My Initiation: SANTO YABO ~ part 2

As I enter mi mes de cumpleaños de Ocha this is a month of reflection for me, of re-reading my ITA and of readying myself for what is coming. This marks another year of death and rebirth for me, but mostly it is about me continuing on this path towards ASCENSION!

This morning I woke up upset. What I was upset about was a video posted by this beautiful sister I was introduced to with messages about the new moon in Gemini for June 1, 2019. The reading was going really well until she said she was just crowned Ochun in April and her father was Chango. What upset me was seeing this woman online with long hair, on video, wearing ELEKES, and a full face of makeup being filmed—on camera for the world to see during her first three months as an Iyawó. There are very specific rules for the Iyawó in their year in white. When I was a Yabo so many people wanted to pass judgement… many people did express there unwarranted opinions and side eyes with no way of knowing what I was allowed or not allowed to do. And so this morning I found myself guilty of doing the same shit people tried to do to me.


What I miss the most about my year in white, was when in the most random places someone would yell out from cars, trains, and on the streets, “Santo Yawo!” I loved it. It was as if I was finally seen in a world that ignored me even though I was wearing bright whites in the dead of winter. Another moment that was special to me was when I completed my week in el cuarto de santo, where I was freshly crowned in Habana, Cuba. My godparents took me to see San Lazaro and there was a woman kneeling beside me who asked me which santo I was crowned, to which I responded and she said, “el que te hi-so santo… tú tienes esa Corona muy bien puesta!” Moments like this I lived for.

I loved my time as a Yabo. I appreciated those people who texted me once a week to check in and love on me. I love that there are still people in my life who call me Yabo out of la costumbre. I was an obedient Yabo. Of course I had moments of weakness. Of course I had days where I got it wrong. Of course it was lonely (I will talk more about my year in white in another reflection). But I was obedient and adhered to all the rules laid out for me by my padrino, madrina, Obba, Babalawos and all of my elders who constantly shared advice and thoughts on how to move during my year—mi iyaworaje. The most important being that all my meals were to be had on my estera, to not look in a mirror for the first three months and I was absolutely not to be photographed.

I have mastered tying my headscarf, no mirror necessary til this day. So when I saw this woman online this morning I could not get passed how it felt so disrespectful for to me that she was breaking the rules. And I was absolutely judging her. Of course I needed to lean back and check myself, because the truth is each house is different, each Yabo’s experience is different and who knows what permissions she has to be out in the world like that as a Yabo.


What I can speak to are the rules that I was asked to follow and the tremendous sacrifices that I made and continue making for my religion. Yo respeto la religión. I studied for ten years before making this life commitment of receiving my guerreros, of caring for my eggún, of honoring my santos and standing before my bóveda. I was honoring my spirit guides long before I knew the word for it. I was practicing the religion long before I was officially initiated. What brings people to the religion is very personal so I will not pretend to know why people choose this life. I know for me, my path towards ascension has always been connected to my spiritual practice, desire for healing, search for truth and has always been intuitive.

I have observed many people choose to receive the warriors or be crowned because they just want to say they are crowned. They just want to be hij@ de ochun or sun/hij@ de Chango. But the truth is a desire to be crowned is simply not enough. I have seen people abandon all the other santos received, after having been crowned… because they got what they wanted and the other orisha don’t really matter to them. I have loved every one of my santos exactly the same even before I knew who had my head! To this day I do not leave my house without standing before my eggun and every single one of my santos asking for their bendiciones and guidance as I hit these streets.

Sin muerto no hay santo!

Without honoring the ancestors there is no honoring of Saints. And so this morning I got upset because I was remembering how hard my year in white was. I was remembering how lonely some days were and how no one came to visit me. I was remembering how I could not be as public as I had always been. No author readings. No bars or clubs. Home by 6pm. I wake today meditating on sacrifice. What are we willing to give up in order to have what we desire?

To be continued. – PART III