There has been more voices speaking out about abuse and fraud that has been slowly poisoning the Ifa Orisa community. It's good to see people standing up for women and those vulnerable. As an Iyanifa, I have had numerous women come to me about abusive or lack of ethics in situations they were a part of. From advising compliant sex with their spouses even when having problems to sexual rituals in the name of performing spiritual work to beating and harassing women outright. Whatever the case, the abuse of power is evident. So while we are having these conversations about abuse and fraud, I'd just like to point out a few more things to consider while we are having these conversations amongst ourselves. If we are going to really address these things, we cannot ignore the environment we have created that have allowed these kinds abuses to thrive. So if we examine what is it that allows sexual or physical abuse to thrive in any community, we must look at some key habits that encourage it.
1. The elephant in the room is an overtly patriarchal culture and misogynistic attitude that is supported by men and women in the tradition under the guise of preserving culture and what has been. From how some Odus are interpreted to the historical actions implemented to minimize women's influence. We are at a crossroads in that we really do have to look at what is working for us and what is not....particularly in the Diaspora. So many are seeking to return to our culture and preserve everything that we can't fathom that some ways need to die and be abandoned.
It's not new. We have stories and itans where when something was no longer suitable for the community, the practice was abandoned and a better way was implemented. It's called evolution. As an Omo Oya, I know for sure change is inevitable and often necessary. We must discern where "culture" is valued more than spiritual integrity and adjust.
2. The implied blind loyalty, faith, and life long devotion to a person, Ile, or lineage. Often from the moment a person adorns a set of elekes or receives anything from a Oluwo, they are assumed to be an omo for life. If a person leaves they are considered Ile hopping or being disloyal. They are ostracized, looked down on , and alienated if they dare leave. So if a person is experiencing abuse by an elder, they don't have anywhere to go. Even the accusation that one of the elders may have abused them can turn the whole Ile on them in defense of the god parent or Oluwo. We may not realize it but this is cult like behavior and fraud and abuse can thrive in those environments. It's one thing to create a mutually family. It's another when it's a virtual prison.
3. Baba is damn near god syndrome. Women historically have played very strong roles in maintaining balance and justice in the tradition. Slowly however, that is not always the case anymore. Often the "elders" that are looked to take action are men that may be abusers or have a history of abuse themselves. We often have blind loyalty to celebrity babas even when their behaviors are dishonorable. Sure they may make a declaration denouncing abuse for public show. But when actions are necessary, many turn their heads in denial which through non action still supports the abuser and reinforces the system. At worst, they continue to secretly support them.
To be sure, it's not just Babas because some Iya's are abusive too...There are some Iyas who have been reported to procure sexual favors from male Omo's in exchange for some advantage. But the overwhelming culture systemically supports the predominance of male elders at the top with little to no female counterparts. Too often, women are theoretically spoken about in terms of respect but there is also an intangible aire in many circles where there is a condescending attitude towards respecting women but not demonstrable actions of respect. This allows for an environment for abuse especially when spiritual work is supposed to be done for a woman and no woman is present particularly in some rituals.
What we have seen is that when that is the case, the woman often does not get real justice and more often is silenced. Women have reported to their Babas and accusations are often blown off or the offender is gently chided but not taken to task for behaviors. Or, they are advised to endure or be patient.. not considering a life may be at risk. Some Nigerian babas don't want to address it because they don't want to shake up their Diaspora money tree a particularly Baba may have provided them in exchange for their outward support. Some abusers like to surround themselves with these popular Babas to gain more credibility and deceive the public.
4. We assume lineage or eldership equals character. These are not the same. People's individual behaviors and attitudes determines character regardless of what lineage they are from, how old they are, or how long they have been in the tradition. To that end, I've heard people not wanting to make a big deal of foul behaviors for fear damaging the reputation of the lineage or the elder. Again, this sets up situations for those kind of behaviors to continue.
5. Lack of transparency or full disclosure. Often people don't know they have been had until after they have paid significant money. Most contracts are based on trust only and while there are mysteries that may not be revealed, there are some things that are not mysteries at all. In this case, good open communication can often curtail situations where people are taken advantage of. In addition, the obsessive silencing of anything that happens in an Ile or with a godparent often leaves a trail of people who have been taken advantages of. Paying 20x more than the average. Not getting what they paid for. One woman paid for an Obatala pot and was told never to open it. For years she did not. Finally she peeped... Inside was just cotton balls and nothing else. Now we can't share what goes into sacred vessels with everyone. And every lineages has different approaches and ingredients. But the person receiving it has a right to know what is inside. And it's this kind of thing that promotes fraudulent behavior.
6. Lack of viable judicial process that allows for objective due process and the ability to execute repercussions for "decided" offenders of the community. In ancient times, Ogboni was the council of elders that one would go to for justice. This was one of the strongest roles Iyami played in maintaining justice in society. If someone was accused of an offense, a judicial process would ensue allowing for both sides to speak. If found guilty, repercussions ensued. If found not guilty, the matter would be put to rest. In the Diaspora no such group exist outside of our own legal system to address such matters. The challenge is when there are ethical lapses but not necessarily legal offenses that happened. That often leaves a conundrum of not know what to do. Essentially mob rule and public humiliation is the only recourse.
These are but a few things that contribute to an environment where abuse can thrive. It is certainly not an exhaustive list. It's not a list of full solutions. My hope is that while we are having these conversations about addressing abuses, let's consider how we all can contribute to the change that needs to happen in ourselves, our iles, and for our overall growth.
FAQs for beginners in the Ifa Orisha tradition
Question 1: Why do people have to pay for initiation and other experiences? Isn't spirituality free? I can learn for free through books and YouTube. Other religions don't charge.
Answer: The fact is unconscious Christianity (that's the belief system you operate under even when professing a different religion.) has convinced people that Everything is free. It's not...Not even any of the Abrahamic traditions... I'll start by taking the Biblical perspective 10% tithe. By the time you calculate say minimum wage $8.00 hr at 10% that is 320.00 and the tithe should be $32. For 1 year/52 weeks that's $1664 a year... After 3 years of attending if you never got a raise, that is $4992. Ten years in the church and you have paid $16,640...at minimum wage, not including the secondary offerings, any potential raises or if you actually make more...
Further that does not include the cost of becoming a licensed clergy-equivalent to a priest. Bible college or Theology school can range from $1500 for a certificate to $150,000 if you get a Doctor of Divinity from a prestigious college.
So since we got the fact that Abrahamic religions are not free out of the way lets go on..and even compare.
There is a law of reciprocity always at work. Never take more than you give. We pay for other readers..we pay for Reiki classes. We pay for books...we pay for clothes, jewelry...When a person wants to be a doctor, or theologian or engineer, they pay to go to school to do that work. They pay for licensing and continuing education and other professional fees. They invest the time to be proficient.
In the last week I've heard that Sango was feeding off of black on black crime and Osun off prostitutes and people thinking that Orisas made them go crazy.... and from self appointed voodoo queens All these from non initiated people who feel self chosen to speak on Orisa/lwa and advise others.
I've never been one believe that only initiated people have the right to worship Orisa. I do believe that Orisa can come to anyone they feel like. I do believe it's ok to go to the riverside and offer Osun a pumpkin or honey and pray and go to the crossroads and ask Esu to help you find viable work. It's cool to go pray and meditate on a mountain and ask Obatala to help you find peace in your life. It's ok to cultivate a relationship with your Ori and your ancestors. It's cool to use Obi Divination to help you make decisions. These practices alone will help you and none require initiation. It's cool to learn the songs and dances and to celebrate... This is our ancestral heritage and I encourage people to embrace it.
