ORISA POWER COUPLES
Power couples abound in the sacred text of Ifa [Ese]. In fact, every orisa has its own divine consort. The relationships between Oya and Sango, Yemoo and Obatala, Osun and Orunmila are the most well-known.
Not only that, binary code, which is the most fundamental code of divination, is based upon the complementary nature of "twoness". For example, the most basic form of divination is a coin toss. One side is male and the other side is female. The Yoruba call it ejiwapo. The complete expression of twoness is, "Tako, tabo, ejiwapo". Maleness, femaleness, together in twoness. It means that masculine and feminine energies naturally converge and create.
Socially, people marry and raise families. Spiritually, we learn and grow. This developmental pattern is captured and revealed through the stories associated with Ese Ifa [Ifa verses]. More specifically, there are numerous stories about the marriages of the orisa. One verse tells of Oya leading Sango into battle. Another tells of Yemoo advising Obatala not to visit Sango. Still, another tells of Osunleyo saving Orunmila's life.
These stories reveal interpersonal dynamics that characterize certain couples. Oya and Sango are high powered, competitive and volatile. Yemoo and Obatala are conservative, simple and earthy. On the other hand, these stories can also be used as a framework for understanding the evolution of a couple. While Oya and Sango might represent the earlier years of a marriage, Yemoo and Obatala could represent a more seasoned couple.
The union of the divinities can also be considered as a metaphor for transformation. This is what I refer to as the mystical marriage, whose objective is to optimize reciprocal energy (i.e., feminine and masculine). Something to make note of here is that there are various expressions of feminine and masculine energies. And for every feminine energy, there is a reciprocal (masculine) energy. Likewise, for every masculine energy, there is a reciprocal (feminine) energy.
It is only through the optimization of your reciprocal energy that you experience true fulfillment.
WEALTHY QUEEN & ORUNMILA, THE PATIENT
Aiye is the world. She is the daughter of Olodumare. She contains all the secrets, wisdom and resources imaginable inside her belly. As a result, Aiye became arrogant and proud to a fault. At the height of her arrogance, Aiye felt she was too high for any man to ever see her naked.
As she aged, however, Aiye became worried that she would not have a fulfilling life and a full house. So she went to consult Ifa. They told her that she had walled herself in and become isolated. The awo told Aiye to sacrifice 200 brown rats and one waist bead on the outskirts of town.
The irunmole knew that Aiye was single. Because of her beauty and resourcefulness, they all wanted to marry her. And so, they all went to consult Ifa seeking guidance on the matter. The awo told them that anyone who wished to marry Aiye must sacrifice one brown rat and money. He must take the ebo to the outskirts of town, then hide somewhere nearby until late in the night. When the irunmole heard this, they were immediately turned off. Why should anybody go through all that trouble for an aging, difficult woman?
Orunmila heard that the irunmole had all opted out of the bid for Aiye's hand in marriage. So he went to consult Ifa as well. The awo told Orunmila the sacrifice and he complied. Very early in the morning, he went to Ejigbomekun Market to buy one brown rat. He then returned to the awo to perform the sacrifice. Orunmila carried the sacrifice to the outskirts of town and then hid nearby, as instructed.
On the exact same day that Orunmila made his sacrifice, so did Aiye. She went to the market shortly after Orunmila. As fate would have it, the rat seller had only brought 200 rats on that day, which meant that Aiye was one rat short. Still, she bought them and went to the awo to perform the sacrifice. When he learned that one was missing, he reassured Aiye to complete the offering anyway.
Aiye took her ebo to the outskirts of town. Coincidentally, she placed hers only a few yards from where Orunmila had placed his ebo. There. she was praying fervently the Olodumare and the deities that her ebo would be accepted, even though she was one rat short. Just then, Olodumare breathed life into Orunmila's sacrificial rat. It ran toward Aiye. She immediately leapt to her feet, grabbed a stick and starting swinging at it in the hopes of killing the rat so that she could complete her sacrifice. On her third attempt, Aiye's wrapper was loosened and it fell to the ground, exposing her nudity.
