Orisa initiation is NOT a rite of passage. Among the Yoruba, one is born into orisa devotion by way of his or her lineage, which is why we say, isese l'agba. It means that orisa tradition is senior; that is, it predates the Abrahamic religions. The problem we face in diaspora is a lack of exposure to Yoruba culture. Within the culture, there are three primary rites of passage: They are the naming, marriage and burial. Today, I want to share a bit about marriage, which is of particular interest to Yoruba men. This is why they say, “Àíníyàwó kò sé dáké, bí a bá dáké lásán ẹnu níí yọni − A man cannot just keep quiet without a wife, keeping quiet about it only results in a problem.”
Marriage is arguably the MOST important initiation you will ever undergo. It is NOT an individual endeavor. Marriage is, in fact, a ritual that equally involves two entire families. Traditionally, a man will only seek marriage after he has mastered his craft, established a solid stream of income and built a house. This means men usually do not consider marriage until about age 30. At that point, he seeks a young lady he wishes to marry. In the traditional society, there are about five stages involved in the marriage:
1. Ifa consultation
2. Releasing the voice (isihun)
5. Wedding proper
In the most traditional settings, he does not approach the lady at first. The young man informs his father, who will then inform the Bale (head of the family). When they are sure that there is no blood relationship between the two, they then meet with the family of the bride-to-be. The two families then select a go-between (Alarena).
It is the duty of the Alarena to perform a background check on the family of the bride-to-be. This is to avoid marrying someone with some serious physical or mental disorder such as lunacy, epilepsy, leprosy, or extreme albinism. The Alarena will also watch the conduct of the girl over time. When she is satisfied with the conduct of the girl, the family of the young now consults the Ifa oracle .The aim is to know what the future portends for the two people involved. If the consultation yields a positive result, then they move to the next stage, if not then they discontinue with the proposal. This background check includes knowing the health conditions of the family, if there is the potential mother-in-law is respectful to her husband and vice versa; also to find out if they are destined to be together (i.e., Ifa will be consulted and sacrifices performed).
Once all the background checks are done and both families are cleared, the parents of the groom-to-be send “emissaries” to the bride’s parents. This process is called Idana. This step simply means that they are interested in marrying the young lady and would like to become in-laws.
The releasing of the voice (Isihun) is when the girl gives her consent to marriage. The date is now set for the Itoro (engagement). On the appointed day, a few elders from the young man's family gets to the lady's house as early as five am in the morning unannounced. This is to formally solicit for the parent of the girl’s consent in marriage. The girl’s parents will then tell the delegates that they are not the only one's involved in giving out the girl. This is because marriage involves every member of the extended family and no one must be left uninformed. Before the delegation leaves, a date is set for Idana.
On the appointed day, the two families meet in bride-to-be’s residence. This is when the dowry (owo ori), and other items that have significance in the life of the family to be are presented to the girl’s family. Some of the items include choice kola-nuts, some alligator pepper, bitter-kola certain number of yam tubers, palm oil, salt, fine wrapper of good quality, and other things. In most cases, the dowry is returned to the parents of the young man with the assertion that they do not sell their daughter. After much eating and drinking, the two families set a date for the actual wedding.
On the wedding day, there are so many festivities in both the parents’ houses. The two families separately bring together and friends and well-wishers. There is so much to eat and drink on this day. The two families display the various outfits (aso-ebi) which they have sown. Both the bride and the groom’s families flaunt their affluence with the type of people in attendance, the type of musician(s) invited, and duration of the parties. In the night, the bride goes before the male elders of the family to obtain blessing. The eldest of them starts the prayer asking the ancestors to protect her. He also admonishes her to be of good conduct in her new abode. All other male and later female members take their turn to pray for her and advise her. After these prayers, she then turns to her mother for prayer and blessing in form of bride’s song of departure (ekun iyawo).The bride is then taken to the groom’s house by some men, accompany by some of the wife’s friends and a younger cousin, niece or nephew who is known as omo iyawo.
After all formalities, at the entrance of the house, the bride is admitted into the groom's household and finally handed over to the eldest wife in the family for mentoring. This underscores the importance of marriage as a rite of passage.
“A chief puts on his insignia before exiting his home.” Traditionally, this is the way palace elders might have advised potential chiefs, cautioning them to be deliberate about presenting a good image to the discriminating eyes of society. After all, as a chief - from a political, professional or priestly lineage - you would represent the embodiment of your constituents' highest values. In other words, leadership is not casual. So, as the representative, your people have to recognize you. This just as true for contemporary African Americans in the leadership spotlight as it as for Yoruba princes or chiefs.
