In Trinidad, Osun is associated with the color pink. Oriki Osun teach us how Osun is synonymous with patience and attention to detail.
She is the one who removes every bone from her children’s food. She is a master braider, whose precision beautifies and adorns heads.
When we speak of Osun, we are talking about the highest standards of excellence. She is synonymous with precision.
Consequently, when the babalawo concludes his ritual, he will turn his attention to Osun to verify that things have been done to satisfaction.
When Osun approves of your work, you can be confident that you have achieved high quality. When she disapproves, you know that it is in your best interest to improve.
As the Cubans say, It is preferable to begin one thousand times than to finish one time poorly. Coincidentally, Osun is the patron of Cuba!
Today, let us hail Yeye Otooro Efon! May she guide us out of mediocrity! Àse! May she help us to shun all inattention to detail! Àse! May she not allow us to accept second best! Àse!
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Obafemi Origunwa, MA | OrisaLifestyle.com
Ogun kills on the right and destroys on the right.
Ogun kills on the left and destroys on the left.
Ogun kills suddenly in the house and suddenly in the field.
Ogun kills the child with the iron with which it plays.
Ogun kills in silence.
Ogun kills the thief and the owner of stolen goods.
Ogun kills the owner of the house,
and paints the hearth with his blood.
Ogun is the forest god.
He gives all his clothes to the beggars.
He gives one to the woodcock — who dyes it in indigo.
He gives one to the coucal — who dyes it in camwood.
He gives one to the cattle egret — who leaves it white.
Ogun’s laughter is no joke.
His enemies scatter in all directions.
The butterflies do not have to see the leopard -
As soon as they smell his shit
They scatter in all directions!
Master of iron, chief of robbers,
You have water, but you bathe in blood.
The light shining in your face
Is not easy to behold:
Ogun, with the bloody cap,
Let me see the red of your eye.
Ogun is not like pounded yam:
Do you think you can knead him in your hand
And eat of him until you are satisfied?
Do you think Ogun is something you can throw into your cap
And walk away with it?
Ogun is a mad god
Who will ask questions after seven hundred and eighty years.
Ogun have pity on me:
Whether I can reply or whether I cannot reply:
Ogun don’t ask me anything!
The lion never allows anybody to play with his cub.
Ogun will never allow his child to be punished.
Ogun, do not reject me!
Does the woman who spins ever reject a spindle?
Does the woman who dyes ever reject a cloth?
Does the eye that sees ever reject a sight?
Ogun, do not reject me.
from Yoruba Poetry (1970),
ed. Professor Ulli Beier
Alchemy is a scientific tradition, practiced in many parts of the ancient world. Each culture's manifestation of alchemy has been characterized by a particular set of objectives. One of oldest alchemical documents is called the Emerald Tablet of Egypt. It contains thirteen recipes for creating the philosopher's stone, an unknown substance sought out for its ability to transform base metals into gold and silver. In China, the ancients referred to lien tan, the pill of transformation. Principal among their concerns was immortality. Chinese alchemists ultimately aspired to become transformed into hsien, immortal beings who could shuttle between heaven and earth at will. The ancient Indian word for alchemy was rasayana, the way of mercury. Nagarjuna is revered as the father of Indian alchemy. He wrote the first book of Indian alchemical practices, called the Rasarathnakara. The objective of Indian alchemy was to discipline the body in order to expand consciousness to the point of being able to access any entity in the universe. 
And while each is different from the other, all of these alchemical traditions made use of animal symbols. More precisely, animals did things like helped the alchemist create the philosopher’s stone, change base metals into gold and develop the elixir of life that promoted immortality.
WHAT IS YORUBA ALCHEMY?
In all sincerity, the Yoruba are not known to practice alchemy in the strictest sense of the word. That is, there is no Yoruba equivalent to the philosopher's stone. The Yoruba do not have a process of transmuting base metals into precious ones. There are no Yoruba treatises that we might compare to the Emerald Tablet or the Rasarathnakara. Instead, Yoruba ritual specialists limit the application of their crafts to spiritual empowerment, magical displays and the fulfillment of personal destiny. And while most people are familiar with the activities associated with the babalawo and olorisa, Yoruba ritual specialization also includes herbalists, dream diviners, bone throwers, surgeons, birth attendants, general medical practitioners (gbogbonise) stroke and hypertension healers, bone setters (teguntegun), pediatricians (elewe omo) and pharmacists (lekuleja). In an attempt to examine aforementioned disciplines through the lens of alchemy, let us consider the role of animal symbolism in Yoruba spirituality.
From time immemorial, the Yoruba have considered animals to be totem creatures, imbued with mystic powers. Rodents, fish, mammals and birds are all recognized for their unique, spiritual properties. From an alchemical perspective, animal symbols function as a guide for how human life transforms both internally and externally, if we interpret them with precision.
In an article on animals in Yoruba worldview, Ajibade George Olusola details "the Yorùbá perception of animals with regard to their classification, habitat, and their role and position in religious, political, social, economic, and domestic domains of humans. This leads to an appraisal of relationships that exist between the Yorùbá people and animals in their communities. 
As is the case with all things Yoruba, we can look to the oríkì - praise poetry - of various animals in order to gain a better understanding of their importance to the indigenous worldview. Recitation of oríkì is thought to awaken one’s potential powers. The spiritual world is translated into the human world and directed through strategic recitation of oríkì. They hold the secret of the subject - the principles of its being - and the utterance releases its true power. Oriki, in this way, open channels between beings through which powers can pass and potentials emerge. In the same way that there are oríkì for kingdoms, orisa and individuals, there are also oríkì for animals. Here are a few examples, starting with Etu, the antelope:
The one who has legs painted red with camwood
The one who has thighs with which to touch the dew
Eranko tíí lé tìróò
The animal that put on eyelashes
Eranko tíí wa gònbò
The animal that wears gònbò tribal marks
This antelope oríkì describes its appearance. It mirrors the way the Yorùbá formulate and chant oríkì about human beings. In fact, the oríkì for Etu seem to personify the animal by highlighting its similarities to Yoruba beautification rituals. The antelope's natural marks on its face likened to gònbò tribal marks. Likewise, the use of camwood is synonymous with beautification, as well as spiritual empowerment. In these ways, Etu is praised for its natural beauty.
Òbo, the monkey is another animal considered worthy of oríkì, mainly because of its close resembles to humans:
Òbo akájá lóde
The Monkey that teaches the dog how to hunt
Ògbójú Akítì tíí gbàbon lówó ode
The brave Akítì who seizes the gun from the hunter
Eranko tíí tan ode wògbé sùàsùà
The animal who lures the hunter into the thick forest
The above oríkì shows that animals, like humans, are able to think and plan their activities in advance. Not only that, the monkey is bold enough to seize the gun from the hunter. Furthermore, while it is the duty of the hunter to teach the dog how to hunt, we see from the oríkì that monkey is also capable of teaching the dog how to hunt. Here we see that oríkì of Òbo praise the attributes that are reminiscent of human characteristics.
Also, the leopard, Ekùn has its own oríkì. It goes as follows:
Ekùn, Ògíní omo Ìyáyò
Leopard, Ògíní offspring of Ìyáyò
Leopard who fights fiercely
The animal that eats flesh from the head
The one who has knife in its palm
All attributes in the oríkì of Ekùn praise its powers and heroic character. Here, Ekùn is recognized for its ferocity. By its oríkì, we are to understand that Ekùn is the embodiment of danger. For this reason, Yoruba kings adopt the leopard as their regal totem once they ascent the throne. In the oríkì of Ata (king) Gabriel Osho of Ayede, he is praised for his “hot, dangerous and unlimited power:
Leopard, who scrutinizes restlessly
Who eats fire
Who eats sun
Sango, the orisa of lightening, is one of the few orisa visibly associated with the leopard. Leopard imagery associated with Sango refers to two aspects of his being; royalty and temperament. Sango is an aggressive king, who uses lightning as a destructive and violent force that strikes quickly and devastatingly. Similarly, Ekùn is considered a “hot” animal related to aggressive power, who strikes with merciless speed. An oríkì to Sango informs us this way:
...Strong person, leopard spotted, like Orisa Obaluaiye
Leopard Father of the King of Ede
White sky, sign of richness
Owner of the terrifying thunder waller
Owner of laba [wallets] filled with ase, like seasoned warrior
Leopard on the hill...
In this oríkì, Sango’s iwa (essential character) and violent personality become apparent. The leopard imagery repeated three times reiterates the aggressive and dangerous power associated with him. “The leopard has water, but bathes in blood” is an oríkì for Sango and for Ogun, both of whom share aggressive traits.
In Yoruba ritual space, where oríkì are brought to life, sacred icons, as well as people are often painted with spots. These spots, referred to as finfin, are meant to stabilize sacred space. They “convey transformation and transcendence of worldly entities united with otherworldly forces” (Drewal and Mason 1998:78). John Mason states that “The finfin are often associated with the spots of the leopard,” who is not only able to see in the dark, but as lord of the forest has links to the “other world” and is the “ultimate avatar of transformation” (Drewal and Mason 1998: 78; Drewal and Mason 1997: 346).
