2020: The year of Eshu
A good reason to pay attention to the ancient African religion of Yoruba.
In Yoruba, a variation of which is known as “La Regla de Ocha”, or “Santeria” in Cuba, one of the lesser known characters, is Eshu.
He remains lesser known for a reason.
Yoruba is based on a collective of deities, “The Orishas”.
The head of the collective is the deity Olodumare, also known as Obatala.
Between Oludumare and humans, are all of the other deities.
Each deity has a character and a purpose enacted by the character manifesting in human behaviour, and vice versa.
All humans at different times are characterised by the behaviours of the Orishas, acting singly or in some combinations or another.
The spirits can be summoned by various ceremonies and rituals, especially including rhumba music and dance.
When we look up Eshu (also translated to Esu), to find out more about his character, and his purpose, we find conflicting information.
By some accounts, he is the messenger.
By others he is the trickster.
Eshu partially serves as an alternate name for Eleggua, the messenger for all Orishas, and that there are 256 paths to Eleggua — each one of which is an Eshu. It is believed that Eshu is an Orisha similar to Eleggua, but there are only 101 paths to Eshu according to ocha, rather than the 256 paths to Eleggua according to Ifá. Eshu is known as the “Father who gave birth to Ogboni”, and is also thought to be agile and always willing to rise to a challenge.
Both ocha and Ifá share some paths, however. Eshu Ayé is said to work closely with Orisha Olokun and is thought to walk on the shore of the beach. Eshu Bi is a stern and forceful avatar, appearing as both an old man and young boy, who walked with Shangó and Oyá (the initial two Ibeyi), and Eshu Bi protects both of these, as well as all other small children. Eshu Laroye is an avatar believed to be the companion of Oshún and believed to be one of the most important Eshus, and the avatar of Eshu Laroye is thought to be talkative and small.
The name of Eshu varies around the world: in Yorùbáland, Eshu is Èṣù-Elegba or Laolu-Ogiri Oko; Exu de Candomblé in Candomblé; Echú in Santería and Latin America; Legba in Haitian Vodou; Leba in Winti; Exu de Quimbanda in Quimbanda; Lubaniba in Palo Mayombe; and Exu in Latin America.
So we see some difficulty in identifying Eshu.
The deity of Eshu seems to be the mischievous alter-ego of the better known protective Orisha, Elegua, who is also known as the Spirit of the Cross-roads, or the Messenger.
By more modern Western folklore, we might characterise Elegua as having a somewhat Jeckyll and Hyde character, where Dr. Jeckyll is the benevolent Elegua, and Hyde is the mischievous, mysterious Eshu.
Also, Eshu can be both male and female, just like in our dreams any of us can become also.
Eshu as the messenger is all about information.
Eshu as the joker is all about misinformation.
This is at the heart of the issues we seem torn by, in this age of much of humanity being unable to deal effectively with any of the growing human crises of huge wealth inequality, endless wars, planetary pollution, and lately a lethal virus, for which we should really have been prepared.
We see all profit driven sources of information as extensions of the flawed system of profit.
As is standard in all profit driven endeavours, all have in their own agendas, the primary aim of preserving and maximising their own profits, and thus their own continued existences, which shapes their narratives.
Gone are any illusions about that.
Now, our traditional mainstream news sources can only pretend to have a thin veneer of ours, the public interest, at heart.
Further, government itself appears increasingly driven by profit.
Our modern highly valuable instrument of information, the internet, itself is subject to many human forces variously trying to destroy or improve it, for their own advantage, by narrative.
That we find so much conflicting information on Esu demonstrates the very ambiguity and mixed messages associated with his character.
We might say his character appears somewhat a mystic trickster, operating on our consciousness in a similar way as modern day tricksters are characterised as using “Smoke and mirrors”.
A myth tells how, due to his power, Esu loses control, and begins to devour all pre-existence, being then forced by Orunmila , after a long chase, to vomit everything back. Having been cut into thousands of pieces, it becomes + 1 , or 1 multiplied by infinity. In this case, he is Esu Okoto , the needle snail , whose spiral bone structure starts from a single point, opening to infinity, and gives us the idea of growth, evolution and multiplication, having become the symbol of restitution and recomposition, becoming Oba Baba Esu, Esu agbo, the King and Father of all Esu , generated by their pieces.
