IF you have undergone the ceremony of the beads, are crowned direct with Oduduwa, have received an orisha lavado – basically if you have received any consecrated orisha necklace / eleke – for rhubarb’s sake WEAR THEM. They are designed to be worn, they work when worn, they protect you when worn and they draw blessings…when worn! Who wouldn’t want that?
So, I hope we know when NOT to wear necklaces – definitely not after sex without fully showering or bathing, and if you are about to do some black tar heroin, I don’t think wearing your beads is a good idea (nor is the doing heroin part.) Also, don’t wear them to bed unless very sick, and don’t let anyone else wear ’em, yada yada yada.
Some people love to wear a healthy number of necklaces, like 10, I couldn’t do that. I don’t like the heaviness. Some wear elekes discretely tucked under their T-Shirt, blouse, sweater, or cape. While others still, like to wear their collares loud and proud for the whole world to see. It’s really your choice how many you wear and whether they show or not. My personal preference is to wear one eleke, usually it is actually a very simple necklace, no fancy “glorias” or big beads, and it’s not that long, either. That way, I won’t worry that I will get it caught or that it will break. It suits me. I wear it under my clothes most of my waking and walking day.
Personally, I think that the warmth of the skin passing into the necklace when you wear it somehow activates it, it awakens it; it lets the orisha know and I picture them saying, ‘hey I have to look out for this person.’ When worn, the necklace touches the back of the neck – which is thought in Lukumi to be the seat of our past, the place of our collective memories, the strand of our very existence lived over many lifetimes. There is a guardian residing in the nape of the neck – Eshu Ni Pako who is the communicator between the past and the present, the realm of the living and that of our ancestors. The necklace hangs down the front of the body, touching or ending near the bellybutton, our source of life and connection to the world and our family. The continuous loop of consecrated beads represents or captures in physical form our moment of existence and the energy needed to live our most perfect life which the guidance and protection of the orisha enabling and encouraging us to do so.
The beads, when worn, act as a circuit or link between the orisha, our earthly existence AND our rightful place in this universe. By giving warmth to that necklace and allowing it to center us and rest upon our body, it mediates between our immense past and the limitless possibility of today, to embrace all that we can be in this world. As practitioners, we don’t have public churches, we don’t have worldwide organizations, and neither will you often find positive mention of our religion in the media. However, we show our humility and devotion (mainly to ourselves and the orishas which is all that really matters) by wearing these beads every day. It’s like putting on the most sacred, beautiful jewelry. We make every moment that we are wearing our beads a little bit more mindful, spiritual, and sacred – we have that amazing connection to the divine which is ours alone.