Sango is not the only orisa associated with the leopard. Osun, who is revered as the harmonious orisa of sweetness and high standards of excellence, also gives birth to leopards (Thompson 1993: 206-211):
Grant us the destiny of the leopard
In the house of my mother, the river
Royal wives give birth to stalwart leopards
Here, we glimpse Osun as the divine consort, who, in spite of her cool demeanor, gives birth to the firey and tumultuous leopard.
Another feminine force within Yoruba cosmology that makes use of leopard iconography is Gelede. In fact, the leopard is one of the most popular of animal motifs used in Gelede (Lawal 1996: 244). During the annual festival of Odun Gelede, one of the most elaborate of Gelede performances begins with an all night festival, Efe. The highlight of the evening and last performer is the Oro Efe mask. Oro Efe is masculine and aggressive. References to Ogun and warriors are emphatic in his presentation. Here, the leopard image signifies the “sacred leadership of kings, chiefs and priest” and its role as king of the night, played out only through the consent of the female “Mothers” (Drewal and Drewal 1990:101).
Oriki, praising “all-the-powers-that-be,” are sung by the maskers, ending with an oriki featuring Oro Efe’s own worthwhile attributes:
If a child sees a leopard, he will forget all about a matchet
If an adult sees a leopard, he will forget all about a gun
There is no animal like the leopard
I, Alabi, the knower of secrets, am here
Everything is under my control, just as a lion uses its urine to cast a spell in the forest
The elephant is a king among animals
There is nothing like a small snake
I am the senior historian
My father, Osefegbayi, Oseni Logo
Was a force to be reckoned with among Ketu performers
Offspring of Gelede who ascended the throne at Ohori Ile
The one with brass bracelets and anklets
Brass ornaments jingle rhythmically
(Lawal 1996: 125)
The leopard motif here evokes the proverb that says, "The leopard's quiet is not an act of timidity; whoever defies the king will be totally crushed.” (Lawal 1996: 244).
Around the world, alchemists delved deeply into animal symbolism to help them attain their esoteric goals. Within the Yoruba spiritual disciplines, we see how ritual specialists have made use of animal symbolism in order to conceptualize and even facilitate transformation. Thus, Yoruba priests have pursued spiritual expansion as a journey in which they encounter archetypal animal figures. The steps on their journey are paralleled in their rituals, ceremonies and preparation of concoctions. And while they do not aspire to eternal life, nor the transmutation of base metals into gold, Yoruba ritual specialists can be said to incorporate alchemical practices into their sacred arts.
 Cavalli, Thom. Alchemical Psychology. Pg 21-25
 Ajibade George Olusola. ANIMALS IN THE TRADITIONAL WORLDVIEW OF THE YORÙBÁ
 ANN BRISBANE BAIRD. THE SIGN OF THE LEOPARD: LEOPARD IMAGERY IN THE KINGDOMS OF THE YORUBA, THE KINGDOM OF BENIN, AND THE KINGDOM OF DAHOMEY .
When I was finishing graduate school, I had a dream. It started as a graduation procession. Everybody was wearing purple caps and gowns. Suddenly, I floated above the procession and entered into a room. There, I saw two old time, Back men. The one on the right was sitting down. He wore overalls, boots and a red pendleton shirt. The one on the left was standing up. He wore a white suit. They were engaged in a silent negotiation.
The man in overalls seemed to be explaining his position. At one point, a huge engine appeared between them. He stretched his arms, with his hands toward the engine, as if to say, "THIS is what I want to do!" The man in the suit remained completely unmoved. Then, a desk appeared behind them and behind the desk, a door. In walked another Black man, wearing a tweed suit. He leaned on the desk and looked very seriously at each man. Then, all three of them looked at me. I awakened.
The man in overalls was my maternal grandfather, Mr. Williams. He was known as a Two Headed Man in the Ville. According to family history, people would come to Mr. Williams with their problems. After listening, he would tell them which herbs to gather. Then, he wold use a #5 tub to wash their feet with an herbal infusion. The man in the white suit was his senior brother, John. While Mr. Williams functioned as a neighborhood healer in his spare time, John Williams was a professional healer, who had used the earnings of his craft to pay for his younger brother's vocational education. Their father, Green Green, was enslaved in Mississippi. Perhaps it was he who taught them the craft. Based upon my understanding of the dream, John wanted Mr. Williams to join him in his Hoodoo practice but when he refused, the obligation fell to me.
Living in Accordance With One's Destiny as Defined by the Ancestors
In a study on dream analysis among the Nguni people of South Africa, several informants reported dreams wherein their ancestors came to them and demanded that they comply with the obligations of their lineages. In one instance, a man recalled a dream wherein an old man, who was probably his grandfather, did not say anything to him but revealed a certain bag. He interpreted the dream by firstly recalling that his grandfather had been diviner and herbalist , and continued:
"If a person looks at you in a dream without saying anything he is cross with you. So my grandfather was cross with me because I was stubborn. Six. months later I got sick and... have been sick since then. the (traditional priests) say I must not look straight but also at the back (past). They say "You are supposed to work for yourself... because your grandfather prepared things for you before you were born'".
In the interpretation he expresses his responsiveness to the mood of the person in, the dream. The figure presents as being annoyed and dissatisfied with the informant's actions which are described as "stubbornness". There is a conflict within the dream between the wishes of the informant on the one hand, and the "ancestor" on the other . The conflict relates to the person fulfilling a destiny prepared for him "before" he was "born".
The informant is apparently not living in accordance with his own possibilities as revealed by his ancestor. His destiny is revealed as not being within his own control, but through dreams and events, he is made aware of his potential life possibilities, which involves a relationship with a cosmic mode of existence. His failure t.o follow the life which had been "prepared" for him results in him becoming sick. His sickness, however, is meaningful, as it is instrumental in causing him to review his life and life-possibilities, and take cognisance of his ancestor's wishes.
His life process is defined not only in terms of the present, but in terms of the past, as well as the future. His past determines that he has been called to be a healer, like his grandfather. His future, if he is to recover and be well, determines that he be a healer and take on the responsibilities implied therein.
And so it is for all people of African descent. if we are to be well, we must awaken and fulfill the demands of the Ancestral Promise.
NOTES: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL EXPLICATION OF DREAM INTERPRETATION AMONG RURAL AND URBAN NGUNI PEOPLE
When our obi is accepted, we eat one, downward-facing lobe and one upward-facing lobe. They represent negativity (ibi) and positivity (ire), respectively.
When I asked Chief Lanre to explain why this is the case, he replied, it is because good and evil are born together, tibi tire. The baby is the ire. The placenta is the ibi.
Eating the ibi and the ire represents the synthesis of opposites. It signals the ability to transform both good and evil into fuel for self discovery, growth and expansion.
May your obi be accepted. Ase. May there be no limit to your ability to be healed and made whole. Ase. May you work tirelessly to fulfill your ancestral promise. Ase.
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | OrisaLifestyle.com
By: Bola Olalekan
Who Actually Is Orunmila??
Ask me this question some few years ago, I mean before the advent of Proudly Yorùbá I would probably say a filthy, ugly, cannibalistic old man who dined with Esu (Esu here would have meant Satan).
Seriously, who is Orunmila?? I did my findings and this is what I found… Orunmila bara Agboniregun is the God of wisdom in the Yoruba Ifa religion. God of divination, he is perhaps the most revered as far as Ifa is concerned. Orunmila is called upon more often than any other Orisa in the Ifa Yoruba religion. Olodumare bestows Orunmila with infinite wisdom to foretell, predict and read human minds and thoughts. A sound Babalawo would call on Orunmila during divination to reveal a mystery or to uncover some hidden predicaments. According to the Odu Ifa, Orunmila was said to have lived in the spiritual realm for more than 400years without food and water before descending to earth to help mankind. He set foot first on Oke-Igbeti where he lived for the betterment of mankind. Orunmila’s perfect foretelling and prediction together with his ability to read human thoughts made people call him “Ari inu ri ode olu moran okan” meaning; he capable of reading human minds and thoughts.
When Orunmila was at Oke Igbeti, he would call on strangers walking passed him, he would endeavour to tell them about what danger lies ahead and how to avert it. A woman once walked passed Orunmila where he pulled her back, saying woman! Go back home to your husband, your adultery is ruining him! The woman panicked and ran home. Orunmila knocked on a door one day, he told the father of the house to move his livestock into his house and that they should live together in there for seven days, the man hissed and quickly dismissed Orunmila’s advice sooner than later after the third day, a pack of hyenas ate each and every one of them overnight.
After much more, Orunmila left Oke-Igbeti for Ejio upon his arrival, Orunmila stormed a joint where young men were drinking palmwine, Orunmila told each of them to change their jobs, he asked them to exchange jobs among themselves. I.e. the one who was a hunter to change job with the one who was a farmer. Only four men agreed and heeded Orunmila’s advice. Orunmila blessed them and left, those who swapped jobs among themselves prospered within weeks like they won jackpot. Those who refused, remained impoverished, now too late to act as Orunmila had left Ejio for Oke-Ileri.
