Babalu Aye: The King Who Hurts The World!

Desi Arnaz by Jim the photographer licensed by CC 2.0

Babalu Babalu Aye….many Americans were introduced to this Cuban Santeria chant through the classic television show I Love Lucy and its leading character Ricky Ricardo (played by Desi Arnaz). The song was written in honor of the god Babalu by Margarita Lecuona and popularized by Miguelito Valdesin 1941.  On television, it was the signature number for the Latin bandleader we came to know and love, Ricky Ricardo. He opened the door to this powerful Orisha, and for that we are grateful.

December 17th is the Day

Babalu Aye is the God of sickness, of infectious disease, and consequently of healing. His feast day is December 17th, which is syncretized with the feast of San Lazaro. His name has been translated as the “king who hurts the world.”  Babalu Aye is worshipped under many different names Sonponno among the Yoruba, Sakpata or Sagbata among the Fon of West Africa. Some believe his name is so sacred it is not to be spoken.

Legend of Babalu Aye

One version of the pataki, or myth, associated with the birth of this Lukumi (Santeria) deity speaks of the creation of the world. It is said that when Olodumare ( the God of the Rainbow) was handing out divine powers to the Orisha, he gave the power or Ashe of the river to Oshun, the power or

IMG_2030 by Roly Chang licensed by CC 2.0

Ashe of the ocean to Yemaya, the power or Ashe of thunder to the Lord Chango, and the he came to Babalu Aye. Olodumare asked this god what power he desired. Babalu Aye asked for the power to make love to every woman, he was obviously quite sensual and ambitious in that department. He was granted this power but told to abstain from all sexual relations on one day of the week, Thursday. When Thursday came it is said Babalu Aye saw the most beautiful woman and was powerless to resist. Because of his indiscretion he was cursed with sores covering his body. This is only one rendition of his story, some have Babalu Aye being punished because he broke a promise to Eleggua, some say he contracted an STD from the woman and that was his curse. Now in the modern world Babalu Aye has become a patron healer of AIDS and other modern medical dilemmas. He is known as a miracle worker, and each year thousands make pilgrimages and pray to him, not only for healing but for supreme strength, righteousness and revelation.

Botanicals for Babalu Aye

– The following herbs are sacred to Babalu Aye and would be suitable for use in a healing bath or as a candle dressing. Anise Agave Basil

San Lazaro (O Yo Soy La Ruta) by Jose Bedia photo by Nathania Johnson licensed under CC 2.0.

Bay Leaves Broom Camphor Clove Carnation Ginger Heliotrope Pine Nuts Poppy Seed Rosemary Rue Sage Sesame Seeds Thistle   If you like what you read here please subscribe to my RSS feed and Youtube Channel, and follow Lilith Dorsey on Twitter. To Learn more about Babalu Aye- Please check out: The Association of Readers and Rootoworkers- Babalu Aye Babalu Aye Ceremony Miami

About Lilith Dorsey

Lilith Dorsey M.A. , hails from many magickal traditions, including Celtic, Afro-Caribbean, and Native American spirituality. Her traditional education focused on Plant Science, Anthropology, and Film at the University of R.I, New York University and the University of London, and her magickal training includes numerous initiations in Santeria also known as Lucumi, Haitian Vodoun, and New Orleans Voodoo. Lilith Dorsey is a Voodoo Priestess and in that capacity has been doing successful magick since 1991 for patrons, is editor/publisher of Oshun-African Magickal Quarterly , filmmaker of the experimental documentary Bodies of Water :Voodoo Identity and Tranceformation, author of Voodoo and Afro-Caribbean Paganism and The African-American Ritual Cookbook, and choreographer for jazz legend Dr. John's "Night Tripper" Voodoo Show. She believes good ritual should be fun and innovative, and to that end she led the first ever Voodoo Zombie Silent Rave Ritual in July 2013, complete with confused Thriller flash mob.


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