An ijinle is deep talk. Within the Agbole, however, the ijinle specifically refers to an important meeting held by adult members of the Agbole community. Obafemi Origunwa has introduced the ijinle as a therapeutic intervention whose primary purpose is to heal the spiritual, cultural and social traumas African Americans have suffered during 250 years of slavery, 90 years of Jim Crow, 60 years of segregation and 35 years of state-sanctioned red-lining*. In general terms, an ijinle is a small group dedicated to the discussion of 16 specific principles of spiritual development. Through the ijinle, community members get together to sort out the problems that affect everyone. Everyone has a voice and there is an attempt to find a common mind or a common story that everyone is able to tell when they go away from it. The objective is for all participants to depart from the ijinle and be able to say "This is how we approached the matter at hand. This is what we heard from one another. This is where we arrived as we prayed and thought and talked deeply together."
The elders of Oyo were asked to sacrifice
But they refused
I was asked to make a similar sacrifice
I listened and made the sacrifice
I missed my step, and survived
Others missed their step and died
Because they failed to sacrifice
Those who sacrifice
Unfailingly receive salvation
- Holy Odu OwonrinMeji
Good people tend to focus on good things. They seem to understand the fact that positive thinking promotes peak performance, which produces favorable outcomes, which generate more positive energy. Stated differently, when you feel good it’s easier to do well. And when you do good work, the people you serve are happy with your contribution. It’s a virtuous cycle. So it makes sense that good people tend to focus on good things. After all, this is the meaning of the Ifa teaching that says “When you do good you do good for yourself.”
At the same time, however, what’s good for one is oftentimes bad for another. For example, when poor people agitate for redistribution of the world’s wealth and resources, it’s good for the poor, but bad for the rich. Even more importantly, perhaps, when you – as an individual – assert your own personal power, there are many instances in which your achievement of peak performance inadvertently overshadows the efforts of others. And if you’ve ever been outdone, you know it can be hard to accept graciously.
So it was with Orunmila when he travelled to Oyo kingdom. In this instance, he was practicing the art of divination, combined with trading. As it were, Orunmila was very successful at both practices, which evoked the envy of the elder priests of Oyo. So, they started to plot against him, but to no avail. When they reached the depths of their jealousy and frustration, the elders of Oyo even went so far as to visit Orunmila himself and ask him to divine for them – secretly they were asking Ifa how they could destroy him! With Esu’s help, Orunmila saw through their plot and sacrificed a goat to protect himself.
Later on, the elders of Oyo conjured another plan to eliminate Orunmila. They invited him to officiate the ceremonies for an annual orisa festival, on the premise that it was the local custom that any visiting priest must perform the honors. In reality, however, they had dug a massive pit in the road leading form the bush shrine into the city shrine. When Orunmila had completed his duties at the bush shrine and was on his way back into the city, he was about to step into the pit dug for him by the jealous elder priests. But just then, Esu caused the skull of Orunmila’s sacrificial goat to emerge in the path like a large stone. Orunmila tripped on the skull and it made him jump over the pit instead of falling into it. And so, even though he stumbled, he did not fall. And so he continued his journey to the town without further incident.
Now, the jealous elders approached the same pit one by one and Esu caused the skull of the goat to emerge in the path. But the effect was the exact opposite of what it was for Orunmila. Instead of jumping OVER the pit, each of the elder priests fell INTO the pit. By nightfall, the people of Oyo were deeply concerned about the whereabouts of the elder priests. Invariably, they were forced to pay Orunmila a visit, as he was the only priest who remained. Orunmila consulted Ifa and advised the community members of the sacrifice that was required to rescue the elder priests. It was then that Esu released them from the pit, allowing them to return to the city without further harm.
Here, the teaching emphasizes the importance of approaching the holy shrine with a clean heart and good intentions. Those who fail to do so may not survive the ordeal. But even more importantly, for the good people, who tend to focus exclusively on positivity, it is important not to be naive about the significance of who you are and what you do. Do not underestimate the VALUE of your work by failing to properly protect yourself. To learn more about how spiritual protection promotes sustainable excellence, ask Ifa.
