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THE YORUBA DOMINO ORACLE
By Carlos G. y Poenna
Samuel Weiser, Inc.Copyright © 2000 Carlos G. y Poenna
All rights reserved.
How to Read the Dominos
The procedure for reading the domino oracle is simplicity itself. There are only a few considerations that must be learned. The basic readings may be read to the querent directly from this text until you have memorized them. This is why the dominos are such a valuable system to use to teach the art of divination.
The Four Rules of Domino Reading
1. A male reader can read the dominos on any day except Mondays and Fridays. Thus, a man can read for others only on the "male" days of the week.
2. A female reader can read the dominos only on Mondays and Fridays, or on the "female" days of the week.
3. No person may read the dominos for him- or herself. A reading must always be done for another person.
4. A querent (or client) can not approach a reader to obtain a reading of the dominos more than once in each calendar month.
The domino reading itself is accomplished in the following way:
1. The dominos are arranged with their spots face down on a table. They are then thoroughly shuffled by the reader. The reader should then pray to God for assistance and guidance in the reading. At this point the person seeking the reading, the querent, enters the reading room, if not already present. Incense should be burned, and a candle is lit to the glory of the Creator, while the reader makes a prayer to Orula, the Deity who is the Lord of Divination, that the person consulting the oracle have a good reading. A person not connected to the Yoruba pantheon might pray to his or her own divination deity, or, if Christian, could pray to St. Francis of Assisi. The prayer to Orula is in addition to the prayer asking for assistance and guidance for the reader. It is done for the querent, asking that the querent have a good reading.
2. The reader now shuffles the dominos again, arranging a row of dominos (with the spots still down) immediately in front of the querent. From this row the querent selects the first domino. The reader makes note of it, and then replaces the domino with the others and shuffles them again. The querent selects the second domino, and the reader makes note of it, replaces it, and shuffles the dominos again. The querent selects the third domino, and the reader makes note of it. The reader may now either put all the other dominos back in their box, or may push them off to one side of the table on which the reading is taking place. This is done only to keep the dominos out of the way while the reading proceeds.
3. The reader then tells, or reads, the querent the story of the first domino. The second domino is then explained to the querent. Last, the story of the third domino is revealed to the querent.
4. Now the reader proceeds to discuss the three dominos as if they make a complete story, covering all possible details of the reading with the querent. In this last part of the reading, the remedies, including any prayers to be said, are given to the querent. Any other remedy information that may be required is also discussed with the querent at this time.
5. If there are strong indications of one thing or another in the reading, these indications must be stressed to the querent. If there are moderators, things that weaken bad signs, or that reduce the benefit of good signs, these must also be discussed with the querent during this final part of the reading. If the querent has chosen the same domino more than once, the importance of this particular part of the reading must be stressed to the querent. If it calls for any prayers or offerings, their importance must be stressed as well.
It is important that readers are able to give clients a remedy for any difficulty that the reading has revealed. Giving a reading that predicts difficulties for querents, when no remedy can be provided, is actually a great cruelty. In the various systems of African divination there are always remedies that may be provided for people who come asking for assistance. In the various European-based divination systems, such as astrology and the tarot, it seems that remedies are not offered to assist people who ask for readings, which is why a domino reading can be so helpful.
Making prayers, giving offerings, lighting candles, receiving spiritual cleansings, and making petitions to the deities are all remedies that must be discussed in detail with querents. It is important that the querents do what they are told to do in the reading. This must be stressed by the reader. Once a remedy is made available, querents will only harm themselves if they do not use the remedy that has been offered them. When the remedy is not used, the difficulty that the reading has proposed may be even more difficult. In other words, people should not come to the domino oracle for fun. They are talking to the gods, and talking to the gods is serious business.
Once the reading has been completed with a prayer of thanks, querents must be told that they may not have another reading for thirty days. This is always a strict rule of the oracle. In most cases, querents should be told to return after thirty days for another reading. If the reader is not working within an African tradition, and has no ability to contact a Santero or other priest for a more detailed reading, the querent may ignore the advice to do so when this is given. Alternatively, the querent may have a tarot or astrological reading, to provide more information about the situation that is presenting itself. Additionally, the querent should pay particular attention to the way in which the advice of the domino reading manifests during the coming month. The querent should also be sure to carry out any remedies that the readings may suggest as promptly as possible.