However... there is a line between being a devotee and self work with Orisa.. or Lwa for that matter and when you feel you have the right to teach and do work for others without doing the work to be a legitimate priest. It takes years to train as a priest.. not just an initiation. Those who have done it have committed to a path with blood, stone, sweat, tears, money, service, study, and a hell of a lot of personal sacrifices. They understand it is more to being a priest than doing youtubes, blogs, and posting spells on Facebook. FYI: just cuz it's on YouTube doesn't make it TRUE!
I invoke the power of my Ori
My divine self , connected to all that is
To bring into manifestation all ire (goodness) in my life.
I raise my hands and touch the ground
I am one with Heaven and earth
I invoke the primordial forces of nature outside and within me to
To positively move my life into alignment with my highest and greatest destiny
I affirm and give thanks for my Egun (Ancestors) to support my family in Aye( here on Earth)
May they also be supported in Orun (Heaven)
I affirm and invoke the divine intelligence of Esu... may my thoughts be clear,
I sacrifice a closed mind
I affirm and invoke the love of Osun- may my heart be filled with joy
I sacrifice any negativity.
I affirm and invoke the peace of Obatala- may my mind be still
I sacrifice stress
I affirm and invoke the wisdom of Orunmila- may I see into tomorrow
I sacrifice willful ignorance
I affirm and invoke the depth of Olokun- may my emotions be balanced
I sacrifice my fears
I affirm and invoke the nurturing of Yemoja- may I be receptive to what is good for me
I sacrifice hard headedness
I affirm and invoke the direction of Ochossi- may my focus be steady
I sacrifice scatteredness
I affirm and invoke the authority of Sango - may my will be stable
I sacrifice ego
I affirm and invoke the transformation of Oya- may my progress be swift
I sacrifice stagnation
I affirm and invoke the strength of Ogun- may I cut out what is unproductive
I sacrifice misplaced anger
I affirm and invoke the healing power of Nana- May all old wounds be resolved
I sacrifice negativity
I affirm and invoke the prosperity of Aje- may all my needs be met
I sacrifice selfishness
I affirm and invoke the power of the Divine Mothers - may all my relations be well.
I sacrifice selfishness.
Let this be the affirmative prayer for my life
May each word reach heaven
I offer these sacrifices, May the sacrifice be accepted
I accept and give thanks for all things leading to my highest good today and forever.
Ifayele Oyatunde Iyafunfun Fasola
Building an Egun or Ancestor shrine or altar can be as complicated or simple as you like. Our ancestors can come from all over...Mine come from Benin/Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Southeast Africa. It explains why I'm so eclectic in my tasks and what I'm drawn to. Still, if you are looking to just start...here is a loose guide to doing so. It is an except from a book that has a lot more information. In addition to building a shrine, other items like an Egun pot, Opa Egun, and other specially prepared items can enhance your connection and amplify communication with your ancestors. Those things can be prepared by a priest if needed. Contact me for more information. In the meantime, use this guide to get started.
Ancestor Reverence: Building an Ancestor Shrine
by Awo Fa'lokun Fatunmbi
Ifa teaches that the power to effectively invoke Spirits comes as a result of initiation and the training that is sanctioned by initiation. The exception to this rule is egun (ancestor spirits). In Ifa there are ancestor initiations (egungun, isegun, ato), but everyone is believed to have the power and the ability to communicate with the spirit of those blood relatives who have passed beyond this life. Communication with your own ancestors is a birthright. At times this communication can simply involve remembering a revered ancestor and making use of the memory as a basis for making life decisions. In many ways ancestor communication is an extension of the training and wisdom we receive from our parents. Ifa says you cannot know who you are if you cannot call the names of your ancestors going back seven generations. Remembering names is more than reciting a genealogy, it is preserving the history of a family lineage and the memory of those good deeds that allowed to the family to survive and create a home for the continued cycle of reincarnation (atunwa).
In Yoruba culture it is common for the uninitiated to make direct contract with ancestor spirits. The most prevalent process of communication is through dreams. Communication also occurs during participation in annual ancestor festivals. Because such festivals are not common in this country, Ifa worshipers in the West have created several viable alternatives. Using these alternative methods, the first step in the process of honoring the ancestors is the construction of an ancestor shrine used as a focal point for prayer and meditation.
There are a number of traditional African methods for building an ancestor shrine, some of which are very complex and require personal training. For example it is common in traditional Yoruba culture to bury revered ancestors under the floors of the family home. The tomb of the ancestor is the foundation of the ancestral shrine. For those who do not have access to lineage elders, I recommend the ancestor alter be constructed with minimal elements (in some lineages in the Diaspora there is a standardized method for building a shrine, these methods vary from family to family and should be followed according to lineage tradition). Once the basic elements are in place, the ancestors can be contracted directly for guidance on further additions to the shrine. In other words once you are in communication with the ancestors they will tell you if they want specific items brought to the shrine.
I've had a number of people approach me about Iyami in the last month or so. After so many patriarchal perspectives on Awon Iya Wa, women have grown tired of the fear, negative stereotypes, and masculine impositions on wombanhood. Women are seeking their ancestral mothers for support, healing, empowerment and guidance in their lives as they reclaim divine wombanhood. It has brought up questions that I believe are necessary to ask and information that is essential to know about Iyami. If you begin with the wrong assumption about them, you can never know the truth and therefore every other "fact" is skewed and flawed. I believe it's important to know a little about Iyami as they inquire further.
I want people to understand that Iyami is layered... It's not one group as believed. While all connected, each has its own part. There are human Iyami Aje. Those are divided into those who are Aje by virtue of being a woman born with a womb, those who carry Aje "powers" naturally and may not know it, and those who are conscious and inducted as Aje through ceremonies. Iyami is a yoruba word for these feminine powers but the concept of Iyami is not limited to Yoruba or West African culture. They are world wide....even cosmic in scope. To that end, the women's secret societies that honor these primordial mothers are widespread under different names and traditions. Igbo, for instance call them Iyambo Ekpe. Among the Mende, they were Sande and Bundo. They are the Matrikas in Tibet and India. In Mexican, Nagul traditions, they are Lechuzza. In Europe, they were Black Doves and later Witches.
When I was around 12 or so, I began to realize I had super powers. That's what I called them at least. I found I knew things before they happened and that I could make things happen when i focused. I could also ask for things and they would fall in my lap. I was baptized that year but I wasn't very religious. I kind of knew there was something more. Somewhere deep, I had determined that I would become a Christ.... A Goddess on Earth... So I began these "conversations with God" that began with a request to know God beyond scriptures and translations, dogma, and other peoples interpretations. I wanted to know from direct experience...and so the conversations began...or rather the realizations began.