Orunmila, observed her waistbeads, which had one curved bead that stood out from the others. As she picked up her wrapper and tied it again, Orunmila appeared and greeted her. Aiye was surprised and she wanted to know if he had seen her naked. Orunmila replied; No, I only saw your waist beads. One in particular is curved in a particular way that makes it very unique from any others. It was then that Aiye knew that Orunmila was the right man for her.
Shortly thereafter, they were married. As his wife, Aiye showed Orunmila the secrets of the world. He became even wiser, wealthier and more powerful. Everybody was surprised and wondered how it was possible for Orunmila to marry Aiye. Likewise, Orunmila cultivated Aiye and showed her the attention she needed to flourish even more.
Ifa says that somebody will be blessed with a compatible spouse with appropriate sacrifice.
The first and deepest sacrifice is always personal. Sacrifice requires change. You must be willing to think, feel and behave differently in order to enjoy the blessings that accompany change.
ESOTERIC MOTHER & FATHER OF WISDOM
Oro Modimodi was born a princess. Her father was the king, Olowu Sako'orogbale. When she was born, the babalawo informed Oro Modimodi's parents that she was blessed with impressive spiritual capabilities. Hence, she was named Oro Modimodi, which means esoteric words. Ifa said that, when she came of age, she must not marry an ordinary man.
Oro Modimodi was not considered the prettiest, which made her envy some of her peers. Eventually, all of her friends and associates were men. They were all acutely aware of Oro Modimodi's power. Some of them, including her father, the king, collaborated with her on various projects. Consequently, Oro Modimodi helped to enrich the people in her immediate circle.
When the time came for her to be married, however, Oro Modimodi was not as fortunate. The men who knew her were all afraid of Oro Modimodi's spiritual capabilities. And so it was that the king went to consult Ifa once more and to follow up with Orunmila's claim that Oro Modimodi must marry a babalawo.
Ifa was cast and the king was asked to arrange a conversation between Oro Modimodi and Orunmila. There, they would discuss her likes and dislikes. They all complied. Oro Modimodi and Orunmila met in the palace three times. Each time, she explained to Orunmila that she would assist him and help him to achieve success. She went on to say that she needed to be pampered, adored and cherished. Finally, Oro Modimodi confided in Orunmila that she would not allow any other woman to look upon her. Any woman who defied this mandate would surely die.
Each time they met, Orunmila would confer with his senior wives. They would discuss Oro Modimodi as a member of the family. All agreed that they could accommodate her demands. And so, Oro Monimodi married Orunmila and moved into a special room in his house. Everything was fine for a time. Eventually, however, one of the senior wives decided Oro Modimodi should no longer be exempt from doing chores and being seen. She convinced the other wives to get their lamps and march down to Oro Modimodi's room. She must come out on her own or be dragged out! When they opened the door, however, they saw something unexpected. Before they could run, all three of Orunmila's wives fell dead.
When Orunmila queried Oro Modimodi about the death of his wives, she reminded him of their agreement. Orunmila and Oro Modimodi went on to perform many great things together. Oro Modimodi is what we call Orisa Odu.
The mystical marriage motif, which is pervasive in the sacred text of Ifa, attests to its symbolic significance within the psyche of Yoruba peoples. This is especially true for babalawo, who are identified in numerous texts as the only eligible spouses for a spectrum of formidable women. In the examples given above, Aiye and Odu epitomize earthly and spiritual power, respectively. Each of them is whole and complete on their own. However, to transcend and become greater than anything they can achieve individually, Aiye and Odu had to optimize their reciprocal energy through the mystical marriage to Orunmila. This is what makes Apetebii synonymous with transformation.
Finally, Orunmila is also transformed by each encounter. He experiences the value of sacrifice, attentiveness and patience as a means to gain material wealth as well as attain spiritual power.
WHO IS APETEBII?
Apetebii is the wife of a babalawo. She radiates the spirit of confidence, kindness and influence. Apetebii gets things done because she recognizes high standards and appreciates excellence. The Yoruba tell us, Akíkanjú wọgbó, o ṣòwò igba èèyàn. An illustrious person enters the forest and does enough trade for two hundred people. It means that one illustrious person accomplishes enough for many ordinary people.
