Elekes are talisman that belong to each Orisha. It used to be that a person had to receive their warriors first because you had to have an eleke from an icon that you already had. In some places in Cuba it is still practiced this way.
When the Yoruba tradition came to the United States some of the practices shifted a little
because the majority of people that came here weren’t Babalawos…they were Olorishas and
there really wasn’t a way for them to get into having the Orisha celebrated with the same kind of vigor in Cuba because of the absence of the Awos here. Most of the people received their warriors through IFA but it changed once it got to the United States out of necessity.
Before it got to the place of receiving warriors, Olorishas were looking for a way to induct
people into the tradition, and the Eleke Ceremony was a viable way to do that but it used to be that the elekes weren’t usually received until the Orisha that corresponds to that eleke was given.
So, they developed a ceremony of protection and here in the United States that is very important because we live far more complex lives than people do in Africa or Cuba. Having the protection of an Orisha by having the talisman that is born off of them is something that helps to assist people in their lives.
Therefore, the ceremony of giving elekes, which used to almost be done when someone was
receiving Ocha, became reversed to when the elekes came first and the initiation came
afterwards. This tradition was one born out of adapting to a New World which is something that Africans tend to do very well.
Each eleke has an attachment to the Orisha that they represent and this is why in more traditional houses the person receiving elekes will actually stay the night at their Godparent’s house and are given instruction on the use of the elekes because the Godparent recognizes that receiving elekes is a very big step in a person’s life.
Elekes are not just beads to adorn oneself as if they were a piece of acquired jewelry. Elekes are powerful because they have been infused with the energy of the divine forces that can be put forth to assist one in their life. It is important that people understand the seriousness of this so it is not taken lightly and that they accept it as an empowered talisman attached to the Orisha that can help them in their life.
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