Before they could happen, I had to first learn, how God talks...and how to listen. That started with dreams which grew into meditations and visions. I found also that my spirit loves songs and relays messages to me through songs... It put a whole new spin on the idea of a choir of angels. I began waking to music with messages. Some of the music was popular music. Some I had never heard of in this life.It was then I began to realize that God was within.... Or at least there was a piece of God that emanated inside of me...like... just as the Ocean is huge, If I take a glass of ocean water and put it in a glass, it would be of the same quality just not the same quality. So when I heard the concept of the Ori, the concept of the divine self in Ifa, I immediately knew what that was. I had long established a connection.
the DiffErence between the brain, the Personality, and the Ori
One of the things I had to learn, however, was the difference between my persona and personality and my divine self. The personality is all of the different ways your unique self expresses in the world. It is shaped by culture, experiences, sex, race, religion, sometimes past lives, environment, even the constellations. Being a soul encased in matter, the matter ...your body, is not separate from everything around it. It has a nature just as it is connected to nature. All of these things shape personality...what you like or dislike, whether you tend to be a leader or if you like football or dance. Personality makes you unique... Personality also has levels of development, because the most primal part of the personality is your instincts.
The instinctual self is found in what we know as the reptilian brain. It is located in the back of the head where the little groove is just above the center of the neck. This is the earliest part of the human body that developed and the oldest part of the brain. Sometimes it is referred to our animal nature because animals operate on instincts. It allows us to be in touch with nature and also has a survival mechanism that keeps us safe... The part that says, there is a lion....RUN! It's the part that hungers and says.."I gotta eat!" It's our survival mechanism so it's important in that way. Part of our development requires that we grow past just our instinctual responses and use our full intelligence to make conscious choices.
In Ifa , occipital part of the head is also associated with Esu, the divine messenger between heaven and earth. It's the junction between the head and the body. Esu presents us with choices and also relays messages just as the brain does. Our ability to decipher and discern between those choices and messages internally and externally is what allows us to grow. So Esu doesn't trick us... Esu challenges our animal self to function on a higher level by raising our perceptions and consciousness. This is true character development.
As human beings, we have a tendency to make our divinities in our own image. It allows us to relate to qualities within ourselves. We understand divine forces according to our level of consciousness. So as we grow, we should cultivate more expansive views of these forces. Oya is an Orisha known for change and the wind. Because we perceive Orisha through people and historical figures, we often confuse those human traits with cosmic ones. As a result, Oya is often relegated to hurricanes, the dead, and Shango's wife. I'd like to introduce a wider perception of Oya... From a cosmic and universal perspective.
Oya... Governs the winds and by extension, the winds of change. The winds are determined through the rotations of the planet and the rotation of the entire solar system and Galaxy... Moved by the magnetic motions of the black hole in the center of the universal and the northern circumpolar stars. The circumpolar stars are where the North Star is found along with the drinking gourd aka the Big Dipper. It is the North Star that gives direction when you are lost. The winds are not just on earth but also in the heavens and ethers. Thus...Oya is the mother of the 9 heavens...Oruns ..because the winds and dancing movements extend through the layers of the atmosphere and throughout deep space. Oya is what makes it all spin and turn... That spin is what creates our experience of day and night, summer, winter, fall, spring, the rainy and the dry seasons. That dance and spinning also creates orbital patterns of sacred geometry when tracked over years. As a change agent, Oya is related to time. Time is governed by the moon's rotations and seasons . Oya ushers in change at its proper time.
The winds carry oxygen on earth via how it impacts the oceans currents. Those currents are impacted by the atmospheric pressure and the earth's poles. The winds carry the seeds for the plants from one area to the other and via the birds... Iyami. The winds carry oxygen to breathe and exist. It's what fuels the iron in our blood to give us energy to do anything. It's what is exchanged in our lungs and returned back to our heart. The winds are what fuel the fires on the planet and also the internal fire of our bodies. It can also put those fires out. The wind is the breath of life. When it is no longer, we go back home.
We already know the winds create tornados and hurricanes... But Oya creates thunder and lightening too. As the etheric realm is hers where sound and light is produced. When water evaporates into the sky, it creates clouds that hold bits of ice that when full collide together creating an electric charge. That electric charge is lightening which creates pockets of air through which the light travels and then collapses producing the sound of thunder. It is within the atmosphere that radio waves, sonar waves, and digital waves travel. Thus all wireless technology uses these atmospheric waves to send and receive information. Cell phones, internet, broadcasting, media streaming. It is within the atmosphere that quantum particles travel between dimensions. Thus, Oya can travel between heaven and earth. As such rainbows use the atmosphere to build a bridge of light. When the sun's light travels through the atmosphere and contacts water droplets in the air, the light is reflected off of the water and creates fractals of bended light that produce the colors of a rainbow.
Oya is the master shapeshifter and as buffalo woman, the power is hidden... Veiled ...not so much in what you see...but what you can't see.. If you just look at the surface and the outside, you will miss it entirely because the material world is her mask. Her mysteries cannot be pierced by the faint hearted nor the shallow. She is the transformer of consciousness via the ultimate change...evolution. Oya forces growth and evolution.
Someone brought up a question about how to find a good elder. The end result of that conversation was that it was difficult for people to know if an Ifa /Orisha teacher is good or bad until it is too late. Too often, people are eager to jump without looking closely for what or who may be best for them. Compatibility is important because when seeking a mentor, you are seeking to develop a relationship that will require trust and humility that will last for years. Each lineage and even Oluwo (teacher) has different requirements as far as training and certification goes. Some offer a certificate called Itowobiye while others simply give a nod of the head. Some can train you in a year. Some will take ten years.
I've compiled a list of considerations when choosing a mentor for the priesthood. These considerations are not meant to be judgments... Well most aren't.. Rather, they are intended to help you reflect on your needs, determine compatibility. and support you making an informed choice rather than an ill fated one.
You will have to decide what your goals are in the first place. Is it to know your life path, to be a diviner, to be a healer, to gain protection or healing, or to floss with no intention of actually learning anything? What do your readings say?
Do you want traditional or Lucumi lineage? Yoruba, Edo, Ewe, Fon lineage? Do you want an African born, American, Cuban, Peurto Rican born teacher? Do you want English, Yoruba, or Spanish speaking teacher? How do they feel about women and what is their approach toward initiating and training women? Or, how do they feel about initiating and training Latinos, African Americans, or whites? How do they feel about gay lifestyles? Do they have rules that prevent initiations for gays, women, or other races?
What is their background and training? How effective is their work? (Very important! ) How long have they been practicing? What initiations do they offer? What kind of character do they have? Are they patient? Kind? How do they treat their family and omos? Do they chase women if they are men? Are they arrogant, greedy, or humble? Are they petty, jealous, or competitive with other priests or Iles or are they able to work in partnership with others? Are they surrounded by drama all of the time? How do they handle their personal affairs? Are they judgmental and intolerant? Do they approach you for sex or use sex as a bargaining tool or tell you that the Orisha wants you to have sex with them? If that is the case Run Forrest Run!
Can you afford them? Do they require monthly fee to be a part of their Ile or joining fees? Is training included with initiation fees or separate? Do they put a dollar sign on everything they do? Do they offer payment plans or sliding scales? Can they openly discuss upfront costs or do they keep you in the dark until they have you? Is there a contract with clear roles, fees, expectations and responsibilities for both parties? That is not common but a good idea to start.
Do they have a large Ile or a lot of Omos or do they have a small one? This determines how much time they may have? Do you want a big family or individualized personal support? How do they treat their omos? How accessible are they? Do they have support? What are the rules and expectations for people in their Ile?
