Once upon a time I went to the river, and this was something that I usually had done when ever Spirit had directed me to do so, both going back and forth between the river and the ocean in reverence and veneration of the energies that resided there.
However, two weeks prior to going to the river, I had first visited the ocean. Usually, I would visit the river straight after the ocean, which were miles apart but I would always make the journey. As I got to the river this time, there was a little slope, like walking down a slight hill, and as I neared the banks, I began to slide. One of my shoes slid off of my foot and got stuck in the mud, and my clothes became muddy and some of my offerings had all spilled from my basket.
Some people who followed me to the river were shocked, figuring that I would fall into the water. However, I did not. But I laughed while I sat there all muddy and slightly embarrassed because instantly I knew what happened. I began to apologize to the invisible forces for my procrastination and delaying the journey to the river for two weeks, I apologized and explained that sometimes my humanness interferes with my spirituality.
Surrounding me were invisible forces that knew me well and had known that I should have been here two weeks ago. They expected this offering and I neglected to come timely, as I had always made it a ritual to attend both bodies of water in the same day. As a matter of fact, the reason I was there that morning was because around 5am earlier, while asleep, I saw a tide of water hover over me and as I opened my eyes fully, the large and ominous tide swept over me and I woke up gasping and sputtering as if drowning. In that moment, I realized that I had to get to the river, and so I was not surprised to have fallen upon arrival.
Now, what I just described to you is the physical, let me explain the spiritual.
At the river, I was there to venerate the river goddess (called in my traditional practice, Oshun). However, I knew that not only this deity resided at the river, but also many other Beings dwelled in the environment and surroundings and I would often hail and serve them before arriving at the river. Likewise, at the river itself there dwelled many other energies other than the known goddess. There were those who occupied the banks, those that occupied the depths, the surface, the rocky areas, and so forth. Although the river is one body, it is comprised of many invisible forces.
Now, this is something that is very important, because many people, practitioners, and developing practitioners, do not know this, and as such pay no mind to these sets of invisible eyes that watches them on their offering journeys.
In my journey, I now arrive at the river and park my car. All forces that came that morning to alert me in the form of that large tide, are there with me, even the ones that live at my shrine and are always with me are also present. The physical eyes will see me alone, but I am walking with a slew of non-physical Beings. As I walk downhill towards the bank, before I begin the journey, there are things that I first present to my right and to my left.
You have to imagine that there is a gate there that demarcates the “outer” world from the beginning of the river area. This invisible gate has invisible guardians stationed both to the right and to the left.
As I arrive at the river bank, acknowledging the river’s guardians, the invisible gates are opened for me, and there within are trees surrounding the area. To the physical eyes, these are merely trees. But to the one with spiritual knowledge, these are guardians of this area with forces that resides among them. In my mind’s eye, I hail them also. Unfortunately, I can not explain to you what is given to these forces, but it is well to know that they also exist. I now continue on to stand at the bank of the river, where the veneration and reverence begins.
All of this is ritual and ritualistic if one knows how to perform it. If this is done in the way that is pleasing, not only to the Deity, but to those who serve the environment and the river, then whatever you are hoping to achieve through prayer and invocation you will achieve.
During these times, I had not initiated into my current traditional practice. However, back then I was a practical spiritualist – one who assisted others when they had problems. It was prudent for me to visit the water, both salt and fresh, so as to unload a lot of the burdens and ills that people had brought to my table, and also to get the constant aid from these realms to assist me in my own life and spiritual development.
Some time ago, I had spoken to someone who boasted to me that he normally makes offerings to the river. But the words that he used to describe his offerings disturbed me although I said nothing. Over the years I have recently decided that it is not everything one must correct, because I realize that correcting some people who believe that they already know, creates enemies.
The person told me that he would visit the river, stand at the banking, and throw his offerings of fruits and other things into the river one by one. He even told me that there were times when he would have cakes that he would bite and throw the rest into the river. While he spoke, I imagined myself giving him a “dirty slap” as they say in Nigeria. My imagination was so real that I’m sure he felt it in his mind.
For some reason, I felt very offended, and my mouth twitched to reprimand him harshly, but I held back. As I write, it touches me that there are people who believe that this that he has done is appropriate because it is how they also serve the river themselves. Unfortunately, many, under the guise of becoming awake, are doing foolish things that can affect them while also insulting Nature itself. If one insults or defiles Nature, one defiles one’s self, and thus can impact their spiritual and physical life, because above all things, everything in Nature is to be respected. This is why the ancient ones understood ritualistic ways as to how to venerate aspects of Nature to appease or propitiate them so as to bring forth favorable outcomes.
One way to think of spiritual things is by material explanation, and so rituals can be thought of in terms of science. To achieve a useful, non-destructive, outcome when combining chemical components, one must know the nature of both chemicals and their relations to each other, and what transformation will be brought forth out of their union. In a material sense, vinegar is acidic and milk is proteins, sugars, and fats. Although both liquid, both are different types of liquids and therefore are not to be mixed if curdled milk is not the intention.