When he arrived, he asked them to cut and keep the tree of Baliba especially its bark but no one listened to him. Orunmila alone cut as much bark and leaves of tree Baliba as possible, it was not so long that an epidemic befell Oke-Ileri with which the bark and leaves of Baliba tree were the sole cure. It was in the raining season therefore the Baliba tree was not potent enough unlike when Orunmila asked them to get some for future care. Orunmila gave the ones he had but was not enough, this made him sad coupled with how many had treated him with disdain, he therefore resorted to returning to heaven where he belonged. After he left, the sufferings of mankind persisted, Orunmila was even more displeased with this, knowing if he was around, he would always try to help so the kind-hearted Orunmila returned to earth to continue his good deeds.
Orunmila was the youngest of the Orisa sent by Olodumare to discharge various acts to support the universe and mankind. According to Odu Ifa where life of Orunmila is enshrined, he was the wisest human to have lived on earth. He came to earth with Ifa and its embodiment. During a divination, Babalawos would often begin with “Orunmila mo pe o” they would remind him how he listened to Alara and Ajero when they called on him for divination. He often does not let them down. Some have referred to him as ‘Orun ni o mo eniti o la’ others call him Okunrin kukuru Oke Igbeti.
So, next time you hear Orunmila, he was not cruel or nasty. He was a kind prophet of Olodumare sent to help mankind.
Orisa rituals are rich in color, taste and sound. Once you have experienced a properly performed divination, sacrifice or festival, you are very likely to emerge with the overwhelming sense that you have taken a fantastic journey into another space and time. Beyond aesthetics, however, orisa rituals reveal a timeless relationship with divine principles that govern the universe.
The reason orisa ritual is so compelling is very aptly expressed in a Yoruba adage that says, Let us do things the way we used to do them so that things might turn out the way they used to turn out. An elder will typically recite this saying when he or she wants to remind you to retain the integrity of tradition. It is based upon our understanding that perfection is found in the past.
This concept is difficult for the Westerner to accept. We scoff at our elders. Because they are not "hip" we believe they are obsolete. Such is not the case in Yoruba land. There, the elders are held in high esteem. They possess an almost mythic presence that evokes a sense of awe in the youth and children alike. Oftentimes, when explaining the source of his success a man will allude to the powers he received from his father, his uncle or his grandfather.
Of course, this respect is rooted in direct experience. Ifa teaches us about the dire consequences of mistreating elders. Consider, for example, the wisdom of the Holy Odu IkaMeji:
Ifa says a child is practicing the art of disrespect
If he meets a veteran Babalawo
Let him slap the Babalawo's Face
If he meets an elderly Herbalist
Let him beat the herbalist mercilessly
If he meets an Abore (Chief executioner)
Where he bows his head in supplication to Olodumare
Let him push the Abore down
These were the declaration of Ifa to the obstinate children
When they declared that nobody can contain them
They were advised to offer sacrifice
They called the Awo a group of cheats
They labeled Esu Odara a thief
They simply ignored the advice to offer sacrifice
Don't you know that
Long life does not exist for a child
Who slap a veteran Babalawo
Longevity does not exist for a child
Who beats an elderly Herbalist
A child who beats an elderly Abore
Where he was supplicating to Olodumare
Such a child is courting his own perdition
How does a maggot die?
Quickly and in droves
Do maggots meet their death
Quickly and in droves
- Holy Odu IkaMeji
Common thinkers of contemporary society have not yet made the connection between devastation and disrespect. But, as the Yoruba say, every day is for the thief; only one day is for the owner. When it comes to tradition, the immature, ungoverned and unrestrained are the thieves. Meanwhile, the elders are the true owners. For this reason, the Yoruba will say, Agba kosi, ilu baje. It means, Without elders, the kingdom is doomed.
It is precisely this reverence for eldership that enables one to fully appreciate what it means to be a true ritual specialist. In fact, it is safe to say that if you lack the ability to recognize the elders as gatekeepers of all spiritual empowerment, you will never become a true ritual leader.
The Orisa Lifestyle Academy is looking for leaders who are committed to improving the world through positive influence. Is that you? If so, find out how our training programs can help take your practice to the next level:
NOTES: RITUALS, SYMBOLISM AND SYMBOLS IN YORUBA TRADITIONAL RELIGIOUS THOUGHT
The Yoruba traditional religion believes in many orisa (deities) created by Olodumare, the supreme being. The anthropomorphic nature of the orisa gives us an insight into color symbolism in Yoruba culture (Adejumo, 2002). One way to gain a better understanding of orisa lifestyle is to explore color symbolism and its relevance Yoruba mysticism.
Let us consider one verse of Ifa, which tells of a time when the orisa Orunmila embarked upon an epic journey of considerable difficulty.
Orunmila was coming from heaven to earth. He wanted to know of he would be successful there. The awos told Orunmila that he was going to be successful. Eventually, however, the road of fate would lead him to a place that is known for witchcraft. They said, "Orunmila, in order to enjoy long life, you must sacrifice. In addition, you must cling to Obatala and appease awon iyaami osoronga." Orunmila heard and complied.
As predicted, Orunmila was very successful in his priestly duties. In the process, he had heard a great deal about a town called Imure. It was notorious for witchcraft. In fact, it was said that every citizen of Imure was either a witch or a wizard. Not only that, it was common that a visitor who went to Imure could be captured and eaten as part of their annual feast. One day, Orunmila decided to visit Imure.
Before departing, however, he consulted Ifa, at which time he was advised to make a sacrifice. He was told to give red, black and white cloths to Esu. He was told to give Ogun a dog, a rooster and a tortoise. Finally, Orunmila was told to offer two pigeons, which he would bring along with him on the journey to Imure. Orunmila complied and then set out on his journey.
As fate wold have it, Orunmila arrived at Imure just as they were beginning their annual festival. The inhabitants were excited to receive him, as they intended to capture Orunmila and feast on his flesh. They gave Orunmila special accommodations and awaited the opportunity to overtake him.
It was then that Esu went into action. He transformed himself into a townsperson and raised doubts about the stature of the visitor. He said that they should test his strength before capturing him. Esu proposed that the entire town should enforce a strict dress code; the next day, everybody should wear white in the morning, red in the afternoon and black in the evening. If Orunmila failed to comply, they should use this as a justification for capturing him. They all agreed with the plan.
Now, Esu went to Orunmila. He brought with him the white, red and black fabrics that Orunmila had sacrificed earlier. Esu went on to explain to Orunmila that there was a plot to capture and eat him. In order to protect himself, Esu told Orunmila should wear white in the morning, red in the afternoon and black in the evening.
The next day, Orunmila appeared in the morning, wearing all white cloth. The people of Imure were surprised. But they were confident that it was just a coincidence. Surely, Orunmila would not be prepared to change his clothes in the afternoon. That would be their opportunity to capture him. In the afternoon, everybody went home to eat and rest, including Orunmila. After lunch, Orunmila opened his front door and walked out into the street, wearing red cloth. The people of Imure were astonished. How could this be?!?! They still had one more trick up their sleeves. They were absolutely certain that Orunmila would not be prepared to wear black cloth in the evening. So, they would plan to capture him at sunset. After dinner, when Orunmila opened the door and came out for his evening stroll, the people of Imure could not believe their eyes. Orunmila was wearing black clothes. It was then that they recognized Orunmila as above average.
The story above reveals how the Yoruba chromatic system is traditionally grouped into three chromatic categories. The first group is known as "funfun," which is commonly recognized as "white." In reality, however, funfun represents a spectrum of colors that can include turquoise, blue, silver, chrome, and other icy colors. Symbolically, funfun connotes peace and purity. Orisa funfun are practically accepted as the ‘good ones’. People wearing white are not expected to do evil.
Funfun is mostly associated with Obatala worshippers. They clothe themselves in white cloth, white beads and other white ornaments. Their temples, images, shrine, and other paraphernalia are also white. The worshippers of Obatala must offer him white food. During the Obatala festivals, the sacrificial meal is usually the bloodless animals like snails cooked in Shea butter instead of palm oil. Obatala worshippers are thought to be morally upright and truthful (Idowu 1962). They are expected to be clean and pure in their hearts and behavior, as the white color symbolizes.
The next group of color is referred to as "pupa," which can be translated as "red." “Pupa" also encompasses any color that relates to hot, fiery characteristics, such as orange, dark yellow, gold. The color of fire is regarded as red which suggests danger and fearful individuals or creatures. "Pupa" has the psychological dimension of a dangerous personality who possesses a trait of aggression, who lacks patience and might get angry very easily. The "pupa" personality is very dangerous and can be wicked. The associated deities are those that are involved in carrying out acts of aggression and bloodshed.
