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.
I've been a teacher for 20 years. Taught thousands but never fooled myself into believing that only I had the answers and that my students couldn't or shouldn't grow beyond what I teach them. Good teachers rs want their students to learn so that they can be strong and fly on their own. I encouraged my students to ask questions, critically think, and go see and read for yourself. Any teacher that tries to make you dependent only on them and asserts that only they know and you can't possibly have the gift, skills, or insight to see beyond what they teach you is only afraid. Afraid they may lose standing or respect or some other ego driven tool to hold on to power. Even the best teachers still struggle to grow like the rest of us.
Fear always asserts itself as control and trying to block or dissuade people from growing and learning.... Especially if it can interfere with potential income. It asserts itself by arrogantly belittling or trying to discredit others who don't do what you say or as you do under the false guise of trying to protect people. Often, they are seeking to protect themselves and what they have . Fear asserts itself by trying to limit you from accessing vital information that could empower you. It shows up when you start to ask questions and do your own meditations and research and they try to shoot you down by asserting how many years they have been doing a thing so they know better than you. You might ask if you have had so many years, why haven't you shared these vital bits? It projects that you, as a divine being, have no innate wisdom to discern or receive inner guidance from anyone but them...and that you don't even have the right to perceive outside of what they tell you. And they keep you in fear doubting everything especially yourself. We got that in the church so why do we need it in Ifa? I am not saying that there is no use for teachers, elders, etc. Not at all... They are valuable sources of information and knowledge. I AM saying however, that in addition to what you are taught, continue to seek and see for yourself what is true for you. Its the difference between believing and knowing.
We can only experience the divine according to our level of consciousness...not just our number of years. How many people spent their whole life thinking the earth was flat before it was demonstrated that it was otherwise? How many thought slavery was ok until they were taught otherwise? While experience does count, sometimes there can be stagnation because you can get to a point where you think thats all there is....or should be. This happens all of the time ...and usually just when the universe is on the verge of breaking through a new awareness. It's a part of the process of transformational change and evolution...
When we are going through an awakening process, it means that you begin to question everything. Not as an affront to what came before, but to deepen our understanding of what came before. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Take the time to actually read the sacred teachings of the tradition you say you love. Study the history and how things came to be... Ask why... And if the answer doesn't make sense... Continue asking till you determine if it's valid or needs to be discarded. Put up a red light when someone tries to stop you from critical thinking. Doubt those who doubt you and your capacity for self realization. We can't grow if we don't know. Information is power and knowledge leads to wisdom.
Ifa verse Okanran Odi says:
Okanran first, and then Odi
Ifa says of those that this is the vessel
Wherein the soul is kept and protected.
Ifa says that a blessing is coming
from the Ipori of thr client.
Every answer is waiting inside ourselves
Waiting till we let them out.
Ifa says we should not curse the unborn.
Ifa says we should not curse the dead.
Ifa says we should avoid
Egoism and selfishness, because
We are not the center of the universe;
It only seems that way, and everybody else
Sees these things quite differently.
The remedy against whats bothering you is in honoring the living and the dead.
Ifa says that ones nerves are kind of shaky,
That something inside makes one insecure.
We have a fear that returns and returns,
Ifa tells us to sacrifice, in order
Not to become utterly paranoid, sacrifice so that our existance becomes pleasurable.
Another ese in Iwori Osa speaks about the importance of going within and discovering truth for yourself
Atkaresete, awo orun
A difa fun Olodumare at aiye
Nigbati awon omo-araye nsare to Olodumare nitori ohun gbogbo
Nke baba, baba, mo de
Gba mi; jowo gba mi
Olodumare nI; eetiri?
Eniti mo fun l'agbara, ko lo agbara
Eniti mo fun l'ogbon, ko lo ogbon
Won ni awon omo ti ko ri awon obi won
Won maa sa ipa inu won
Atkaresete (the self adjuster) priest of heaven
Divined for Olodumare and the world
When the people of the world were running to Olodumare for everything
Crying out baba, baba, I have come
Save me; please save me
Olodumare said, what is the matter?
Those whom I have given ability do not use their ability
And those I have given wisdom do not use the wisdom I have given them.
It is said; children who do not see their parents
Will strive for their own inner strength
this is why we no longer no longer see Olodumare. It forces us to use the wisdom we were born with.
from Iwe Fun Odu Ifa by Agelo Fawesagu Agbovi