THE PROBLEM WITH MANHOOD
Being a man is a troubling and thankless endeavor for most. We are responsible for everything that is wrong in the world, but we are also expected to take responsibility for making everything alright... But alright for who? That is, are men supposed to be responsible to one another, as colleagues in a fraternal bond? Are we supposed to be responsible to our wives and girlfriends, as we create a family unit? Or are we supposed to be responsible to our children, to whom we will one day bequeath our estates? Sometimes, our roles as men complement one another quite well; other times, however, they are at war with one another.
SEE LIFE AS A KING WOULD
One thing I have always enjoyed about Yoruba civilization is the fact that it is organized around the institution of divine kingship. The Oba [king] is the apex of all activity between heaven and earth. He is the organizer, the leader, the creator and bestower of blessings. His authority is unparalleled. As such, the Oba is the ultimate symbol of Yoruba masculinity. As an archetypal figure, the Oba reveals men's capacity to direct, to organize and to create a platform upon which to build his own world of ideas, emotions and talents. What I mean is that every man can look to the king as a template for self governance and actualization. To better understand, let us glimpse what the sacred text of Ifa says about kingship:
Odi, the venerable master of the groves
Was the diviner who consulted Ifa for Oduduwa,
the gray-haired immensity who rolls infinitely
within his own existence
Glory and renown
Are your inheritance
Forever and ever
- Holy Odu OdiMeji
My life begins anew!
When a dying fire is fed fresh oil
Its life begins anew
Oduduwa is the original Yoruba king. It was he who institutionalized the elaborate palace governance system for which the Yoruba are known today.  In the verse above, we see that Ifa predicted that Oduduwa would enjoy the eternal wisdom of his own existence. That is, he would draw from his own, internal resources to create a sustainable framework for his own greatness. In addition, his greatness would be characterized as regal and glorious. Later on, in the song that follows the verse, the perpetuity of Oduduwa's primacy is transformed into a personal invocation that every man can recite: My life begins anew! When a dying fire is fed fresh oil, its life begins anew!
RITUAL APPROACH TO MASCULINE EMPOWERMENT
Ritually speaking, when I perform rituals to activate and invigorate a man's destiny, I will anoint his head with palm oil and recite an incantation very similar to the lyrics of the song mentioned above. In those moments, I am invoking the life principles that govern Oduduwa, the archetypal king, whose power, glory and royalty are forever renewed.
Among all Yoruba people, the crown is the principal symbol of the king's authority. Not only that, the crown actually becomes an Orisa when it is placed upon the king;s head. His ori inu (inner head) then becomes one with those who have reigned before him and are now Orisa themselves. There is an ancient story of how Oduduwa gave a beaded crown to each of his sons and sent them out to establish their own, respective kingdoms.  In this way, you can see how Oduduwa passed down his authority to his sons, thus avoiding the risk of becoming a tyrant, who refuses to share power.
And so it is that the appeasement of a man's head has a similar function and purpose. As a ritual specialist, it is my duty to empower other men to increase their authority and ascend the throne of their destinies, as sons, brothers, husbands and fathers. In each of these capacities, men must learn to seize their regal impulse to lead, organize and govern themselves and the resources within their control.
BECOMING THE KING OF YOUR OWN DESTINY
Here, it's important for you to start to explore healthy ways to dialogue with that part of yourself that truly wants to lead. In this process, you must reconcile those aspects of yourself that have kept you in non-productive cycles of conflict, emotional turmoil and inadequacy. This exploration with reveal the self destructive patterns that have drawn you into unhealthy relationships and caused you to squander golden opportunities. Failure to voluntarily engage in such an exploration will mean a life of mediocrity for you and potentially your future generations.
Behind every great man is a long and foreboding shadow. Your ability to cast a bright light onto that shadow and place it squarely under the spiritual authority of your destiny will determine your ability to ascend the throne and become the master of your own identity.
 Origunwa, Obafemi. Fundamentals of Orisa Lifestyle pg 62
 Origunwa, Obafemi. Fundamentals of Orisa Lifestyle pg 62
Omimi is Pandemonium; She was the wife of Aiye, the world. Anytime Aiye attempted something worthwhile that was when Omimi would going to action. Everything would scatter! It was obvious that Aiye did not need Omimi, but nobody could separate the two. Several noble projects were destroyed by Omimi while looked on, helplessly. All great men and women who try to contain the wife of Aiye were washed away by pandemonium. Those who attempted to make Aiye see that he must do away with pandemonium were overwhelmed and destroyed by the same woman that they were trying to contain. Nobody seemed to have any solution on how to handle Omimi.
