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.
Learn More: Free Downloads
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.
When I was a student at Howard University, the School of Business was the place to be. It seemed like everybody who had beauty, style and grace was in the School of B! So, I made it my goal to be there, too. But there was one problem; Quantitative Business Analysis, better known as QBA. That was a gatekeeper course. If you could not pass it, there was no way you could get into the School of Business. I don't think I made it two weeks before it become crystal clear that I was in over my head. But I stayed with it for another two weeks, before I knew I had to drop the course or fail miserably.
The School of Business was an incompatible goal for me. That did not mean I could not graduate from college. It did not mean I could not complete graduate school. And, given the fact that I have been doing so for over a decade, the fact that I could not get into the School of Business doesn't mean I cannot run a business of my own. It just means that getting into the School of Business was an incompatible goal for me. Have you ever pursued something - or someone - that was incompatible with your wellbeing?
Ifá warns against pursuing incompatible goals. Incompatible goals beget equally incompatible results. As they say, "play stupid games, win stupid prizes." Òrúnmìlà has offered numerous teachings that introduce us to this inescapable fact. In one verse of the Holy Odu Ìrẹtè Òbàrà, there was a man called Àlàó. He was told to sacrifice a goat. In an effort to deceive the babaláwo, Àlàó tied a rope round his own neck and pretended to be a goat. Imagine Àlàó's surprise when Esu condemned him to forever speak in the voice of a goat!!! Stupid game. Stupid prize.
Àgbá-ìnàmù ṣuku wéle
Òràn ò tán ní'lè yí bòròbòrò
They cast Ifá for Àlàó
Who tied a rope round his neck
And was bleating like a goat
He was advised to offer ẹbọ
He refused to comply
You have indeed deceived yourself
And not Ifá
Àlàó, who tied a rope round his neck
And was bleating like a goat
You have indeed deceived yourself and not Ifá
- Holy Odu Ìrẹtè Òbàrà
In another instance, there is a verse of the Holy Odu Òyèkú Òbàrà that teaches the lesson of Láṣílọ, who had a sore on his left leg, but chose to treat the right leg. His goal was to deceive other people. Unfortunately, this led to the leg being amputated.
A mouse cannot lick fermented locust bean liquid and survive
This was Ifa's declaration to Láṣílọ
The one who had a sore on his left leg
But chose to put medication on his right leg
He who has a sore on his left leg
But choses to put medication on his right leg
Is only deceiving himself
- Holy Odu Òyèkú Òbàrà
Anyone who thinks he is deceiving destiny is only deceiving himself. Many of us are interested in Orisa Lifestyle, not to become wise, but so that we can merely APPEAR to be wise. Since people are social animals and get real validation from others, we can easily lose sight of reality and end up obsessing over appearances. Òrúnmìlà realized that this pattern of behavior is counter-productive if one wishes to acquire true wisdom.
Here are three basic practices you can adopt if you want to make progress as an Orisa Lifestyle practitioner who aspires to personal excellence:
I am looking for leaders who are devoted to improving the world through positive influence. Is that you? If so, find out how Obafemi Origunwa and the Orisa Lifestyle Academy can take your life and your practice to the next level.
The Yorùbás understand that the òrìsà are agents of the Supreme God, which creates mutual respect among the different devotees of the various òrìsà. Also, the single most important unifying substructure of the different òrìsà is Ifá, the divination deity, and its corpus of divination chants, which embody the summation of Yorùbá beliefs, history, medicine and culture. Ifá informs everything from selecting a king to naming a child.
As the definitive source of Yorùbá indigenous knowledge, Ifá is the chosen spokesman of the òrìsàs. It is Ifá that allows one òrìsà – and its respective community of devotees – to communicate with another. Ifá is the oracle through which all of the divinities work in consonance with one another and never in discord. The Ifá oracle is their court, their judge, and their arbiter and its declarations and judgments are binding since disobedience carries sanctions from Olódùmarè.
Olódùmarè is worshiped through the various òrìsà, who control natural phenomena and social institutions, like spiritual offices and titles. Consequently, there are said to be 401 òrìsà, many of which are local avatars of universal spiritual phenomena. So, for example, in most Yorùbá kingdoms and villages, there are divinities associated with trees, hills, small bodies of water, such as Mokura at Ifè, the river Ofiki at Igana, òrìsà Alabaun at Ifon Alaiye and the great stone of Olumo at Abeokuta. Similarly, the same divinities manifest in various forms according to the local tradition. In Ifè, for example, Sango, the òrìsà of thunder and fire, is traditionally represented by Jakuta or Oramfe, the latter of whom also throws thunder axes, but does not make use of the symbolic paraphernalia characteristic of Sango.
The worship of the different deities does not, however, constitute denominations nor sects, and there are no complex organizations nor centrally planned liturgies. Similar to other aspects of Yorùbá folk tradition, like cooking, dancing or quilt making, each individual, family and state has a high degree of freedom to define its own recipe for religious activities. In every case, however, the primary objective of òrìsà worship is to venerate Olódùmarè by pacifying the deities to ward off evil and achieve peace and sustainable development. The sacred is regarded as part of the make-up of the entire society and, each man worships the various deities as is necessary in the general duty of serving the community. In so doing, he demonstrates his service of the one true God.