Not only that, Apetebii is a leader who knows how to make us feel compelled to support her efforts and invest in her as a person. This is what prompts the Yoruba to say, Bí èèyàn-án bá ṣeun ká sọ pé ó ṣeun; bí èèyàn-án bá ṣèèyàn ká sọ pé ó ṣèèyàn; nítorípé, ohun tí a ṣe, ó yẹ kó gbeni. If a person deserves gratitude, we should say that she deserves gratitude; if a person is kindly, we should say that she is kindly, because one should reap the rewards of one’s actions. It means that a person’s goodness should be publicly acknowledged. Because she leads with love, we genuinely want to see Apetebii succeed.
THREE PROMINENT APETEBII
The Holy Odu is filled with examples of the relationship between apetebii and babalawo. At various points, Orunmila married Iwa [Character], Aje [Wealth], Ose [Devotion], and numerous princesses. In some cases, Orunmila was significantly challenged by the marriage. In others, he was blessed beyond imagination. Here are just three examples of prominent apetebii who made meaningful contributions to the life and divine mission of Orunmila:
In every instance, Apetebii is a woman whose unique identity and make ordinary men ineligible partners. The Yoruba say, Pooko nídìí, a fìhà jókòó. The coconut shell has a bottom but rests on its side. It means that unconventional people will always do things differently. Apetebii is oftentimes unconventional, even to the point of being complicated: Odu was so jealous of other women, she refused to even allow them to see her. Aiye was so headstrong, not one of the Irunmole was willing to make the sacrifices necessary to sustain her. It was only Orunmila who was capable of winning their admiration and trust.
The Holy Odu IrosunOse teaches us that Olodumare has specially blessed the union of babalawo and apetebii and characterized it as the epitome of success:
Ifa let my sacrifice be accepted
Ela let my rituals go up to the heaven above Irosun seso
Irosun seso Cast Ifa for Orunmila
And initiates Osun, the wife of Bara Agbonniregun into Ifa
On the day they were coming from the heaven above as a team to establish the foundation of the earth plane
They were advised about the earth plane where they were going
They should offer sacrifice of victory , harmony , peaceful coexistence and victory because of the witches
They would be angry with them because of the beautiful things they would to do to better the lives of humanity
They would heal the sick
The lame or the cripple would walk
Those who were afflicted with ajogun
Will see the light of Olodumare and absolute victory
The negative work of the great magician would have no evil effect on the lives of men
The sacrifice prescribed by Ifa to Orunmila and his wife would deter evil dreams
Those who intend to spoil their business or work and cooperation
Would be nailed to ground by the sacrifice
Orunmila quickly offered the sacrifice
The witches returned quickly to the middle way between heaven and the earth
That is how Orunmila and Osun achieved victory and overcame all misfortune
Then Orunmila spoke of his priest thusly;
All the paths I tread will give way to success
This was Ifa's message to Orunmila and Osun
When they were coming from the spiritual plane to the world
They intended to extend goodness to the lord of Ife and all men throughout the world
Now, witches of the universe, I give you obeisance Oh!
Yes, the witches of the world
Let my sacrifice be auspicious, and my ritual be accepted
Let my sacrifice go to the place of acceptance without hindrance
Oh ye the witches I give obeisance to you, and salute you
Oh ye the witches
Let my hand work and the work of my wife be successful and fulfilled
Oh ye witches of the universe
Oh ye witches
- Holy Odu IrosunOse
The Yoruba say, Agbe ló laró; àlùkò ló losùn. To the Blue Touraco belongs indigo dye; to the àlùko belongs camwood stain. It means each individual has his or her unique qualities. Apetebii and babalawo are an inseparable pair, who combine wisdom and compassion to govern the world with positive influence. For this reason the babalawo routinely gives thanks to Olodumare for Apetebii and sacrifices for her well being.
FULFILLMENT OF DESTINY
The Yoruba say, Orí ò mọ ibùsùn; ì bá ma tún ile ibe ṣe. The head does not know where it will finally rest; had it known, it would have tidied up the place. It means, If one knew where one’s destiny would lead, one would do whatever one could to cultivate the place. When a woman discovers that she is apetebii from heaven, it creates a unique opportunity to set the stage for the fulfillment of her destiny.