It is a very interesting time that our children are living in. People are always in want of the next newest “thing”.
It is important for us, raising children in an earth-based spirituality, to talk with our children about the importance of caring for others. It is not the material things that make our worth, but our character and the way we care about the world around us.
A Yoruba Story, retold by Oyaseye…
3 Fish heads , 3 Crowns
It was a very exciting time. Every Orisha was preparing to travel to heaven in order to celebrate the grand festival held by Olodumare, the supreme creatrix. Esu, Olodumare’s messenger was traveling every direction to deliver invitations to all the divine energies of the universe, the Orisha.
When Ogun received his invitation from Eshu, he shouted with excitement
“I will bring Oloduamare my BEST Machete”
When Sango opened his invitation he proudly claimed,
“ For Olodumare, I will offer 200 of my most powerful thunders stones!”
When Obatala received his invitation he returned home to pick our his finest cloth “The whitest, purest cloth, for the divine creatrix of all colors” He said softly.
As every orisha was invited, each one quickly gathered their best gifts to bring as offering.
Meanwhile, Yemonja was very busy in the river taking care of the fish and other creatures of the river.
When Eshu past by the stream to deliver her invitation, he saw that she was very busy with the children of the water.
“Oh Yemonja, don’t you know the party is tomorrow? And don’t you know all the orisha are bringing fine gifts?”
“Tomorrow! O dear, I have been so busy. I must go to the market.” She noted.
So later that evening, when all the children of the river were taken care of, she finally was ready to go to the market. It was getting dark and on her way, she saw Oya walking home with a gigantic basket on her head.
‘Oya! My dear sister, What is that you have?” asked Yemonja.
Oya smiled, lowered her head, and displayed a large basket full of juicy, colorful fruits. “These are the most delicious fruits from the market. I am bringing these as an offering to the party tomorrow.”
With that, Yemonja ran as fast as she could to the market. But when she arrived, every stand was closed. There was nothing left.
“Please wait!” Yemonja said to an old lady, putting away her booth. “Do you have anything left”
“All I have are these 3 fish heads” said the old lady as she pinched her nose.
Without any other choices, Yemonja paid the women for the fish heads, wrapped them up in cloth and headed for her journey to heaven.
That morning when Yemonja arrived, the party was glorious. Everyone had already arrived and was dancing and singing. At the palace there was a room full of the most amazing presents for Olodumare. Embarrassed by her gift, Yemonja decided to place the fish heads in the very back of the room, hidden behind larger presents.
“PRESENTS TIME!” yelled Esu as he saw Yemonja hiding her gift. One by one Olodumare opened luxurious, fantastic, impressive gifts. After each gift, Yemonja felt her stomach turn a little me. Finally, there was only one gift left, and as Esu handed the wrapped fish heads to Olodumare, Yemonja began to duck behind others in the back of the room.
“THREE SMELLY FISH HEADS!?” Esu screamed out, as he leaned over Oloumare’s shoulder.”
The party fell silent. No one said anything. Would Olodumare be mad? What was Yemonja thinking to give such a gift?
Olodumare looked up at saw Yemonja’s face as red as coral. “Yemonja, come here.”
Yemonja walked very slowly and hung her head down. As she passed she heard all the whispers and avoided the glares.
When she reached the throne, Olodumare smiled and said, “Everyone here has brought me gifts of beauty, but you brought me something with a greater meaning.”
Olodumare then picked up the first fish head and it turned into a golden crown. “Now you will be Queen of all Seas”
Then She picked up the next fish head and it turned into another golden crown, “And now you will be Queen of all the Lands”. Lastly Oloduamre picked up the last fish head and it turned into a third golden crown, “And you are also the Queen of all the heavens.”
Then Oloduamare told everyone to bow to Yemonja,the new Queen of the heavens, land and sea.
The whole crowd was in awe. How did this happen when Yemaya had only brought old, smelly fish heads and they had all brought the finest gifts they could find?
Olodumare smiled and laid her hands gently on Yemaya’s back and said “ Because you were busy caring for my children, you had no time to search for a material gift, and that is the greatest gift to me, that your heart lies in caring for my creations, my children.”
Images by Oyaseye Fakayode
Questions for the family:
What are other great gifts or deeds we can share or do to show love and care for others?
What is something you like doing or care about? How does it positively affect the world?
Pick a Positive Challenge:
Offer to clean a space or help with a chore in the house.
Pack a lunch today for someone else.
Spend extra quality time with your pet, or if you do not have a pet, offer to help someone else with their pet
I want to finish up by encouraging families to share stories. No matter what culture or tradition it comes from, share stories with each other that instill deep meanings. Talk about it, and make it part of your life.
Divine mothers, may we raise the leaders of tomorrow to have awareness, appreciation and love for Mother Earth and all that inhabit Her greatness. Ase
Want to also give credit to the wonderful patakis shared @http://divinemoon.tumblr.com/Pataki-of-Yemaya