How do they go about training? Do they require that you learn Yoruba before they teach you anything? Do they offer written, oral, and practical application training? Do they teach divination? If so what levels? Do they make you work ten years in their Ile before they teach you Obi? Do they emphasize technical skill over understanding what and why you are doing it? Do they have a set curriculum that lets you know what you have to master and how far to go? Do they determine your skill based on clear objective criteria that can be measured or arbitrary criteria like personal feelings? What skill level are their omos at? Do they have any that have actually been trained and cleared operate on their own or do they keep them forever training and dependent? Have they received their Itowobiye or other certification to practice if they are from Nigeria? Do they offer it?
What is their approach toward the tradition? Religious, esoteric, cultural, spiritual, Nationalist? Do they answer questions or leave you hanging? Do they inspire you or leave you more fearful and distrustful? What ethics and values do they hold dear? Do they follow them themselves?
I know it's a lot of questions and they are not a judgement about people as there is no one size fit all approaches. If a potential Oluwo is impatient and dismisses your questions though, it says they lack patience which is one of the key character points an Awo should have. These are just considerations when looking for someone to apprentice under to determine if you are compatible. They can help you avoid a lot of misunderstandings later.
At the same time the approach is two fold.. Just as you are evaluating potential "God parents", you will need to determine what kind of student, apprentice, or omo you can and are willing to be.
Are you willing to reciprocate for time and energy given for training, initiation, and support whether financially, by barter, or other agreement?
Are you willing to actually be a student, follow directions and be humble?
Are you willing to honor your contracts, commitments, and do what you say you will do?
Are you willing to not spread gossip about your Oluwo?
Are you willing to communicate respectfully especially when there is a problem?
Are you willing to be patient with your training and do what is required to get the most out of it?
Are you willing to follow the ethical codes of the tradition and be honorable?
Are you willing to respect their time and private life?
Are you mentally stable?
Are you willing to do the work of self development?
Lastly, if you are a trained priest or priestess that is taking omos, feel free to leave your information, where you are located and available to work in the comments. Be clear though.... I do not vouch for anyone listed and take no responsibility for the actions of any priests listed. Each person has to do their own research.
For those that need to know the differences between traditional and Lucumi paths, this link offers a good explanation:
Let me start out by saying that Im no math whiz... Frankly beyond money, it started to get fuzzy early on once numbers turned to letters... by the time numbers turned to symbols I was waaay out of my lane... So just because I write post that sound like I have all of this knowledge in math... I don't... I got smart kids.. that can explain what I think I may see... None the less, I began seeing visions of complicated geometrical patterns in my meditations several years back. Not being much of an artist either, I could only draw out a little of what I see.. When I ran across what I would see on the internet, I would study it.. Here are some diagrams that I have seen over the years... I have mapped them out according to Ifa Cosmology to demonstrate the relationship... Ifa is deep man.... reeal deep... The more I study, the more I am less concerned with personalities of deities or Orisha.. and the more I am fascinated by the science behind it.. That affirms for me the truth beyond culture and belief...
What I am reminded of is the Ifa Assignment of the Cardinal Points found in the Holy Odu
Okanran Ogunda that says:
After the creation of the earth, Orunmila sat at the middle of the island founded by him and said thus to the principle Ọdus that descended with him .
Ogbe: Order you the region where the sun rises. Sit down at the east.
Oyeku: Order you the region where the sun sets. Sit down at the west.
Iwori: sit down at the north.
Odi: sit down at the south.
You other Odu, sit down diametrically opposite each other in a circle.
Orunmila then called the Olodus and said to them
You see what there is here. Mark this well.
This city shall in the future be called Ife.
The hill on which I am seated shall grow these Palm trees bearing monthly twelve manners of fruits.
Sixteen of which shall be used for consultation in divination.
And the leaves will be used for healing of the nations.
Better than any other place, the Awos will have here the Ọdus,
Sixteen Ọdus have come with me.
These will have children and shall live around you.
Ife will have a great people.
But my Awos shall hold sway and tell people what is the will of The eternal Olorun Eleda Olodumare.
Clearly... This aint just about a bowl of nuts... This... is cosmic science..
I received a phone call from my daughter today. She was excited because she told me she had discovered the secret to everything and all life. She is a mathematics major at Claflin University and is a senior taking classes I can't even conceive of.. But... being a dutiful parent, I asked her to go ahead and share the secret of life with her mama. She began to explain that her class, Topology is the study of how things are organized into groups and something about time and space.. How everything in any group or set of thing is either opened or closed and that determines its abilities. Whether it is opened or closed is determined upon the conditions it's placed in. Conditions determine opportunity..
Now I don't know much about Topology. In fact, it was the first time I had ever heard of the word... But I do know about opening and closing and it struck me how Ifa is based on this very science. I shared that with my daughter and she began to explain that the human brain is made up of circuits. These circuits have positive and negative polarities that are either zero or ones. Essentially, our brain is hard wired for binary language. As infants, our understanding is simplified into basic zeros and ones. Each learned behavior creates a group or complex set of zeros and ones. These learned behaviors are determined by the conditions we are placed in and become our programs that we run in our lives by. They determine character, talents and challenges and our opportunities based on how many circuits are opened or closed in a set of behaviors. Not only that, those opened and closed sets of binary frequencies tell us what is or is not possible in our lives.
If we want to do a thing, and we have too many closed circuits, it ain't gonna happen. The conditions that created those closed circuits prevent it. However, if we understand how to open a circuit... By changing our the conditions upon which we operate... Our behavior, character, attitude, we then have access to the ability to do that thing. It's about turning your negatives into positives. I said, "well I'll be damned!" "My baby girl done dropped some science about Ifa and she didn't know it! She is Igbo, so maybe it was her Afa ancestors coming through...
The last few months of watching the Flint water crisis explode has been heart wrenching and deeply sad. The vast levels of possible permanent damage to children and adults physically and mentally calls for some immediate help in that direction. Since no one knows when quality water will arrive for the residents, it's important to be able to take what you can into your own hands. Last night it occurred to me that homeopathy may very well be the answer...and it's something you can do yourself right now. I'll show you how at the end of this article.
First let me share what homeopathy is...and is not. Homeopathy is a form of natural healing dating back to indigenous medicine in Ancient Egypt with the Ebers Medical Papyrus. It is traditional medicine at its finest. In ancient Egypt, they used minute does of venom from snakes to cure snake bites. Over time, the science was lost and then reemerged in the 18th century. Dr. Samuel Hahnemann noted that a particular plant when introduced to the body would produce similar symptoms as a person with malaria. That led him to theorize that what could produce such symptoms could cure such symptoms. It became known as the law of similars or like cures like. It's similar to how vaccines work only Vaccines work on cellular levels and Homeopathy works on a molecular and atomic level which is much smaller. Because of the minute doses, it has less negative reactions. If a remedy is the wrong one for a person, it simply won't work... But won't produce nasty side effects. Proving through trials of research this in fact was the case, this ancient practice was reborn as Homeopathy.
I've been exploring the Ori complex lately to deepen my own understanding and relationship to it. As a dreamer, I've always been able to ask Spirit to respond to my questions in dreams, and I pretty much get clear, if not metaphorical answers. So my request for more information about Ori lead me to experience a vision first of a woman nursing a child. Then, next to her was a tube of light with three bulbs along it from bottom to top. Inside the tube was swirling light that began at the bottom that moved upward in a serpentine fashion to through the tube to the top.
