1) Orisa Lifestyle is over 5000 years old
Orisa Lifestyle is one of a few ancient religions to survive and even expand into modern times. The collection of traditions that compose modern-day Orisa Lifestyle have developed over at least the past 5000 years, beginning among the KWA language groups, in what is the most widely researched civilization of the African world. There is no ‘founder’ of Orisa Lifestyle, nor single prophet or initial teacher. Orisa devotees believe their religion has no identifiable beginning or end and, as such, often refer to it as Isese L'agba (the progenitors are senior). As for the name itself, ‘Orisa’ is a name first given to the Arch Divinity, Obatala.
2) Ifa is premier among the many primary religious texts
Orisa Lifestyle does not have a single holy book that guides religious practice. Instead, Orisa has a large body of spiritual texts that guide devotees. First among these are the verses of Ifa, a collection of aphorisms on the divine forces of nature presenting key Orisa teachings. The verses, considered to be eternal truths, were passed down via an oral tradition for thousands of years. In recent years, a few verses have been written down. Orisa philosophy was further developed in the verses of Erindinlogun (16 Cowries). This philosophy has been condensed in the Oriki, praise poetry for each Orisa.
3. Sacrifice is beneficial to all
Sacrifice in general meaning is willingly giving, surrendering or letting go of something of value for the sake of something or someone. Sacrifice is further defined as dedication to our duties and beyond. Orisa devotees understand that worship without sacrifice defies the laws of Creation. In this concept, to stabilize the society, and balance heaven and earth, worship must require sacrifice. So, we would say that worship with sacrifice is being willing to give or give up something of value to live our highest religious principles. It realizes our good intentions, walks our talk, and changes we seek in the world. In religion, we worship, but if we are not ready to sacrifice for the good of the ancestors and humanity, the worship has no value. This is why the elders say, "Sacrifice benefits everyone; refusal to sacrifice benefits nobody."
4) Orisa Lifestyle sees the Divine present in all existence
The deepest single spiritual truth presented through the sacred texts is that Olodumare (the Supreme Being) pervades the entire universe. This divine reality, or its essential nature, is present in all living beings, eternal, and full of wisdom. Olodumare is understood as the cause of creation, as well as its preservation, and dissolution and transformation, all done in a constant, repeating cycle.
5) The nature of the Divine is understood in different ways in different lineages
Within Orisa Lifestyle there is a broad spectrum of understandings about the nature of the divinities. Some traditions place more emphasis on recitation of verses. Other traditions are more focused upon spirit possession. Still others look to herbal medicines for insights into the wisdom of Creation.
6) Orisa Lifestyle worships the Divine in both male and female, natural form
Because Orisa devotees believe that Olodumare animate the universe, they accept that there are a variety of ways in which all human beings can connect with the Divine. This universal Divinity is worshipped in both male and female divinities. The female divinities include Oya, Yemoja and Osun, each of which is represented by a different river. Male divinities include Sango, Ogun and Esu, who are represented by rain, fire and stone respectively. Each of these Orisa has a deeper symbolic meaning. Orisa devotees have long told stories about these various forms of the Divine to inspire devotion and instill ethical values.
7) Orisa devotees pray to different aspects of the Divine
Orisa devotees pray to different manifestations of Olodumare as manifestations of particular divine qualities or powers. For example: Esu is honored as the remover of obstacles and honored for his great wisdom, and is invoked before beginning any important task or project; Osun is the associated with high standards and quality; Olokun is worshipped as the Orisa of Prosperity. Wisdom is believed to have the taken human form of Orunmila to show people how to live the path of fate. Sango is called upon to eradicate evil and protect good. Ogun is worshipped as the lord of justice and progress. Furthermore, the prominence of each of the aspects of the Divine varies depending on the lineage of the individual devotee.
8) Orisa devotees use images in worship to make the infinite comprehensible to the human mind
Orisa devotees represent the various forms of Olodumare in consecrated images. An image can be made of wood, stone, or metals (and sometimes can be naturally occurring, rather than fashioned by human hands). Images offer a way to visualize and meditate upon Olodumare, which due to its infinite nature is believed to be beyond the grasp of the human mind. Orisa families conduct their daily worship at home altars and also at temples on special occasions. Many devotees consult babalawo and olorisa (recognized spiritual teachers and guides) for advice or answers to spiritual questions.
9) Orisa devotees believe the soul is eternal and is reborn within a single lineage
Orisa devotees believe that the soul, ori, is eternal. When the physical body dies the soul is reborn in the same family lineage. This continuous cycle of life, death, and rebirth is called atunwaiye. What an individual experiences in this life is the result of their past actions, either actions they have already taken in this life or actions from a past life. How an individual acts today impacts the future, both in terms of effects felt later on in this life or in a future birth. Though the effects of atunwaiye make certain actions easier or more difficult to take, just as our personal habits influence our lives, this is not a deterministic or fatalistic system. Rather, we all have the ability to freely choose how to act in any situation.
10) Orisa devotees believe we each have five goals in life
Orisa devotees believe we have five goals in life: aiku long life, owo the pursuit of material prosperity, oko/aya spouse, omo at least two children and isegun ota victory over enemies.