Pupa is the symbol of Ogun and Sango worshippers. The Yoruba generalize all colors that have elements of red or close to red as topola, such as yellow iyeye safa, and sienna (pupa rusurusu). Red signifies blood, danger, fire and searing emotion. It is a strong color for Sango; Ogun and Sanponna. Ogun, for example, is the orisa of iron and anything associated with iron. He is always referred to a being associated with war and warriors, hunters, smiths and anybody who uses or deals with iron. It said that Ogun drinks blood; the blood of circumcision and scarification, of the hunt, of war and of sacrifice. Since Ogun is always thirsty for blood, he has to be appeased to prevent bloodshed either by gunshot or accidents related to iron. His worshippers wear red all over Yoruba land including Ire, Ondo, Ilesha, and Oka-okoko.
Sango, the orisa of thunder and lightening, is powerful and temperamental. He is a great fighter who wears bright colors particularly red. His shrines are mostly found in Oyo, Ede and Ibadan, where the worshippers both male and female wear red clothes. The shrines objects and the walls are painted or decorated with red cloth. Sometimes the backgrounds of the shrines walls are spotted with white showing the relationship between Sango and Sanponna. The followers of Sanponna wear red with spotted white and beads of red and white round their necks. Sanponna is feared because of the deadly disease, smallpox and other pestilences, which he inflicts on people.
A person inflicted by smallpox can appease orisa by raising a temporary white flag. The use of white color instead of red is to calm the orisa down. In addition to the white flag, palm wine in big gourds, need to be kept at the shrine entrance of Sanponna. However, both palm wine (white) and palm oil (red) are to be kept at the entrance of the house of the patient with smallpox infection. Also, camwood powder mixed with palm oil is used in rubbing the body of the victim for quick healing.
"Dudu" is the last group of colors, and can be translated as "black." Dudu also includes any color that is dark with a resemblance of the earth. Brown, and leafy dark greens and moss greens are also considered dudu. The psychological type of dudu is a down-to-earth, practical, earthy sort of personality. It is a symbol of the secret and mysterious world. Deities and gods under this category are usually worshipped in the night and behind closed doors.
The Yoruba consider all dark shades as black (dudu). This includes: Prussian blues, as in (aro) indigo for dying clothes: magenta or purple (ayinrin): dark-green algae as in (ewedu) vegetable with green leaves; umber (alawo dudu), lamb-black as (eedu) charcoal and sky blue (ofefe). Black (dudu) is associated with Esu, as well as Orunmila, whose ikin (palm nuts) become black after years of use.
When we consider the story of Orunmila's journey to Imure town, his ability to manipulate white, red and black cloth suggests a high level of mystic capacity. In other words, Orunmila demonstrated how he could match the spiritual vibration required at different times of the day. That is, he could be cool and benevolent, which is associated with white cloth. Likewise, he could be firey and dangerous, represented by the red cloth. Finally, he could be earthy and mysterious, represented by the black cloth.
In the Holy Odu OgundaMeji, Ifa tells us of Ogun's son, whose name is Ina. When Ogun's wife was expecting, he went to consult Ifa. The babalawo advised Ogun that he would have a son who would become great and whose name would be known all over the world. Here, the sacred text says the following:
These were Ifa's messages to Ogun
Who woulld beget one child
Whose influence would be felt the world over
He was advised to offer sacrifice
The babalawo said that Ogun must offer one he-goat, a bundle of white cloth, red cloth and black cloth so that the boy would be born safely and have a good reputation as well. Ogun offered the he-goat for safe delivery, but failed to make the sacrifice for good reputation.
Ina was born safely, but arrived with intense drama. For one, the hands of the midwife who tended his birth were severely burnt as soon as she touched him. Then, after his first bath, they tossed his bath water into the bushes. When the water touched the bushes they immediately caught fire.
As Ina grew up, any time he was happy, he wore white, red and black cloth, which his father had refused to sacrifice at the time of his birth. At those times, when his energy was highest, destruction would follow. Consequently, Ina's reputation become synonymous with fear and trepidation.
At the same time, however, because he was the son of Ogun, Ina was indispensable. Nobody could cook without him. No house could be kept warm without him. Even Ogun himself could not perform blacksmithing without him. As a result, while some were trying to get rid of him, others were clamoring to get closer to him.
Eventually, the wise ones assembled and they declared, We must figure out a way to manage Ina, son of Ogun. They devised a plan. Ina must be respected for who he is and not placed in places that are not suitable to his nature. When we see him clothed in white, red and black cloth, we will withdraw at once. Thus, if ever a farm or a home was burned, the owner himself was deemed irresponsible for mismanaging Ina, which is fire.
Ifa says that we shall not extinguish the flame of youth. Instead, we will learn to manage that flame in a way that it is constructive to collective well being.
Johnson O. Oladesu. The Construal of Yoruba Colour Philosophy and Symbolism.
Imagine, if you were a football coach and you ignore your goal to win the championship and focus only on what your team does at practice each day, would you still get the result?
While the goal is to win it all, you would be foolish to spend the whole game thinking about the championship instead of focusing on continuous improvement.
Here's a pro tip: When you have the right practice, you just have to focus on that.
When I say focus on the practice, I am not saying that initiation is bad. Initiation gives you direction.
But the ONLY way to take the journey is by implementing a system of continuous, small improvements that helps you achieve the desired outcome.
The Orisa Lifsstyle Academy specializes in helping you to build a spiritual practice, from the ground up.
Learn more: OrisaLifestyle.com.
The center of the three cross road with wide base
Ifa’s message for Esu Odara
Who insisted that he would not eat kolanut with four lobes
Except the one with three lobes
He was advised to offer ebo
He declared that he eats kolanuts with three lobes
And people receive the blessing of property and of parcels of land and many children
They were also blessed with all ire of life
- Holy Odu IworiOwonrin
Learn more about Obi Divination: Dida Obi
Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho (born 10 October 1972) at Igboho town, located in Oke-Ogun, Oyo State. He is a business magnate, activist and philanthropist.
Nicknamed after his hometown, Mr Igboho rose to fame following his role in the Modakeke-Ife communal crisis in 1997, where he played an active part.
Many believe Mr Igboho has metaphysical abilities which make him a formidable opponent in battle. He is the chairman of Adeson International Business Concept Ltd and the Akoni Oodua of Yoruba.
He gained social media attention in January 2021 when he gave an ultimatum to Fulani herdsmen in Ibarapa to vacate the land after the killing of Dr. Aborode and enforced same. He was arrested on Monday night in Cotonou, after trying to flee Nigeria to Germany.
From Osun to Oyo states and some other places in the South West, the name, Sunday Igboho, rings a bell. Either as a result of several tales and myths about the 45-year-old man who reportedly commands guns into appearance and is feared for what many see as a lifestyle of brigandage or an encounter with him in real life or through a recent eponymous Yoruba home video, a meeting with Chief Sunday Adeyemo alias Sunday Igboho, is certain to arouse curiosity. In this interview by MOSES ALAO, he speaks on his life, how he came about his name and metaphysical prowess and his decision to contest the governorship seat in Oyo State in 2019. [5a]
Whenever and wherever Sunday Igboho is mentioned, what comes to the minds of most people is a picture of brigandage and violence, but you have often maintained that you are a man of peace. Who is Sunday Igboho?
People don’t know a lot of things about me. The thing I detest the most is oppression: whenever I see that anyone is being oppressed or cheated for being on his right, I defend such people. I say it all the time that anyone who can point out that Sunday Igboho killed someone should come out with the facts. Even at the height of the heated politics between the late Chief LamidiAdedibu and former Governor Rashidi Ladoja in Oyo State, I didn’t kill anyone. The only thing I did was to protect Ladoja and shield him from harm whenever he was to be attacked. As hot as the venue of the Akure, Ondo State primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in 2006, I ensured the safety of the former governor. People made moves to buy me over in order to harm Ladoja but I refused. I am a loyal person; I do not betray anyone I am with. Go and ask about me. And let me tell you that it was the Adedibu-Ladoja face-off that made people to shout my name as if they know me. I am a man of peace.
Let me tell you what happened some years back. There was a crisis between some quarters in Igboho and people were shooting, attacking one another. People expected me to go home and join in the fight because Modeke, where I am from, was in the fight. They expected me to support killing but I didn’t do that. I said I am from Igboho and my people could not be fighting one another. I settled the dispute; I called all the stakeholders and told them all to end the crisis. Soldiers could not end that crisis back then, but I did. Many people prayed for me while others felt angry that I didn’t support them. My position then was that those being wasted could become the benefactors of the killers and even the town. So, Sunday Igboho is a man doing the task God sent him. Yes, I am a tough person; some can call me a trouble-maker, but I am not. That is the truth.[5b]
The Vulture perches on top of a high wall
Its gaze would cover the city
Its gaze would cover the forests
Cast divination for Saniyan
Saniyan, the slave of destiny in heaven
He was asked to offer sacrifice
Everybody had chosen what he or she would become
during his or her subliminal stage
When coming from the city of heaven
When he arrived on the earth
He was asking for what to do
‘Do you know what’? They said
Òrúnmìlà is the one that knows no other thing except sacrifices
All those things which man chooses as destiny that is bad
It is he that would use sacrifice to mend it
They told Saniyan to go and offer sacrifice to his Orí
‘It is their Orí that would be against them’
‘They would say it is Ifá’
He performed the sacrifice
And life pleased him
They retraced their steps to the right way
They said it was exactly what his Babaláwos predicted
The Vulture perches on top of a high wall
Its gaze would cover the city
Its gaze would cover the forests
Cast divination for Saniyan
Saniyan, the slave of destiny in heaven
He was asked to take care of the ground
And offer sacrifice
They would say it is Ifá
If their Orí is against them
They would say it is Ifá
So it is their Orí that is against them in the earth?