When it reached the top, it burst through to what I can only describe as a massive light....Being.... Or..maybe a star being.. In any case, there was an iridescent light that was so bright but didn't hurt my eyes. Having remembered such being described in books about death, it became apparent this is what I was seeing... And...it..she..was talking to me. Or maybe I was talking to it first but we were in communication. It was an unmistakable link between us. We were separate and one at the same time and the communication was telepathic. Or maybe more like a transmission of ideas. In fact, while I tried to "talk" through words and ask questions, I was interrupted by a communication that she wasn't used to talking to me that way. It was relayed, telepathically in that there were no words... Just thoughts between us.
It was also apparent that in that state, all of the mundane things I thought was important such as my money, my relationships, my religious beliefs.... was just not so much a concern. In fact, in that presence, I couldn't even think of one mundane thought. I felt almost childlike to a parent. What was more important ....to my Ori..was what I was learning.. Relaying that I was learning a lot, she was satisfied with my progress... A few more private suggestions and communications were made and I was back in my body fully awake and aware with a full memory of what transpired.
Being a long time student of esoteric philosophy and studying various traditions around the world, I can honestly say that it wasn't till I embraced Ifa that I had such an experience in such fullness. I've been through the Kemetian and Kabalistic meditations and experienced the peaceful state of Ausar or Kether. I've done the Hermetic initiations with the Middle Pillar attained the knowledge and conversation with my Holy Guardian Angel ...or so I thought till now. I've done years of chakra meditations.... And while the experience had remnants of all of those traditions, the one most close to what I experienced with my Ori this time was one that comes from another binary divinatory spiritual system.. Using the Chinese I Ching... That system maps the energetic body as the Tan Tian or Dantian.
Its hilarious to read some writings by men about Iyami... By the way they write you would think Iyami was some foreboding characters out of a mysterious fiction novel. You would never be able to look at your own mother and see such a character... But most of the posts and articles are by men... about what they think, guess, suspect Iyami is about... and ... most of the time its laughable... if it weren't taken so serious by some... I want to spend some time writing about My Mothers... Awon Iya Wa... I'd like to clarify some of the misunderstandings and outright lies about Iyami... Ill start with the history here and work my way through over time.
It was missionaries that first began to transform about 40 different languages into one market language: Yoruba. They did so by creating a Yoruba dictionary. While this dictionary was intended to help missionaries began converting the "heathens" to Christianity, it simultaneously created its own definitions of the Traditional spiritual systems. For one, it associated Esu, the primordial who is the messenger and divine teacher as the Devil. This couldn't have been further from the truth because there is no devil in traditional beliefs, but even today people and even Google interpret Esu as the Devil. Likewise, Iyami Aje were called witches based on the European Churches definition of what a witch is. In colonial Africa, the same ones who were burning women at the stakes were the ones converting the traditionalist to Abrahamic religions. They were also teaching that women of power were dangerous and needed to be controlled.
In Africa, women of power controlled the land.. because of their relationship to Mother Earth. They controlled the marketplace by extension and thus commerce and trade. Women determined the kingship and were on the councils of Justice. They were also psychic protection against threats. They had their own secret societies that were not controlled by men. It's no surprise why women would be a threat to Colonialist (Islamic and Christian) who wanted to control the economics of the African countries and take over the land. It was advantageous to many men, black and white for women to have less influence so it was often supported and ultimately enforced by many Kings. As those colonist made contact and converted Kings who would influence the villages and people, the politics of the countries influenced traditionalist and converts alike destabilizing and stripping women of much of their power. The issue wasn't just about changing public opinion of women. It was about the active enactment and enforcement of new laws that specifically forbid women of specific rights, roles, and practices they once enjoyed. Islam, having over 800 years of influence in Nigeria and Africa was just as ferocious about women and "witches" as Christians were demanding immediate execution of those who were accused of the "evil eye". These laws did not come at once, but came gradually and over time. Waves of change and political suppression of Iyami happened from 1600s to the mid 20th century producing a gradual destabilization of women's political and spiritual power.
Anther excerpt from Divination and Deity in African religions and quotes by Bokono Gedegbe who was the last Chief priest of the Benin Empire supervising the overal Fa /Ifa /Afa priesthood. A Bokono is the Benin Togo version of an Babalawo or Iyanifa in Yoruba.
The system of Fa is built up through the interaction of 256 signs, each of which is an essential mode of reality. Each element is the sum of a series of binary oppositions (open or closed cowrie shells, whole or broken lines, odd or even numbers, plus or minus, "male" or "female"); together they generate the whole world, including the vodu themselves. Thus, he who understands and controls the signs controls the vodu. In Fon myths, even the vodu are repre-sented as coming to Fa to understand their own dilemmas and get out of scrapes. But though "Fa is the king of life here below" (the vice-regent and homologue of God the king above)," his force is used always for harmony and regeneration of life. The very word "Fa" signifies "freshness," "sweetness or pleasantness," "cool-ness," and is the opposite of the "heat" of anxiety, tumult, anger, danger, or death. The bokono is consecrated to this "coolness": he is not an ecstatic, but must be given over to tranquil, pleasant, and benevolent consciousness, ethical behavior, and restraint. If he becomes angry or does an evil deed, the forces that he engaged through his meditative serenity will turn on him. It is his vocation to restore equilibrium in personal lives and especially in the society in general. Every regular ceremony of Fon worship, and determine which of the hundreds of vodu shall be propitiated, and how. Despite all their power and willful personalities, their sustenance, recognition, and therefore even their existence are dependent on the cool and wise science of Fa.
A Fa priest must know more than anyone else about the entirety of Fon religion, as a consequence, and the training of a bokono takes many years, which also traditionally included study abroad at Ifa centers in Yorubaland and elsewhere. The proverbs, stories, and myths appended to each of the signs must be learned; they comprise in their totality the entire mythical corpus of the Fon. The signs deal with the Creation and embody various of its moments and powers. Many of the Fa myths deal with the triumph of the cleverness embodied by Fa over the raw power and arbitrariness of the vodu. Here, in fact, are the sources for the Br'er Fox and Br'er Rabbit stories, and others of their type, popularized in American folk literature in the Uncle Remus tales. The signs govern not only the vodu, but also all the arts. They are all wisdom. The bokono is an authority on history, medicine, technology, and psychology, and the greater of them used to have extensive "hospital" quarters for lodging the sick and disturbed who needed their care.
From History of Religions : Divination and Deity in Africa
One never finishes learning Fa. There are levels and degrees within it. Even elderly bokono set out on journeys that may take them into distant parts of West Africa to sit at the feet of famous sages and learn more. Bernard Maupoil, whose study of Fa is still unequaled, had the immense advantage of having as his informant the chief bokono of the former Fon kingdom, Gedegbe. This truly wise man was responsible, during the days of the sovereign glory of the Fon, for divining for the king and the entire country. He also examined every aspiring bokono before the priest was permitted to practice and regulated the ethical behavior and teachings of bokono throughout the kingdom. Gedegbe knew entire levels of Fa not accessible to any-one else. These higher levels of Fa had nothing at all to say about the demigods or spirits; they were instead about the interaction of the primary cosmic elements themselves, and one was devoted to astrology.