If a reading indicates that a coconut or cowry reading should be done in addition to the domino reading, then the reader does not set up an appointment for another domino reading in thirty days. The querents will be told by the priest of the tradition if another domino reading is necessary.
It is always better if the novice reader is someone who is studying with a Father of the Deity, a Pi de Santo (see glossary). A Pi de Santo is a person who has given his or her head to a deity and has become a priest of the deity. If you have no contact with a Pi de Santo, or want to study the oracle on your own, and you come from a Christian background, it is better to use the Catholic saints and religious remedies mentioned later in this book. Unless you have a Pi de Santo or Father of the Deity who is willing to work with you, the Christian saints of the Catholic religion, who are very much the same as the Yoruba deities, are the best means that you can use to assist others.
Those who come from other polytheistic religious backgrounds, such as Buddhist, Hindu, or modern pagan, may find suitable correspondences between the Yoruba deities and those of their own pantheon. Jewish people who wish to use the domino system may use cabalistic correspondences if they wish. Those who follow Islam might use the corresponding "Names of God" as remedies in this work.
If you are fortunate enough to have a Pi de Santo as a guide, you must always have your Pi de Santo ready to discuss the results of your reading with you and your querent. Once the reading has been completed with a prayer of thanks, if an overwhelming difficulty has presented itself, you should bring the querent to your Pi de Santo to review the reading and discuss any remedy that you are suggesting. The remedy given in the domino divination may be approved, or modified, by the greater wisdom and experience of the Pi de Santo. Usually this doesn't happen. I have found that students draw to them people that they can help and the gods don't send you problems that are too big to handle.
If you are working with a Santero or a Pi de Santo, you should consult them for remedies when you first begin to do readings for people. This procedure should be followed for the first ten or twenty readings you do as a novice reader. When you are ready to give the remedies on your own, your teacher or Pi de Santo will tell you. If you are studying for, or hoping to become, initiated in one of the African derived traditions, this is an important consideration.
The remedies in this book are simple enough that they may be used without any problem by people who have no contact with the African derived traditions. However, the Yoruba African derived traditions have many more remedies for different conditions than it would be possible to put into a book of this kind, so the remedies given here are only the easiest and most fundamental ones. You can safely use these remedies if you sincerely wish to remedy any potential difficulties in your life, and you can communicate this to the people that come to have a reading with you.
The most common remedies in the domino reading corpus are those that deal with Eleggua, the Mercury or Hermes of the Yoruba pantheon. He should always be thanked for a reading, and his symbols must always be a part of the household of any novice readers working in an African tradition. In almost all cases, readers who are students of a Pi de Santo should be wearing the elekes of Eleggua (see glossary) before they begin the study of domino reading. For those who are not dealing with the Yoruba pantheon, St. Michael, the Archangel, or St. Christopher may be used as the messenger deity instead of Eleggua. In many cases the querent may be given the remedy of having to light a candle to either Eleggua or to St. Michael, the Archangel, on Monday mornings. The lighting of a weekly candle on Mondays should usually be continued for at least three months. If this practice is followed, it will usually happen that Eleggua, or St. Michael, will become interested in the person in a positive way. This will always be helpful in assisting the positive progress of the querent's life.
Oshun, often referred to as the Yoruba Venus, also plays a part in many of the remedies found in the domino readings. Oshun may be propitiated with oranges, cut either in quarters or in half, and covered with honey. She may be given sweet cakes drenched in honey; she may be given yellow flowers (she especially likes yellow roses). Masculine-type women may be told that they should begin to wear skirts or to use perfume, as one example of harmonizing themselves with Oshun. In most cases, the remedy for Oshun, in addition to any others that may be mentioned in the reading, is apparent and obvious. Those who do not have familiarity with the Yoruba pantheon may use any of the milder aspects of the Virgin Mary, or the deities Venus or Aphrodite in place of Oshun.
The use of Christian prayers instead of the prayers normally used in the religious practices that follow the Yoruba or other African traditions, and the "Catholicization" of the process of domino reading will bring new people to the practice of divination. This Catholicization of the domino oracle can only ultimately benefit both the novice reader and his or her house. It should not be discouraged by those few who are so rigidly involved with the Yoruba pantheon as to see it as an impropriety.
