wines
  • Deb Macri-Sestilio
  • Nancy J. Hale
  • Carol & George Lane
  • Amy Bitkower Jaeger
  • Lori Fraternale
  • Gina Pepe
  • Kawika Roman
  • Barbara Lewis
  • Linda Powell
  • Tina Weishaus
  • Javier Robles
  • Matt Smith
  • Tara Gyorfry
  • Ellen Rosner
  • Rachel Speer
  • Paul Sauers
  • Christina Proxenos
  • Susan Hoffmann
  • Susan Winkler
  • Jessi Ortiz
  • Rosemary Demartino
  • Isabel Ruano
  • Jaime Hernández
  • Kira Herzog
  • & 2 anonymous donors!


  • Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War/Marc’s Place Coffeehouse (Central NJ)
  • OQ Coffee Company (Highland Park, NJ)
  • Dirt Goddess Seeds (Sparta, NJ)
  • High Mowing Organic Seeds (Walcott, VT)
  • Hudson Valley Seed Library (Hudson Valley, NY)
  • HipNotique Boutique (Punta Gorda, FL)
  • Rutgers Yoga and Reiki Club (New Brunswick, NJ)
  • John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds (Bantam, CT)
  • Good Seed Company
  • Seed Saver’s Exchange
  • Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Soma Center for Yoga and Bodywork (Highland Park, NJ)
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Giving Tuesday Matching Funds)

In addition, we want to give a special shout out to the Juntos Together Coalition, which has provided additional financial support to the organizations we are supporting, advocating for and partnered with for long-term sustainable and just recovery in Puerto Rico.

Thank you again for all you have done. We appreciate your generosity and willingness to share!

Want to add your name to this list? Make your donation here:

Raíces Cultural Center Puerto Rico Sustainable Disaster Relief Fund

Herbal Pain Relief Workshop 11.21.17 – Handouts

Greetings Friends,

Here are the handouts that you may not have gotten at the workshop because we ran out:

Herbal Extract for Pain and Pain Oil Recipes

Relaxing Pillow Spray Recipe

Some Herbs for Inflammation









You can also view the photo gallery from the program here.

Sustainable Disaster Relief in Puerto Rico – A Community Dialogue

by Nicole Wines

Our community shined tonight, raising over $320 for sustainable relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Thank you to everyone who participated!

It got heated. It was passionate. Thoughts and opinions flew. Information, ideas and experiences were shared. It was a true community dialogue.

Tonight, Raíces Cultural Center’s Eco-Culture program presented a slideshow and facilitated a discussion on Sustainable Disaster Relief. We focused on the example of what is currently happening in Puerto Rico post-hurricane María, because the island is so near and dear to our hearts and we have such a strong connection to the island with family, friends and collaborators living there. This was the first in a new lecture series organized by OQ Coffee Co. in Highland Park, NJ, and we made sure to start out their series with a bang! One of the big takeaways from the dialogue is that we have to be sure to think about the social and political history of the island when reflecting on the current situation there, and that when speaking about sustainability we must include not only environmental and ecological sustainability, but also economic, emotional, mental, cultural and spiritual sustainability.

Raíces would like to thank all who attended the program, added their voice to the mix and made a donation to our PR Sustainable Relief Fund. An extra special thank you goes out to OQ Coffee’s Charlotte Taylor who invited us to share and dialogue with the community and to OQ itself for offering its space as a place to have this dialogue, as well as sharing some delicious coffee and snacks. We also want to thank all who could not attend, but shared event information in their networks and helped to spread the word.

During tonight’s discussion, not only did participants’ emotions emerge, but so did their generosity. Thanks to all who participated and gave, we raised a total of $322 to add to our PR Sustainable Relief Fund. This brings our total funds raised for this effort to $620 of our $1,000 goal! 100% of these funds will be donated directly to Casa Pueblo for their grassroots, on the ground, frontline, sustainable relief efforts in Puerto Rico, when we make our own relief work journey there in January 2018. Thank you to all who have helped us move towards our goal! Couldn’t make it tonight, but still want to donate to help us reach our goal? You can give through our Paypal or Network for Good accounts and designate the donation for “Casa Pueblo”. We will send you a donation letter and update you on total funds raised before we leave for Puerto Rico this January.