The worshipers do not, therefore, see themselves as belonging to different religions, sects or denominations. There is no justification for crusade, evangelizing and winning converts to the temple of another deity. Peaceful coexistence between the worshippers is, therefore, the direct sum of many, uncoordinated individual actions, where everyone works for common goals. In this way, it is possible for a husband to worship òrìsà Oko (deity of Agriculture), while his wife worships Oya. No need arises for the wife to seek the soul of the husband to worship her òrìsà. In fact, as we shall see more completely later on, the worshipers recognize the fact that spiritual
diversity is essential to the collective well-being.
In much the same way that a free market economy is strengthened by its diversity, so too, is Yorùbá tradition made stronger by worshippers of many different òrìsà. That is, it is through the òrìsà that each lineage defines its role in the society, spiritually, economically, politically and so on. Let us consider, for example, the mighty òrìsà, Ogún, who brought justice, metallurgy and warfare to earth. His descendants and devotees are the blacksmiths, hunters, carvers, pilots, drivers, barbers, policemen and the like. Ogun was a full-time warrior. He founded the town called Irè, which is today the most populous town in Oye Local Government Area in Ekiti State,Nigeria. As a warrior and a hunter, Ogun’s life was characterized by perpetual motion.
Consequently, he left his son as Oba (King) to govern the town when he went on his war expeditions. As a result of pestilence, the people of Irè had to relocate. On his return from war, Ogun could not find his people where he had originally settled them so he went in search of them. In the course of his search, he met a group of people practicing ritual silence. The meeting is up till today called Ijo Oríkì, (the silent gathering). Ogun greeted the gathering but there was no response in keeping with tradition.
Since he was very thirsty, he ignored their apparent lack of respect and made for one of the nearby kegs of palm wine. All the kegs, though standing, were empty. In a flash of rage, Ogun drew his sword and slaughtered the men at the ceremony. Those who managed to escape went to the palace to narrate their ordeal to the king. Immediately, the king was able to recognize the deed as the handiwork of his father who must have just returned from the war-front. The king quickly took some kegs of palm wine and roasted yam and palm oil (his father’s favorite dish and drink) and went with his people to welcome the great warrior, Ogun.
After eating and drinking, Ogun learned that the people he had just killed were indeed the very people that he had been looking for from the start. He was consumed with sadness and, to punish himself, refused to return to the palace in spite of all requests. He told his son that whenever his people needed his help they should come to that spot and call on him. He then drew his sword, drove it into the ground and vanished with it. A hut was then built on the spot and a Chief was appointed to take care of the site. The Chief is called the elepe (the Appeaser). The site is called Umeru. The Elepe is the mouth-piece of Ogun. He is forbidden from seeing the Kabiyesi Onire (king of Irè) face to face in keeping with the refusal of Ogun to return to his
The Chief Priest who is entitled to offer sacrifice to Ogun is called the aworo Ogun. He acts as the go-between for Ogun and the Onire (king). Ogun was one of the sons of Oduduwa and as such one of the compounds in Ilè-Ifè is, until today named Irè compound. As a Prince he was also given a crown by his father when he decided to go and fend for himself as a warrior. That is why the Kabiyesi Onire is till today one of the Oba Alade Merindinlogun (the 16 crowned Obas) in Yorubaland. In fact he is their Alaagbaakin, i.e. the Director of Socials, who shares gifts, food, etc. with each of the Obas at their meetings called Pelupelu.
Finally, this represents both an historical account of Ogún and a motif of Yorùbá migration and settlement patterns. Similar stories explain the lives of the 401 òrìsà, their Ifè origins, migration into new settlements, as well as their roles in those respective settlements.
 AJAYI, Ade J.F. “Promoting Religious Tolerance And Co-
operation In The West African Region: The Example Of Religious
Pluralism And Tolerance Among The Yorùbás”
 Bascom, William. The Sociological Role of the Yorùbá Cult
Group. Page 38
 Adekanmi, Adewale. Written communication.August 7, 2007.
The house did not crack internally
And the walls did not split outside
After our discussion, who went outside to leak our
deliberations and strategies?
These were the Ifa cast for Orunmila
When he, Obatala, Ogun and Esu Odara
Were mandated to create the human species
In the dawn of time
They were advised to offer ebo
And they complied
- Holy Odu OgbeOfun
As Ogun was present at the dawn of time, assisting Esu and Obatala in the creation of humanity, I pray that he will be present at the dawn of a new month. Ase.
Let Baba Jegi Jegi open the way to fulfillment in this season. Ase.
Whatever it is that we set out to accomplish, I pray that Ogun will enthusiastically support. Ase.
In the verse above, Ifa tells how the orisa gathered in secret to complete the task that Olodumare had assigned to them. No one was to know what they were doing.
Awon Iyaami sent Okete the giant rat, to dig a tunnel into their hiding place and spy on the divinities. It was then that Okete discovered that the orisa were creating ENIYAN, human beings.