It is always necessary to expand the circle of people who are benefiting from the guidance of the deities. One may come for an initial domino reading, and after a period of time, may decide to give his or her head to the Orisha, to perfect the guidance of his or her life, and to assist others. People who come to a reader for a reading, even for the sake of curiosity, may end up as a Yawo in the house of the reader, or of his or her Pi de Santo. We must never prejudge what the Orisha ultimately intend for anyone who asks for a reading with sincerity and a good heart.
When there are two dominos with the same thought that come up in a reading, the importance of the subject of these dominos is greatly increased. If there are three dominos with the same thought in a single reading, they indicate the most important consideration in the life of the querent. Along with the readings of some of the single dominos, I have indicated the more common readings of the most important pairs. This will assist readers in developing their abilities as readers as well as gaining the more important information that the querent will require in the month ahead.
I have also added comments concerning the important pairs that come up with regard to the Double Blank and the Double One. These are the two strongest single readings in the domino oracle. While their modifications are legion, there are certain things that must be indicated by their connection with other dominos.
A Few Hints on Readings
The dominos you use should be wooden ones, and they should be kept in a wooden box. Dominos used for reading must be reserved for reading the oracle. If you either make, or finish, the box in which the dominos are to be kept, so much the better. In this case, you have penetrated the box with your energy, and the dominos will have better empathy for you. In no event should the dominos be ones that have been previously used in games. The dominos used for readings should be new dominos, and they should be held apart as special for the oracle. They are to be reserved to serve only as the voice of the oracle. By treating the dominos respectfully in this way, it is believed that they will develop within themselves a sense of their own worth, and thus become a more accurate representation of the oracle that they actually are.
As with all real divination, a fee should be charged querents for the reading they are given. It is my opinion that by having querents place the fee on the altar, or on the reading table, if you have no altar, there is a more serious cast of mind given to the reading on the part of the querents. Querents may initially treat a reading as an affair of levity, or as one of simple curiosity. If querents place the fee for a reading on an altar, or even on the reading table, this light attitude toward the reading often changes. The querents then see, and believe, that this matter of reading is a serious business. They will usually take the reading more seriously. The size of the fee charged for a domino reading should always be small, say $5. 00 initially, increasing after the student has mastered the art of reading through giving many readings, to $10. 00, or possibly even more. The fee must be kept small, as it must allow anyone who desires guidance to come to the oracle for a reading.
Once the fee is collected, and after the querent has left the room, the fee is frequently split between you and your Pi de Santo if you have one. One-third, or $2. 00 or $3. 00, should be given to the Pi de Santo. This acts partly to repay the Pi de Santo for his or her effort in training you. It also reminds you that your ability to provide the remedy to the querent ultimately comes from your Pi de Santo.
It is hoped that this brief discussion of reading the domino oracle will interest you in developing your ability to read for others, and to perfect yourself by learning this very worthwhile art.
What Each Domino Means
This is one of the worst of the domino readings. It announces the presence of deceit and treachery in the querent's life. If he or she has gained, received, or acquired anything through the use of fraud, deceit, or treachery, he or she will keep it. However he or she will pay for these acts of fraud, deceit, and treachery with tears and suffering. This reading announces to the querent that there will be losses in business, upsets in the love life, and the possible loss of a job, or a position in life. These upsetting experiences are the ultimate result for the person who receives this domino in a reading. This is a strong admonition that the querent must heed this warning or suffer the consequences.
If this reading does not seem to apply to the querent, the reading becomes a warning of the possibility of an impending accident. The querent should pray to the deities Oya and Chango (St. Barbara) immediately, asking them in prayer to moderate, or divert, the impending accident. See glossary for details.
Double Blank is always a very negative reading, announcing that the person who is consulting the oracle must turn away from deceit and treachery immediately. The person is being warned to change his or her ways. The person is in danger of divine justice and retribution falling on him or her unless a change in lifestyle takes place immediately. Whatever the deed—the time has come to make amends for these actions. This especially applies to anything gained through fraud, deceit, or treachery. Unless the person is willing to make amends, and has a sincere desire for repentance and forgiveness, there are grave difficulties ahead.
Excerpted from THE YORUBA DOMINO ORACLE by Carlos G. y Poenna. Copyright © 2000 Carlos G. y Poenna. Excerpted by permission of Samuel Weiser, Inc..
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