Òrìşà Shrine Custodialship 101: What, How, When, and Why?


by Baba Faseye Sangobukunmi

One of the fundamental rites of passage of an aborisa or òrìşà devotee is the reception of an òrìşà shrine. After a series of divinations or even the first reading it may come up that it is recommended you receive an òrìşà shrine. So what, how, and why should you receive an òrìşà shrine.


What are òrìşà shrines?

Òrìşà shrines are consecrated portals of òrìsa energy used to assess and engage with that energy. A shrine can be consecrated for an individual or community. A shrine is different from an altar. A shrine can be an altar but an altar is not a shrine. A shrine must have the consecrated representation of the spirit there. The spirit must be present for it to be considered a shrine. Just creating a space for the òrìşà with their statue does not make it a shrine.


What makes it a shrine is having a consecrated icon representing the spirit present from a reputable òrìşà priest who is trained in consecrating that òrìşà. There are strict rules for consecrating an òrìşà which must be followed. Its not a creative "I'm going-to-create-an-orisa-my-own-way process." It's not an experiment. It's not doing your own thing. Generally, you don’t consecrate your own shrines unless you are initiated and have knowledge of the ritual of that particular shrine consecration.


When do you receive a shrine?

One receives a shrine typically after a divination session and one is recommended for the client. Also generally, certain shrines can serve as general markers of your spiritual development in the òrìşà tradition. At some times if you feel you are connected to an òrìşà and want to develop your relationship deeper you may choose to receive an òrìşà shrine. The reception of the òrìşà shrine should be confirmed first by divination with the òrìşà before you receive the shrine.


Why do we receive òrìşà shrines?

One receives an òrìşà shrine to develop a deeper connection with the òrìşà and also to have a means to directly engage with that spirit for specific and general purposes. One can also receive an òrìşà, children, relationship, long life, good health, prosperity, victory over ones enemies, etc. There may be a specific reason why we receive an orisa. For instance, you may receive an Esu specifically for victory over enemies, etc. You may receive Obaluaye shrine for health purposes. You may receive orisa Aje for wealth and prosperity. Some orisa are general while others are more specific.


The òrìşà shrine becomes a personalized, minature, sometimes portable representative of the òrìşà energy which is uses for the benefit of the devotee who receive it. It becomes a means with which one develops a personal relationship with the òrìşà and learn how to communicate and engage with the òrìşà . You learn the òrìşà ’s tempermanent and also messages through this engagement. Relationship development is the main reason for receiving òrìşà shrine. The òrìşà will protect the client and also bring blessings to the client. Ifa shrine is one of the most general shrines and usually covers a wide range of blessings.


Who do you receive a shrine from? You should only receive an òrìşà shrine from an initiated òrìşà priest whom you know, or are referred to and is reputable. Do not be afraid to ask questions about the process and about the priests background, training and lineage. Not every detail of the process will be shared as it considered awo or secret but general information about the process should be shared such as duration, cost, requirements, obligations, and responsibilities and training afterwards. If a priest does not want to answer those questions, you should be skeptical. You should not allow anyone to scare you into getting an òrìşà shrine. An òrìşà shrine is a responsibility. They are should not museum pieces on display in your house collecting dust. They must be worked with periodically.


What type of shrines are typically received in the òrìşà tradition? Some of the most commonly received shrines for the uninitiated include Ifa shrine, Esu shrine, Ogun, Ancestral shrine, Egbe Shrine, Osaynin Shrine, Ori shrine, Aje shrine, Obaluaye shrine, and Olokun shrine. This is not the only ones but the most common. Unless one is initiated one would then receive any other shrine for an òrìşà who makes itself known through divination or direct message from òrìşà.


What are the some of the responsibilities of òrìşà shrine custodialship? The responsibilities of òrìşà shrine custodialship include periodic offering and feeding, proper invocation through the use of oriki and pertinent Ifa or erindinlogun verse, engaging with òrìşà through proper songs and prayers, correct prayer posture, praise names and greetings. Often times certain òrìşà will need periodic renewal and refreshing that usually occurs on an annual basis and generally should be done by consecrated priests.


What should you not do with your shrine? Certain things should only be done by initiated priests such as blood sacrifice and annual refreshing and erindinlogun, ikin ifa or opele divination. During some cases however, blood sacrifice and annual refreshing actually can be done by the devotee but only under certain circumstances not mentioned here.


What is the difference between a òrìşà shrine custodian who is uninitiated and the òrìşà shrine custodian who is a priest?

A priest is more obligated to his rites as a shrine custodial and can do more work with their òrìşà for others. An uninitiated òrìşà shrine custodian is not a priest and should not operate as a priest doing major spiritual work for others. They may pray for others at their shrine and even give kola nut or addimus but they should keep it simple and leave the spiritual work for priests. An òrìşà shrine for a uninitiated devotee is really a personal shrine to be used for the person, not for others.


Is there a cost for obtaining a orisa shrine and if so why?

Yes, there is usually a cost for obtaining an òrìşà shrine but by all means never assume you are buying an òrìşà. What you are doing is paying for the work the priest is doing and the materials to consecrate the òrìşà for you. Orìşà can never be bought.

Hopefully this short article has helped you to understand some of information about òrìşà shrine custodialship. If you are interested in obtaining an òrìşà shrine of your own from a reputable priest, you may contact me.


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