And so, Awon Iyaami sent Okete back to sabotage the creation of Eniyan. Fortunately, the orisa discovered the interruption in time and they went to consult Ifa in order to know how to address the problem.
They were told to acquire a pointed, iron rod. When they resumed their work, they should drive the rod into the ground at the four corners of their studio. The orisa complied.
When they drove the rod into the ground, it empaled Okete, thus ending the treacherous deeds of the detractors.
May all spies be rewarded with the same consequences suffered by Okete. Ase! May Ogun's rod pierce the throats of those who would obstruct our mission to bring about the Good Condition. Ase!
The poor, righteous teacher is an archetype that is important to our consciousness. In life, the man who renounces the world in favor of wisdom is revered and held in high esteem. Ifa is filled with teachings about the importance of renunciation. In the Holy Odu ObaraIrosun, Obatala advises his three travel companions not to interrupt their journey in search of money.
At the same time, the archetype of the hard working, skilled expert is also very important. A man who has paid his dues and mastered his craft deserves to be paid accordingly. Consequently, Ifa provides numerous examples of why we must adhere to the law of proper compensation. In the Holy Odu IkaObara, Orunmila is advised to study Ifa so that he might prosper:
Let a Babalawo study Ifa extensively
To the point where he will be wealthy
Let an Herbalist study medicines extensively
To the point where he will be prosperous
Ifa’s messages for Orunmila
When he was advised to study the Ifa which brings prosperity
And those which bring all ire of life
He was advised to sacrifice
Those who are wicked
They will die a wicked and painful death
Mine is the Ifa which brings prosperity
- Holy Odu IkaObara
And so, it is safe to say that Orisa Lifestyle teaches devotees to seek a healthy balance between renunciation and compensation. Generally speaking, our approach is to suffer in the beginning of any endeavor so that you might prosper in the end. There are many verses of Ifa what make the formula very plain. Principal among them are the teachings of the Holy Odu OgbeIwori, one verse of which tells of Yodungbeyin (it-shall-be-sweet-in-the-end):
If you are denied your rightful share
Do not let it perturb you at all
Whatever an awo will consume
Will never be scarce at the feet of Ifa
This was Ifa's teaching to Yodungbeyin (it-shall-be-sweet-in-the-end)
The first child of Ewuro (bitter leaf)
When he was in the midst of misery and want
He was advised to sacrifice
- Holy Odu OgbeIwori
Yodungbeyin suffered in the early stages of his work, but through continued discipline, combined with sacrifice, he was able to reap the benefits of his labor. In the end - as his name implies - Yodungbeyin prospered greatly. Here, it is important to emphasize the significance of sacrifice, both in terms of ritual offerings and personal compromise.
Yodungbeyin started off working hard. He sacrificed his own comfort in order to become more proficient and to produce higher quality work. When he became impatient with the process, he went to consult Ifa, at which point he was advised to add a ritual sacrifice to his habit of hard work. Yodungbeyin was told that eventually, all of his efforts would yield prosperity for him. He complied and it was just as Ifa predicted. In the end, Yodungbeyin became a very important person in his community.
And so it is, as you mature in your practice, you grow to appreciate the positive effects of studying in the beginning. The elders say, It is in poverty that a boy learns Ifa but it is in prosperity that he enjoys old age.
The Orisa Lifestyle Academy is dedicated to supporting our students at every stage of learning and development. We offer instruction in ritual proficiency, analysis of the sacred text, as well as instruction in applying the teachings to the students' everyday lives. We do all these things in an effort to protect you from the pitfalls of poor training. The archetype of the over-ambitious novice features quite highly in Yoruba thought as well. As such, there are numerous verses that teach about the consequences of refusing proper training. Let us revisit the Holy Odu IkaObara, for example:
Ika is the Awo of Olujolu
And Olobara is the Awo of Olujosi
The Lucky one is the one given the title of Opara in Ido land
Ifa’s messages for the Youth of Ijero land
He who uses his mouth as going to call on war (against himself)
He was advised to sacrifice
I intended to call for Igun, Vulture
And not Ogun, war and uprising
Please do not carry sheaths
Do not look for arrows
What I intended to call for is Vulture
And not war and uprising!
-Holy Odu IkaObara
Here, the Youth of Ijero accidentally invoked a war upon themselves. They mispronounced an incantation by saying Ogun in stead of Igun. As you might imagine, the results were less than desirable. Nowadays, we hear new reports of well-intentioned, but inexperienced, practitioners who put the cart before the horse and try to practice things they have not been trained to do. But if you are unwilling to suffer in the beginning so that you might learn properly, then you will invariably suffer in the end for you lack of proper training and education.
Learn more about the learning opportunities available at the Orisa Lifestyle Academy.
What happens when you discover that your best isn't good enough? Many years ago, I was a tutor at a San Francisco high school where I had honor roll students who were reading on a 5th grade level and doing 4th grade math. Read that again.
Around the same time that I was tutoring I was also a student of Ifa. This was in the beginning of our exposure to the West African tradition and the overwhelming majority... like 99% of the leadership had spiritual houses, filled with godchildren, but could not recite a single verse of ANYTHING... not an oriki, not a verse of Erindinlogun, not a verse of Ifa. Their understanding of Yoruba theology was almost entirely based upon anecdotes, opinions and concepts they borrowed from other spiritual traditions. Read that again.
