Inv. SSI/vh-56536
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 No. 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 out.
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.
Before 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 and black 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 disaster.
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.