Interested in learning and discussing more? Be sure to keep an eye on our program calendar, as we will be planning additional presentations, dialogues and programs about the the current situation in Puerto Rico from the perspective of local residents who have recently traveled there to do relief work, and start checking our Digital Archive exhibits in January, as we start to post media and documentation of the situation on the island from our friends and collaborators who have traveled there post-María. If you are looking for additional information about the organizations we highlighted that are doing sustainable relief and rebuilding work on the island of Puerto Rico, please check out their websites:


Photo Gallery from tonight’s dialogue on Sustainable Disaster Relief

Raíces Spotlight on Eco-Warrior Kira Herzog

by Francisco G.Gómez

We affectionately call her Kirita Bug because she’s always moving from task to task in almost total silence and never quits!

This young lady has proven herself in so many ways, to be humble, loyal, hardworking, talented, unassuming, selfless and super intelligent. There’s just so much more we could say about her wonderful attributes, and we shall!

Whether it’s doing a river cleanup at one of our environmental projects, helping to hang eco-art at one of our presentations or manning a table at a field activity, she’s always eager and willing to do what is required to make the task a success.

She’s the consummate organizer who works in silent diligence to get any job done. She is loved by her peers and respected by her elders for being so astute. Oh yea, we old folk love her too!


If it’s an environmental march, her enthusiasm and dedication to getting a message out on a banner or poster to the powers that be are admirable.


And, what a wonderful musician. She is one of Raíces’ best student musicians; learning to play batá and cuá with such incredible focus – OK, so she doesn’t always get it right in a performance, but that’s ok too!

Wow, I almost forgot to tell you one of the most extraordinary things about Kirita; this kid can eat Pupusas like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve seen her eat at least 3 or 4, but I’ve been told that she can down, at best, 6. You would never believe it, given how thin she is – Unbelievable!

All in all, this kid is simply a model young lady, and we imagine that her future will be bright and filled with many successes, given her determination to do the best job she can; her love for the people around her and her exceptional care for the environment – She is truly the all around eco-warrior!











Water is Life Exhibit – Post Presentation Reflections

by Francisco G. Gómez

Water is Life Presentation – Highland Park, New Jersey – October 28, 2017

Time is always a great factor when doing an arts installation show, and I was at the mercy of the clock! I briefly gave a rushed adaptation from the Ifá corpus at our “Water is Life” art exhibit and presentation that Raíces just finished last month. I want to tell the story here in its entirety so that it can be better understood; if you were at the presentation, you would know what I mean, A!

Olofín (The big Is, God, Source, Jah, the creator goes by many other names) decided that life should come forth from Oro Iña (Mother Earth), so the creator summoned Eleguá, the trickster, the shape shifter, the knower of all things and the keeper of the crossroads. When Eleguá arrived, he bowed before Olofín, not losing eye contact and asked:

“ How may I serve you, Eternal Source of the Universe?”

Olofín looked into Elegua’s eyes and said:
“ I have decided to create life on Oro Iña; you will deliver two prayers to my daughters down below; the first prayer is for Yemayá, and the second prayer is for Ochún”.
Eleguá lowered his head and queried the Creator again:
“ May I ask what these prayers contain, Master of all that Is?”
Olofín smiled as he looked away and said:
“ Come and examine the two sacred bundles that you will deliver very soon!”

Eleguá took the first bundle and opened it and let out a hardy chuckle. He then took the second bundle, and as he read the instructions for Ochún, he bid Olofín farewell. His laughter was heard well after he disappeared into the ether. You see, Eleguá, being the knower of all things, understood that all the creatures about to be born would keep the sanctity of the prayers, except one and that one would attempt to subdue Oro Iña until destruction would only be the fate of the would be subduer.