Fa, in short, works a depersonalization of the Fon cosmos. The great fault, in the ethics that is implied in Fa philosophy, is excessive self-will. Fa is not a method of changing one's fate, but of adjusting to it (in the active, not the passive, sense). Knowing his own characteristic engrained failings, the wise man avoids subjecting himself to otherwise inevitable pitfalls. One must learn to accept one's own limits. These "limits," the Fon believe, are chosen by oneself before birth as one's destiny-soul. Maintaining a good relationship with our destiny, knowing its possibilities and inadequacies, enables us to make the very best life possible for ourselves. Ignorance of the powers bearing on us makes us entirely their victim. The fortunate and happy can push their luck too far; the unfortunate can through hopeless passivity make their lot gratuitously agonizing.
The individual soul has no will, say the bokono; only Mawu has will, and the individual destiny-soul is a particular manifestation of that will." Thus an evil man is not necessarily to be blamed for his actions, for his soul is not guilty if it does not get caught up in the deed and persist in it, exceeding its fate. Likewise, the exces-sively (and hypocritically) good man will suffer for his pretentious-ness." In consulting Fa, a person is brought face to their eternal destiny, and from this dispassionate vantage point can accept and come to grips with his individual lot in a rational and fully conscious way. The judgment may indeed be harsh, but usually there are ways to mitigate a severe decree, and in any case his responsibilities and expectations are revealed in detail; to the limit of any man's ability he is in control of his fate.
The radical difference of this approach to the divine from that of man's heated, passionate relationship to the vodu is suggestive. While the vodu, spiritual persons, erase human personality in possession, Fa emphasizes the unique personality of the client while submitting it to a depersonalized divine order. The irony of this forces us to the realization that Fa is fundamentally a criticism of the popular religion of the vodu. The legends of Fa themselves reflect this: again and again we find the vodu helpless, their power useless, until they consult Fa (who is outwardly a weakling, in some versions a boneless, amorphous being). The vodu in these tales are, in fact, the paradigms for the clients who hear the stories during the consultation. Just as the client has troubles and comes to Fa, so too in illo tempore a vodu had an essentially similar problem, and Fa supplied the answer—which becomes the answer to the client. The vodu and mankind are persons on the same level from the transcendent perspective of Fa. Fa even instructs mankind in the ways to avoid the arbitrary power of the vodu—to socialize them and establish a predictable mutuality with them. Men thus receive their personalities back in the world of Fa, though they might have seemed to have lost them through subordination to the vodu. But the system of Fa implies more, inasmuch as it suggests that there is a larger impersonal order that even the vodu cannot violate. Fa, the greater bokono say, is not a being at all, but simply the message or voice of Se (Spirit)—that is, of Mawu." The power working in man, in the world, and in the vodu, is all of Se. There is nothing else.
37 Maupoil, pp. 404, 388-89. According to Gedegbe, the various levels or kinds of soul known to man are merely stages in man's quest for God and their own deepest identity. The most obvious spiritual aspect in us is that which links us to our ancestors (the joto, ancestor soul), while diviners and a few others late in life attain to knowledge of their Fa-essence, their deepest destiny-soul, the kpoli. Beyond that dwells the infinite God. See ibid., p. 386. .. Ibid., p. 404.
One Fa proverb insists: "One ought not to put Fa on one side and Mawu on the other—it is Fa that one names Mawu," and several others make the same point (see ibid., p. 31). For Fa is really not a person, but a process leading to transcendence and "at-one-ment." Several myths of the origin of Fa tell that in the beginning Fa was killed by the vodu, who were resentful of his impartial justice and truth, but that there arose from his grave, or from the parts of his divided body (Hainuwele style) the palm nuts used for divination or the signs making up the Fa system. Fa is the type, in short, of the redemptive power of sacrifice. Every session begins and ends with sacrifice, and initiation into bokono status is accomplished through sacrifices, etc. 40 Ibid., pp. 387,399-401.
One of the most empowering things you can do for yourself is not take anyone's word for it... Take the time to go find out for yourself. The greatest way people are manipulated is from lack of knowledge. People will hold you hostage due to a lack of knowledge. In the Ifa tradition, the core of knowledge is found in the Ifa Odu literary corpus. It is the core of everything Ifa Orisha etc. Yet, a good number of people have little to no knowledge of actual odus. They allow others to interpret for them. They rely on what they were told but not what Odu actually says....and does not say. This is to the detriment of the whole tradition, because it means that people can hold you hostage by a lie. Women thought , for years, they didn't have the right to become Awos....because they weren't allowed to see the actual verses and they allowed a man to do the interpretations of an Odu. They didn't have access to the actual history of the tradition or were threatened with alienation and being put out if they dared seek that knowledge. I believe slave masters did that too... kept Africans from reading the scriptures to justify slavery, keep them enslaved, and convinced them it was God's will. Now, there is a whole group of women who have been in the tradition many years who have never really read any Odus in their original form.
Esu is the primordial essence of infinite possibilities. It is through each possibility that some doors open and close. That is there are benefits and challenges of each choice. Some move us forward, some backward, some elevate and some descend, some are lateral moves to the left or right and some bring us full circle back to where we started.
Within that context, Esu is the grand paradox of the universe.. That paradox brings out our various perspectives that determine our choices. Esu forces us to examine our assumptions and rethink our options and outlook. Is the glass half empty or full comes to mind. What seems big is actually small. What seems infinite is actually limited. This infinite possibility challenges even our perception of time, space, and self. This is why parables and metaphors hold such significance in ancient traditions. Each one holds within it a number of interpretations depending on our level of consciousness. A simple reference to a tree could allude to fruit or could suggest a blueprint for the soul..
As a transdimensional element, Esu lives outside of the limitations of matter and the world formed of matter. Our assumptions about ourselves are often limited to our immediate lifetime, body, personal history, and culture. These assumptions limit our choices because our perspective is limited and by that very conditions doors close to us because we cannot see beyond that outlook.
This brings us to a matter of what is true and truth? We find a description of it in Ose Otura where Esu exemplified.
The Odu Ifa Osa-Otura says,
What is truth?
I say, What is truth?
Orunmila says: Truth is the Lord of heaven guiding the earth.
Osa-Otura says, What is truth?
I say, What is truth?
Orunmila says: Truth is the unseen One guiding the earth, the wisdom Olodumare is using – great wisdom, many wisdoms.
Osa-Otura says, What is truth?
I say, What is truth?
Orunmila says: Truth is the character of Olodumare. Truth is the word that cannot fall. Ifa is truth. Truth is the word that cannot spoil. Mighty power, surpassing all. Everlasting blessing.
This was divined for the earth. They said the people in this world should be truthful. To enable them to be truthful and honest willingly and comfortably, let the idabo (Ifa medicine) be applied by marking Odu-Osa-Otura on the divining powder. After reciting the above Ifa saying on the powder, mix it with eko (cornstarch gruel) and drink it, or put it in palm oil and eat it, so that it will be easy to be honest and truthful.
Ifa song: Speak the truth, tell the facts. Speak the truth, tell the facts. Those who speak the truth are those whom the deity will help.
Esu helps us find truth beyond illusions.. But also discover the truth about ourselves. The facts are...we are more than just our body and history. We are more than our titles or status. Other people are more than just our projections of good and evil. As we unpeel the layers of assumptions about everything and everyone, we find common cords that link together beyond the surface. We are called to face our shadows and light... We are reminded of the need for balance and wholeness. Then a dawning awareness begins.. Esu is not a trickster at all. By transcending our illusions, Esu opens the path to self realization.
You can speak perfect Yoruba and know all of the accent marks for writing it too.
But if you do not know how to speak in loving kindness to your brother or sister, you've learned nothing.
