What do the Babalawos See in 2011?

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 4, 2011 — 25 Comments

Each year there is a gathering of Santeria priests in Cuba where they perform Ifa readings for the coming year. While these readings usually try to avoid blatant political statements, that’s been starting to change in recent years. This year, the priests “predict coups d’etat and sudden political changes,” alongside a general theme of reorganization and “economic openness.”

“We are sure that there will be changes” in 2011, said the one of the group’s top priests, Lazaro Cuesta. “We’re certain that good moments are coming.” [...] The priests announced their latest forecast — known here as the “Letra del Ano,” or the “Letter of the Year” — following a secretive New Year’s Eve ritual that includes religious chants and animal sacrifices. Some 1,000 priests participated in the closed-doors ceremony, Cuesta said.

Naturally Cuba’s government-sanctioned Santeros, knowing where their bread is buttered, aren’t predicting the drastic changes seen in the independent group’s readings.

Predictions by a rival Santeria group agreed that 2011 is the year of Oggun. In a statement Sunday, the group, which enjoys official government sanction, added that “great difficulties” would be overcome this year.

You can find the full text of the 2011 Ifa readings, here.

So, having seen their predictions, let’s turn to the Pagan community. Did you do any readings about the coming year? Have any predictions you want to share with the world? Feel free to post them in the comments. But be warned! We’ll be looking back in 2012 to see how accurate you were!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • thora

    i did a number of "wheel of the year" type readings for assorted revelers on new years eve, and there were definitely some themes (which matched what had come up in personal readings as well). there seems to be a lot of energy around 1) not being bound by perceived obligations or other people's projections and 2) this seems to be the year to really blast away the old and actively create or set in motion whatever HUGE thing it is you want to do.
    also, april looks bad, for some reason? nearly every reading i did showed problems in april. they weren't specific, so i'm thinking maybe it will be something like the economy stumbling again, or something else that will affect a lot of people, but while allowing those effects to be very personalized.
    guess we'll see!

    • kauko

      "this seems to be the year to really blast away the old and actively create or set in motion whatever HUGE thing it is you want to do."

      Hopefully you're right there because there are some big changes I'd like to make in my life this year.

      re: April, could it be the dreaded Mercury retrograde that will take up most of that month? ;)

      • http://www.facebook.com/kdugery Kelly Dugery

        April = tax season…

    • http://www.queenofpentaclesconjure.com Devi Spring

      Since I read professionally I've also been doing a large amount of year-ahead readings, and have also noticed transformation as a recurring theme. There seems to be a lot of painful change and upheaval in store for many people, but overall it seems that "transition" and "transformation" are common.

  • Don

    "There will be changes." "There will be good momments." Wow. How profound. So profound in fact that one doesn't need an oracle to tell you that.

  • http://blog.chasclifton.com Chas S. Clifton

    "sudden political changes"? That is a pretty safe prediction.

    I have just been reading Jacques Vallee's Messengers of Deception: UFO Cults and Contacts, first published in 1979 and since reprinted with new introduction. It's full of predictions that never came true, all revealed by the benevolent aliens.

    • harmonyfb

      Remember that one published in the mid-70's that predicted we'd all be cannibals by now? ::laugh:: Wish I could remember the name of it.

      • chuck_cosimano

        I think it was 1975, America's Decision, a book that managed to be wrong about everything.

  • http://twitter.com/YearInWhite @YearInWhite

    Keep in mind, too, that the Letter of the Year for Cuba applies to… well… Cuba.

    Readings like these are relevant only within their own localized and contextualized boundaries…

    A practitioner in the U.S. or any other country would most likely be going off of the Letter of the Year of their own ile (group) rather than a generalized reading like those done for Cuba or somewhere else.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

    Socrates encouraged his friends to consult oracles, and he was eager to discuss their meanings. In fact he dedicated his life to investigating the meaning of an oracular pronouncement from Delphi (delivered to his close friend Chaerephon). And in the end he chose death rather than to, in his words, "abandon the post" that he felt had been allotted to him by Apollo.

  • http://www.witchesandpagans.com Anne Newkirk Niven

    I always have a group tarot reading on New Year's Eve — we all bring our favorite deck(s) and pick a single card. The most notable this year was a) a lot of fire/wands/energy; b) abundance (Cow came up twice in various animal decks); c) confusion central — lots of folks doing the WTF dance and d) Heavy duty Organized Religion in the news at the end of the year.

