This article traces the emergence of Ori, an Afro-Diasporic ritual with salient transnational dimensions. Ori is performed and transmitted by a growing number of practitioners in the Afro-Cuban Lucumí tradition. The ceremony takes its name from the Yorùbá term (orí) denoting both the top of the head and the divine embodiment of personal destiny. Introduced to Lucumí from a branch of Brazilian Candomblé on the initiative of an eminent ritual specialist and scholar, Ori and the sacred object called igba orí are increasingly seen as vehicles for individual and collective transformation. Drawing on historical and ethnographic research, this article argues for an approach to Ori that interprets its ascendance less as part of the movement to “re-Africanize” Black Atlantic traditions than as a component of religious subject formation, emergent site of convergence between globalizing traditions of orisha worship, and practical technique for achievement of moral-ethical self-mastery and physical well-being.
- ritual transformation
- embodied practices
- Yorùbá traditional religion
- African Diaspora
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