First Contact With Eshu | Witch University

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Eshu and Incense

Eshu and Incense

Many if not most adherents to Vodun and diaspora Orisha belief systems are introduced to Eshu through an elder, teacher, or priest/ess.  We receive an Ifa reading early in life, to find our head Orisha, and what kind of fate or fortune we can look forward to, and things we need to be aware of.

Not everyone has this luxury though.  Many who are called to the Orishas do not have anyone local and trusted, who can help them.  So they have to rely on the internet or other long distance methods for community, and do most of their ritual and ceremonial work themselves.

Regardless of which Orisha has reached out to you first, the first Orisha you should reach back to is Eshu.  He is the Master of the Gate between the Orun (spiritual or unseen realms) and the Aye (physical or sensory observable realm).  In order to relate reliably with any Orisha, one must do so through Eshu, or risk inordinate confusion or misunderstanding.

Also, in the case that you don’t have a teacher or guide physically present, Eshu will do this himself if you show him willingness to learn.  Be advised however, that he knows us better than we know ourselves, and can at times be a harsh teacher with a dark sense of humor.  Before you embark on the journey into Vodun, be ready for this.  It may not always be easy or fun, but it will be enlightening.  You will become a stronger and better person in the process, and you will understand why it is important to invest in the birthplace of humanity, Africa, and her people, Africans.

A Sample First Ritual

Before we get started, let me mention that it is very important that before you reach back, you know what you’re getting into. Read Orisha Online Altar’s page on Eshu and the many related deities, and get other perspectives on him both from traditional practitioners and innovative and witchcraft oriented adherents. Remember that everyone’s Eshu has its own specifics, but all of these liminal beings embody some kind of balance and connection. Once you make contact, your life will change, and accountability will have a whole other aspect than you were aware of if you did not grow up in an Afrrican spiritual system.

On a Monday, preferably when the moon is waxing, set up a corner of your room or your altar.  It should be to the left of the door, or the left of the central space on your altar.

Put your Eshu fetish, doll, or stone in this corner on a plate.

Set up three candles (preferably red and/or black and/or white, marked with one of his Gatekeeper symbols, and dressed with Eshu oil) or an incense burner for the sort of incense he likes nearby.

Have a rattle, a whistle, or something to make some noise ready.  If you have to be quiet about it, at least plan a limping or “silly” dance step to do when calling him.

Set up a comfortable chair or pillow where you can face this corner.

Prepare offerings of three pieces of toffee candy, some very sweet black coffee spiked with a good rum or other quality alcohol, and some treat made of coconut.

If your Eshu is a stone, have some consecrated palm oil or if not, coconut oil or whatever kind of nut oil you could find, to anoint him with.

Settle your mind, and begin the ceremony.

While standing, call Eshu three times.  After the first time, make some noise or do your dance, and anoint or touch your Eshu.

The second time, noise or dance, then light the candles or incense, and put the candy and treats on the plate.

The third time, noise or dance, and then contemplate Eshu’s role in the Universe, and how that has affected you.

Think of all the times in your life you were one step from joining the Ancestors, but were spared.  Think of all the times you managed to escape danger, or sometimes even justice.  Think of all the second chances you were given.  Think of the times a sudden idea that seemed to come out of nowhere got you out of trouble, and think of the times “karma” did catch up with you, and you got what you deserved.

Then sit down, and look at your Eshu.

When you are done weeping, greet him like a respected elder with whom you are free and welcome to be totally honest.

Note: It has come to my attention that some are saying that they’ve been told not to cry in front of Eshu. Though I understand that traditions vary, I would advise those who are not members of a specific tradition that specifically forbids this level of honesty with Eshu, new practitioners not approach any Eshu with any level of deception or masking. Default to total honesty. If you are instructed otherwise, that is your personal business, but approaching Eshu with any kind of dishonesty is dangerous.

Speak to him about everything.  Empty your soul to him.

When the time comes, and you will know when that is, thank him for his presence, and close the ceremony.

Let the candles and incense finish if they haven’t already.

Give the candy and treats to Nature, to a child or elderly person, or to a child of Eshu.

Make observance of Eshu your Monday routine.

For another take on opening the way to communing with Vodun and diaspora spirits, watch Efe West’s video:

Blessings and Ashé!


Sheloya (Sis. Nicole) is a licensed U.L.C. Modesto minister, spiritual counselor, sorceress, and king of Ile Baalat Teva. She believes in education and empowerment of individuals with a holistic approach to spirituality. Order a bone reading from Sheloya to find out what the Spirits have to say about your future.

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