  • http://www.queenofpentacles.net Devi Spring

    As I stated in response to Thora above I've been noticing that transformation seems to be a big recurring current…which considering 2012 is just around the corner (and no, I don't believe the world will end then, but I do believe it is extremely significant astrologically and spiritually), isn't too big of a surprise. There does seems to be a lot of growth through drastic change in store, as well.

    I did a reading asking for messages from Gaia for her inhabitants in 2011, and it was very clear from the draw that getting back to basics and increasing the focus on simple living (such as eating local foods, decreasing the toxic burden on our bodies and the land, living within our means, etc), backing away from reckless consumption of resources, finding our centers and happiness within ourselves and no longer looking outward for them, and taking full responsibility for all of our actions and choices was extremely important and central. The core message could be summed up as "BE the change". I also kept hearing Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror" running through my head during the reading; and that song does have a great message that echoes all of this.

  • http://www.examiner.com/paganism-in-los-angeles/joanne-elliott Joanne Elliott

    My husband and I do a reading for the U.S. every year using the William Blake Tarot Deck in a Celtic Cross layout.

    For 2010 the final card basically said that 2010 would be the year we had the culminating experience of materialism. This year, for 2011, that same card showed up in the near future position…apparently we haven't reached that experience yet.

    The obstacle seems to be that our energy is blocked and could be released through metaphor and the use of our imaginations. We see ourselves in despair and trapped. Our imaginations are our way out of that old mindset.

    The final outcome was 'Happiness' which can come about the same way this despairing mindset comes about, via our thinking and imaginations. Despite what is going on around us we have the power to react to it in a positive way. The answers we seek are there and we need to be open to them instead of closing our minds off and locking them into seeing only one way out…the old way of doing things will not work anymore.

  • Robin Artisson

    The Prophets of Pagandom need to abandon this "Great Transformation" theme for 2011. Every moment of every day is a "great transformation", when you get down to it. Every year is very transformative. Every year has tons of social upheaval somewhere. Every year, just about everyone has some great crisis to face (internally or externally) and achieves some sort of new perspective about something. To see people saying that their readings are forecasting anything remotely resembling the word "transformative" is embarrassing.

    I mean, it's all in the same tradition as "bible prophecy"- "Yea, there shall be great floods and earthquakes, and wars and rumors of wars… and nations shall rise up against one another… and… and…"

    …And the bible is full of that tripe. And the fundies never get tired of pointing out how bible prophecy is being proven "true" daily by the "signs of our times"- as though the ancient Romans or the Babylonians never saw floods or earthquakes, or wars and rumors of wars.

    If we have real prophets or oracles, they should have no trouble telling us more specific things. And the same goes for the Babalawos, or whoever they are.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kkampmiller Kat Kampmiller

      If there were a like button, I would make love to it twenty thousand and one times. All over the place

    • http://www.facebook.com/kkampmiller Kat Kampmiller

      OH my god there is! And it won't let me press it. Boo.

      • Robin Artisson

        Maybe it's a conspiracy to stop Robin Artisson from being liked. That's okay. I been disliked before.

    • sarenth

      It's funny you mention that "they should have no trouble telling us more specific things". When I used to read Tarot I had couples come in that would ask really generic questions, getting damned generic answers. Things like "How is our relationship going?" and the reading would give the most generic of answers. Asking deeper questions from there added to more accurate answers.

      I think that, as much as we may need to look at our modern-day prophets and oracles and ask more, our querants need to ask better questions for more specific things, rather than nebulous topics. A good 2011 question, as I see it, might be: "How will the relationship between "x" country and "y" country fare over the next year?" or yes/no questions that whittle down to better and better answers, like "Will the U.S. get into a new war this year? With 'x' country? If no, what do we need to know about the wars we are in right now? If yes, will it be an invasion? Will it be an unofficial war? Will the citizens know about it? How will it be fought?" etc. Maybe not the best examples, but I hope you get the drift.

      • Bookhousegal

        Well, I can tell *very* specific things, and maybe some very *big* things. Kind of liking the parachuting metaphor. I think seership's a matter of string, gossamer, vectors, small breaths of air, …. and the view from several thousand feet up and closing. There's the very small things, the very big things, and a whole lot of Whoooooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa….. ;)

        • sarenth

          *laughs* I like the metaphor. It can be like that, to be sure.

      • Matt Gerlach

        "When I used to read Tarot I had couples come in that would ask really generic questions, getting damned generic answers. Things like "How is our relationship going?" and the reading would give the most generic of answers. Asking deeper questions from there added to more accurate answers."