You can memorize every Oriki and every Ese in the Odu Literary Corpus and know how to cast a perfect divination.
But if you don’t know how to treat people and how to overcome your negative destructive ways, you are still a beginner in the spiritual realm.
You can know every dance and every song, and every protocol in your lineage,
But if you cannot walk a path of peace and inner joy…. It’s just another song and dance.
You can know every ritual, ceremony, and how to do work a thousand works.
But if you cannot live the ritual of life by living the virtues of the Orisha , Egun, and your Ori, You are but a mere technician, but certainly not a spiritual master.
You can have some most impressive titles, an ile, temple, or house of worship of ten thousand people.
But if you feel the need to downgrade, control, manipulate others or kick them while they are down to one up yourself, you are just another ego driven child trying to play Royalty at the expense of those who don’t know.
You can be in the tradition your whole life,
but if you think that makes you better or more advanced spiritually than someone else, you are but a fool, since you cannot recognize that Our Ori is all of our first teacher.. and its been teaching everyone since birth.
You may be old of years and draw social security, but if you still respond to life as a temperamental child of 10 or 15 you have yet to reach eldership.
Speak to me of Ogun when you are able to break through your own illusions, face your fears, own your shit, and courageously evolve to manifest your best self.
Speak to me of Osun when you are able to create harmony, joy, and abundance in your own life without selfishness.
Speak to me of Esu when you are able to make empowering choices and speak truth in word and deed.
Speak to me of Obatala when you are able to realize pure peace and maintain a tranquil mind.
Speak to me of Oya when you are able to be still in the eye of the storms of life and flow easily when the winds of change are upon you.
Speak to me of Olokun or Yemaya when you are able to balance your emotions and empathize with others.
Speak to me of Orunmila when you are able to view the world through an eye of wisdom, and balance judgement with compassion and not harsh criticism of others inadequacies.
Speak to me of Shango when you can transcend your ego and lead by serving others.
Speak to me of Iyami when you are able to honor the women in your life and treat them well, and embrace the feminine side of your own soul.
Speak to me of Iwa Pele when you can REALLY treat others as you wish to be treated because you realize.. there is no separation between you and me...except that which is in our own minds.
A received a knock on the door from someone who wanted to share their religion with me... I ended up sharing my spiritual tradition with them. They had never heard of Ifa and wondered what it meant to be an initiated priestess. I reflected on how Ifa is often spoken about in a religious context..... and how so many seemed to have lost the natural spirit of what Ifa really mean. The politics and superstitions can be a real distraction. At the end of the day, what is most important is your relationship with your Ori... plain and simple. I don't pretend to think I know what it is for others.. but I have decided what it means to me.. and after some meditation and inner listening, this is what I determined:
Ifa is the wisdom or laws of Nature- To be initiated into Ifa is to initiate the process of becoming whole. The process of becoming whole involves the awakening latent areas of ones consciousness, developing deficient areas, and decrease the areas of excess in ones consciousness. Becoming whole brings us into balance with nature and harmony with all life. Doing so produces as state of inner peace and thus a state of spiritual perfection.
This doesn't means our life become immediately easier. In fact, it can take on a troublesome pattern as the inner elements of your nature come into view. It can produce an alchemical effect of internal emotional combustion as the excessive elements magnify even more before they are neutralized. It is through inner cultivation that we are able to mutate that internal combustion, then neutralize it producing a pressurized release and restoration of balance.
Ifa encourages sacrifice and offerings.. The nature of sacrifice is to make sacred. To sacrifice that which is common for that which sacred. This involves the sacrifice of one's mundane nature for ones spiritual nature. Or offering up our negative ego to Spirit to allow spirit to transmute it into spiritual essence. Each animal represents a quality of character that must be either sacrificed or embodied to produce balance. So Ifa allows us to discover what is out of balance and restore balance.. which is interpreted as good fortune or good life. It enables spiritual transformation that creates peace of mind, healing in the body and alignment with Spirit. On a plane of greater awareness, it produces the release of our human limitations in order to manifest our immortal self.
Esu is the individualization of that process helping us to identify that which is hampering our progress. Esu stands at the center of our consciousness making us aware of the truth of our reality or being vs that which is an illusion or false. This increased awareness brings us the understanding necessary to create an inner bridge between heaven and earth, our heart and mind, and our physical being and spiritual being. Within our physical being Esu is the motor cortex in the center of the brain which is responsible for the planning, control, and execution of any movement in our lives. It receives the message from Spirit, translates it into neuro impulses that are then sent out to the body through the spinal cord. In Ifa this is the Ori meta or junction. Essentially, we are helpless and immobilized without this central component in our being. Its function is closely related to thought. Thought is associated with Thoth or Tehuti in ancient Kemet and is our intelligence faculty.
Oru-n mi la - Heru mi ela or Heru, my light. or My heavenly light. -- It is the inner light that is able to see through the darkness. In our consciousness Orunmila is our witness of creation. Our inner sage, or guru on our path of consciousness. The witness is the Self that is the detached observer of its creation or experience. That wisdom part of us that is able to differentiate the difference between the experience and the person who is having the experience.
Odu- is our conscience. That which tells us right from wrong. The seat of feminine consciousness that grows and raises us into spiritual maturity. Odu is the womb of spirit that gives birth to our dual selves. Our light and shadow.. the sun and moon. Our conscience gives us the ability to compare and contrast that which is for our highest good. She is the unseen self that creates and gives birth to our reality. Odu gives our life direction and guidance. Odu is the seat or lap that is the throne of God. O tutu wa- The wisdom of the womb. She is the great mother. The calabash of existence that supports the four corners of the world. The egg of creation , the axis mundi and tree of life. The matrix through which the world becomes manifest.
Orisa- is a state of illuminated consciousness. That illuminated conscious can be found in the consciousness of nature itself and also a state of consciousness attained in our own inner nature. When that inner nature has been cultivated through virtuous living, the consciousness reaches a magnified or illuminated state and we realize immortality. We are able to transcend our limited perceptions and attachments and become an ascended master.
Ifa is a dance between matter and spirit or the rat and the fish. The rat representing earth plane and matter as it is able to navigate any place and anything with its burrowing holes and sharp teeth, and keen awareness. The fish represents water and spirit and the ability navigate the waters of life and spiritual consciousness. Together they represent the harmony of life Asians call the Tao and Africans call Fa.
Then there is our Ori. The Higher self... Our Ori is the master of our destiny and who we must depend on to support us in our life. No Orisa, person, or opinion is higher. That is the hardest part sometimes... People will try to project their stuff on you.. society, dogmas, and group... but at the end of the day.. We must ultimately follow our Ori..
I have contemplated the path of transcendence since I was a child. Don't ask me how I knew.. I just knew there was something more beyond just what I see.. Something more beyond the body I had... Deep inside, I always knew I.. and everyone else.. were somehow immortal.. and that our path on Earth was one of a school.. where we learn how to use our immortal power wisely. And, when we have mastered that.. through personal development and spiritual cultivation, that we would no longer need to incarnate on Earth University and would be able move on to a higher level of consciousness. As a teen I called it becoming a Christ.. that is.. a being of light. In the Pre-vedic, it would be called a Dakini or Yogini, ascended master... In Buddhism it was called Buddhahood. In the Ifa tradition, it would seem that would be called becoming an Orisha... a selected head... Orisha were often elevated ancestors who had achieved a certain level of evolution in their development.
