The Charm of Oshun
Item acquired in October 2000 in Brussels
Donated by Baba Temitayo
Origin: USA (ca 1948)
Small group of invocatory items for Erzulie and a bottle of Chanel
5 perfume from 1948.
Testimony by Baba Temitayo and experiment:
I had met the Babalawo at the shop of my friend Gérard Sand,
near the Grand'Place in Brussels. An American of Yoruban origin, Baba Temitayo
was an Ifa soothsayer,
a Father of Secrets, who happened to be passing through Brussels. He
had a seasonal job in a local shop selling occult items and he was
looking for an opon, a traditional Yoruban divinatory tray onto
which he could throw his cowry shells.
But he was out of luck, because just a few days before I had
acquired the last fine tray that Gérard had managed to procure
- and these items are not easy to come by.
Having noticed the small double-hatchet shaped earring in his right
ear and the ritual scars on his cheek, I greeted him in the name of Shango,
the god of thunder in West Africa. He seemed truly astonished that a
white man whom he happened to meet by chance would know about his
traditions and we became friends. Seeing how disappointed he was that
he couldn't find the divinatory tool he was looking for, I offered to
give him one from my collection. All he had to do was drop by my place
and I'd give it to him. Magicians are always ready to help each other
That evening, after a light but tasty meal, and after I gave him a
tray he could use to throw his shells on, he started looking through
his bag and pulled out a small statuette of the Virgin of the Seven
Sorrows wrapped in a pink ribbon, a small wire mesh heart-shaped
pendant containing a colourless glass heart. This was accompanied by
an old bottle of perfume and a pink candle.
"As you know, in voodoo the Virgin of the Seven Sorrows
represents the orisha Oshun,
also known by the name of Erzulie Freda Dahomey or Ezili.
The wife of Legba, Ogun and Agwe, she is the best-loved loa
of all and influences romance, marriage and artistic talent.
Her veve (symbol) is the heart and her colours are pink,
white and blue. However, invoking Erzulie means calling on both her
positive side as well as her dark side: the side of abandoned lovers
and unrequited loves, for she is also flirtatious and frivolous.
To thank you for your hospitality and friendship,
let me offer you this 'veve amulet' devoted to Erzulie. It has been
in my family for more than 50 years and a strange story goes with it.
My grandfather emigrated to the United States just after the First
World War, where he worked as a cocktail pianist. One evening
a group of young actors and entertainers came in for a drink after
performing in his town. I think it was in 1948, but I can't be sure.
In their group was a very pretty, but unknown young actress whose career
was not really going anywhere. I think she was the assistant to a travelling illusionist. During the evening, she began singing while my
grandfather played piano; it was something he never forgot. She had a
beautiful voice and possessed an appeal to which he would soon succumb
- I'll skip the details.
saying good-bye to each other, my grandfather - who was also a Babalawo
- offered to cast a 'charm' for her. 'If you decide to accept within
yourself the presence of Erzulie Freda, to 'channel' her, then her
magic power can take you to the heights of glory' he told her. 'But in
return, you must always regularly wear her colours and a perfume that
you will devote to her. However, you should know that the more that
you and the orisha merge, the more her white
characteristics will take you over.
You will never find a perfect balance in your love life, but that is
the price you will pay for success.'
'Since Erzulie is the wife of powerfu orishas and loas,
anyone who harms you will also suffer an appalling revenge over
several generations. If you accept success at this price, then I can
create the charge and bind you to Erzulie.'
The young lady agreed without hesitating and gave my grandfather the
small bottle of perfume that she devoted to
Erzulie. Yes, this very same bottle of Channel No. 5
that I'm giving you now.
The Babalawo took out a small colourless glass heart,
wrapped it in a thin sheet of paper on which was written, inside a heart,
the name of the young lady and the name of the loa.
He poured a bit of the perfume and a drop of blood from the young
lady on the paper, put everything in the wire mesh heart-shaped
veve that you see here, tied the ribbon and thrust it into the
flame of a candle.
Immediately the room was lit up with a flash. The paper had
literally exploded without leaving a single trace and the clear glass
heart was now red - a sign that the pact had been signed.
The young actress' name was Marilyn Monroe.
She enjoyed enormous success, and went on to become one of the
greatest icons of the 20th century. She was the most extraordinary
priestess of the true Erzulie.
And although her success was unparalleled, her love life was a
When she died 'accidentally' in 1962, nobody linked her death to the
sudden deaths suffered by the Kennedy family in the years that
followed. John, Bob, John-John - they all continue to pay the price
for what was a very suspicious death. Once the Gods have their prey,
they never let go."
Yet another secret hidden away in the Surnateum.