        The perpetual bane of diviners is that, no matter how good we become at interpreting the messages of the Gods and spirits, how the hell are we supposed to know what questions to ask? I'm sure that in August 2001 no one even thought to ask, "Is New York City going to be struck by a terrible terrorist attack in the near future?"

        There is so much we already know, even without doing divination: The world is running out of oil. Relations between Christians and Muslims are tense. People in power are taking advantage of that power. Industrial Agriculture probably isn't going to last much longer.

        Would you know more?

    • Bookhousegal

      Well, saying what 'real prophecies or oracles' are "supposed" to be is just one of those ways 'debunkers' derail certain questions.

      Pre-visions wouldn't seem to be the hard part: it's sorting out what you're seeing, and that pesky lack of date-stamps. :)

      Hel, I foresaw 9/11 *years* in advance, and that's gotta be the most-advertised date since the Ides of March, and as far as I could tell it was as likely going to happen *right now* as anything. Since we were standing right under the towers, I beat feet and dragged a friend, didn't slow down till 14th street. (Also for whatever reason was thinking, 'Now that's a tremendously-improbable accident, but whose medulla feels like taking chances? Not mine…') Needless to say, we could have taken our time. :)

      When people start pronouncing 'prophecies' about things, you're invariably hearing from people who are willing to overreach at *best,* seers or not. I think to start pinning down dates ahead of time, someone's gotta be both lucky and smart and damn perspicacious about what they see, and that's *assuming* something that pins down a date is there to be seen. . Numbers don't translate well through those faculties. Where most people do divinations, it's about recognizing and processing patterns, so you'll have an eye to them as they happen, not making what some would insist 'should be' 'real predictions.'

      Quite frankly, I advise taking heed of one's *own* intuition as much as possible: pronouncements on the 'big picture' seem to encourage a climate of constant doomsaying, moderated only by how bored or anxious the general public and media may be at the time.

      Unfortunately it also has a general 'They keep crying wolf' effect: it only reinforces the 'normalcy bias' even when there are plenty of rational reasons to be worried about systemic upheavals, or at least to have contingency plans: maybe lean a little less on things that we become dependent on but which need a whole lot of things to continue going just right at once.

      People like the grand narratives, the 'End of the world' or 'Utopian perfection' ones, or, of course, the plain old 'Life goes on just the same, but for personal concerns,' and these preferences are mostly about how wound-up people are about things like the prospect of their own personal *death* in this culture.

      …and don't much like to think on 'Could be a tough winter ahead' bits. Personally, nothing I've gotten *really* says much for sure about the year ahead, in particular, but I sure am getting antsy to get out of where I am, partly cause it doesn't take a seer to see people are getting pretty darn skittish on some levels, and some pretty ugly sentiments are being fanned. Sentiments that we would do well to not be not caught-so off guard by, if there's anything to be done by then.

      Going forward, community's going to be important, as will… Knowing your neighbors, (Not necessarily as 'out' Pagans,) having some skills and contingency plans, knowing the Pagan community and having redundant means of communication: (*Way* too much is leaning on just Facebook, just in general, and that's only one plug someone's gotta pull if they want to suddenly isolate a lot of people.) People tend to think 'Apocalypse' and not so much 'Things might get pretty bleak at least in some places.' Not so much a 'Head for the hills' kind of situation, but having an idea which hill to head for might not be the worst idea, ever.

      If nothing else, you can worry less, if you've got *something* to do next and people to face it with. While we hopefully help pull some things out of what appear to be bad patterns.

    • Bookhousegal

      So, I dunno. Want 'real prophecy?' (It'd be interesting if I were to dust off a Tarot deck or something, actually,) Not sure what I've got for you. If I take the last such thing I got at face value, infer what I can from the details, maybe I've got a vague scenario for what I'd loosely have to place between two and ten years, probably more like three to six.

      Gods know what branch of the fate-lines I'm talking to you from, compared to some of what I've gotten in the past. Obviously, options have narrowed somewhat while the world's been occupied with other things. There are still, of course, lots of possibilities from here. What I've seen medium-term, well, it's looked worse to me in the past. Still cause for some concern, let's say. But, generally-speaking, if something unpleasant I see *doesn't* happen, I call it a win. ( And I've had some Dueseys of misinterpretation at times, too, that I was just as glad to have kept to myself: "Ohhhh, that's just a *pager,* it's a lot earlier, I'm in a crappy mood, and this isn't that big a Casablanca situation after all…." "What?" "Nevermind, Rick." :)

      Personally, I'm hedging my bets and generally backing this whole 'civilization' thing. Expecting some of what we consider 'usual' to do its level best to have at least one more go-round. By the end of this year coming, my partner and I are working on being situated somewhere that's tenable for whatever can come next. The kind of things that need doing, anyway. And where it gets to what-about- next-year, I do sense that what's done then (And what's already been done and not-done lately) will have big implications for what comes next.