Most - not all - of these people were what I would call decorated underachievers. They were like big fish in a small pond. More importantly, when faced with the true assessment of their knowledge, skill and ability, most people go into strict denial. They would rather practice willful ignorance than rebuild a solid foundation.
And while the priests and priestesses in question are all well into their 60's by now, they have spawned a legacy of ignorance that is unmistakable today. Our tradition is overrun with people who have stockpiled beads, pots and titles but have never actually been subjected to direct instruction.
Without a clear understanding of what the practice truly consists of, too many of today's seekers are still confused about the differences between having an opinion and knowing the tradition. Read that again.
Ultimately, the trend of underachievement amongst Orisa devotees must be squarely addressed and corrected. Get trained!
In the School of Orisa Studies, there are five things EVERY devotee must master:
1. Worship calendar
3. Oriki Esu, Egungun, Ori, Ifa
4. Dida Obi
5. Offering omi, oti, obi, orogbo, epo
Key word, MASTER. Not exposure or familiarity, but MASTERY.
Mastery dispels superstition in the same way that light casts out darkness.
The Holy Odu OturuponOwonrin says;
"When we awaken in the morning,
we should teach one another wisdom
and not lay the foundation for foolishness.
When we have a problem,
we should consult one another and then,
if we cannot find a suitable solution,
we should turn to our ikin..."
It means that we are obliged to learn and now lead one another astray. Similarly, the Holy Odu OkanranOyeku goes on to say;
"Praises of Ifa do not let us know Ifa
Praises of Opele do not let us understand Opele"
It means that your love of the tradition is not a substitute for actual training and education.
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ORISA POWER COUPLES
Power couples abound in the sacred text of Ifa [Ese]. In fact, every orisa has its own divine consort. The relationships between Oya and Sango, Yemoo and Obatala, Osun and Orunmila are the most well-known.
Not only that, binary code, which is the most fundamental code of divination, is based upon the complementary nature of "twoness". For example, the most basic form of divination is a coin toss. One side is male and the other side is female. The Yoruba call it ejiwapo. The complete expression of twoness is, "Tako, tabo, ejiwapo". Maleness, femaleness, together in twoness. It means that masculine and feminine energies naturally converge and create.
Socially, people marry and raise families. Spiritually, we learn and grow. This developmental pattern is captured and revealed through the stories associated with Ese Ifa [Ifa verses]. More specifically, there are numerous stories about the marriages of the orisa. One verse tells of Oya leading Sango into battle. Another tells of Yemoo advising Obatala not to visit Sango. Still, another tells of Osunleyo saving Orunmila's life.
These stories reveal interpersonal dynamics that characterize certain couples. Oya and Sango are high powered, competitive and volatile. Yemoo and Obatala are conservative, simple and earthy. On the other hand, these stories can also be used as a framework for understanding the evolution of a couple. While Oya and Sango might represent the earlier years of a marriage, Yemoo and Obatala could represent a more seasoned couple.
The union of the divinities can also be considered as a metaphor for transformation. This is what I refer to as the mystical marriage, whose objective is to optimize reciprocal energy (i.e., feminine and masculine). Something to make note of here is that there are various expressions of feminine and masculine energies. And for every feminine energy, there is a reciprocal (masculine) energy. Likewise, for every masculine energy, there is a reciprocal (feminine) energy.
It is only through the optimization of your reciprocal energy that you experience true fulfillment.
WEALTHY QUEEN & ORUNMILA, THE PATIENT
Aiye is the world. She is the daughter of Olodumare. She contains all the secrets, wisdom and resources imaginable inside her belly. As a result, Aiye became arrogant and proud to a fault. At the height of her arrogance, Aiye felt she was too high for any man to ever see her naked.
As she aged, however, Aiye became worried that she would not have a fulfilling life and a full house. So she went to consult Ifa. They told her that she had walled herself in and become isolated. The awo told Aiye to sacrifice 200 brown rats and one waist bead on the outskirts of town.
The irunmole knew that Aiye was single. Because of her beauty and resourcefulness, they all wanted to marry her. And so, they all went to consult Ifa seeking guidance on the matter. The awo told them that anyone who wished to marry Aiye must sacrifice one brown rat and money. He must take the ebo to the outskirts of town, then hide somewhere nearby until late in the night. When the irunmole heard this, they were immediately turned off. Why should anybody go through all that trouble for an aging, difficult woman?
Orunmila heard that the irunmole had all opted out of the bid for Aiye's hand in marriage. So he went to consult Ifa as well. The awo told Orunmila the sacrifice and he complied. Very early in the morning, he went to Ejigbomekun Market to buy one brown rat. He then returned to the awo to perform the sacrifice. Orunmila carried the sacrifice to the outskirts of town and then hid nearby, as instructed.
On the exact same day that Orunmila made his sacrifice, so did Aiye. She went to the market shortly after Orunmila. As fate would have it, the rat seller had only brought 200 rats on that day, which meant that Aiye was one rat short. Still, she bought them and went to the awo to perform the sacrifice. When he learned that one was missing, he reassured Aiye to complete the offering anyway.