One day however, Orunmila made it his responsibility to contain pandemonium by any means. The destruction happening in the world must come to an end, he vowed. Orunmila summoned some of his former students to consult the Ifa. He wanted to know how best to handle the problem posed by Omimi. The awo cast IFA for him and the Holy Odu OgbeAlara was revealed. The awo told Orunmila that the best way to tame pandemonium and stop her from creating further havoc was to take her from the world. By making Omimi his wife, Orunmila would easily be able to monitor her both day and night. The awo explained to Orunmila that if he took over pandemonium, however, Aiye himself would give Orunmila the fight of his life. In the end, however, Orunmila was told that he would triumph and save many people from experiencing pandemonium in their lives. They advised Orunmila to make a sacrifice. After a lengthy deliberation, Orunmila complied with the advice of his awo. He made the sacrifice.
Soon afterward, Orunmila met Omimi and he began to woo her. At first, she refused to listen to him because she knew for sure that Orunmila would try to stop her from creating havoc in the lives of people. Orunmila however was persistent and Omimi finally gave in. The two of them then went into hiding. Then, as the awo had predicted, the world began to look for pandemonium. Unknown to many, Aiye had actually been using pandemonium to destabilize people's lives. He enjoyed seeing people suffer and die. This was because of the fact that anyone who died would be consumed by the world. And so, pandemonium helped to intensify the world's power.
As soon as pandemonium moved into the house of Orunmila, Aiye became very angry. Before long, he became depressed. His depression then gave way to desperation. Aiye decided to find out where his wife had been taken and he would teach everyone involved a lesson they would never forget. And so, the world plan his strategy for war. It took him 1 year to perfect his plan. The day Aiye decided to strike, Orunmila was totally unprepared. The confrontation was extremely fierce. Heaven and earth shook violently. Before long, the world had gained the upper hand. He was pushing Orunmila further and further back. It was clear that Aiye would soon overwhelm Orunmila.
That is when ESU advised Orunmila to hide from the world in order to regain his strength and plan his own war strategy. Upon hearing this, Orunmila realized that it was the most sensible thing to do under the current conditions. Orunmila took to his heels! He ran and hid himself in the midst of 60 Iyere seeds. When the seeds saw him, they asked him what was the matter? They demanded to know why Orunmila was running the way he was. Orunmila explained to the 60 Iyere seeds what was happening. They told Orunmila that they did not want any trouble from the world. They chased him out of his hiding place. The world then saw Orunmila and started to pursue him again.
Orunmila was on the Run once more. He ran inside the hiding place of 60 Kola nuts. As soon as he got there, the 60 Kola nuts demanded to know why he was running. Orunmila explained the situation. When the Kola nuts heard his explanation, they told him to go away! They said they did not want any trouble from any place at all! When Orunmila hesitated, they kicked him out forcefully. Another round of intense fighting occurred. They fought for seven days without stopping. Orunmila became weaker and weaker. Again, ESU advised him to go back into hiding. This time, Orunmila went and hid himself inside 60 Ataare. The Ataare asked him what was the matter? Again, Orunmila explained why he had been fighting and hiding. The Ataare told Orunmila to leave there abode immediately! All of his pleading fell on deaf ears. The 60 Ataare pushed Orunmila out with force once again.
The fight was more fierce than before. Orunmila fought bravely but he was no match for the power of the world. For 17 days the fighting continued. It was just a matter of time before the world would defeat Orunmila totally. Once more, ESU appeared. He told Orunmila to go back into hiding. Orunmila ran again. This time, he met the Aparo, the Partridge on the way. He begged the Partridge to allow him to hide under his feathers. The Partridge demanded to know why Orunmila chose to hide. He then explained everything to the Partridge. Aparo told Orunmia to hide under its beak. Both Orunmila and the Partridge then disappeared. When the world got to the spot where they once stood, he could not find Orunmila and the Partridge. He searched to no avail.
In frustration he went home and eventually forgot about pandemonium. When Orunmila got to his home, he told pandemonium that from that day forward, she must never go out to cause havoc anymore. Omimi complied. From that day onward, only those who went looking for pandemonium and disaster would bring pandemonium into their lives. That was how Orunmila managed to frustrate the world an tame pandemonium at the same time.*
* Popoola, Solagbade. Ifa Dida.
Opele Ifa, the Divining Chain
The most common divining chain is made from the seed pod known as opele from which the chain takes its name. It comes from the tree, Schrebera golungensis. This seed pod has a distinctive pear shape and naturally splits open at the base, with the two halves splaying out from the top, where they are joined. On the concave inner surface of each half is a marked ridge.
Other items which have at one time or another been used to make divining chains include:
The opele Ifa is about three to four feet long and usually consists of eight halves of seed shells or pods joined by sections of chain three to four inches long. The chain is held in the middle so that there are four shells or seeds hanging on the right and four hanging on the left.
