Elekes ~ Santeria Bead Necklaces

Hand Beaded Ritual Jewelry

Colors and Collars (Ilekes)

Each Orisha owns a collar of a specific color and shape. The Orisha's "child" must wear it around his or her neck. The collars should not be kept in the pocket or purse or inside a balled up handkerchief. Care should be taken that they remain unsnarled. When they are not being worn, they should be placed on the Orisha's tureen. When there are no tureens, they should be carefully laid out on a white cloth. The elekes should be treated with respect once you have received them. You should not wear them to bars and nightclubs, and of course, when you are engaging in sexual activities. They also should not be worn during sleep as a general rule, because they will break during the unconscious movements of the body during the night. Likewise they should not be worn in showers or while bathing in the ocean or river, as water will cause the string that has absorbed the ache to break.

Many times an eleke will spontaneously break. Do not be alarmed when this happens, as usually the Orisha represented by the necklace is taking something negative off the person. Of course, you should inform your padrino or madrina, so that an investigation as to the why and wherefores of this action can be determined. Most often the necklace is then replaced with another.

These bead necklaces and bracelets  can be worn by man or woman to help acheive their goal for the problem at hand.

The Purpose of Eleke

Receiving Elekes

When you receive sacred beads it is the formal induction into Orisha worship. The beads represent the energy of the various Orisha. The beads are a vehicle to connect you to the Orisha on a daily basis. It’s like a mini shrine being placed on your person.

The ceremony of receiving your sacred beads is like your baptism or first communion. It makes the statement that you belong to a family of worshipers in a particular line or spiritual lineage. The persons that perform the ceremony for you are your spiritual teacher guides or known in the New World as “Godparent.”

This relationship is rooted in the traditions that go back thousand of years. The Godparents responsibility is to guide, advise, and support the Godchild/student, whenever he or she requires it spiritually, emotionally, physically and at times financially. The responsibility of the Godchild or student to the Godparent is to establish and deepen the already established relationship. The student is expected to learn the traditional protocol and follow them with regard to the Godparent. Respect publicly and privately is expected as well as a reciprocal caring relationship. Keeping an open communication with your Godparent is an important aspect of your life. On the Orisha birthday of the Godparent the godchild’s presence is required and offering brought to the shrine.

Care of the Eleke

No one should touch your elekes except for a priest. If you drop your beads on the floor or someone other than a child touches your elekes, rinse them off with cool spring water. The following should be observed:

Refrain from wearing elekes:

  • During sexual activity
  • During the menstrual cycle
  • While bathing or sleeping

Remove eleke during:

  • Cleansing rituals
  • Ebo Leri /Head feedings
  • Spiritual Consultations or spiritual sitting/investigation

If eleke break, pick up as many beads as you can and call your Godparent. This means that the eleke disrupted energy that could have caused you harm or protected you from something. When not wearing your elekes hang them up or lay on a white cloth.

How to take care of your Elekes

Elekes (AKA Collares) are multi-colored and multi pattern beaded necklaces that are spiritually blessed.
The wearer of these beads are to be known as followers of the Orishas.

Each of the Orishas has their own color(s) as well as pattern.
Each Orisha may also have various colors and patterns of beads and this is because each Orisha has various aspects / characters / paths of themselves. And as such, there is a different Eleke for each one of them.

There are five Elekes that one gets when first going thru the levels of spiritual development within the paths of the Orishas, and these are:
Obatala, Yemaya, Chango,Ochun and Eleggua.

Now, if your main Orisha, also known as your Guardian Orisha, is one that is not of the named five, then you will also get another Eleke representing your main Orisha as well.

The first steps of following the tradition.
When just starting to follow the path of the Orishas, a person usually gets the Elekes and / or the Warriors.
Getting them is one of the first steps of spiritual development. But some may also get them becasue it was prescribed to them in a spiritual reading, to help them in life.
Some also choose to get them becasue they have faith in the Orishas and this is one of the ways they wish to show it.

Receiving the Elekes of the Orishas is also because the give us their protection from both the physical and the spiritual world around us as well as from negative influences / energies.

Caring for the Elekes

There are a few rules, taboos or whatever term you prefer to use.
These usually change according to the house of Ocha that you are under.
But many of the most common rules are:

1- the Elekes should not be worn when taking a shower
2- The Elekes should not be worn while sleeping, unless you are sick.
3- The Elekes should not be worn during any type of sexual contact, sexual energy is different and the Elekes can and will pick up
on those energies.
4- Women shall not wear their Elekes during thier period. At this time of month, the woman is bleeding which also has a type of
energy that the Elekes will pick up on... you don't want that.
5- The Elekes should not be worn out when 'Partying' drinking alcohol, etc.
In situations like this, they should be removed, placed in a clean white napkin or cloth ( I use a white satchel)
and placed safely in your pocket, purse for the woman.
6- When at home, and you're not wearing them, the Elekes can be placed neatly at the alter, wrapped in a white cloth,
jewlery box, etc. In any event, the Elekes are to be treated with respect.
7- When placing the Elekes on or takiing them off, they should be kissed and asked for the blessing of the Orishas.

What happens if one breaks?

At times, an Eleke may break. Usually this is seen as a symbol in a sense that what ever negative energy was coming at you (could have been a bad situation about to take place), that negative energy was kept away from you and you should get in touch with your Godparent (s), tell them what happened, so that they can look into it replace the Eleke (s) for you.
Who can give them to you?

The only ones who are actually allowed to give you elekes are initiated Preists of Regla Ocha ( madrinas or padrinos) which are Santeros / Santeras.
A Babalawo of IFA can not give you Elekes of Ocha. But he can give you what is consecrated to IFA.

Who other than myself can touch them?

The only ones who should be allowed to touch your Elekes are your God parents, the elders of the house you belong too.
Some houses of Ocha say that family are also allowed, while other houses of ocha say that family is no exception.
There is no right or wrong here. All I can say is follow the rules of the house you belong to.

Receiving your Elekes

Getting your Elekes is just the first step of the relgion.
It symbolizes the tearing away and removing the old life from you and you starting your journey onto the path of the Orishas,
La Regla Ocha.
At this point forward , you are now under the care and protection of your godmother and godfather.

The Elekes are like the banners of the Orishas, and as such, they should be treated with respect.
When you are either puttiong them on, or taking them off, this should be done one eleke at a time.
In many houses, this is also done in the order that you reiceved them.
When not being worn, they should be placed on a clean white cloth, and if possible, they should also be placed on your Alter until you are ready for them.

If an Eleke breaks, it just may mean that the orisha has saved you from something.
Don't worry, just pick up as many of the beads as you can find and then go to your godparent's house so that they can give you a reading and look into it as well as replacing them with new ones..

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