- Holy Odu OyekuIka
One way to fully appreciate the significance of this verse is to take into consideration the fact that Orunmila is praised as the Eleri ipin, or intermediary of fate. In the Holy Odu IrosunOse, Ifa teaches that when the irunmole sent Ori to bring Eniyan [humanity] back to heaven, it was Orunmila who agreed to return to heaven on Eniyan's behalf, and appease all the deities. Out of appreciation, the irunmole accepted the offerings and declared that Eniyan would be further blessed. In addition, Eniyan would be required to complete the ritual annually and that Orunmila would function as the intermediary of eniyan's fate. That is, Orunmila would carry Eniyan's sacrifice to the irunmole. And so, tension between heaven and earth is conceptualized as a brokered exchange.
At the root of this exchange, however, is your ability to make informed decisions, as is clearly expressed in the verse of OyekuIka:
All those things which man chooses as destiny that is bad
It is he [Orunmila] that would use sacrifice to mend it
People sometimes choose misfortune for ourselves. Our judgement can be flawed. Our perception can be distorted. We can be downright foolish. Either way, we must acknowledge the fact that there are times when we are the source of our problems. In those instances, you might say that Ori works against us. The Holy Odu OyekuIka definitely says as much:
‘It is their Orí that would be against them’
‘They would say it is Ifá’
Here, it is also important to consider how Ifa works best. Through wise teachings, which require sacrifice, combined with observances, Ifa imposes a set of behavioral standards onto the individual, as well as the group. These standards ensure a certain quality of life by outlining what must be done to maintain stability, increase prosperity and strengthen dignity.
As such, Ifa sets performance limits, as well as requirements. On one hand, there are things you cannot do. On the other hand, there are things at which you must be excellent. Most importantly, Ifa reveals itself through natural consequences. I have heard it said that "If Ifa did not manifest like a nightmare, the novice would never become a believer."
This is certainly what must inform Òrúnmìlà's reputation for being a very disciplined ritual specialist, which is clearly stated in the verse of OyekuIka, above: Òrúnmìlà is the one that knows no other thing except sacrifices. So, whenever you go to consult Ifa, be prepared to complete the sacrifice. As OyekuIka informs us, when he went to consult Ifa, "They told Saniyan to go and offer sacrifice to his Orí... He performed the sacrifice and life pleased him."
And so it was, that Saniyan became seru ipin l'orun, the slave of destiny in heaven, which is a way to praise Ori. Through Ifa devotion you practice the art of serving your destiny faithfully. Stated differently, by doing the same things for Ori that Orunmila does, you become the broker of peace and order in your life and the lives of those you're destined to serve. Thus, you gradually resolve the tension between heaven and earth, between the physical and metaphysical worlds.
THE GOOD CONDITION
It is vital that you also know that the name Saniyan means, "A specially chosen person." This fact points directly to the very purpose of humanity, which is called Eniyan, meaning "A chosen person." The name derives from a verse from the Holy Odu IrosunIwori, which says:
Let us do things with joy.
Those who want to go, let them go.
Those who want to stay, let them stay.
Surely, humans have been chosen to bring good into the world.
The all-knowing one, priest of Òrunmìlà,
Cast Ifá for Òrunmìlà.
He said the people of the world would come to ask him a certain question.
He said that Òrunmìlà should sacrifice.
Òrunmìlà heard and complied.
One day, all kinds of people; good people and those who do not allow good
in other people’s lives gathered together.
They then went to Òrunmìlà.
They said “Coming back and forth to earth tires us, Òrunmìlà.
Therefore, please allow us to rest in heaven.”
Òrunmìlà said “You cannot avoid going back and forth to earth
Until you bring about the good condition that Olódùmarè has ordained for every human being.
After then, you may rest in heaven.”
They asked “What is the good condition?”
Òrunmìlà said “The good condition is a good world;
a world in which there is full knowledge of all things; happiness everywhere.
Life without anxiety or fears of enemies.
Without clashes with snakes or other animals,
Without fear of death, disease, litigation, losses, wizards, witches or Èsù.
Without fear of poverty or misery.
Because of your wisdom, your compelling desire for good character and your internal strength.
The things needed to bring about the good condition in the world then are;
Wisdom that is fully adequate to govern the world;
Sacrifice, character, the love of doing good for all people,
especially those in need,
And those who seek our assistance,
And the eagerness and struggle to increase good in the world,
And not let any good at all be lost.
People will continue to go to heaven
And they will go back and forth to earth after their transfiguration
Until everyone has achieved the good condition.
Thus, when the children of Odùduà gather together,
Those chosen to bring good into the world
are called Ènìyàn, or the chosen ones.”
As a result of the declaration above, the descendants of Odùduà are known as ènìyàn, which means “the chosen ones”
in Yoruba. More significantly, this particular text explains that Olódùmarè, the Creator and Lord of life and existence, has assigned each of us a divine mission to help bring about the Good Condition.
I am always looking for leaders who are devoted to improving the world through positive influence. Is that you? Visit ObafemiO.com or OrisaLifestyle.com to find out how Obafemi Origunwa and the Orisa Lifestyle Academy can help you live the medicine that will heal your life and heal the lives of those you're destined to serve.
The Yoruba say, "Concede to each person his or her own character." It speaks to our value for acceptance. One person may be extrovert, while another is introvert. One prefers spicy food, but the other cannot stand it. One is quick of mind and outspoken, while the other expresses herself through movement and does not speak much. As a professional teacher and priest, it is my responsibility to recognize these traits as learning styles and use my expertise to help every student to fulfill his or her potential.
When I met Dr. Afivi, she was interested in my course, the Fundamentals of Orisa Lifestyle. She called me with her questions - some of which were quite pointed - all of which I gladly answered. In the five years since then, she has successfully completed the Personal Priesthood Certification, which is a one year course of study. In addition, Dr. Afivi has also enrolled in the School of Orisa Studies and demonstrated proficiency in all five areas of spiritual specialization.
In the year 2020, Ifa advised me that there were several candidates for initiation who were ready to be taken to the Sacred Grove and be introduced to the mysteries of Orisa. Dr. Afivi was among them. So, in June of 2021, she and I made the fateful journey to the compound of Chief Lanre Okemuyiwa, the Apesin Awo of Gbagura land in Abeokuta. There, Dr. Afivi and I met a host of priests, priestesses and drummers from several kingdoms, including Abeokuta, Ijebu and Awori.
There are many kinds of Yoruba ritual that focus on individual spiritual development. In every instance, the ritual specialists set out to determine the exact nature of one's ori inu, inner head. Here, the goal is to discover the optimal pathway to fulfilling one's earthly purpose. While some must serve a particular Orisa, others must focus upon their ancestors. In either case, the iyawo orisa (new initiate) will learn those things to do and those things to avoid in order to optimize the journey of life.
As a babalawo, who is not initiated into the mysteries of Orisa, I was forbidden entry into the Sacred Grove with her. However, at specified times, the Iyalorisa (Chief Priestess) would send for me to come and observe, pray and bring things to the iyawo. It was during those times that I could see the admiration and care the priestess were giving to the iyawo. As a professional educator myself, I saw the playful, yet stern way they guided her. Likewise, I saw the serious and sincere way that the iyawo received instruction and participated in the initiatory process.
During a brief conversation between the iyawo and I, she remarked how helpful her training had been. More exactly, she told me how confident she felt because she was able to follow the ritual flow, even though she did not speak enough Yoruba to understand what was being said. Later on, when I had left the iyawo's secluded chambers, Chief Lanre also remarked that he was very impressed with the way in which the iyawo was able to be an active participant in the ceremonies. At one point, he noted her training in the Orisa Lifestyle Academy and said that he was in total support of our insistence upon getting trained BEFORE getting initiated.
Orisa initiation is conceptualized as a journey, in and of itself. The iyawo and priestess travel from one place to another, reenacting the sacred text and exploits of the divinities. Along the way, the travelers endure hardships, as well as triumph. No journey is complete with a return. But the experiences give the travelers keys to reflection and deeper understanding. Paramount among those keys is the divination text that gives birth to the iyawo's spiritual path.
