Luisah Teish

Luisah Teish (also known as Iyanifa Fajembola Fatunmise)[1] is a teacher[2] and an author, most notably of Jambalaya: The Natural Woman's Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals.[3] 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.[4] Her original ancestry also includes Yoruba (West African).[5] She is an Iyanifa[6] and Oshun chief in the Yoruba Lucumi tradition.[3]

In the late 1960s, Teish was a dancer in Katherine Dunham's group, where she learned and performed traditional African and Caribbean dances.[7] 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".[7][8]

In the late 1970s she became an initiate and priestess of the Lucumi religion.[7] She began teaching in 1977.[9] She currently resides in Oakland, California.[10][11]

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."[7]

One author said she was the "perhaps the most well known.. Yoruba priestess.. of the [San Francisco] Bay Area" (2010).[11] Another author characterized her as "..well known internationally in Goddess circles as a writer and ritual-maker."[5]



  1. Lillian Ashcraft-Eason; Darnise C. Martin; Oyeronke Olademo (2010). Women and New and Africana Religions. ABC-CLIO. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-275-9915-62.
  2. Malka Drucker. White Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America. SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2003
  3. 1 2 Casey, Laura. "There's magic between plants, food and beauty". Oakland Tribune [Oakland, Calif] 28 Oct 2006: 1.
  4. Luisah Teish, Adapted from "Grandmothers Council the World" by Carol Schaefer, Trumpter Books, 2006
  5. 1 2 Kathryn Rountree. Embracing the Witch and the Goddess: Feminist Ritual-Makers in New Zealand. Routledge 2003. Quote: "In 1992 Luisah Teish, who is well known internationally in Goddess circles as a writer and ritual-maker, visited New Zealand. Teish is of Yoruba (West African) ancestry, although she was born and raised in New Orleans. She was the guest facilitator at residential weekend workshops in Auckland and Hamilton dedicated to exploring sensuality and creativity in ritual contexts. Her book Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals (1985) is well known among feminist witches in New Zealand"
  6. "Luisah Teish". Great Mother and New Father Conference. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Albert, Mimi (January 1987). "Luisah Teish - Yoruba priestess, psychic channel, storyteller, shaman - describes her return to the goddesses and gods of her West African spiritual roots.". Yoga Journal. Active Interest Media, Inc. 72: 33–35. ISSN 0191-0965.
  8. Directory, Institute of Noetic Sciences: Luisah Teish, wuote: "In 1969 she received initiation into to the Fahamme Temple of Amun-Ra in St. Louis, Missouri."
  9. Greta S. Gaard. Ecological Politics: Ecofeminists and the Greens. Temple University Press, 1998
  10. Aikens, Charles. "Teish Says Oakland Deserves To Be Saved". California Voice [Oakland, Calif] 08 Dec 1991: 4.
  11. 1 2 Lillian Ashcraft-Eason. Women and New and Africana Religions, ABC-CLIO, 2010, pg. 129
  12. "NEW IN PAPERBACK", Washington Post,[Washington, D.C] 15 Jan 1995: x.12.

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