ORIGIN & USES OF OPELE
Opele is a symbol of over indulgence - i.e., it talks too much, is prone to dishonesty and it is greedy). As such, opele is used to remind us to always practice restraint and to be respectful of our elders. Refusal to heed this warning may result in a life of difficulty and futile efforts. The Holy Odu OturaIwori is illustrative:
The sturdy man as strong as the Ogun of the main road
Ifa’s message for Oga, the Opele
When going on Ifa’s message to Onko land
He was advised to offer ebo
He refused to comply
The inhabitants of Onko land
He who stays at home and knows about the slaughtering of all Ifa animals
- Holy Odu OturaIwori
It is Opele's greed that prevented her from receiving offerings given to Ifa. All the animals slaughtered for Ifa are given to Ikin instead of Opele, who was used in casting Ifa and who recommended that the animals must be used to feed Ifa but received none of the offerings in question.
Similarly, opele is synonymous with being unsettled and agitated, which are unfavorable traits, according to Yoruba traditional values. See what Ifa teaches on this subject:
He cast Ifa for Opele
When going to the live the life of being carried about
He was advised to offer ebo
He failed to comply
Travelers to Ipo and Ofa towns
Can’t you see the prediction of Ifa as it has come to pass
- Holy Odu OkanranOwonrin
Here, opele was advised to sacrifice to present being carried around, without enjoying the benefits of a stable lifestyle. Opele refused to sacrifice and was consequently forced to being the travel companion of the babalawo, who is an itinerant priest.
The chain is thrown with the right hand, and tossed in such a way that the two lines of shells fall parallel with each other. Each of the eight seeds or shells can then fall with either the concave inner surface or the convex outer surface facing upwards. The ends of the chain have various items attached to them so that the diviner can establish which is the left and which is the right figure (it being essential to know which is the first and which is the second column, to prevent the reverse figure being read by erroneous juxtaposition of the columns).
Half a seed shell falling with the concave surface facing upward is equivalent to a single line on the tray, while a fall in the 'closed' position with the convex outer surface up, is the equivalent of a double mark. Divination with the chain of seeds, though regarded as inferior to ikin Ifa (palm nuts) is more rapid, but otherwise the two systems are identical. They employ the same set of figures with the same names and rank order, and the same verses.
Bascom explains: the divining chain is said to 'talk more' than the palm nuts, but it is regarded as an inferior instrument, less reliable than palm nuts for deciding important questions. It is also spoken of as Ifa's servant... a number of Ifa diviners employ only the chain, because they dislike using the palm nuts . . . the divining chain arrives at the same interpretation through the same set of figures and verses more rapidly, and answers more questions than are usually asked when the slower method with palm nuts is employed. In addition to convenience, there are instances wherein an individual can only receive divination using opele. Let's consider what Ifa teaches in the Holy Odu ObaraOse:
The madmen took off
But he recognizes fire
This was the Ifa cast for Opon, the divination tray
When going to cast Ifa for Onitagi Olele
He arrived in the home of Onitagi Olele
He advised him to offer sacrifice in order to ward off war
After offering the sacrifice
War erupted again in greater force
When Opon offered the sacrificed for Onitagi Olele
He sprinkled the Iyerosun into the sacrifice
The sacrifice was totally rejected
They went to call on Opele, who no Iyerosun
Opele the Awo of Onitagi Olele
He was the awo who cast Ifa for Onitagi Olele
When weeping in constant fear of war
He as advised to offer all what was obtained by inheritance as sacrifice in
order to ward off war
Now, you Opele, who has no Iyerosun, enter into the water
And shake your body into my sacrifice
Before long, not to far
Come and join me in the midst of all the good things of life.
- Holy Odu ObaraOse
Among the Fon of Dahomey the chain is called the agummago, but is used in much the same way as the opele. The diviners see the fall of the seeds not as a matter of chance but as by an act controlled by Ifa, the deity of divination. Any interference with the free fall of the chain by the diviner garbles the message which Ifa wishes the client to receive: hence the ritual of throwing the chain is governed by very precise rules. That is, the babalawo uses the opele to discern the nature of the client's problem, then determine the appropriate sacrifice, medicines and observances. Together, these elements make up the distinct method by which babalawos diagnose and treat clients.
Learn more: ObafemiO.com
Bascom, Williams. Ifa Divination
Origunwa, Obafemi. Fundamentals of Orisa Lifestyle
Ajayi, Bade. Ifa Divination Process
Orisa Lifestyle is NOT About Initiations. It's About Spiritual Discipline: How to Master the Art of Daily Devotion
PAIN IS OBLIGATORY; SUFFERING IS OPTIONAL
I have been a human services professional for over twenty years. And after working with thousands of people, I have discovered the root cause of the most common forms of pain and suffering:
To make matters worse, most people are wasting precious time, energy and money, chasing magic bullet solutions. They believe that the problems they have accumulated over years - sometimes decades - can be erased just be getting initiated. This is false.