When Eleguá arrived on the southern shores of all that Olofín had created, what would one day be Africa, he made ebbó (an offering) to Yemayá of coconuts, coffee and white flowers, before he ascended into the abyss to deliver the prayer bundle.

Upon reaching the upper depths of the ocean, there sat Yemayá on her watery throne inside a castle made completely of water. Eleguá greeted Yemayá as only a loving son could:

“ Yemayá, my dear mother, I have come bearing a sacred prayer bundle from the great spirit Olofín. He has instructed me to tell you that you are to whisper the prayer contained in the bundle to all the Oro Iña children who will be born of your womb. In this way they shall always remember and cherish where they came from and thereby respect, protect and provide care for the source of all life that’s to come in the future.”

Of course, Yemayá became very happy with the gift and honor that Olofín had bestowed upon her and thanked her son for having delivered the prayer bundle. But, as always, Eleguá, being the mischievous childlike individual he always was, decided to give Yemayá a look see into the future. After all, Eleguá is somewhat of an oracle himself when you get right down to it. Couple that with his need to put everything to a test, he asked his mother to open the bundle and look inside. As she took a gander at the contents, she quickly turned away from the gift horrified, and her face turned very sad, and she began to cry as if in pain. It could be the reason why women who give birth experience that same sadness of pain as they go through the birthing process!

Remember the would be subduer a few paragraphs back?  Well, what Yemayá saw in the bundle was a little something that Eleguá had added to the bundle as a prank, but prophecy to the core. She saw the only species to be born of her who would walk on two legs, be able to talk and communicate in words and would have a very large brain size – all to no avail of course! The species would be called human, and it would multiply in greater numbers than all the rest of the other animals, and it would attempt to bring about the destruction of all that it greedily surveyed in Oro Iña.

Time passed rather quickly, and humans began to cover Oro Iña in numbers like the stars. They did exactly what Eleguá had stated in his prophecy, and it was time for him to deliver the second bundle to Yemaya’s little sister, Ochún.

As Eleguá headed inland to see his aunt at one of the great rivers where she resides, he became furious and sad seeing all the horrible things that humans had done to Oro Iña, especially the rivers, streams, lakes and waterfalls. He saw his aunt in the distance, sitting on the river bank, and she was also sad as she surveyed all that humans had done to her beautiful sweet waters because of their avarice and neglect. As he approached her, he called out to her:

“Greetings, my dear aunt Ochún, I have come bearing a sacred prayer bundle from the creator Olofín. He has instructed me to tell you not to lose faith and hope for the renewal of your sweet waters, and that you are to whisper the prayer contained in the sacred prayer bundle to all humans you meet on the banks of your rivers, streams, lakes and waterfalls.”

As Ochún opened the bundle and looked inside, her sadness disappeared and a big smile shown on her face as she said:

“ I will use all my power to do as Olofín has instructed, my nephew. I feel hope and happiness that all may yet be saved in Oro Iña after reading this prayer and seeing what it can change in humans.“

Of course the trickster, the shape shifter and knower of all things, had added a little something to Ochún’s prayer bundle as well. He bid his aunt a fond farewell, but as he walked into the forest to meet his brothers Ochosi, Osaín and Ogún he turned to Ochún one last time and in a burst of laughter, he said:

“ The creator of all that is, Olofín, has given all that lives and breathes in Oro Iña the answers to achieve a life of peace and harmony, but if I were you, I would take it with a grain of salt when it comes to humans. These creatures are a plague to everything including themselves, but as you already know, there is hope, isn’t there?”

Eleguá let out another cackle as he disappeared behind a giant Baobab tree, and an echo was heard:

“But will they listen…….But will they listen……But will they listen……..”

After Thoughts –
1. Water is Life; Water is living; Water is necessary, and Water must be taken care of!

2.If you’re interested in knowing what the prayers are in the bundles, you can text me at:  Just be patient, I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can. Warning, Ifá prayers many times read like Japanese Haiku!

3. I know, you still don’t understand what the Ifá Corpus is:
Ifá is a system of divination and refers to the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odu Ifá.