Cast divination for Orunmila
Two people were planning near Esu to kill him
Ifa asked Orunmila to offer 2 calabashes, 2 hens, and 480 cowries
He heard about the offering and performed it
He tied the 2 calabashes together and traveled to Esu to pray
As he was going the two calabashes were making sound saying:
Ma p’oturu ma p’okanran (do not kill Oturu, do not kill Okanran)
Ma p’oturu ma p’okanran (do not kill Oturu do not kill Okanran)
His two enemies heard the commotion
They became scared and scurried away
Cast divination for two Calabashes
Performing yearly harvest
They were asked to perform an offering for the left
They refused to offer
For this reason, they make rubbing sounds
When we tie them together to bring them home from the farm
Enemies… Where do they come from? Why do they exist? These are deep, philosophical questions that produce many penetrating answers. I personally don’t like the idea of enemies because it causes people to externalize the root of their problems, projecting them onto anyone and everyone within reach. No growth occurs for people obsessed with enemies.At the same time, however, I am not naive. There are a good number of people who either set out to take what is not theirs or to prevent you from enjoying what you have worked to achieve or sustain. And to be clear, these are the people who insist upon doing so. They cannot be dissuaded nor redirected. They are real foes.
In the verse above, Orunmila faced a pair of enemies, named Oturupon and Okanran, respectively. For one reason or another, they conspired to destroy Orunmila. To hatch their plan, they went to the mighty Esu to enlist his support in the nepharious act. Unbeknownst to them, Orunmila had gone to consult Ifa earlier that day. Ifa advised him to take Esu two gourds filled with water. As Orunmila walked through the forest on the way to Esu’s shrine, the gourds rubbed and collided against one another. As they did, the water inside te gourds made noises that, in Yoruba sounded like voices asking Orunmila not to kill Oturupon and Okanran.Oturupon and Okanran were confused… “How could Orunmila know of our plan already? He’s already poised to kill us? He is more powerful than we thought! Let’s run!!!” And so they did! They ran for their lives!!! Orunmila offered Esu his water and continued on his way, having vanquished his enemies through sacrifice.This Ifa is teaching us the virtue of ritual discipline. Among other things, it keeps us focused on what we are supposed to be doing instead of wasting precious time and energy on the opposition. And so it is, sometimes, in the process of dispatching our ritual duties, we do vanquish our enemies!
Their hearts are impure
And their characters are nasty
Even their Ifa is unacceptable
That is why they are not invited to people’s homes
To cast Ifa and perform ebo for others
These were Ifa’s declarations to Yerepe, the Nettle
Offspring of the owner of the 16 rooms with big backyards
When he was planning to assume the position of authority
in the forest
He was advised to offer ebo
He refused to comply
Now Yerepe, you are not a decent being
When you were installed into a position of authority
You turned the whole community into a deserted area
– Holy Odu OseMeji*
For some, talent, knowledge and charisma are best used as weapons and tools of destruction. You have seen them in action; these are the people who are corrupted by slightest bit of power. They hide behind desks, uniforms and official positions to exercise personal vendettas against others.
Such was the case of Yerepe, the Nettle. When he was selected to assume a position of authority in the forest, Yerepe wasted no time in creating chaos. Of course, those closest to him were first to feel the brunt of his selfishness. Ironically, it was actually the kingmakers themselves, who had just installed Yerepe who he attacked first.
He sprinkled nettle dust on them, which caused them to itch uncontrollably. The elders were so overwhelmed by the itching that they even stripped themselves and ran naked! Thus, the kingmakers were utterly disgraced by the one they had just installed as a leader.
After that time, anyone who moved too close to Yerepe met with a similar fate. It didn’t take long for all others to distance themselves from Yerepe. Eventually, the people all gathered to put an end to the chaos. They decided to set fire to those areas where Yerepe was known to inhabit. In the end, Yerepe died by fire, full of regrets for his short-sighted self indulgence.
* Ifa Dida, Volume I
The sacred texts of Ifá teach us the importance of feeding the Òrìsà to obtain their favor and to achieve positive changes in our lives. A verse of the Holy Odù Irosun Ose clearly demonstrates the before mentioned. In this instance, Òrunmìlà was sent from heaven to earth to serve as a counselor, to interpret Ifá and to help humankind experience the Good Condition by avoiding life’s dangers, pitfalls and perils. He was carrying out divination and sacrifice to redeem the lives of humanity. He also performed good works for men and their children. He cured to the sick, giving them hope, and bringing harmony to the areas of discord in their lives. All this he did without asking anything in exchange. Èsù noted that nobody thanked Òrunmìlà for his good deeds. Thus, he devised a plan with the Iyaami Osoronga - the powerful mothers.