Right now, I want you to let go of the idea that something or somebody "out there" is going to appear and magically alleviate all of your problems. As a matter of fact, I want you to take a few minutes to challenge the notion of what you are interpreting as problems. Instead, I want you consider these troubling circumstances as feedback from your very own destiny. Your destiny is GOOD. Your destiny is the blueprint for total success.
If you accept the invitation to look at your life in this way, you will come to realize that you have something within you that is totally biased in favor of your success, happiness and fulfillment.
Instead of trying to solve your problems by constantly ADDING materials, you can start to focus on learning to bring out the internal resources that you already have and use them to your advantage.
THE ANSWER IS WITHIN YOU
What if you knew the secret practices of the greatest spiritual adepts? What if you had access to the mysterious power that has enabled the Orisa to thrive, even under the most adverse conditions?
Tap into the power of your inner divinity through daily devotion.
Thinking small and poor performance are symptoms of a much greater problem that cannot be resolved by participating in a weekend ceremony. Inside the discipline of daily devotion, however, you will discover a timeless playbook that was created by the ancients based upon what has actually worked for thousands of years. Through daily devotion, you can gain access to spiritual technology that will show you how to build a morning routine, how to create and breakdown your life goals into bite size chunks, and organize your life according to the universal laws that govern the universe.
THE COURSE ON DAILY DEVOTION
The PÀTÀKÌ Master Class on the Art and Practice of Orisa Devotion is just what you've been looking for. This 8 week course will help you to remain ever-focused on the way of your Personal Priesthood, which will amplify your spiritual insights. It's ideal for devotees within ALL Orisa traditions.
Special attention is given to the Seven Day Worship calendar, whose patterns and cycles of creation are recognized by every sect of Òrìsà Lifestyle. From Haitian vodoun to Trinidadian Sango to West African Isese, you will quickly notice the ways in which Òrìsà Lifestyle reinforces awareness of moon cycles, annual seasons and natural phenomena in an effort to facilitate stages of spiritual maturation.
The PÀTÀKÌ Master Class on the Art and Practice of Orisa Devotion will help you to align yourself with the patterns of Creation, as defined by our Yoruba ancestors in West Africa.
“Kin ni a bo ru lebo? What is to be offered for the sacrifice? That is the pivotal question the babalawo asks during Ifa Divination. It represents the movement from theory to practice, from ideas to action. That is, once you have defined your problem, it is logical to define what must be done to solve it. Naturally then, your sacrifice must match your circumstances and desired outcomes. Are you willing to sacrifice your anger in order to experience true happiness? Are you willing to sacrifice your fear in order to enjoy true love? Are you willing to sacrifice conformity in order to experience true freedom?
The only true sacrifice is personal sacrifice. It is only through personal sacrifice that you will ever change, develop and grow in your spiritual practice. Of course, the materials you offer are necessary to activate your environment and set the stage for healing, in much the same ways that pharmaceuticals set the stage for physical health. But internal activation is what enables transformation.
Internal activation is what Orunmila teaches us in the Holy Odu IworiMeji. In this instance his disciple went to Olodumare and accused Orunmila of failing to make sacrifice for him. When Olodumare summoned Orunmila and confronted him on his transgression, Orunmila explained how he had always made sacrifices for his disciple, but the latter’s ORI never arrived to accept the offerings. And so, his blessings went unclaimed.
So, whereas prayer is asking for guidance, meditation is listening for instructions. Obedience is making the mental, emotional and spiritual changes necessary to follow the instructions you asked for in the first place. But it’s not as easy as following instructions, is it? Sometimes, the instructions seem unclear. Maybe you know where to go, but you’re not sure about how to behave once you arrive. Other times, you don’t even know where to start! And then, there are those times when you have face yourself, your character flaws, inconsistencies and inabilities.
In all of those instances, you need spiritual support that extends far beyond mere technique. That is, when you’re serious about giving up the emotional, intellectual and spiritual traumas that may have enslaved your family lineage for generations, you need a trusted advisor who is adept at helping you define the problem and create an appropriate plan for addressing it, from the inside out. That is what I call living the medicine.
"Ẹni tó ńlé nǹkan níwájú, ńfi àwọn nǹkan míràn sẹ́yìn." Whoever is pursuing something ahead, is actually leaving some other things behind. The nature of change requires natural sacrifice. If you're a parent who wants to go back to school, you must sacrifice time at home with your family. If you want to start a garden or practice your art, you have to give up some leisure activity, like watching TV or shopping. If you want to heal, you have to sacrifice the attachment to the events or people that harmed you. It means letting go. You can't have it both ways. Decide you want it more than you're inconvenienced by it.
Obafemi Origunwa, MA