Skip to main content

Calabash Child and a Celebration of the Griot

In 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? 


Calabash Child


One Igbo folk story from Nigeria 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 blood.[1]



This was inspired by my work, "A Healing Grove"


[1] Inspired by Buchi Offodile in The Orphan Girl and other Stories: West African Folk Tales, (Brooklyn, NY: Interlink Books, 2001), 157-161.

Comments

  1. Amazing post! I love folk lore and learning new things about other cultures. I didn't know about the calabash and found the story behind it truly fascinating!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Chrys, thank you so much! The calabash, as it is viewed and used in West Africa, is truly fascinating and inspirational for the ingenuity of its cultural applications as well.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Go ahead. Make my day by leaving a comment.

Popular posts from this blog

A to Z Challenge: A Month of African Proverbs

I'm all in, once again.  This is my third year of participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. This will be an intense spurt of reading and writing for me, as I'm also editing one book and writing another. I will do my best to stay in, and keep up!

For the month of April (2017) I will be blogging and visiting other blogs. This is a fun and meaningful practice that I've taken on to increase conversations with other readers and bloggers. I am always happy to see newcomers and, whether you comment or not, you are welcome.





A Month of African Proverbs
My 2017 theme is drawn from my soon-to-be released book "Earth Mama's Spiritual Guide to Weight Loss." I have a section of my book that contains African Proverbs. I will be spending time on each of those proverbs, exploring their meaning and inspiration regarding losing weight or otherwise transforming yourself.

Here is the definition of the word proverb: (from Latin: proverbium) is a simple and concrete saying…

Earth Mama's Spiritual Guide to Weight Loss Workshop

Happy to announce that my 6th book has been published by a small publishing house in England called Green Magic Publishing! You can find it here.

It is a very unique book, that has been a long time coming - 14 years actually! When I began writing it my adult children were still living at home and my youngest, who is about to graduate from high school, was little more than a toddler. Time flies but book writing seems to take forever!

The release of, Earth Mama's Spiritual Guide to Weight Loss feels like a birth. It has had growing pains, changes and the labor of bringing it into this world - a labor of love.





I'm offering a series of workshops at Life Force Arts Center in Chicago, to kick off the book and get you into its unique type of hands-on healing and transformation work. This first one is inspired by Welsh Goddess Cerrwiden. Following is a description and how you can sign up at Life Force Arts Center.






Cerrwiden’s Pig: Shifting and Personal Transformation
Goddess Spirituali…

A to Z Update

My plate is full with demanding, though fun and meaningful, projects. I thought I could participate in the A to Z Blogger's Challenge but can not. This year I'm going to support fellow bloggers from the sidelines during April, visiting your blogs when I can.  I'm in the final stages of editing my soon-to-be-released book, writing my 7th book and preparing for my fall solo exhibition of my art, and that is a very full plate.

I hope to do a good job with what I'm working on and put my passion there. I'm stepping out of the challenge before it begins in order to write, edit and paint.

See you all on your blogs during the A to Z Challenge, and hope to participate again in 2018!