-Translated from a Portuguese language account at https://vodunabeyemanja.blogspot.com/2009/10/os-multiplos-nomes-e-funcoes-de-esu.html
Orunmila is the Orisha of Wisdom, Divination, and Foresight, who once pursued Eshu, to regain pre-history.
Today, we are seeing again something like this.
History is again being devoured.
This time it is being devoured by an ocean of misinformation around historical events, obscuring the genuine solutions of the future, which might or might not be recovered.
In fact, we do not know if the current set of events will even be recovered from, or indeed, whether we wish to have recovery to what is obviously a deeply flawed system of greed.
When we look at what was at stake in the ancient folkloric problem described in the Orishas, it was the future of all creation.
Putting all of the above together with the modern idea that our human consciousness creates the universe, we humans are in control of what happens next, and seeing the damage our existing ways of doing things has done to our world, we have to conclude a change is needed.
To learn a lesson from the stories of the ancient Orishas, which characterise things by way of riddle, problems which appear similar to those we are encountering now, at least in that they are existential, we might deduce that a similar solution is necessary.
Something, the thing consuming us, has to be chopped up into an infinity of pieces, to destroy its ability to continue consuming us.
Eshu wished to swallow up all creation.
Eshu is driven by greed.
Eshu is centralisation and monopoly.
“Chopping up” might sound a little extreme and radical if we take it literally to mean physically chopping up some physical living thing with a machete or whatever.
But we need only observe that the original chopping up happened before creation began, therefore nothing physical existed, so the chopping up is metaphorical.
In the ancient mystic case, it was Eshu, who characterises misinformation.
So we might say it is misinformation that needs to be chopped up, to distill all truth from its smallest pieces.
How is this misinformation created?
It is created by authorities, organisations, and individuals that profit by it, one way or another.
Thus we see decentralisation of authority, is a kind of chopping up, of authority.
In the case of an individual profiting from misinformation, it is because that individual possesses disproportionate capital, which somehow increases disproportionally in perceived value, as a result, or a side effect of the production of misinformation.
Thus we see a need to “Chop up” those insincere value accruing mechanisms, and the responsibilities of misinformation distribution, which result in accruing disproportionate value to capital.
We see a need for every person and every organisation to have an ability to print their own currencies. This would be the ultimate decentralisation of money printing and banking authorities, and would provide absolute fine-grained democracy, financial security of all people, and yet with infinite, equal capability of individual and organisational aspirations via money markets trading.
Again, we see decentralisation of value assignment activities, such as banking institutions and mechanisms such as money printing, as a further part of the solution.
Finally, we see decentralisation of news media is a kind of chopping up of sources of misinformation.
We could say that this is already happening, with the transfer of media to social media, every person themselves becomes another journalist and media source.
Of course there is still much misinformation, perhaps even more, but with it being chopped up amongst the “Hive”, the net result at the output of the collective, is truth, which we can all see has the highest value of all.
2020 is the year we realise Eshu.
2020 is the year of truth.
As a meditative early stage (Perpetual!) learning practitioner of Rhumba myself, I devised a sideward dance movement some time ago by accident.
Practicing in private at home, I literally staggered sidewards having lost balance during a cha-cha-cha, step, and learned the new move, by repeating the stagger indefinitely in time to the music, resulting in a unique step with the leading foot moving on cowbell, and the trailing foot moving on timba in either direction.
It is naturally accompanied by twisting body and chopping hand movements at twice the music beat. The direction can be switched by interjecting further cha-cha-cha steps, and further embellished by moving in circles and spins.
The step is an actual enactment of recovery to something new, from messing up on something old.
Performing it in public in Cuba, the people of whom are expert practitioners of Yoruba and Rhumba, I took from their initial-shock-to-delighted reaction to it, that it may not have been seen before.
Until now, in my mind, “Side-step” was the only name I could think of to identify this movement.
Now, I think a much more appropriate name for it might be the “Eshu Chop”.
So from now on, that is what I will call it!