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.
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.
I am looking for LEADERS who are committed to changing the world through positive influence. Is that you? If so, find out how Obafemi Origunwa and the Orisa Lifestyle Academy can take your practice and your life to the next level. Learn more: CLICK HERE