Interestingly, as African Americans have started to ascend to executive spaces since the 1970s, there does not appear to have been a deliberate attempt to clearly define a distinct - culturally consistent - dress code for the upwardly mobile. It seems that high powered Blacks are wearing whatever is hip at the time. But when I look back on what was fashionable in the 80's I laugh. When I go back to the 70s' I get confused. And by the time I get to the 60's and beyond, I might as well be looking at hieroglyphs! Rigor mortis fashion is not good for your legendary status.
In all fairness, however, there were so few role models back then, when very few African Americans had taken one top leadership roles. Fortunately, you only need one, classic example to light the way! Let's consider the epic shot of Ali in Kinsasha. He stands out as a larger than life figure in a sea of African supporters. And while the image is loaded with a lot of heroic symbolism, I just want to draw attention to the fact that his dashiki is what actually makes the picture timeless. Even though the picture was taken in 1974, you could wear that dashiki today or ten years from now and still look regal.
Senator As Style Icon
In Nigeria, the suit in the picture above is known as “senator,” on account of the fact that it was a favorite of high ranking government officials (i.e., senators). Lately it has been cropped for a slimmer fit, which gives it a Western look. The slimmer fit also gives the senator more social flexibility and range. That is, you can select fabrics, colors and patterns that will allow you to move more comfortably from a corporate to social environment without ever looking out of place. Likewise, for cultural or religious environments, you might also prefer a looser, more relaxed fit. Either way, variations of this suit can be embellished further with a another garment (i.e., gbariye, agbada or ibora).
[RELATED: Discounts and Sales on Senator Suits]
Do you remember Obama's tan suit scandal? According to one New York lawmaker, the president's tan suit put our national security at risk. I think that's a stretch, personally. But the point is that when you're out in front, what you wear is very important. Your wardrobe definitely matters; it creates the theme for your entire personal brand. Part of being legendary is being memorable, like that epic shot of Ali in Kinsasha.
Dressing Your Age
Another key element to consider is “age appropriateness.” This is a major issue at every stage of your life's journey. In your 20s and 30s, as you're still learning the territory, your wardrobe should reflect the pioneering spirit with which you are approaching every aspect of your life. If you're a 40-50-something professional, it's more likely that you have ascended to senior leadership positions. Again, your wardrobe should bespeak your experience.
Looking ‘age appropriate’ doesn’t mean necessarily looking generic or frumpy. The problem often is the opposite: Up and coming African Americans who are trying to not look square and think they are being trendy, but they end up looking a bit tacky at worse or a little too casual, at best. There are very real limits to the "mix and match" style that has become so popular as of late. You need a suit!
You definitely want to wear a suit that fits your developmental stage and at the same time takes advantage of the fashion trends of the day. Nowadays, African American professionals have the opportunity to be more original and adapt their wardrobes to their lifestyles, which absolutely includes wearing traditional African apparel in the office and at social events other than Kwanzaa and the Black History Month shindig.
Six Style Tips For African American Leaders
For the African American whose leadership role is not quite presidential, but still in the spotlight, here is a short list of style tips that will help ensure your audience discusses your ideas and not your style:
1. Exude confidence and creativity. This has a lot to do with the totality of your clothes, grooming and attitude. Your hair has to be neat and well-kempt. Hands and nails clean and your clothes should be well pressed and fit perfectly. Power is magnetic – remember President Obama, whose brand set an all new standard of excellence for the world to emulate.
2. Be “fresh,” but not “trendy.” African Americans in a leadership role should be classic and impeccably put together. Deep, rich colors, flattering designs and quality fabric transcend time and trends. In short, it’s worth spending a little money on traditional African clothes.
3. Think color. Red and black convey leadership and power. Use them strategically and consistently. White and Pastels convey coolness and vitality. Earth tones, like tan, brown and olive, convey being grounded. It's best practice to pick your colors according to the seasons.
4. Absorb the local flavor. In the Bay Area, outdoor apparel is part of "the look." In Los Angeles, you can definitely see the effects of Hollywood glimmer. Wherever you are, pick up on the local style and let it accentuate your African attire.
5. Develop a day-to-night style. Sometimes, your days are long but you can't do a wardrobe change. You can still go from the work space to dinner if you set it up properly. Your black or navy blue senator suit should include a full sized agbada, which would be cumbersome at work but you could put on for dinner and be very dashing.
6. Let it shine. Your style is based upon what fits best and projects an image that makes you look good and feel relaxed. If you have to fake it, then it cannot be called success.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
Quality cannot be added. No amount of polishing will turn brass into gold. Likewise, the babalawo cannot grant you anything that your ori did not choose as part of your destiny. Your prenatal choice is the basis of your success. Therefore, you must use self discovery in order to ascend the throne of your own destiny. Failure to do so will only end in falsehood and pretense.