Aiye took her ebo to the outskirts of town. Coincidentally, she placed hers only a few yards from where Orunmila had placed his ebo. There. she was praying fervently the Olodumare and the deities that her ebo would be accepted, even though she was one rat short. Just then, Olodumare breathed life into Orunmila's sacrificial rat. It ran toward Aiye. She immediately leapt to her feet, grabbed a stick and starting swinging at it in the hopes of killing the rat so that she could complete her sacrifice. On her third attempt, Aiye's wrapper was loosened and it fell to the ground, exposing her nudity.
Orunmila, observed her waistbeads, which had one curved bead that stood out from the others. As she picked up her wrapper and tied it again, Orunmila appeared and greeted her. Aiye was surprised and she wanted to know if he had seen her naked. Orunmila replied; No, I only saw your waist beads. One in particular is curved in a particular way that makes it very unique from any others. It was then that Aiye knew that Orunmila was the right man for her.
Shortly thereafter, they were married. As his wife, Aiye showed Orunmila the secrets of the world. He became even wiser, wealthier and more powerful. Everybody was surprised and wondered how it was possible for Orunmila to marry Aiye. Likewise, Orunmila cultivated Aiye and showed her the attention she needed to flourish even more.
Ifa says that somebody will be blessed with a compatible spouse with appropriate sacrifice.
The first and deepest sacrifice is always personal. Sacrifice requires change. You must be willing to think, feel and behave differently in order to enjoy the blessings that accompany change.
ESOTERIC MOTHER & FATHER OF WISDOM
Oro Modimodi was born a princess. Her father was the king, Olowu Sako'orogbale. When she was born, the babalawo informed Oro Modimodi's parents that she was blessed with impressive spiritual capabilities. Hence, she was named Oro Modimodi, which means esoteric words. Ifa said that, when she came of age, she must not marry an ordinary man.
Oro Modimodi was not considered the prettiest, which made her envy some of her peers. Eventually, all of her friends and associates were men. They were all acutely aware of Oro Modimodi's power. Some of them, including her father, the king, collaborated with her on various projects. Consequently, Oro Modimodi helped to enrich the people in her immediate circle.
When the time came for her to be married, however, Oro Modimodi was not as fortunate. The men who knew her were all afraid of Oro Modimodi's spiritual capabilities. And so it was that the king went to consult Ifa once more and to follow up with Orunmila's claim that Oro Modimodi must marry a babalawo.
Ifa was cast and the king was asked to arrange a conversation between Oro Modimodi and Orunmila. There, they would discuss her likes and dislikes. They all complied. Oro Modimodi and Orunmila met in the palace three times. Each time, she explained to Orunmila that she would assist him and help him to achieve success. She went on to say that she needed to be pampered, adored and cherished. Finally, Oro Modimodi confided in Orunmila that she would not allow any other woman to look upon her. Any woman who defied this mandate would surely die.
Each time they met, Orunmila would confer with his senior wives. They would discuss Oro Modimodi as a member of the family. All agreed that they could accommodate her demands. And so, Oro Monimodi married Orunmila and moved into a special room in his house. Everything was fine for a time. Eventually, however, one of the senior wives decided Oro Modimodi should no longer be exempt from doing chores and being seen. She convinced the other wives to get their lamps and march down to Oro Modimodi's room. She must come out on her own or be dragged out! When they opened the door, however, they saw something unexpected. Before they could run, all three of Orunmila's wives fell dead.
When Orunmila queried Oro Modimodi about the death of his wives, she reminded him of their agreement. Orunmila and Oro Modimodi went on to perform many great things together. Oro Modimodi is what we call Orisa Odu.
The mystical marriage motif, which is pervasive in the sacred text of Ifa, attests to its symbolic significance within the psyche of Yoruba peoples. This is especially true for babalawo, who are identified in numerous texts as the only eligible spouses for a spectrum of formidable women. In the examples given above, Aiye and Odu epitomize earthly and spiritual power, respectively. Each of them is whole and complete on their own. However, to transcend and become greater than anything they can achieve individually, Aiye and Odu had to optimize their reciprocal energy through the mystical marriage to Orunmila. This is what makes Apetebii synonymous with transformation.
Finally, Orunmila is also transformed by each encounter. He experiences the value of sacrifice, attentiveness and patience as a means to gain material wealth as well as attain spiritual power.
WHO IS APETEBII?
Apetebii is the wife of a babalawo. She radiates the spirit of confidence, kindness and influence. Apetebii gets things done because she recognizes high standards and appreciates excellence. The Yoruba tell us, Akíkanjú wọgbó, o ṣòwò igba èèyàn. An illustrious person enters the forest and does enough trade for two hundred people. It means that one illustrious person accomplishes enough for many ordinary people.
