Eggun: The Dead
Most simply put the eggun are the spirits of the dead. Often eggun are referred to as the ancestors, but this is not entirely true, though your ancestor's are certainly included among the eggun. Your personal or fundamental eggun will of course include your deceased family members as well as the priests and priestesses who are Ibae (have passed away) in your godfamily. But also included among your personal eggun are your spiritual guides, who may or may not be family members.
One important thing to remember with eggun is that they are the spirits of people. And just as there are the good and the bad, the liars and the reliable, and the refined and the crude on earth, so it is with the world of the eggun or spirits. And it is up to us to determine which sort of eggun we have relationships with, just as it is up to us what kind of living people we associate with. We always have the choice of whether we befriend people who will lift us up or find our friends among the more dangerous elements, such as the mafia, in this world or the other. This is why we don't throw coconut to eggun except to ask if they accept an offering. It is simply a matter of not knowing who would be answering.
Eggun are always taken care of first as the old saying says, "Eggun before Ocha, always". In any rite in the religion, first Olorun (God) is saluted, then eggun, the orishas being reserved for last. We always get the permission and approval of eggun before proceeding with any rite from simple Obí divination to the highest initiations in the religion. Before an orisha ceremony eggun is prepared and any eggun initiations such as being initiated in Palo are done before making Ocha.
Your eggun are also a fundamental part of who you are and where you come from. In fact, when saluting your eggun, you are declaring who you are in a direct way by the act of declaring where you came from. By connecting with your eggun you affirm the continuum from the distant past towards the distant future as we can all look forward to becoming eggun one day.
Also, a little talked of fact about eggun is that they work faster than orisha for many things. This is one reason why a person might go to a palero rather than a santero or babalawo when 'in a hurry' on certain matters. Or why a santero or babalawo will prescribe working with eggun rather than orisha on a certain matter. During a consultation it is also common for eggun to 'speak up' about a person, requesting attention in order to help a person achieve balance and thereby reach their destiny in this life. This is because eggun are the closest beings to us as they too were once alive in this world.
There are times when a person may have an unhealthy relationship with an eggun. At times an eggun will become attached to a person and attempt to take them away from this world. There are a number of reasons for this. Sometimes an eggun misses a living person and wants them to be with them in the other world. At other times, an eggun will feel sorry for a person here on earth and will try to relieve their sorrows by helping them to go to the world of the dead. And sometimes there are less noble reasons for this sort of attachment. There are 'enviados' or sent spirits, for instance. These are negative beings sent to harm us. Or sometimes a negative spirit will attach itself to us 'just because'. At this point it becomes necessary for the babalawo or santero to perform a paraldo or a rompemiento to forcibly break the connection between the two, allowing the spirit and the living person to go their own and necessarily separate ways.
There are two classes of eggun worship. One is eggun worship proper which is usually practiced in a corner of a bathroom or in a basement, in an area marked off with efun. Offerings to eggun are placed here and an opa ikú or eggun stick (a stick consecrated to eggun using nine colors of ribbons with bells attached) is used in calling them. The other which is the most common interaction interaction with eggun for most people is the practices of Mesa Blanca which has its roots more in Kardecian Spiritism than in Africa. This heavily involves the spiritual mass and the use of the bóveda