What seemed evident was that one's Ori- that is.. ones spiritual consciousness was the most important aspect of one's development. This is what determines your destiny as well as contains the blueprint for your life and personal development. Focusing on getting into alignment with the Ori is paramount attaining a well balanced life and wholeness. This is where the cultivation of character begins. This is the path to the perfect state and or Higher consciousness.
A verse in the sacred odu Irete Ofun explains:
Dia fun Okanlenirino Irunmole
Won nlo sode Apere
Atefun-tefun eyin oni
Awo Ori lo dia fun Ori
Ori nlo sode Apere
Won ni ki won sakaale ebo ni sise
Ori nikan0nikan ni nbe leyin ti nsebo
Ebo Ori waa da ladaju
Nje Ori gbona j'Orisa
Ori ma gbona j'Orisa
Ori nikan-nikan lo ko won l'Apeere
Ko si Orisa to to nii gbe
Leyin Ori eni
Ori gbona j'Orisa
He who prints the chalk on the back of crocodile
He was the Awo who cast Ifa for the 401 Irunmole
When going to Apere (a state of perfection)
He who prints the chalk on the back of crocodile
The Awo of Ori who cast Ifa for Ori
When Ori was going to Apere (Destiny)
They were all advised to offer sacrifice
Only Ori responded by offering the sacrifice
The sacrifice of Ori had been abundantly rewarded
Ori is higher then all Orisa (deities)
It is only Ori which reaches Apere, the perfect state
No other Orisa (deity) can give support
Outside of one's Ori
Ori is higher then all Orisa (deities)
Adding to that is another verse that seems to speak to the path of transcendence in Ifa. It is in Irosun Iwori and speaks about what has to happen in order for a person to not have to continue the cycle of reincarnation. Its speaks of cultivating your inner power, character, and wisdom. It speaks of doing good for the poor as a form of sacrifice, and helping people in need. As for cultivating good character, some of those qualities include humility ( as in shedding the ego or sense of self importance) , patience, and even forgiveness when someone has transgressed against you.
Irosun Iwori on Transcendance
Let's do things with joy. Those who wish to go may go. Those who wish to return may return. Definitely, human beings have been chosen to bring good fortune to the world.
Omniscience, the diviner of Orunmila, divined Ifa for Orunmila, who was told that human beings would come and ask him a particular question. He was advised to offer a sacrifice of fishes and two hundred grains of cornmeal (agidi). Orunmila heeded the advice and performed the sacrifice. One day, all kinds of people, including robbers and other evildoers, gathered themselves together and went to Orunmila‘ to complain that they were "tired of going back and forth to earth, Orunmila! Please allow us to take refuge in heaven." Orunmila said they could not avoid going to and coming back from the earth until they had attained the good position that Odu‘ dui had ordained for every individual; only then could they reside in heaven. They asked, "What is the good position?"
Orunmila asked them to confess their ignorance. They said, "We are ignorant and would like to be given knowledge by Olodumare (olu wa)."
Orunmila said: The good position is the world. A world in which there will be full knowledge of all things, joy every-where, life without anxiety or fear of enemies, attack from snakes or other dangerous animals, without fear of death, disease, litigation, losses, danger of accidents from water and fire, without the fear of misery or poverty, because of your inner power, good character, and wisdom. When you refrain from stealing because of the hardship the owner suffers and the disgrace with which this behavior is treated in the presence of Odudua and other good spirits in heaven, who are always friendly and often wish us well. These forces can turn their backs on you and allow you to return to the darkness of the world. Bear in mind that you will not receive any favors, and whatever is stolen will be repaid. All evil acts have their repercussions. Individually, what will be needed to attain the good position is: wisdom that can adequately govern the world as a whole; sacrifice or cultivating the habit of doing good to the poor or those who need your help; desire to increase the world's prosperity rather than destroy it. People will continue to go to heaven and return to earth after death until everyone attains the good position. There are a lot of good things in heaven that are still not available on earth and will be obtained in due course. When all the children of Odudua are gathered together, those selected to trans-fer the good things to the world are called eniyan, or human beings.
Oyeku Batutu on Forgiveness
Orunmila will forgive me,
The forgiver forgives
If water kills a person ,
it shall be forgiven,
if a king kills a person,
He will be forgiven,
Orunmila let me be forgiven in this case.
In all cases, the rain ( seji )
is forgiven by the community.
1200 cowrie should be offered as a sacrifice.
Ifa Medicine ,
grinding leaves and tude
This mixing with Iyerosun Ifa
put the mixture of 2 cowrie ,
cover them with cotton string (thread)
and use it as a necklace for protection.
The development of the 16 tetragrams - Universal Ifa
Adding again a single line and double line to the trigrams then produces the 16 tetragrams. These 16 tetragrams represent the 16 fractals or fractions of light reflected on the moon by the sun. This becomes the universal application of Ifa's 16 signs. The ancients in nearly every culture used lunar calendars first. The lunar calendar reflected 29 1/2 days as seen by the earth in the southern hemisphere. There were 32 actual rotations. The full moon was the epitome of power and some cultures began the cycle at the full moon. From there, the moon would make its descent through the waning moon to the new moon. Then the ascent through the waxing moon crescent to return to the full. So, the 16 is related to the full moon and or the number of days it takes from the dark moon to the full moon. 15 are visible and the 16th is not. Other ways it has been presented is through the 16 phases of the moon. Here we can relate the odus
The 16 primary odus reflect the laws of nature from the cosmic to the personal. These odus reflect nature through the ecology, biology, chemistry, psychology, etc. From the demonstration, we can see that the Ifa Odus principles are an evolution in understanding of how the universe extracts, and expands,and evolves.
What is universal are all of the instances these same principles are reflected throughout the indigenous world. Not only do the 16 mother odus show up in West African traditions including the Yoruba, Dahomey, Igbo, Fon, Ewe, etc, they show up all over the world including the Americas and Indus Valley civilizations.
In Ifa, we express these principles this way as a multiplied or concentrated energy as vertical lines with the open lines being a double line and the closed line being a single row of lines.
As we understand the nature of Odu as the womb of existence and within that womb, all possibilities exist and are reflections of divine law.
The fundamental principles that were discussed in the Odu and Natural Law post present us with the fundamental tools for understanding its evolution in other binary systems. The I Ching ( pronounced Yee Jing or EE king) based on ancient China utilizes the binary polarities in the form of 8 trigrams. These trigrams are formed through taking the form of the fundamental 4 principles found in the double lines of a sequence...
When we add a double line and single line to each of the primary Elemental lines, we are able to form 8 primary trigrams and the 8 directions.creating the baqua of Asia. These 8 directions are found in the Wheel of the Year describing the major times for holidays. The Ogdoad or 8 primary creative energies of the universe in ancient Egypt.
This is a meditation and reflection journal on Ifa and African Spiritual Traditions. This is not intended to reflect popular or conventional beliefs so much as it is intended to explore the sacred wisdom of Africa beyond religious dogma. Like all traditions, there is a religious component practiced by the lay person, and then there is the esoteric tradition practiced by seekers of spiritual truth. The difference is in the approach. My approach is through understanding the laws of nature itself we can understand Ifa... and vice versa. Through understanding these laws, we gain insight into our very nature and can use these sacred tools and wisdom for our evolution and advancement as souls on the planet. They ultimately allow us to live in harmony on the planet and in alignment with our divine destinies and with nature itself.