Afro-Latin magical terms that will be used in this post:
Omiero: a magical herbal wash, usually made for cleansing and blessing a space or a person. Term belongs mostly to Lukumi vocabulary.
Yerbero: a herbalist. The term is used both for medicinal and/or magical herbalism. Term is used in several Latin American countries, and also in the Canary Islands.
Corte: group of Spirits in Maria Lionza’s religion. Term belongs to the religion only.
The two main ingredients of Omiero are water and fresh herbs. The herbs must be cut in pieces, preferably by hand, and crushed with your hands so they release as much juice as possible. Then, they must be left overnight to steep; the following morning, the liquid is strained, and the herbs thoroughly squeezed, again by hand.
Tradition mantains that a knife’s blade should not touch any of the herbs, neither to harvest them nor to piece them, but in my opinion this is sometimes undoable. Ripping off pieces of plant with your bare hands can damage your plants, and woody stalks like Rosemary’s are just impossible to mince by hand, specially for someone like me, who suffers from fibromyalgia. I like to respect tradition as much as possible, so to go over this I just use my gardening scissors – I use them almost every day, so they are really charged with my energy, and they are not a knife.
Once the herbal liquid is made, the following procedure varies from tradition to tradition, and it would take me a whole book to describe them all, not to mention that most herbal recipes are a Yerbero’s secret (and so are mine). Omiero can be used as a floor wash for the home, as a Spiritual bath, to cleanse and feed altars/ritual tools/sacred spaces,etc. Just so, recipes are almost infinite, as well as the purpose – it is usually made to cleanse and bless, but recipes can be adapted to other needs.
Just so, it can be used along with any other staples of our practise, for any of the uses above – with Holy Water, with Agua Florida, with blueing, with salt, etc. That, of course, depends on the Yerbero’s experience, and on the use it will be given. To give it more power, Omiero can be prayed over, and each recipe and use can be joined with specific Spirits or Cortes. In my practise as a Espiritista, this is a requirement; we ask all the Cortes of Spirits to bless the Omiero, with a special request for those Cortes that hold spirits of Yerberos.
Note: take a look at the pictures I am showing in this post – as you can see above, the bowls were so full of herbs that the candle plates could stand over them without sinking. THAT is the correct proportion of herbs and water to make Omiero, if you want it to actually work. This is very important!
Can I make Omiero myself? Of course, this is only a herbal wash and it has many names accross different religions and practises. In my opinion, you should not call it Omiero if your path is outside the religions of the African Diaspora, so please refrain from doing that, and choose a term that is in consonance with your own path, and herbs you are familiar with. If your path does not have a specific term, just use herbal wash or cold infusion.
Can Omiero be made with dry herbs? In my opinion and experience, no. If one ingredient is absolutely required, and it’s out of season, it can be added dry because there is no alternative, but the point is that a good Yerbero can always find seasonal herbs for every recipe, and does not need to do that. The energy of fresh herbs cannot be matched in power. That is also the reason why there is no such thing as pre-made or commercial Omiero.
Can Omiero be stored? Only for a couple of days in the fridge, as it is used. When I make a batch, I schedule all the uses beforehand, so I know how much to make, and how much time I need to set aside to use it as quickly as possible. Usually, it is gone in 48 hours or less.
A Few Simple Recipes For Herbal Floor Washes
All of the following recipes are meant to be made in small amounts, for your personal use, and only as floor washes. A breakfast bowl full of fresh minced herbs, and the same amount of water, will do. Once the herbs have steeped, and you have followed the recipe’s instructions, add the liquid to a full bucket of clean water, and wash your floors. Always, start at the bottom of the house towards the front entrance, and throw away the remaining liquid on the street (preferably at night when no-one can see you).
For Protection And Cleansing: Rosemary, Lavender, Lemongrass, Sage and Fennel. Once strained, mix with a shotglass of Holy Water, a couple of drops of Azulillo (blueing), and use.
To Bring Peace To The Household: the petals of five white Roses, Peppermint, Spikenard flowers, Lavender and Rosemary. One strained, add a shotglass of Rose Water, a shotglass of Holy Water, and use.
To Bring Financial Blessings (this is for stores and offices, not homes unless you work from home): Cinnamon, Ginger root, Basil, Lemongrass and Spearmint. Once strained, add a shotglass of Ron Miel (Honey Rum), a shotglass of lemon juice, and use.
To Remove Negative Spirit/Energy: Rue, Thyme, Sage, Fennel and Holy Basil. Once strained, add a shotglass of rubbing alcohol, a handful of salt and use.
The last picture is from the altar, looking lovely and glowing after being cleansed with part of the Omiero, all ready for our upcoming Summer Solstice Blessing Service! By the way, if you want to read more about this Service, and participate, you can do so HERE.