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The Young Child’s ASE

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Life is a world of wonders with endless opportunities. Every door is open for our children. And as much as we want our children to feel that they CAN do anything they want. It is usually us, same adults, who tell them, “No, you can’t do that.”
Why? Because it is dangerous, scary, not safe, not right, wrong, their too young, too little….
So far, In my own short time of being a mother, I have found that my sons are almost always ready for new challenges. Even ones that seem beyond their zone of proximal development. They are fully capable to master anything they set their mind to. I often need to remind myself, let them try! Give them a chance. And you know what? They blow me away. This reminds me of a Pataki about Esu. When Esu was just a young child, he was also underestimated because of his youthfulness. But those little ones learn very quick. And who do they learn from? US!

             There was a time when Olodumare, Creatrix of the UNIverse, was feeling ill and depressed because of situations that were spreading in all directions. After doing so much  and constantly giving  Ase to the world, while the world would tear itself apart,  She started to feel weak and frail. A message was sent out and to all the Orisha, summoning them to bring whatever tools they needed in order to  help cure Olodumare and Her dilemma. Soon, all the Orisha gathered together in a great hall where Olodumare sat slumped in Her thrown. They  brainstormed methods that could help cure Her.
Obatala was the first to attempt. He took out sacred efun chalk and his whitest cloth. He then  used it to wipe around the face of Olodumare…..there was no effect. Next to try was Orunmila, the Orisha of wisdom and divination. He  prepared a special medicine for Oloduamare to drink, but still there was no effect. Next Osanyin, the Orisha who cared for the plants of the earth,  took out an herbal rub and covered Olodumare completely. That also lead to no effect. Every orisha tried one by one, and still nothing seemed to help.
Esu, who was just a child, was watching from the balcony above when he felt his confidence rise. He quickly rushed down and approached the Elder Orisha. Esu being still very young, had a difficult time being heard because the elder Orisha gave him little attention.youngesu He first pulled on Yemonja’s flowing skirt to get her attention. “Yeye, Yeye! May I try?” She told him to be quiet and behave, this was not a job for a child.
Esu then made his way through the crowd where he ran into the strong legs of Oya. She gave him one look and Esu went running till he found himself hiding between the legs of Obatala. Obatala looked down and Esu gazed at him with eyes full of determination. “Please Baba, let me try to help.”
Obatala told him, “You are just a child, the other Orisha are doing their best. Just be good and watch.”
Esu quickly responded, “ I am Orisha too, I deserve a chance.”
Obatala smiled at Esu and raised his staff above the crowd, ordering silence.
“Everyone move aside, Esu is going to take his turn.” The crowd of Orisha’s began to whisper among themselves as Esu approached the throne.
As Esu looked over Olodumare from head to toe, he pulled out his knapsack and climbed up onto the lap of Olodumare. Olodumare, weak and tired did not move at all as Esu settled into Her lap. The crowd began to whisper louder in their complaints and look over at Obatala for allowing such a mockery.
Esu opened his sack and pulled out three different herbs. esu eweHe had often followed other Orisha into the forest and observed the different plants they picked and used for different uses. He took a leaf from each branch and placed them in the mouth of Olodumare. He then used his little childish hands to manually open and close Olodumare’s jaw, to chew and break down the herbs. The crowd dropped silent and looked at Obatala, seeing how long he would allow such a thing to happen. After Olodumare swallowed the herbs, Esu took out the feather from his hat and swept it all over Olodumare’s body. And when he was finally finished, he jumped off the throne and walked back to Obatala, whose face was covered in grief. Everyone watched Olodumare’s unchanged posture and immediately began to yell about Esu’s tactics, saying it was unforgivable and that he should be reprimanded for them.
All of a sudden Olodumare began to rise. She stood so tall no one could see Her face, and She began to glow with such powerful light that everyone fell to the ground covering their face.
Olodumare called to Esu to come forward. She thanked him for what he had done. She asked him how he had healed Her. Esu responded that he would follow the Orisha and study what they do. He now knew all the different parts of the forest and it’s secrets. Olodumare smiled and told Esu that from this day forward he would be the gatekeeper of all doors and pathways. She gave Esu a special key that would unlock every door in the universe. She blessed his feathers and told him that now he would be able to walk forward and backwards through time, light and dark.  She then announced that Esu would be Her personal messenger and everyone should count on him in all they do. If Esu was not pleased, then their messages would not reach the heavens. After all of this, Olodumare placed her hand on Esu’s head and he began to glow. Olodumare then sent him off to maintain order in the crossroads of humanity.  The kid that Esu was, he faced the crowd and stuck out his tongue and jumped down from the throne, giggling and laughing as he rejoined the crowd.

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So to bring us back to the beginning, I want to reflect on the importance of giving everyone a chance to show their capability. Even in the face of failure, everyone at any age has the opportunity to learn. And all ages, from youth to the greatest elder, we all poses ASE!, Power, to do great things.

 May our actions be powerful and positive for the future generations to learn and expand on.

Positive Challenge:
Invite your child to take part in some of your own spiritual time. (ideas: Meditate together
Make a prayer song together)

Family Activity:

Go on walk and pick leaves and flowers that your child feels has lovely meaning to them. Mix them in water and pray out loud together for something good every time you drop a leaf or flower into the water. Mix together. Wash each other’s hands in the water and finish with a positive phrase (idea: May our hands always have a healing and loving touch. Ase ooooo! )

Teaching Children to Care

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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?”

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“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.”

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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