I have met so many people who went to consult Ifa or Orisa and were told "You are destined to be a king... You are destined to be a queen... You are destined to have a big following and many God children." Unfortunately, along with these lofty claims, they were never taught to discover their natural gifts and talents. They were never taught that the job is not done when you get tired or frustrated or afraid; the job is done when you have completed the task. They were never taught to organize or to communicate. All they got was the regal fantasy.
I consider myself blessed that my experience was quite different. When I was initiated to Ifa, I had already corrected my name. I had already earned a Master's Degree. I had already travelled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America and Africa. I had already started a professional career, taken a wife, bought a home and fathered children. That is, I was already successful by the time I was formally introduced to Ifa. Most importantly, I was grateful for the blessings that had been bestowed upon me, thanks to my ori.
In fact, the very first prayer I learned was my name; ORIGUNWA, which means, "My destiny is enthroned." It is a constant reminder that ori is supreme and orisa is just one of many supporters. Consider what Ifa teaches on the subject:
Iwonran Olokun ko ko ara lile
Iku Ijebu ko ko oorun
Ifa’s message for Ori Apere
He who sells Akara, Beancake to prosper
When coming from heaven to earth
He was advised to offer ebo
Where people were blessed with the Ire of wealth
My Ori please let be counted among them
Where people were blessed with the Ire of good spouse
My Ori please let be counted among them
Where people were blessed with the Ire of great children
My Ori please let be counted among them
Where people were blessed with the Ire of property
My Ori please let be counted among them
Where people were blessed with all Ire of life
My Ori please let be counted among them
- Holy Odu OturaIrete
The position of maximum spiritual elevation and perfection is called Ori Apere. It is the pinnacle of human existence and rep-
resents the total optimization of human character, ability and purpose. As such, it is safe to say that Ori Apere is the ultimate
stage of spiritual maturity. For this reason, it – more than any other theological principle – is synonymous with destiny itself. And while you have been conditioned to think of destiny in terms of a destination outside of yourself, it is more appropriate to recognize destiny as the realization of your true identity. From this perspective, we can see Ori Apere for what it really is, the highest expression of your life’s purpose. In other words, Ori Apere is total and complete fulfillment. So, when you are aligned with Ori Apere you actually transcend the mysteries of Òrìsà. 
Until you fully grasp the significance of the title you selected at birth, you will be constantly enticed to seek out external sources of power and authenticity. Not only that, once you have externalized your power, you will find it very difficult to reorientate yourself and reclaim your natural authority. Let's look once more at the teachings of Ifa for better understanding:
It is Olodumare that showers rainfall in sweet torrents
The sky bound eagle is the one that jumps up and down on ridges
If a source of wealth is coming to look for one
There is no need to be apprehensive in work any longer
The rock pebble in the riverbed cares not about cold
Cast divination for Ajojigodogbo
On the day he was going to ascend the throne of the Benin monarch
He was asked to perform sacrifice
He heard about the sacrifice
And performed it
The throne I ascend in Benin
The throne is enough
It is Ajojigodogbo that has rejected the title of Agbanri
I have ascended the throne of the king of Benin
I am not coming back
He said they should keep Agbanri
- Holy Odu OturaIrete
Ajojigodogbo was born to a royal lineage. When Ifa was consulted for him, Ajigodogbo was told that he was destined to become kind in two places. He was advised to take the throne of his forefathers before taking the second crown. But before he ascended the throne, he travelled abroad to the kingdom of Benin. Once there, the king makers recognized his talents and abilities. They offered him the throne, which he accepted. Later on, his father died and the king makers of his birth place sent for him. But Ajigodogbo rejected the crown of his birth in favor of the throne of Benin.
Here is a precious lesson. Ifa teaches us that, No matter how beautiful she may be, one will never tie waist beads [a sign of beauty and wealth] on another person's child before their own. In like manner, one should not use his natural gifts and talents to enrich and empower another kingdom when he has his own to look after.
What you have created with your own hands cannot be taken from you. That means, it is also yours to pass down to future generations. This is as true of a throne as it is a business. When you become the president of your own company, it is yours to bequeath to your children. This is true, no matter how small the company may be. But even if you are hired to be the CEO of a multimillion dollar corporation, you cannot pass down your title to your children.
 Origunwa, Obafemi. Fundamentals of Orisa Lifestyle. P 125
Few will admit to it, but most people who are attracted to Orisa Lifestyle are really just seeking power. Unfortunately, because they also refuse to work, the overwhelming majority usually settle for beads, pots and titles.