Once the ceremonies had concluded, the iyawo emerged, reborn and renewed. Ifa confirmed that her offerings had been accepted and that, henceforth, she would be called Osundoyin Akanke. And so, it is my extreme honor to rejoice with Osun's daughter. I pray that her ori will enable her to make a meaningful contribution to the tradition and to the global African community at large. Ase!
In Trinidad, it's called Spiritual Baptist. In Jamaica, they call it Revivalist. In Cuba, it's called Espiritismo. In Brazil, they call it Umbanda. In the USA, it's COGIC. In Nigeria, they call it Aladura.
And while each of these traditions are distinct from one another, with their own protocols, methodologies and values, they are bound, like children of the same mother; Africa.
Many years ago, before everything was posted on social media, if you wanted exposure to the culture, you had physically seek out the practitioners wherever they could be found. Consequently, on more than one occasion, I found myself attending late night meetings in people's living rooms, trying my best to figure out what exactly was going on.
One Sunday afternoon, I ended up at an Aladura church in L.A. The drums, tambourines and songs were hot like fire! It was reminiscent of the Baptist church in so many ways; the shouting, the wailing and possession were all familiar to me, even if I couldn't understand everything being said. All of that shifted once worship concluded.
At the close of services, the men invited me to help them to move a stone... a boulder, actually! It took at least six of us to get it from the flatbed out front, roll it from the front of the church, all the way into large patio in the back. There, the entire ground was covered with sand, leading up to a verandah. Beneath the verandah, there was a simple altar. I could see where the stone would be placed, right in the center. But, just as I was dreaming of seeing it up close, one of the men politely thanked me for my help, complemented me on my strength and asked me to return to the sanctuary.
I am certain that every one of the folks in that church would consider themselves Christian. Much like my family in Louisiana, who live at the very heart of hoodoo swamp culture, the Aladura worshippers take great pride in their devotion to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. The great stone, the ecstatic worship and the regular occurence of spirit possession have been absorbed into their own, special strain of Christianity.
Just a couple of years ago, I was fortunate to participate in a very deep Spiritual Baptist ceremony in Trinidad. It is called Mourning. The ceremony consisted of seven days of sensory deprivation, accompanied by relentless prayer and devotion. While the liturgy was drawn exclusively from the Bible and the ceremony took place in a church, I assure you, it was 100% African spirituality.
My eyes were opened as a result of the Mourning ceremony. I literally saw what my physical eyes could never behold. It was an experience that I will forever cherish, for it revealed the genius of African spiritual innovativeness.
The term “worship” comes from the Old English word weorthscipe, or worth-ship. It means to give someone the honor or respect they are due. The German word, Gottesdienst, means roughly “God act” or “God service.” It can mean either God’s service or act toward us, or our service or acts toward God—or both. This word describes a relationship between God and people and mutual service. Theologically, it has been interpreted as first God’s act toward us followed by our response of thanks and praise.
In Yoruba, worship is called isin. It refers to the many ways through which we give reverence to Olódùmarè, the Orisa, our ancestors or our destinies. Worship is the most essential element of spiritual development and personal greatness. Stated differently, when you worship, you are actually conditioning many of the activities associated with a highly cultivated intuition, as well as a clearly defined sense of purpose. More specifically, the act of worship sets the stage for you to pray, meditate, chant, sing, play music, dance, divine, perform sacrifice, participate in ceremonies, festivals and so on.
Each one of these practices is essential to your spiritual development because they activate the body, heart, mind and soul. For example, something as simple as prayer becomes very powerful over time. Consider the fact that the intensity of your prayer in an emergency is likely to be much greater than when everything is flowing nicely.
Several years ago, when I was just starting to see clients, I went outside my house to see that my car had been stolen. Immediately, I started to think of all the important things I could not do without my car. But as my anxiety grew, something interesting happened: I went straight to the shrine to ask Ifá. The Odù directed me to appease my mother’s spirit. The offering was relatively small, consisting of foodstuffs from my own kitchen. I did as instructed, then called the police to file a report.
Within 4 hours my car was returned. After the fact, I reflected upon the intensity and focus of my prayers that day. Before then, I had been performing my rituals with sincerity, but I lacked a real sense of urgency. However, after that experience, I learned to make every prayer as if someone’s life depended upon it.
So, the more you pray – under varying circumstances and conditions – the more reverent and humble you become towards the power that sustains the universe, Olódùmarè. Intellectually, prayer also sets the stage for meditation. It has been said that prayer is invoking the spirit and meditation is listening to the spirit.
Within the Orisa Lifestyle Academy, we have said since our inception that the Holy Odu is our measuring stick for religious precision and authenticity. When it comes to the structure, content and purpose of devotion, our reliance upon the sacred text is illustrative:
Olódùmarè is the Pinnacle of Devotion: All forms of worship, from divination to sacrifice, is devoted to Olodumare, the Almighty. In the verse that follows, we see that Orunmila, who is Olodumare's delegate on earth, was unable to accomplish anything of significance until he took Olodumare as his father:
Here would I have followed
And there would I have passed through
In stages does one bury the corpse of one's friend
These were Ifa's declarations to Orunmila
When he was doing all things
Without succeeding at any of them
He was advised to take his Olodumare as his father
Without succeeding at any of them
He was advised to take his Olodumare as his father
Rescue me, oh my Olodumare, please accept me
You are the only one I rely upon
Rescue me, oh my Olodumare, please accept me
You are my pillar of support
Rescue me, oh my Olodumare, please accept me
You are the one I look up to
Rescue me, oh my Olodumare, please accept me
Nobody relies on Olodumare
For him to be put to shame
Rescue me, oh my Olodumare, please accept me
- Holy Odu OseBiile
Ancestry is essential to effective devotion: Your spiritual identity and divine mission have been handed down from one generation to the next, by way of your lineage. In the following verse, you will see how the Ancestral Promise is responsible for maintaining balance between heaven and earth:
There is no childbearing woman
Who cannot give birth to an Ifa priest
There is no woman who cannot give birth to Orunmila
Our father, if he gives birth to us in full
Inevitably, we shall, in time,
Give birth to him, in turn
Our mother, if she gives birth to us in full
Inevitably, we shall, in time,
Give birth to her, in turn
This was Ifa's message to Orunmila
Who said he would bring heaven down to earth
Who said he would bring earth back up to heaven
- Holy Odu IworiOdi
Ori is Supreme: All devotion, and all blessings that result from proper worship are associated with ori, which is the seat of destiny. In the verse that follows, you will see the unique relationship between Olodumare, Ifa and Ori:
Otura set out on a journey to Ira town but never reached Ira
Akoki, a traveler set out on a familiar journey but never returned
Honesty is more rewarding
It is higher than dishonesty
This was the Ifa cast for “I have kindred
And I am blessed with relations
But I do not have sympathizers”
There is no sympathizer as Ifa
One's Ifa is one's greatest sympathizer
There is no sympathizer as Ori
One's Ori is one's greatest sympathizer
There is no sympathizer as Olorun,
Olorun is one's greatest sympathizer
- Holy Odu OturaOgunda
Elements of Orisa Devotion
In the Orisa Lifestyle Academy, we teach FIVE elements of devotion:
If you don't have a system, you don't have a spiritual practice. In the School of Orisa Studies, you can learn my proven system, which I guarantee will guide your practice & transform your Ancestral, Mental, & Spiritual Energy.
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I have a couple of questions for you... What is effective problem solving? How do you know that the prayers, rituals and ceremonies you're learning will actually work for you? How important is it to have an actual plan that is explicitly designed to accomplish your desired life goals with maximum effectiveness? Why do premature solutions - ones that have not been fully developed - lead to further, more complicated problems?
Today, I want to show you how to approach your spiritual journey with clarity and purpose. As you read the words that follow, know that my intention is to introduce educational planning as a spiritual journey, as well as expose the requirements for reaching your destination.
My objective here is to help you to envision the desired outcome so that you can properly recognize its importance as an indispensable focus of your life.
First things first... You must identify your needs BEFORE you can define and carry out solutions. A certain amount of introspection, self evaluation and acceptance is absolutely necessary in order to avoid creating premature solutions. Understand, errors in your spiritual journey will lead you to contradict your destiny and delay your capacity to attain the levels of fulfillment you truly desire.
There is a BIG difference between planning what to do and doing what has been planned. The more clearly you understand the difference between planning and doing, the more enriching your spiritual journey will be.
The undisputable point of departure is to define your NEEDS. When it comes to Orisa Lifestyle, you absolutely NEED to understand Yoruba civilization. This is because Yorùbá indigenous knowledge systems as a whole are, by definition, holistic. That is, the organizing principles of Yorùbá indigenous knowledge systems are characterized by their philosophical, cultural and ecological interdependence. According to philosopher Adébáyò Adésànyà, “This is not simply a coherence of fact and faith, not of reason and traditional beliefs, nor of reason and contingent facts, but a coherence of compatibility among all the disciplines. A medical theory e.g., which contradicted a theological conclusion was rejected as absurd and vice versa." (Origunwa, Obafemi. Onà - Creative Genius: Yorùbá Visual Art as a Medium for Holistic Education)
The first phase of your educational plan is the Intro to Yoruba Spirituality. In this four part mini course, you will get an overview of how Orisa Lifestyle permeates every dimension of Yoruba civilization as a whole. This course is indispensable because it fulfills your need for historical and cultural context.
