New Beginnings: The Year of Oya
Today, as I write this, my grandmother has transitioned from this life unto the next. She was a beautiful person and I have never been so grateful to have so much love in my life from the very moment I took my first breath. No one loved like my grandma’s love. Her kisses made even the deepest of the cuts go away. When I was little, I would dress up in her scarves and jewelry while walking around the house pretending to be her. I would stand by her side in the kitchen and watch how she made eggs and grits for me with all the love in her heart. She loved people so much. On the weekends when she had parties, I would sit by her side at the spades table and beg her to teach me to play. She always had time for me even when all the other adults were busy. I never saw her not in my life, even still today. She has just transitioned. Moved on to her next way of living. Her energy and light are still here; just in a different way than it was before. This is her final lesson to me; learning that endings are just new beginnings.
Pictured Left: Senior high school picture of my loving grandmother
This year has been a year of loss for so many of us. Every day, I hear someone exclaim how we cannot wait for this year to be over. Transition. Change. So much has changed this year. We had to learn to live in a very different way than before as we sit in the middle of a global pandemic. Most of the world is still learning how to cope with what many are calling “the new normal.” We have all had different emotional responses to this change--anger, depression, denial, remorse--just to name a few and all are valid. It can be a painful process going from one reality to the next. It is the end of what we have come to know and find comfort in. It can be terrifying letting go of past comforts for the unknown. It is the death of a cycle in our lives. Rather if we have lost a loved one, been let go from a job, had to remove people or situations from our lives, it is never easy. There may be tension and friction between people during periods of change. We may feel as if we no longer know how to define ourselves. We may feel as if who we are no longer fits in this new world. It is a painful experience. A painful experience that is necessary, though. Pain exists for the reason of making us uncomfortable so we continue to persevere to our highest potential.
Many of us do not appreciate change for what it really is. I agree, to an extent, that knowing your surroundings is comforting. Knowing when you take the next step, there will be a landing for you to firmly ground yourself is what seems to be the best way to move forward. But life is not just about moving forward, it is also about moving up to the next level. This means leaving behind what we came to know. We cannot live our whole life in the status quo. We must move on. Living in the status quo creates inequalities. As a black woman in the United States, I can give you first-hand recounts on how those who wish to hold on to the past have used the status quo as an excuse to continue to torture and profit off the backs of my people. The statement “it’s how it always been” can kill. It goes against the very aspect of nature which is ever-evolving. It is natural to evolve into a new and better you. It is what makes living so beautiful.
This year, I have also had many changes within myself. I have found that my connection to the world around me has deepened. I have a better understanding of myself in relation to the Universe. One of the many journeys I took this year has led me back to my ancestor's religion, Ifa, an African Traditional Religion. For those who do not know, Ifa originated from the Yoruba people. A tribe that is located mainly within West Africa today. This religion which is thousands of years old has kept my people alive and aligned on our life paths. Within this religion, there are nature-centric energies that we call the Orisha. When hearing the word “Orisha”, many first think of Oshun, who is considered to be the divine feminine energy of love and beauty. Many have heard of her because of the many iterations from Beyonce. I also love Oshun dearly, but I have become raptured by another Orisha, Oya.
Pictured Left: Representation of Orisha Oya
Oya is the Mother of Changes. She is a warrior queen who charges with the winds at her heels to destroy all old concepts and usher in the new. She holds reign over the wind. She is your first breath and your last. She is the soft ripples over the water and a raging tornado. She is the breath of life itself. Powerful and yet so beautiful simultaneously. I have felt her with me this entire year even before I knew what I was feeling. Mami Oya has been guiding me through even the thickest of the storms. I truly believe she has caused upheaval this year because there is something very beautiful under all this old “dirt” that we have just come to accept as the only truth. If our lives are a garden, Oya is the shovel that turns over the soil in our lives to bring the rich nutrients to the top.
With the revelation, I have decided it is best to go with the flow of the Universe. This is the natural course of the world. The end of a cycle. A start of a new beginning. This is the fresh start many of us deserve. The question is now, do you have it in you to rebuild a better and brighter place for yourself, your loved ones, and your community? I decided that is exactly the journey I wish to take with my ancestors, including my grandmother, at my side. Ase.