Not only that, Apetebii is a leader who knows how to make us feel compelled to support her efforts and invest in her as a person. This is what prompts the Yoruba to say, Bí èèyàn-án bá ṣeun ká sọ pé ó ṣeun; bí èèyàn-án bá ṣèèyàn ká sọ pé ó ṣèèyàn; nítorípé, ohun tí a ṣe, ó yẹ kó gbeni. If a person deserves gratitude, we should say that she deserves gratitude; if a person is kindly, we should say that she is kindly, because one should reap the rewards of one’s actions. It means that a person’s goodness should be publicly acknowledged. Because she leads with love, we genuinely want to see Apetebii succeed.
THREE PROMINENT APETEBII
The Holy Odu is filled with examples of the relationship between apetebii and babalawo. At various points, Orunmila married Iwa [Character], Aje [Wealth], Ose [Devotion], and numerous princesses. In some cases, Orunmila was significantly challenged by the marriage. In others, he was blessed beyond imagination. Here are just three examples of prominent apetebii who made meaningful contributions to the life and divine mission of Orunmila:
In every instance, Apetebii is a woman whose unique identity and make ordinary men ineligible partners. The Yoruba say, Pooko nídìí, a fìhà jókòó. The coconut shell has a bottom but rests on its side. It means that unconventional people will always do things differently. Apetebii is oftentimes unconventional, even to the point of being complicated: Odu was so jealous of other women, she refused to even allow them to see her. Aiye was so headstrong, not one of the Irunmole was willing to make the sacrifices necessary to sustain her. It was only Orunmila who was capable of winning their admiration and trust.
The Holy Odu IrosunOse teaches us that Olodumare has specially blessed the union of babalawo and apetebii and characterized it as the epitome of success:
Ifa let my sacrifice be accepted
Ela let my rituals go up to the heaven above Irosun seso
Irosun seso Cast Ifa for Orunmila
And initiates Osun, the wife of Bara Agbonniregun into Ifa
On the day they were coming from the heaven above as a team to establish the foundation of the earth plane
They were advised about the earth plane where they were going
They should offer sacrifice of victory , harmony , peaceful coexistence and victory because of the witches
They would be angry with them because of the beautiful things they would to do to better the lives of humanity
They would heal the sick
The lame or the cripple would walk
Those who were afflicted with ajogun
Will see the light of Olodumare and absolute victory
The negative work of the great magician would have no evil effect on the lives of men
The sacrifice prescribed by Ifa to Orunmila and his wife would deter evil dreams
Those who intend to spoil their business or work and cooperation
Would be nailed to ground by the sacrifice
Orunmila quickly offered the sacrifice
The witches returned quickly to the middle way between heaven and the earth
That is how Orunmila and Osun achieved victory and overcame all misfortune
Then Orunmila spoke of his priest thusly;
All the paths I tread will give way to success
This was Ifa's message to Orunmila and Osun
When they were coming from the spiritual plane to the world
They intended to extend goodness to the lord of Ife and all men throughout the world
Now, witches of the universe, I give you obeisance Oh!
Yes, the witches of the world
Let my sacrifice be auspicious, and my ritual be accepted
Let my sacrifice go to the place of acceptance without hindrance
Oh ye the witches I give obeisance to you, and salute you
Oh ye the witches
Let my hand work and the work of my wife be successful and fulfilled
Oh ye witches of the universe
Oh ye witches
- Holy Odu IrosunOse
The Yoruba say, Agbe ló laró; àlùkò ló losùn. To the Blue Touraco belongs indigo dye; to the àlùko belongs camwood stain. It means each individual has his or her unique qualities. Apetebii and babalawo are an inseparable pair, who combine wisdom and compassion to govern the world with positive influence. For this reason the babalawo routinely gives thanks to Olodumare for Apetebii and sacrifices for her well being.
FULFILLMENT OF DESTINY
The Yoruba say, Orí ò mọ ibùsùn; ì bá ma tún ile ibe ṣe. The head does not know where it will finally rest; had it known, it would have tidied up the place. It means, If one knew where one’s destiny would lead, one would do whatever one could to cultivate the place. When a woman discovers that she is apetebii from heaven, it creates a unique opportunity to set the stage for the fulfillment of her destiny.
1955 was the year universal primary education started in Yoruba nation and the whole of then Western Region of Nigeria. That was the year, that ‘bully’ Awolowo forcefully enrolled all youths in the then Western Nigeria to full, free primary school. Many parents complained that they would have no help in the farm but he would not listen.
‘Where will he get the means for that gargantuan project?’ some other premiers wondered. But that fellow would not listen. Awolowo schools started in all kinds of ramshackle buildings. The children were called Awolowo children, mainly in derision, because many people just knew that they would amount to nothing. The fellow just pressed on.
As long as your right arm went over your head to touch your left ear, you are registered. That was all, no questions asked.
The Awolowo experiment produced doctors, engineers, lawyers, educators, scientists, civil servants, etc. and keeps on producing these even till today.
At present, a Yoruba child does not need to be told what the next step in life is going to be. His life is already ordered for the next twenty years and he knows that. Once he is four, five or six years old, he starts on this journey: primary school to secondary school to possibly a tertiary school.
Order leads to wealth creation and disorder leads directly to poverty.
