The signs that are used are binary sequences of quadragrams. In some regions it is expressed as one dot and two dots and in Ifa it is expressed as 1 line and 2 line sequences. These two signs express the duality of nature and more specifically how energy expresses itself in nature.
In nature, there are two forces. One is potential which allows energy to be stored up and reserved and one is kinetic which allows for energy to be outwardly expressed. These forces can also be described as active and receptive, assertive and yielding or yin and yang. We can see this energy expressed further in the forms of :
In fact all energy is contained within these 2 forces. These forces are expressed as assertive kinetic energy of the singular line or dot and the yielding energy of the double lines or dots.
This is the fundamental nature of the lines that are found within the signs and tetragrams.
Everything is predicated upon the natural law of development. Everything is first birthed out of darkness and this darkness is called the womb of existence or the cosmic calabash. This reference is to a Great Mother that can be known as Iya Nla or Oduwa- (Watery womb) or Olodumare ( Ol- Owner Odu- womb Mare-Stability or Eternal) Olodumare is the Owner of the Eternal Womb.
African Cosmology relates its symbolism to the natural elements around it and the most basic element is that of the family so these polarity twins when doubled to be strong can be expressed as Mother and Father of the family. While these are expressed as the family it is important to keep in mind that this is simply a description of energy and is not to imply strict application to men and woman. To do so will severely limit your understanding and application of the principles later on.
As we begin to contemplate the nature of the lines further, we will see that the ancients used the lines as metaphors or symbols to express its meaning.
These forces can further be expressed within the natural cycle of life and the womb as it relates to the fundamental elements in the universe Air, Earth, Fire, Water.
In addition it is replicated by the sun's relationship to the earth in the winter and summer solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes. The Kikongo and Kemetic further elaborate on this as the stages of the development of the earth and its people. In the book The Cosmology of the Bantu Kongo these colors reflect the process of the sun from sunrise, noon, afternoon, and sunset.
As such these four directions are expressed in Ifa as the 4 root Odus Ogbe, Oyeku, Iwori, and Odi. This being the case, we should be able to break these odus down into the same basic energies as the cardinal directions, seasons, cycles of life or wherever we see this fundamental idea expressed.
These 4 root Odus are expressed as Ogbe at the far right, Oyeku at the left, Iwori at the top and Odi at the bottom.