Offerings to Shango and related fire deities should NEVER be done in a metal container. It should be fire safe ceramic or stone. Be sure that the item you are using is industrial or at least restaurant grade, and can handle an open flame without cracking or exploding. You should also generally serve Shango with the left hand because in his best known earthly incarnation he is royalty. One should not touch him or his things during ceremony, with the hand they normally wipe their bottom with. Some other Orishas are less uptight about this, but because children of Shango and others who are heavy with his energy tend, in real life today and in the foreseeable future, to be royalty, and other kinds of natural leader, it is good to keep this bit of decorum.
Speaking of which, do not do observances or other altar work when you are ill. Some don’t consider a cold a real illness, but others do. One of the few universal Ifa and diaspora rules is to not poop on your altar, meaning you and your hands should be clean as possible. If you are spraying snot everywhere, and have diarrhea and other excretions out of control, you should not approach your or anyone else’s altar. So take a break when you are sick, or at least wait until you are no longer having uncontrolled excretions.
The Daily Observance Ritual
Different people have different ways of doing daily observances. Some have privacy and space concerns, and others still prefer to be very natural, not have an indoor altar, and to do their observances outdoors at a sacred place. It’s all good. The daily observance is a personal ritual, and needs to be very you. So I will provide a few examples from the many ways I have done it and seen it done by others.
Well Supplied Home Altar
- Prepare the mind by contemplating Eshu.
- Gather all the supplies for giving small offerings to Eshu and the deities of the day.
- Light the charcoal.
- Call to Eshu while putting a small dose of Eshu incense on the charcoal. Ask him to open the way to commune with and give thanks to the deities of the day.
- Wait for the gate to open, and then add incense for the other deities, or give small offerings to them in their respective ways.
- Enjoy your time with the spirits manifesting around and through you. You may do their dance and/or perform some other activity to “metabolize” their energy. Some also do divination at this time.
- If there is no other spiritual work to do immediately, thank the spirits and Eshu for their attention, and close the ritual. If there is, leave it open and do what work should be done.
Cigar Box Altar “Bare Bones” Observance
While traveling, or on a military or work hitch, some people can only keep a small box altar. For them, daily observance has to be short and sweet, and they may not be able to burn incense. So daily observance is a short ritual in the morning or before bed, and offerings are given throughout the day according to local or family traditions and common practices.
- Prepare your mind by contemplating Eshu.
- Call to Eshu once when opening your box.
- Arrange your small fetishes within the box.
- Call Eshu the remaining 2 times, asking him to open the way.
- Greet the deities of the day as best as you can within the time and situation.
- Thank them and Eshu for their presence, and close the box.
Over the course of the day, you give the first sip of your coffee to Eshu by spilling a little of it to the left. It is okay if thereafter, you soak it up with a napkin, and deposit this in the trashcan. If you smoke, you also give Eshu your first cigarette of the day…the first three if you are rich. You also give him at least a piece of the first sweet thing you have that day. If you drop some coins, leave them on the ground. Whoever takes them will be blessed. Basically, the spirits will take from you as needed to keep you balanced and flowing positively. Unless you need it for survival, do not try to recover material things that you may drop or lose.