Published on Nov 30, 2017
Yeye Luisah Teish also known as Iyanifa Fajembola Fatunmise is a teacher and an author, most notably of Jambalaya: The Natural Woman's Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals. She is an African-American, born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her father was an African Methodist Episcopal whose parents had been two-generation servants and only one generation away from slavery. Her mother was a Catholic, of Haitian, French, and Choctaw heritage. Her original ancestry also includes Yoruba (West African). She is an Iyanifa and Oshun chief in the Yoruba Lucumi tradition.
In the late 1960s, Teish was a dancer in Katherine Dunham's group, where she learned and performed traditional African and Caribbean dances. After leaving the dance company, she became a choreographer in St. Louis. In 1969 she joined the Fahami Temple of Amun-Ra, and it was here that she took the name "Luisah Teish", which means "adventuresome spirit".
In the late 1970s she became an initiate and priestess of the Lucumi religion. She began teaching in 1977. She currently resides in Oakland, California.
Teish has said in an interview "My tradition is very celebratory - there's always music, dance, song, and food in our services - as well as a sense of reverence for the children. It's joyful as well as meditative."
One author said she was the "perhaps the most well known.. Yoruba priestess.. of the [San Francisco] Bay Area" (2010). Another author characterized her as "..well known internationally in Goddess circles as a writer and ritual-maker."
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