Receiving the Elekes (Pronounced: Eh-Leh-kes).
These are beaded necklaces and the colors of the beads relate to your ruling orisha. For example, if Shango is your ruling orisha, the beads will be red and white, Shangos’ colors. The pattern of the beads, like 3 red alternating with 3 white, is decided by the santero who prepares the eleke. The santero uses divination to determine what each initiate needs in the eleke. The pattern of the eleke represents which path of the orisha the initiate is on, as each orisha has many different paths or aspects. There are generic beaded necklaces you can wear to represent your orisha that are not prepared by a santero, worn just as a token of respect for the orisha, but when the eleke is prepared by a santero it activates the power of the orisha and the initiate gains the protection of that orisha. Depending on which House you are initiated into, you may receive anywhere from 1 to 9 elekes based on what the santero determines you need. You will always get the eleke related to your ruling orisha, but the initiate may also need other orisha. Once you have your eleke you are expected to take care of it. You must try not to get it wet and you can’t wear it during sex or your menstrual period because the energy generated by these things disrupts the energy of the eleke, sort of stains it. Getting your elekes is a basic introductory rite similar to confirmation in Christianity. It means you have acknowledged and follow Santeria.
When the initiate receives the elekes they are protected by the orisha. An eleke is a flag or banner for the orisha and acts as a shield. When the initiate receives Eshu and the other Warriors they are able to not only defend themselves with the grace of the orisha, but also to attack if need be. The combination of elekes and the Warriors offers great strength, both passively and aggressively. Also, there is the symbolism of the pursuit of the spiritual path. The elekes mean that you walk with the orisha. Eshu opens the necessary doors on your path, Ogun removes the obstacles, Ochosi guides you on the path, and Osun protects you. All of these things help expediate your spiritual transformation into an enlightened being.