My father used to say an old saying: “To be a good sorcerer you must know herbs well” and it is not a lie at all.
Knowing the plants is of great importance in our Osha-Ifá (Santeria) religion, because we need them for everything, they are a vital part of our ceremonies and rituals.
Each of the Ewé (in Yoruba), that is, the herbs, has a great meaning, they constitute the fundamental basis of our medicine, both esoteric and physical.
Each Ewé is used for bathing, brewing, washing, cleaning and many other spiritual and religious practices.
In our religion who is interested in and studies this knowledge about plants is called Ozainista, a name they take for Ozaín, the Orisha who represents nature in its pure and wild state.
In addition, the Ozainist must know different elements of nature such as birds, insects, reptiles and other animals, minerals and salts to carry out his work.
Ozainists must be conscientious in their sacred work because the proper management and knowledge of herbs depends even on the lives of others and that all ceremonies carry the appropriate and correct plants.
Sacred plants and their different uses in Santeria
Each plant has different uses, powers and energies, so it is important to know them.
But they are not only used for positive purposes, they can also be used to harm and cause situations of various kinds.
So that you understand how a plant can be used to heal, but also cause diseases, for good and for bad, here are 3 examples of them:
1. Copey: The great fortune teller of Ifá belongs to Orunmila
- Scientific name: Clusia rose A. Jacq
Different uses of this plant:
- Cure diseases: It serves its juice and also its resin to get humor out of sores and ulcers, it is also a powerful healing.
- For good purposes: its resin disinfects and purifies habitations where contagious patients are found.
- For the bad: its seed is poisonous, which is used to harm and form fights, conflicts and problems.
2. Ortiguilla: It belongs to Babalú Ayé, the owner of the disease
- Scientific name: Fleurya Cunesta.A.Rich.Wedd.
How can you harness the powers of this plant?
- To heal and heal: This plant stings a lot, but when boiled it does not sting and is taken to cleanse the blood of the body and eliminate impurities.
- For the good and the bad: Although the ashé (energy) of this herb cures impotence, with this Ewé a man can be rendered impotent and thus disrupt coexistence and peace in the family.
3. Pepper: It belongs to Oggún, the iron warrior
It is with this plant that the sacred Chamba de las ngangas (receptacle in the Rule of Palo Monte) is made.
It is used particularly to feed the garments of the Ngangas.
In the Rule of Osha it is a fundamental element in the preparation of the Omieros (spiritual water prepared from herbs).
Positive and negative uses of this plant:
- It can do a lot of good to heal the sick, open roads, and lift spirits.
- It is good because it calls and attracts, but it can also cause fights and conflicts.
Why is it so important to respect the Plants?
Only in three examples can the importance of the Ewé and their power be appreciated, since depending on their objective to be fulfilled, how they are used and for what they are used, they are good or bad.
So a misuse of them and with only one mistake on the part of the Ozainista or ourselves when buying them and not knowing them, can cause the opposite effect and even death.
A good ozainist never tires of feeding his knowledge, he is always connected to nature to nourish you with his energy and wisdom.
Let us now learn about some of the functions and tasks that must be performed respectfully when it is necessary to collect herbs for different religious and spiritual practices.
Knowledge when collecting the plant:
- Ask permission from Ozain, the mountain and the plant itself.
- Invoke the power of the plants with the respective prayers and songs
- Be clear about the Purpose and Schedule of your collection
- Know the sex of the plant to be collected
- Knowing how to choose the place where it is collected
- Understand the procedures of how herbs are collected
Much more knowledge must be had to collect plants in Santeria. So be very careful when choosing or buying them.
The gathering of plants and herbs is an interesting world, but one that requires a lot of knowledge.
It is our responsibility to know and have good religious practices out of respect for our sacred religion.