Contrary to popular belief, Orisa is not a pathway to power. If you take just a cursory glance at the global hubs of Orisa Lifestyle you can see that our people are not powerful. In the mainstream societies of Nigeria, Brazil, Cuba and elsewhere, Orisa devotees are an after thought, at best. At worst, our position is not even considered at all.
It is time for us to outgrow this childish pursuit of magical powers that would somehow make us exempt from the imperatives of reality. In the adult world, people appreciate the fact that indispensability is greater than power.
Becoming indispensable boils down to your ability to take charge of three areas of your life:
As you master these three areas of activity, you will become more and more indispensable. Gradually, your influence will increase.
According to the philosophy and world view of Orisa Lifestyle, water is the epitome of indispensability. The elders say, “omi la bu we, omi labu mu, eni kan ki b’omi s’ota” meaning “it is water we wash with, it is water we drink, none could afford enmity with water.”
Even if water claims a life or floods an entire community, nobody will dare attempt to destroy water. Anybody foolish enough to do so will immediately regret his lack of judgement. Furthermore, each Orisa has a unique relationship to water. They ALL make generous use of it.
Here are some ways to position yourself as an indispensable member of any group, team or institution:
Remember, the people who go around saying they're indispensable probably aren't. If you're truly indispensable, you won't need to remind people. They will remind YOU!
What you cannot find by day might be tracked by night. What you expect to happen in a matter of days may actually happen in a matter of months. Destiny and fate are governed by time. Consequently, spiritual work is always synonymous with the religious calendar. In Orisa Lifestyle, time is reckoned by the phases of Òṣùpá, the moon. Each New Moon signals the beginning of a distinct ritual sequence, which reaches optimal manifestation with the Full Moon, followed by gradual decline. Consider what Ifa teaches in this regard:
The New Moon appears
Turning its narrow edge to the universe
Exposing its other large side to the heavens
Ifa divination was performed for the New Moon,
Offspring of Ajalorun
- Holy Odu OwonrinSindin
The Moon was once much closer to the Earth. The Moon wanted to be known throughout the universe and so the Moon went to consult Ifa with the diviner named Ela Poroke. The Moon was told to sacrifice, not only for honor, but also for peace of mind. However, the Moon only sacrificed for honor, disregarding the offerings for peace. Consequently, Olodumare commanded that the Moon would be eternally restless; enjoying 15 days of growth and honor, and another 15 days of reduction.*
The new moon is an optimal time to quiet the mind and focus the emotions. It is considered naturally beneficial to dedicate additional time to meditation and chanting on the day of the new moon, as well as one before and one day after. Priests of Orisa Oko - the divinity of agriculture - will make offerings for abundance on this day.
NEW MOON ON A MONDAY
According to Yoruba thought, Monday belongs to Orisa Aje, the daughter of Olokun. Aje is prosperity. She is regarded as the indispensable one, the key to physical as well as spiritual progress. The importance of understanding the divine essence of money cannot be overstated. At the same time, however, money must be prioritized according to its ability to support your life's work.
In this light, you learn that, instead of praying FOR money - or even worse, praying TO money - it is best to invoke the spirit of Aje to activate prosperity for the sake of facilitating your destiny. In this way, you develop a relationship with money that is in alignment with the spiritual laws that govern the universe.
When the new moon falls on a Monday, let your prosperity rituals be organized around six core values:
THE RITUAL 
If you do not have a consecrated shrine for Orisa Aje, you can perform this ritual seated in a cool, relaxed place. It is best done first thing Monday morning, after your morning shower.
Phase One: Invocation
Scarcity of money, awo of k’oro town
Situation saver, awo of Ijero kingdom
If money is scarce for the babalawo
Situation saver will save the day
This was Ifa’s message to Òrunmìlà
He was advised to offer sacrifice
- Holy Odù EjiOgbe
Phase Two: Gratitude
I give thanks to Olódùmarè for Aje, the spirit of prosperity. I give thanks for the wealth I have experienced, the wealth I have to- day and the wealth that has yet to come. Ase.
Phase Three: Offering
I bring you this offering of prayer and to ask you to activate the spirit of prosperity in my life today. Ase.
Phase Four: Agreement
Olódùmarè, as long as you do not allow me to suffer poverty, I promise to use money to heal my life and the lives of the people I am destined to serve. Ase!!!
As the fullness of the moon increases, you can repeat the ritual every Monday and take advantage of the emotional and spiritual forces that promote growth and prosperity.
 Pataki, A Practical Guide to Òrìsà Devotion. Available at: ObafemiO.com/publications
*(Ifa, the Custodian of Destiny. Fayemi Elebuibon. Page 146)
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.