Dreaming of Change
Posted: 25 February 2009 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Total Posts:  22
Joined  2008-11-12

I woke slowly yesterday morning, as is the habit of a Babalawo I reviewed my dream. In the Afro Cuban religion of Oriusha worship the Babalawo is the expert of divination, this is however only one aspect of his expertise. Usually Cubans (and other Hispanics and Africans and those inside the world’s seventh largest religion) associate the Babalawo ‘s talents with IFA or identify him as an Orunmila priest. Certainly he is generally an expert and /or student of the 256 Odu, and he communicates with Orunmila through the 256 Odu or paths that represent the IFA oracle. However, he is more than that. He’s often an arbitrator of any dispute within the community. Depending on his Odus (a Babalawo has three as opposed to the single Odu all but the Babalawo receive), he often has at least one sub specialty. This can be anything from herbal medicine to playing a drum called a Bata. There are many sub specialties and these are revealed to him generally when he becomes a Babalawo and his three Odu are made in front of at least 16 Babalawo.
      There is another important aspect of divination that the Babalawo studies and that is his dreams. Generally dreams by the Babalawo are much like anyone else’s, the difference is that the Babalawo is trained to interpret dreams, particularly his own dreams. He looks for certain things in his dreams and understands their significance. A Babalawo’s dreams are also different because his dreams are sometimes used to add to lore to any one of the 256 Odu.  IFA permits the Babalawo to add his dreams to interpret Odu. Dreams however, are not the usual realm of Orunmila (the Orisha of divination) they are the realm of the two forces we call The Dead and The Ancestors.
      The Dead and Ancestors speak to everyone, be they Babalawo or not, they guide us and give us hints and indeed sometimes warn us. The Babalawo has a better and more in depth understanding of his dreams because of his training. Some Babalawo interpret others dreams, but I have never thought this a good idea. The potential drawback is we are depending on an accurate retelling of the dream that could very easily have missed something important. Therefore, most Babalawo do not interpret the dreams of others, but they do pay intense attention to their own. My personal habit is to always review my dreams carefully and learn from them. Sometimes like yesterday morning, I take particular care. I gauge the importance of the dream by its strength. Today as I slipped back to the wakened world, I took my time because I felt the strength of a powerful dream.
      I was in Cuba and Joe Biden was coming to see me, Uncle Sam was considering how to open the door that has been closed for so long. I was not in Jesus Maria , but a short distance from the train station. The Vice President did not arrive by train, but my house where he sought me out was within sight of the tracks. Our meeting went very well and I shared many things about Cuba with him candidly. I was hammering home the point that only few diplomats see the real Cuba. They see her through the eyes of the staff at the U.S. Interest Section or from an archaic policy or often from Cuban Americans that have not been on the island in many cases almost 50 years. The point I was making is rather than see Cuba first hand; they are seeing Cuba through second and third person accounts. I further explained that even if they were on an official trip they would be in a sterile environment. I suggested they get out on their own and see for themselves the beauty and struggles of the island. Mr. Biden agreed.
    The scene switched and I was now debating with U.S. government analysts in a meeting and trying to make them see; they were hesitant. Next, I was in with the man himself President Obama having a frank discussion on Cuba in the oval office. He was receptive, but guarded as some of Congress was adamant against the policy change. Hilary came in and seemed to plant more doubts in Obama’s mind. I battled her and her opinions tooth and nail, one by one. We were joined by Mssrs. Bolton, Armitage and Negroponte who tried to poison Obama with half truths as they and the CIA had poisoned Hillary.  I eloquently pierced their arguments with history and reason. I became excited as I saw the President beginning to lean my way.
      The scene switched again and I was back in Cuba and opening the door for Vice President Biden a second time and we talked more as he had now become the champion of the project. We had alot of fun discussing Cuba and all that he had seen. He would pepper me with questions from Culture to politics then back to history, I was surprised as how astute he was compared to the media image we get. Mr. Biden was an architect of change I was learning what I already knew; he danced to a different drummer than most. He had read the book I sent him titled Havana My Kind of Town. Biden realized that I had something quite different to offer the administration than the second or third hand reports they were getting, so he had sought me out. He mentioned he had a surprise for me and shortly after there was a knock on the door. Obama himself was grinning ear to ear with Michelle at his side and their kids. He was in Cuba for the first time and asked me to show him my Cuba that he had read about. I then woke up smiling.

[ Edited: 25 February 2009 11:25 AM by Cubaking ]

My Cuba books are found here Havana: My Kind of Town and Nature’s Ancient Religion