Eku ojo awo! Eku odun o! Today, in the light of the full moon and the dawn of the Yoruba New Year, we give thanks and praise to Olodumare for the blessing of our beloved Yeye Osun.
She is the owner of wealth, the embodiment of compassion.
Her way is gentle and compelling, like the pull of the moon upon the ocean.
May we move like Osun Osogbo, the one who carries small children on her back.
Graceful mother, we salute you today.
Nothing gives us greater joy than to see you smile.
Queen of quality assurance, we appeal to you today.
May our efforts meet your standards of excellence!
In the same way that you protected Osogbo from invasion, please, empower us to protect the interests of Yoruba descendants around the world today, Iya.
Yeye Osun, who buries wealth in the river bank, grant us the WISDOM to create intergenerational wealth through investing in Black-owned companies, through creating family trusts, through becoming great entrepreneurs.
Mother of the depths, whose force is deceptively calm, I praise you today!!! I recognize your ability to move quietly, yet relentlessly.
In the same way that the river cleaves a path through the mountain, I beg you, please empower Africans around the world to cut a path to prosperity, health, victory and freedom!
Apetebii extraordinaire, preferred bride of Orunmila, I kneel humbly before you, Iya. I give thanks for your dutiful demeanor and meticulous care. Without you, we can accomplish so very little. With you, impossible is easy!
Yeye Osun, oooo!!! Whisper words of inspiration that will compel all babalawo to work ceaselessly to help bring about the Good Condition!
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | OrisaLifestyle.com
Ko gbe Apetebii, ko gbe Akapo
Bless the Babalawo's wife, bless the Babalawo's disciple
The Babalawo who teaches you is called your Oluwo. To be an Oluwo, however, is more than the mere dissemination of knowledge. As you can see from the prayer above, he is a purveyor of blessings. In this regard, your Oluwo is also your protector. When you are an apprentice, you are routinely covered in prayer and shielded by sacrifices made by your Oluwo.
The Oluwo is committed to refining his apprentices by testing them in order to discover their potential. He encourages the apprentice to aspire to a practice that can be considered complete, both inside and out. When treated well, the apprentice will transcend the ups and downs of the learning process and reach an exalted state.
In return, as an apprentice you are expected to pledge allegiance to your Oluwo. You show your Oluwo deference and respect in his presence and demonstrate the highest cultivation of his teachings in his absence.
While the apprentice is loyal to the Oluwo, the Oluwo is loyal to the teachings. Together, Apetebii, Akapo and Oluwo uphold the highest principles of Ifa.
Join me and Chief Lanre Okemuyiwa for an INVITATION ONLY conversation about Akoda & Aseda.
Odi-seere mese, the awo of Ori
They cast Ifa for Ori
When lamenting that he had not be able to site any Ire with his eye
He was advised to offer ebo
Ori it is high time for me to have financial success
It is financial success that one needs to possess
Ori it is high time for me to have compatible spouse
It is compatible spouse that one needs to possess
Ori it is high time for me to have good children
It is good children that one needs to possess
Ori it is high time for me to have all Ire of life
It is all Ire of life that one needs to possess
It is through the power of 200 Akisan leaves
All my matter shall not but turn to success
- Holy Odu ObaraIrete
Mental energy is the matrix for physical, emotional and spiritual energies. It is symbolized by orí, the head. Here, it is important to note that “the Yorùbá do not use orí in entirely the same way as the English word head is conceived of by [the native] speakers of English. In fact, apart from its conceptual meaning of head, orí has no direct translation in English. Thus, any understanding of the ‘phenomenon’ beyond the physical and literal meaning would be achieved only through recourse to the cultural perspective – the viewpoint of the present description.”
Thus, there are two dimensions of orí, which are known as orí ode and orí inú. Orí Ode is the physical head. It is highly valued because of its social and biological importance as a site of perception, communication, and identity. Orí ode is regarded as the outer shell for orí inú, the inner head. While orí ode governs everything anatomical and psychological, orí inú governs every- thing subtle, energetic and metaphysical. Likewise, orí inú is synonymous with ìwà, or nature/character. Ultimately, òrìsà lifestyle seeks to establish and maintain harmony between the two aspects of orí. However, there is a frequently recited prayer that reminds us that orí inú is the greater of the two; it says Ori inu mi ko ma ba ti ode je, which means “May my inner head not spoil my outer one.”
Orí organizes mental energy primarily through images that carry meaning, facilitate imagination and enable learning. Images provide frameworks for perception. We hold mental images of how we want to perceive ourselves and our environments. Similarly, we hold mental images of how we want to be perceived by other people. Here, it’s important to note that orí ode gathers and organizes images from the external world. Likewise, orí inú images gathers and organizes images from the internal world. 
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | ObafemiO.com
 Origunwa, Obafemi. Fundamentals of Orisa Lifestyle Pg 40
APPRENTICESHIP MINDSET: THE STUDENT LOVES THE TEACHER
I will never forget the day I met my first teacher, Babalade Olamina. I had just finished running scales on my cornet at Pasadena City College. At that time of my life, I had been avidly reading anything I could about Yoruba civilization. Even more importantly, however, I was expecting my first child.