In the spiritual, the same thing can be thought of. One must understand the structure, hierarchy, and nature of a particular force, and accompanying forces, before he might know the correct ritual to apply to it, in order to produce sweetness (a better life) and not bitterness (ill luck/health/condition). In Yoruba tradition, things not to be mixed so as to prevent negative or detrimental outcomes are called taboos. And everything has a taboo, from humans to ordinary foods.
It is imperative to understand that it is not everything spiritual that one feels one must do, that one must do without guidance. If you are going to appease any part of Nature for the goodness of yourself, ensure that you have the correct guidance to do so. In Yoruba tradition, oracular divination is used as such guidance. In today’s day, Google is often used as the guide. But as I have written before in one of these posts, not all things written in books or elsewhere is ever written complete. Almost 99% of the time, occult instructions from knowledgeable persons are purposely given incomplete. And there’s a very good reason for this.
As for the young man who would throw these different items into the river, his own life mirrored the chaos that he brings to the river when he makes offerings. Most often, he is surrounded by negative things and happenings in his life. Now, this is not to say that it is solely because of how he venerates the river, but to my understanding and spiritual knowledge, this indeed does have an impact on the direction of his life.
As you read this, you should know that no deity or even our Divine Lord, or the Universe, operates through emotion. Emotions belong only to the human experience. However, our conscious minds is able to assist us into doing things correctly but only if we give ourselves a chance to hear when it speaks.
The rush of some becoming awakened to become practitioners or spiritualists allows for many errors to occur. Some of the reasons for these mistakes, other than the haste, is lack of respect for guides, disobedience, lack of humility, and one of the worst any on becoming awakened person can have is ego. Even the highest priest or priestess, the most powerful ones, at one time were children and as such students of another.
Water is a very powerful force, whether salt or fresh, and I have written many posts about water on this blog. The force or the forces that are water assist humans daily and it is very good for us to venerate and show reverence to water in Nature if we know how to do so.
How to Know When Your Offering Has Been Accepted:
When one is at the water side, you will see signs and responses when on your way, during your prayers, and after your offerings. A few of them to take of note of are:
1) A shift in breeze or wind, which either appears where there was none before, or intensifies.
2) If the water was still before but upon arrival (or after offerings or during prayers) it may begin to flow
3) Animals of the water may make their presence known, such as ducks or fishes or swans or bees
4) If the water was at first cloudy or green with morass and then after offerings and prayers, the water may become clear and clean.
5) Observe the sun and the clouds, if it was sunny on your way there but becomes cloudy after, or vice versa.
6) If the waters were rough before but becomes calm and smooth later, or vice versa.
7) If you are by the river and there are trees surrounding, and something falls out of the tree and into the water. Observe the color of the fallen mystery, it is a message — most often not a good one.
8) And the highest and one of the most beautiful signs at the ocean are swans. This is actually a rare occurrence and only happens to certain people. If you happen to see large white swans during your offerings, especially in pairs, consider yourself fortunate. For you are seeing the response of both depths and heights, two realms which have heeded your call. The explanation of the phenomenon is deep, but very important. Take heed.
9) Observe if your offering sails right off or sinks to the bottom. Both are good signs. I have seen offerings reverse up back up to the banking, which is impossible. This is a negative response.
Look for these signs, for they are communications of Nature and your relationship to it.
It is also good to note any other occurrence, such as the time that I had slid and muddied my clothing, or if the waters recede and come in. From the moment you make the decision to attend the waters, be vigilant, because Nature will speak to you through any medium, as it should. Because if you call out to something, it should answer you.
It is very important never to leave trash behind you at any waterside, nor to urinate anywhere near it. The nature of water is cleanliness and purity, and to defile it, is to defile one’s self and one’s own life.
Veneration to the river or ocean can be of anything, such as food or objects or other relevant items. Sacrificial animals can also be given (if the practitioner knows what to give). However, there is a caution, and this is important: blood must never enter the water unless instructed by the Deity to do so. This is extremely important as practitioners I personally know of who have done so have lost their own lives due to this careless action.
I will now leave you with one last key:
If you pick anything up from the waterside, such as a stone, a shell, a bottle cap, or other prize, leave some coins behind, and pay the forces for its treasures. Anything that you take from the water, you must leave a symbol of payment to prevent Nature’s Law from taking its compensation in other ways from one’s life. Although you might see an ordinary stone or shell, it may be only the material manifestation of another Being.
Unbeknownst to some, it is not at all rivers that the river goddess (called Oshun in Yoruba culture) dwells. For the river goddess has a particular signature that can only be found at certain rivers throughout the world. The rivers where this signature does not dwell, other Beings are the owners of such locations, and some may be harsher than others. However, this is not to say that one who does not know this will be praying to another deity instead of the intended goddess, for the message will still arrive to the goddess if that is one’s intention.
I hope and pray that these words are absorbed in a positive way and may the river and ocean answer your prayers when you visit them either in the physical or through your mind by way of prayers.
Love, Light and Life!
PS: Never make a promise at the river or even within yourself that you will visit the river, and then not do so.
“Wish rather to be reproved by the wise, than to be applauded by him who hath no understanding: when they tell thee of a fault, they suppost thou can improve; the other, when he praises thee, thinketh thee like unto himself.”Akhenaton