Africa the preferred container for all sorts of
purposes—music, magic, healing, sustenance, ritual, ceremony and fulfillment is
the calabash. As herbalists, we celebrate
the magic held within the calabash but we also realize that this earth wisdom
should be available to all—this is the lesson of orisha Osayin and the
calabash. With no choice left Osayin’s calabash of herbal information,
recipes, rituals and ceremonies for health and spiritual well-being, is now
open to all. If you dare to look deep
within the calabash, who knows what might be waiting inside?
One Igbo folk story from
shows us that there are truly surprising things held within the calabash
plant. A royal couple is unable to have
children. They have a sincere desire for
a child; their heart goes out to this wish each day. Meanwhile, their farms are doing exceedingly
well and are about ready for the harvest.
The King’s wife goes out to the fields to marvel at the huge leaves and
flowers of her plants. She notices
something moving beneath a particularly promising calabash plant. Low and behold, it is a child--a beautiful
little girl. This girl does not have a
human mother or father. She is born from
within a calabash. When the King’s Wife
calls her Calabash Child she rolls into a ball and becomes a calabash once
more. Excited by the possibility of
having a child of her own, Calabash Child or not, the King’s Wife gives her a
name to represent her extraordinary origins, Ifeyinwa (nothing like a child)
and brings her home. The King gives the
girl a pet name of his own, Onunaeliaku (born to consume wealth). He and his wife lavish the girl with love,
attention and gifts. Soon enough she
becomes spoiled and is not nice to anyone.
Naturally everyone wants to call her Calabash Child but she is proud and
haughty, especially after being adopted by royalty. She forbids anyone to call her Calabash
Child. One day, when the King and his
wife are away on a trip the servants dare to call the girl “Calabash
Child.” They know she does not like it
but her poor behavior toward the workers makes them eager for revenge. They irritate her to no end by reminding her
that she comes from within the calabash plant.
The girl tells her parents and this causes the harshest punishment of
all to be dispensed on all participants in the taunting—death. With the offering of human blood spilled on
Mother Earth on her behalf, Calabash Child becomes a girl made of flesh and
This was inspired by my work, "A Healing Grove"