Beginning with the story of his goddaughter's battle with stage IV cancer, Lucumi priest Ócha'ni Lele explains the role of osogbo, or misfortune, in our lives. While everyone seeks blessings in life, undeserved blessings make us weak and lazy. It is tragedy that encourages us to grow and persevere. Exploring the Lucumí beliefs regarding osogbo, he shows that the Lucumí faith is neither fatalistic nor defeatist but healing and life affirming. He shares more than 40 patakís--stories stemming from the ancient Yoruba of West Africa--about the different spirits of osogbo, who like the orishas once walked the earth in human bodies. He explains the place of these spirits within the 256 odu of the diloggún, the divination system used in Santería to receive guidance from the orishas.
Lele shows that the spirits of osogbo are not only concepts but also real deities and that we can, if we understand their nature, fight them through ebó, sacrifice, and hard work. He reveals how the osogbos see themselves as entities of misfortune who stand against life and all that is good in the world, but in truth it is misfortune that strengthens us, misfortune that motivates us, and misfortune that brings great evolution to the world. As the author shows, “Without bitterness, one could not know sweetness.” Likewise, without misfortune in our lives, we would never know blessings or what it means to be blessed.