Without such context, you cannot honestly claim to understand the spiritual practices of Orisa Lifestyle.
The Intro to Yoruba Spirituality is the beginning of a SYSTEMS APPROACH to your spiritual journey. When I say a systems approach, I am referring to a process by which your needs are identified, specific problems are defined, alternatives are presented and undesirable options are eliminated.
You can think of a systems approach as a way of thinking, as well as a tool. As you take into consideration the overlapping influences of language, economics, family structure and the environment, for example, you will create logical and emotional pathways of understanding that make the learning process more meaningful.
In addition, it is precisely this understanding that will enable you to select an educational track, which will guide and shape your spiritual journey.
Some people are "top down" thinkers. They think about the big picture. Top down thinkers want to know how all the parts fit together, what they mean to one another, what the finished product looks like and why it matters.
Some people, on the other hand, are "bottom up" thinkers. They want to know the details. Bottom up thinkers are more concerned with step-by-step instructions, precision and accuracy. Bottom up thinkers tend to be troubleshooters, who can quickly identify inconsistencies, gaps and problems.
The Orisa Lifestyle Academy has an educational plan for both types of thinkers.
TRACK A: Personal Priesthood Coach. This is an educational plan that is best suited for top down thinkers. In this year-long certification program, you will explore five disciplines of Orisa Lifestyle, including 16 Essential Traits of Personal Priesthood, the Fundamentals of Orisa Lifestyle, Daily Devotion, Healing Modalities, and Implementation. Personal Priesthood Certification is designed for people who want to function as a coach who helps others establish and follow a spiritual plan and reach their life goals.
TRACK B: Orisa Devotee. This is an educational plan that is best suited for bottom up thinkers. This is where you learn to establish and maintain a spiritual practice, including mastery of the devotional calendar, daily prayers, divination and offerings. In short, TRACK B is where you learn everything you need to know BEFORE being initiated or receiving a consecrated altar.
Personal Priesthood Certification is a year long experience. It consists of five complete courses, forty weeks of instruction, over one thousand proprietary lessons and activities. Each of the five courses in the year-long Personal Priesthood Certification process is broken down into well-defined modules with proprietary lessons and step-by-step activities. People learn at different rates and in different ways. The Personal Priesthood Certification process includes audio, video, print and oral presentations to to fit your learning style. In addition to being a babalawo, with more than 20 years' experience, Obafemi Origunwa, MA is a professionally trained counselor and master teacher, with students from age 3 to 70. Download the brochure.
With Personal Priesthood Certification, you will have the knowledge and skills to help yourself, your clients, friends and families live the medicine that will heal your lives and heal the lives of the people you are destined to serve.
We’ll teach you how to turn your natural gifts and talents into competitive advantage. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about the intricacies of managing your spiritual development through Personal Priesthood. We'll show you how to connect with the people you're destined to serve and create competitive advantage.
Finally, we'll show you how to build a system that enables you to build your tribe. As you explore the resources and educational experiences offered through Personal Priesthood Certification, you'll be well on your way to achieving spiritual freedom and living your dreams! Download the brochure for more information.
The School of Orisa Studies is where you learn everything you need to know BEFORE initiation. This track is ideal for people who need instructions on what to do on a daily basis in support of their spiritual development. More exactly, in the School of Orisa Studies, you will learn the devotional calendar, ijuba, oriki obi divination and offerings. In addition, you will get in depth exposure to the sacred text of Ifa (i.e., the Holy Odu), weekly devotional services and practical application of the spiritual principles.
The School Orisa Studies is where people go to establish their practice. This track challenges the mind, heart and body to surrender to the wisdom of the soul. It's ideal for those who are ready to apply the teachings immediately.
Now that I have introduced you to educational planning as the blueprint for your spiritual journey, you can appreciate what must be done in order for you to fulfill your destiny. Not until these requirements have been met can right action begin.
The explanations and lessons offered in the Orisa Lifestyle Academy provide vital directions for achieving success in problem solving and continuous spiritual renewal.
Pouring libation is a standard practice in Orisa Lifestyle. I'll never forget the first time I witnessed a babalawo pour libation. It was around 1996 in Los Angeles, at the US Organization. I had accompanied my teacher, Babalade Olamina, to a lecture by Pa Wande Abimbola. He chanted a beautiful verse of Ifa and then poured a few drops of water onto the floor and invited the participants to come and receive blessings by touching the water on the floor, then touching our foreheads. Since then, I have been in ritual space with priests from Ghana, Nigeria, Cuba, the United States and Trinidad. All of them poured libation.
We pour libation for a variety of reasons. For example, when we pour libation the way Pa Wande did, we are cooling the earth and seeking a peaceful environment for all in attendance. There are other times when we invoke the primordial powers, one by one. It is customary to sprinkle a few drops of water following each deity we call forth. We do this based on the understanding that, when we call the deities, they will come. And, because it is polite to offer refreshment to a traveller who visits your home, we sprinkle the water as a gesture of hospitality and respect. Still, there are other times when we pour libation - either with water, gin or other liquids - as an offering associated with devotion.
ETUTU, APESE & ADIMU
Etutu, apese and adimu all refer to the ritual of pouring water or other consecrated substances onto the icon of a deity. While the offering is being made, the ritual specialist also chants oriki or Ifa verses corresponding either to the deity, the substance or the ritual itself.
In the process of Ifa divination, I could be directed to offer gin as an etutu (appeasement) to Orisa Esu.
I might start by reciting a verse of Ifa that explains the purpose of my devotion:
Pounded yam without soup can be difficult to consume
This was the Ifa cast for Etutu, appeasement
The child of Agbonniregun
He whose attitude was not acceptable
He who was full of bad character
He whose bad attitude had prevented him from coming to Ifa's domain
Now, we have come to solicit on behalf of Etutu
We have come to beg on behalf of Etutu
Father, please be patient
And overlook this provocation
We have come to beg on behalf of Etutu
Orunmila responded that, those of you who come to solicit on behalf of Etutu
Those who are begging on behalf of Etutu
How many children did Ifa have?
That he would cast out one?
Those who beg on behalf of Etutu.
- Holy Odu IrosunOturupon
Here, you can see that etutu was a son of Orunmila who had behaved poorly. As a consequence, somebody had to beg forgiveness on his behalf. This verse of Ifa demonstrates how etutu is meant to mitigate hostility or to redress some kind of offense.
Following the verse explaining the purpose of my offering, I could follow up with an Ifa verse that consecrates the substance to be offered, in this case, gin. Once I have consecrated the gin, I could then recite oriki Esu and finally pour the gin onto the icon.
Etutu is a form of sacrifice meant to put an end to unfavorable conditions. Here, it's important to note that there are strict and detailed rules for what must be done before, during and after the ritual. For example, people must NOT consume etutu offerings. Thus, etutu should only be performed under the watch of a qualified ritual specialist.
Another form of offering is called apese or ipese [ah-pwe-seh]. Whereas etutu is meant to appease the deities, apese is typically meant for the mouths of people, which can easily be used as agents of evil. More precisely, we recognize the presence of the ajogun, which are malevolent forces. When Ifa reveals that the ajogun are responsible for your hardship, apese may be prescribed in order to reconcile the situation and restore harmony between parties.
In a verse of the Holy Odu EjiOgbe, Ifa teaches us of the time when Ori was besieged by Awon Iyaami Osoronga.
A mature deer is the one with stripes on its back
This was Ifa's message for Ori
Whose destiny was being ruined by the Iyami
He was advised to offer ebo
Ori went to Ifa for consultation to prevent Awon Iyaami from disturbing him. He was advised to sacrifice. In addition, Ori was advised to prepare akara with esuru beads, cover it with palm oil and place it onto an earthen plate. Then, red cloth and a mirror should be added and it should be placed at Ikorita Meta, the three way intersection, which is the usual meeting place of the Iyami (the elders of the night). Esu then told Ori to hide in a place very close to the Ikorita Meta.
Before the Iyaami set out on their mission, Esu Odara appeared to them and told them, “I know you are on a very serious mission, but please have something to eat before you go.” They obliged and took the ipese that had been prepared on behalf of Ori. After taking it, Esu asked them where they were headed. They told Esu that they were on their way to Ori's place. "To do what?" Esu asked. They answered, "To destroy all of his achievements." They said that it was their usual way of destroying Ori and ensuring that he amounted to nothing in life.
Esu then asked them to pick up the mirror that was in the plate and use it to look at their faces. They did. Esu then said, 'Don't you see, after having taken the meal, you now all look even more beautiful’. They then said yes. It was then that Esu then told them that the meal was prepared for them by Ori, the one they had set out to destroy. Esu called Ori to come out. He came out and was embraced by the Elders of the Night. They then said to him: "Well done Ori! The one who uses Ileke esuru to prepare bean cake. Ori then replied, "Elders of the Night, You are welcome. You have done well. The ones whose beaks are made of esuru beads. The ones with beautiful delicate eyeballs." There, in the presence of Esu, they swore never destroy or disturb Ori again.