The ancestors knew I would need someone very special to escort me into the realities of becoming a BABA, and so they sent Babalade, the best teacher in the world. He had travelled the country as a jazz musician, hung out with Fela Kuti in Nigeria, learned to carve in Oyotunji and was well-versed in Eastern philosophy.
Babalade was the only person I had ever met who fully understood the scope of my thoughts and ideas. He would answer my relentless torrent of questions and listen to my far fetched ideas about Yoruba identity. When I would get too far out there, he would say something like, "That and a plane ticket will get you to Paris" or "Oh, you're being creative again..."
Not surprisingly, the name Babalade means, "Father confers a crown." Babalade conferred upon me the highest crown any man could ever bear; fatherhood! To do so, he taught me so many important lessons, the most memorable of which was a simple statement he made in passing one day: "The first person I ever saw wear an agbada was my daddy!"
On the day of my own naming ceremony, Babalade and my father sat on the couch talking, while I scrambled around, looking for the ingredients that Babalade had told me to gather for the occasion. Somehow, their conversation descended upon Viet Nam, where Babalade's elder brother had given his life in the armed services. As fate would have it, they discovered that my father had prepared his corpse.
And so, on the day that my teacher was preparing me to guide my first born son, I learned that my father had supported my teacher's elder brother on his way into the realm of the ancestors.
The admiration, love and respect that I have for Babalade extends to my feelings about Orisa Lifestyle overall. As my first teacher, he is synonymous with the tradition in my mind.
The teachings of Holy Odu OwonrinMeji inform us this way:
Iba Araba l'ale Ife
Mo juba Ogubona
Afeyiti mo dase
- Odu Mimo OwonrinMeji
I pay homage to my father
Homage to my mother
Homage to my Oluwo
Homage to Arábá of Ife
Homage to Akoda
Homage to Aseda
I pay homage to Ojugbona
Unless I act without recognition and homage to elders and spiritual forces
May I succeed in all I do
- Holy Odu OwonrinMeji
AKODA & ASEDA: Chieftaincy Tiles
In the kingdom of Ile Ife, there are sixteen preeminent babalawo, called the Awoni, priests of the Oni. Every Yoruba kingdom has its own cadre of babalawo, who rank above all others. In Ife, an Awoni must be an indigene of that kingdom. Each Awoni bears a title and carries out specific spiritual duties in service to the palace. Among them are the Akoda and Aseda.
AKODA & ASEDA: Praises of Olodumare
By some accounts, Akoda and Aseda are oriki Olodumare. This is further reinforced with the opening lines of Ijuba, which say:
Mo júbà Akoda Ayé
I pay homage to He who created earth
Mo júbà Aseda Orun
I pay homage to the controller of heaven
AKODA & ASEDA: Orunmila's Sons and His First Students
According to other accounts, Akoda and Aseda are Orunmila's first students. The Holy Odu OgbeAte says:
Ogbe waa te k'ara o ro wa
Ogbe, come be initiated in order to be comfortable
Mo gba, mo te ni iregun Ifa
To take the hand of Ifa and then be fully initiated is the pride one has in Ifa
Dia fun Orunmila
Cast ifa for orunmila
Baba yoo te omo re ni ifa...
baba planned to initiate his child into ifa
The verse goes on to say:
Orunmila lo te Akoda
Orunmila initiated Akoda
Orunmila lote Aseda
Orunmila initiated Aseda...
The Holy Odu OgundaBede goes on to reinforce the idea that Akoda and Aseda are, in fact, the sons of Orunmila:
Oju ririri, oju oku irikuri
Enu fofofo, enu oku ifokufo
Adifa fun Orunmila,
Nigba ti baba foju sogbere omo,
ebo won ni ki baba kowase
baba gbebo, orubo
Nigba ti o maa bi
obi AGBONGBON ofi se ekerin won.
Nje ari AKODA ari awo
Ari ASEDA ari awo
Ari ARIWONIYANGI ari awo
Nigba ti ari AGBONGBON lawo pe.
The eyes have witnessed many bad things
The mouth has mentioned many rubbish words
Cast ifa for ORUNMILA
When he had no children
He was advised to make a sacrifice and he did
When he was going to give birth,
He first gave birth to Akoda
Next he gave birth to Aseda
Later he gave birth to Ariwoniyangi
And lastly he gave birth to Agbongbon
Therefore whenever you see Akoda and his other brothers,
then you have seen it all
Where ever you see the four combination
Ifa is complete
Wisdom is complete
If we accept the assertion that Akoda and Aseda praises of Olodumare, chieftaincy titles or sons of Orunmila, it is clear that they are essential to the structure and practice of Ifa. This is underscored by the way that Akoda and Aseda are mentioned in an oriki Ifa, which tells us:
Akoda ti nko gbogbo aiye ni Ifa
Akoda, who taught Ifa to the world
Aseda, ti nko gbogbo agba ni imoran
Aseda, who taught understanding to the ancients
In the spirit of teaching, please join Obafemi Origunwa and Chief Lanre Olaifa Okemuyiwa in an exclusive conversation:
The True Identity of Akoda and Aseda: Rediscovering the Apprenticeship Mindset