Previous | Home | Next

When Osaín was given the secret of grass by Olofi, he wanted to be the sole owner. He closed every entrance to his domain. He paid little attention to others who said they wanted to know more about those green denizens of the earth.
“I don’t want all the herbs,” said Yemayá in her seductive way, “I’m only asking you to lend me some for a while so as to get to learn about them.”
Oshún, came across as peeved:
“Sooner or later you will give in to my looks and you will have no other choice but to spout about all those herbs.”
Ogún lambasted:
“I’ll rustle up a trap for you from bits of iron! When you’re in it you won’t get out of it ‘til you decide to spread around some of those blasted herbs.”
Changó sounded like claps of thunder:
“My mini-ray alone is enough to slam you into some dark hole in the jungle! No friggin’ herb’s gonna sprout about there! Then I’ll take off with a few of them secrets you’re holding so closely to that smoke-chest of yours!”
There was one person listening without making noise. She was hiding in a corner, seeing to it that not even her silhouette was thrown on the leaves. The jungle itself did not know that she was there: this was Oyá, mistress of lightning and winds. Still silent and well hidden, for sure she was not seen by Osaín. He waited until everyone left. Assuming that no one was looking, he stuffed all his secrets into the empty belly of a gourd and hung it from a cotton-silk tree. Climbing down, he stubbed-out his big cigar, and went off to bed. When Oyá was sure he was asleep, she slipped out of her hiding place. Beckoning to everyone, she got them all together under the cotton-silk tree. Then, she let go the Big One! A veritable cyclone of dry leaves, scattered flowers and fragile fruits spun around Osaín in the middle of a dream. He blinked open his single eye, extended his sole arm and realized he was in the teeth of a hurricane! He leaped up like crazy and took off, hopping forward on his one foot. But it was all too late. The wind brought down the gourd and it smashed to pieces on the ground! His secrets were spread out all over the place. It took Osaín some time to overcome his rage. Things came back to normal. One by one, those who had stolen the secret powers of the herbs, gave them back. Although it was done very respectfully, they all kept some for themselves.
And it is as it was. Osaín is still boss of the jungle. No one is too anxious to wander in and help himself to his herbs—well, let us say, not without his permission.