      The way I'd phrase things, I feel like I'm personally holding out on popping the reserve chute for a better landing site, might get there a little ahead of some others, but a serendipitous updraft at the last moment would probably make for a better landing. :) Which is a way of saying, Decisions we make in this coming year may strongly-affect what becomes apparent a little later.

      'Prophecies' have a way of just scaring people into denial. (Or making seers nuts because there's a tendency to arrogantly think that seeing a train wreck ahead of time actually means you could stop a train even if you were standing right there. :) ) And sometimes people *look* for 'prophecies' *because* they sense things they aren't paying attention to might overtake them, and want to deal with *those* fears. Either by embracing doomsaying or by 'debunking' it. Don't be scared. Be capable.

      For this year coming, any prognostications of mine mostly involve paying too much attention to the news and public mood, and trying to use my noodle about it. :)

      In that, we're going to see fascistic elements in religion and politics and finance making choices about what's to them an 'end game,' cause the jig is up, one way or another, soon. They're starting to pretty-brazenly paint scapegoats, especially as the public mood starts turning against them, particulalry in terms of trying to merely immobilize government: while they don't want to *crash* things utterly, because their debt-holding and claims on property and wealth they've been consolidating won't translate to much without people continuing to honor them, …I'm concerned that their influence in the military will translate to a 'use it or lose it' mentality about pressing certain agendas, but in either event what we call 'government' in the US will likely be more distracted and ineffectual regarding good ends. I think they *want* another ten or twenty years of 'business as usual,' but they may well not *get* it. The money just wants the money, and may try to cut the Right loose, despite that Religious Right having a lot of the physical force on its side. (This is a bigger problem than our political talk would lead one to believe in this day and age) ….But the climate waits for no such agendas, and the fuel supply is almost a total wild-card even in big-finance multinational terms.

      As for Pagan people, who's staring down both barrels of all this, some with a bunch of surprisingly-powerful daisies…. is, among many others, *us.*

      A lot of what's been fought over as 'power' is ….essentially powerlessness. That's how it gets dangerous.

      Our *real* power ain't this psychic stuff. It's what we can *do* when all the rest of the world tries to conquer the 'No, You Can't. .' :) Whatever comes next. :)

    • Jonathan

      What transformation means is entirely dependent on context. If we were talking about our social order, about our world's poitical economy, I would say that none of the past 35 years have been very transformational at all. Now 1929, that was a tranformational year!

      I'm not interested in a seer's ability to "wow" me with detailed foreknowledge. I'm interested in learning to ask the right questions, to see history from a different angle. To me, that's the real value of prophecy. A true one fulfills itself.

  • Kitsune

    I see mixed results. The next three months are going to be rough in particular. Most of it talks about political happenings.

    January talks about Republicans trying to shoot for something they wont be able to reach. If they want success, they have to reach for smaller goals before attempting the present one. February talks about trying to add logic and reason to emotions. March talks about tyranny, lack of devotion, snobbery, and an unwillingness to give what they insist on getting. The underlying connection for these three months is impurity and lust for power.

    April echos previous posts in that it will be bad. May shows a lack of economic growth. Inspiration comes in June, as they know what they want to create. The underlying connection is potential, and also hints at coming growth, sort of like you get the Morning Sickness before you get the baby.

    July promises prosperity and financial balance but August warns to seek knowledge from the past to avoid calamity. I dont think we as a country will heed the warning, because September talks about the development of "influence over others" to "enlighten (others)". The underlying influence is failure to grow or to move mentally and being too concerned with form of idea. This influence is already cropping up now and will be in effect for a long while, peaking in these three months.

    October says Mobility is given to ideas and desires, and heading in a specific direction with understanding of reasons for direction. November turns bad as results do not and will not come. December is fueled with righteous anger and strong emotions. These emotions have started now, and will get stronger as the year progresses. Underlying influences are directed activity and specific moves with specific boundaries geared toward legal action.

    I get the feeling that this year is going to have quiet a lot of struggle and turmoil, lots of "seething under the waters". I dont see any boiling or uprisings this year, but its starting to work its way up there.