Adimu, the One We Cling to
Like etutu, adimu is intended for the deities. However, once the deity has accepted the adimu, people are free to partake of it. The purpose of adimu is to supplement the ebo riru (sacrifice) which has been performed by the ritual specialist.
One verse of the Holy Odu IreteOkanran illustrates the purpose and function of adimu:
To crouch in the forest in a way that looks like we are out of sight
To beat Igbin drum twice for Orisa in a way to make it sound pleasantly
And to give us satisfaction
To conceal two gongs under the garment
If they touch each other
They will make a rhythmic sound
These were Ifa’s declarations to Adimu
The one that would kindle a light for Obatala in order to actualize his destiny
He was advised to offer sacrifice
Adimu has kindled light inside
And has kindled light on the road
It is the light of success that Adimu has kindled.
- Holy Odu IreteOkanran
In this instance, you can see that Obatala is the orisa who bestows blessings. Thus, if this Odu appeared, you would be directed to gather materials for the babalawo to perform sacrifice for you. Following the sacrifice, you would be directed to light a candle for Obatala for seven days as part of the adimu.
Etutu, apese and adimu are rituals that enable the devotee to surrender to, honor and connect with the Orisa and the energy and power they exude. It is through proper devotion that we attain their blessings.
According to the directives of Ifa divination, you can perform these rituals for numerous purposes, such as empowerment, balancing spiritual energies, prosperity, removal of inner negativity and victory over enemies.
The ritual of pouring water, gin or palm oil on Orisa icons is potentially a form of cleansing and purification of your own mind. Each offering represents different spiritual properties; while some have a cooling effect, others are intended to have an animating effect. By offering the substances that represent different elements, the true adept will also request that the deity also activate these elements internally. As you propitiate the icons, you are invited to purge yourself of malevolent spirits, limitations, and emotional hindrances.
Falade, Fasina. Ifa, the Key to its Understanding
IITI Module 14
The wisdom of the Holy Odù Idinleke teaches us many important lessons. When the orisa resided in Osogbo, the great bastion of Yoruba spirituality, they found themselves in need of leadership and guidance. It was Orunmila who they selected for the duties; not because of his wealth, strength or cunning. Orunmila's gentle character made him the obvious choice.
Iwa pele - gentle character - is not, however a projection of puritanical rigidity. Iwa pele, as practiced by Orunmila in Idinleke, is a dynamic form of service leadership. Here, Orunmila came into the habit of tending to the orisa every 4 days, feeding them, energizing them, praising them, instructing them. This is what we call Ose Ifa. In other words, Orunmila was facilitating their individual and collective successes. He was helping them realize their plans and minimize their problems. They saw their success was coming from Orunmilas support and saw in him a natural fit for formal leadership. So they handed over the reigns of power to Orunmila. This is how Ifa guides us towards excellence.
Much like Booker T. Washingtons philosophy which teaches us to be indispensable elements of our communities - as construction workers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc - Idinleke demonstrates how disciplined spiritual practice will position you for the highest degree of leadership. If you want to discover personal leadership and spiritual purpose today, Tap into your natural gifts and talents and find a spiritual community to serve.
Ifa ni, ka fini koni ka le baa lola
Ka fiwa kowa ka le baa niyi
A difa fawon Odu merindinlogun
Won jo n rin won o rinu ara won...
Ifa said we should reason together
So that we may be wealthy
That we behave well to earn honor
Cast Ifa for the sixteen Odu
Who were moving together but could not understand one another...
Whenever EjiOgbe would divine, OyekuMeji would despise him. Likewise, whenever OyekuMeji would divine, IworiMeji would despise him. In turn, whenever IworiMeji would divine, OdiMeji would despise him. On and on, each of the Olodu would insult one another.
Why was it that all of them had come into the world without a leader? Why was it that whenever one of them would divine, the other would belittle him? If was for that reason that the Olodu took their case to Olodumare for direction. The Olodu asked Olodumare to choose a leader from among them. They asked him to determine who would be the highest, who would be the lowest and who would be in between?
However, when they went to see Olodumare, OyekuMeji did not call on IworiMeji. IworiMeji did not call on OdiMeji. It was only Orangun who went to the house of EjiOgbe to ask why he had not departed with the others. EjiOgbe replied that he did not know that they had already embarked upon the journey. It was then that they decided to travel together. EjiOgbe explained the mission to his wife and then he bid her farewell.
As EjiOgbe left home, he went into the backyard, where he discovered a very large, black snake. He killed it and put the snake in his abeti aja cap. Then, EjiOgbe put the cap on backwards. Finally, EjiOgbe and OrangunMeji travelled together to see Olodumare.
When they arrived, they found the other forteen Olodu seated in a circle. Olodumare greeted them in the name of IworiWofun:
He who prostrates will grow old
He who prostrates will live long
He who prostrates will have all blessings
Olodumare commanded the Olodu to follow him. He pleaded with them, "Don't be vexed because I do not have much to offer you." He then gave each of the Olodu a mound of eko. He then prepared egusi stew with worowo vegetable in it. He apologized for not having any meat to offer the Olodu. A bowl of water was brought out for them to wash their hands. They all struggled to wash their hands at once, because none of them recognized one as their leader. The water spilled onto the ground. Each of the Olodu then touched the water on the ground and then they began to eat. This was the beginning of pouring libation.
Later, Olodumare greeted the Olodu. He greeted them for their trouble in making the journey. He pleaded with them not to be upset that he had no meat to offer them. It was then that EjiOgbe rose up, praising Olodumare:
King who reigns supreme, forever
King who covers all spheres of life
Why do you say you have no meat?I killed a creature on the way here. Olodumare asked to see it. EjiOgbe produced the snake he had killed. Olodumare asked EjiOgbe to hold it by the head. He asked OrangunMeji to hold it by the tail. He stretched the snake and then cut the head. Then, he asked OyekuMeji to hold the snake and cut another portion. One by one, Olodumare had the Olodu hold the snake, while he cut a portion. They all ate to satisfaction. But EjiOgbe did not eat the head and OrangunMeji did not eat the tail.
Olodumare then asked the purpose of their visit. The Olodu explained that they had gone into the world without a leader. They explained how one would insult the other any time he was divining. The Olodu explained how they all insulted one another. Olodumare then asked who was holding the head of the snake. EjiOgbe showed him the head. Olodumare then proclaimed EjiOgbe the leader of the Olodu.
"You are the head. You are the father. When they cast you, they must say 'Kabiesi'. They must not cast a second time." Olodumare then asked, who had the tail. OrangunMeji brought out the tail. "You are their chief whip, OrangunMeji. Whenever they see you, they must hail you, 'Hepa!' They must not cast a second time." Olodumare declared that the remaining Olodu must be cast twice.
Olodumare declared that the Olodu must be kind and good to one another. The Olodu than accepted EjiOgbe as their leader. They said, "We have a father today!" The Olodu accepted OrangunMeji as their chief whip. They said, "We have a chief whip today!"
Olodumare then proclaimed that the stomach of the snake is straight and the babalawo share one stomach. Therefore, they should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Sango devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Obatala devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Osun devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Ogun devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Esu devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Yemoja devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Olokun devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Oya devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Sanponna devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Osanyin devotees should not betray one another.
Leadership is more than telling other people how to do things right... To the contrary, leadership is doing the right things. To be clear, doing things right means following the recipe. Doing the right thing is knowing when to depart from the recipe, and WHY. This ability to meet the moment for what it is and then define it, transform it and make a way for others to PARTICIPATE in that moment is the hallmark of leadership excellence. It requires that you be relaxed and centered - not scattered, distracted or caught up in emotionalism. To lead your family, your community and yourself, it is essential that you're not running around feeling overwhelmed by feeling that you have too much to do. NO! The truth is that there is only ONE THING TO DO... And that is the ONE THING YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO DO
RIGHT NOW. Ifa helps you identify what REALLY needs to be done so that you can focus all of your energy and attention on what matters most.
Spiritual leadership has a great deal in common with any other form of leadership; it basically requires virtue and commitment to principles above convenience. But how about GREAT spiritual leadership? That is, what will it take to actually redefine the standards of orisa lifestyle locally and globally as well? Some priests and devotees are making it happen, while others are not even aware of the concept. By definition, it is not possible for everyone to be above average. This is why the elders will sometimes say that "Not all men are created equal. Let the fingers on your hand be your guide."
Similarly, the Holy Odu EjiOgbe teaches us that "If all men were destined to be buried in caskets all the iroko of the forest would be decimated." Yet and still, while we cannot all be great spiritual leaders, we can work together to create great spiritual experiences for more and more people. How? Be kind. Be patient. Be earnest. Be your very best with what you have EVERY-SINGLE-TIME. This is what it means to live the medicine.