During his own personal divination, Orúnmìlà learned about the pending arrival of some powerful people on earth. He consulted the oracle and determined that the Iyaami Osoronga would be sent to the world to wreak havoc in the lives of people who offered nothing in exchange for Òrunmìlà’s work. This prompted Òrunmìlà to pay Olódùmarè a visit. En route, he met Iyaami Osoronga. Upon recognizing them, he asked the Iyaami about what he had seen in his divination. “Is it true that you are going to trouble the lives of humans?” When they confirmed, he ask them why. They replied “It is on account of the fact that you have refused to collect any payment for your services to the children of man, and that on account of this other divinities have been suffering hunger.” Òrunmìlà recognized the gravity of the Iyaami Osoronga’s words. He became perplexed because he did not want that the sons of men to be punished. He did not want his work on earth and all his efforts to be destroyed. But at the same time, how could he allow the deities to go hungry? The powerful mothers notified Òrunmìlà that he should tell the inhabitants of earth that they should offer something to appease to the deities and to eliminate the hunger they had been suffering. They assured Òrunmìlà that if people complied with this they would be forgiven for their prior neglect.
Òrunmìlà returned home to consult Ifá and ask what could people offer to appease to the deities and to avoid losses. He was advised to offer obì – kola nut – which each person should place on the shrine of her respective deities to avoid calamities. Orúnmìlà began with his campaign, informing all of humanity to offer obì to ward off death, sickness, curses, losses and defeat. Thus it was that people began to offer obì to their deities and ancestors. This is a custom from ancient times that thrives into the present. Offering obì to the deities is a gesture to be forgiven for misdeeds, to pacify the deities and to avert attacks from the Iyaami Osoronga.
For more information on offering obì and performing the ose ritual, please visit: www.OrisaLifestyle.com/communityworship
Twenty blades cannot shave a pillar
Only one live ember of charcoal turns a forest into dry land
These were Ifa’s messages to Orunmila
When he was to turn himself into a slave
He was advised to offer sacrifice
Travellersto Ipo and Ofa towna
Come and join us in the midst of happiness
Come and behold all blessings of life
- Holy Odu OrangunMeji*
Humility is a commitment to something greater than the ego. To demonstrate respect to all people, even those less advantaged than yourself, is a show of good will. There are times, however, when humility is requisite for success. In those times, the only way to elevate is through selfless service.
Such was the case for Orunmila, when he descended from heaven to earth. His highest ambition was to improve the world! He went to consult Ifa, at which point he was advised to make sacrifice. In addition, however, the awos told Orunmila that his personal ritual would be to help people but to do so in a way that made it appear as if the ones who he had helped were actually helping HIM! It must seem as if they were doing Orunmila a favor by ALLOWING him to serve them. Why? Because if the people refused to accept Orunmila’s help, then the effect of his sacrifice would be neutralized and he would not receive Olodumare’s blessings.
And so it was that Orunmila became a slave among men. He went out of his way to serve, serve and serve. In every act of service, Orunmila felt honored to be allowed to help and made it abundantly clear to all that he cherished the opportunity to participate in their journeys. Of course, this made Orunmila exceedingly popular and people flooded into his shrine constantly. Consequently, Orunmila was blessed and highly favored by humanity and Olodumare alike.
Today, you will be called to serve. Perhaps, it will be as simple as giving directions or as complicated as helping someone move into a new apartment. Whatever it is, do it with a spirit of joy. More importantly, however, Ifa is teaching you the importance of knowing exactly who you serve and keeping those people forever focused in your mind. Remember, you do what you do because of them. Never lose sight of that truth. This is the only way to live the medicine. Aboru aboye abosise. “
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | www.OrisaLifestyle.com
*Popoola, Solagbade. Ifa Dida v1
According to Yoruba thought, money is a deity. Her name is Aje, the daughter of Olokun. Aje is kose e mani, the indispensible one, the key to physical as well as spiritual progress. The importance of understanding the divine essence of money cannot be overstated. Money is known by many more attributes, which collectively explain the complexity of human activity in relation to earning, spending and investing it:
Owo ni koko: Money is the key
Sure lere: Patience is profitable
Ibanuje ni ojo ori, owo l’agba: knowing your age is sad, money is the eldest (Age without money is sad)
Olowo n soro… talika loun ni “idea”: The rich man speaks and is obeyed… the poor man says “I have an idea”
Owo ni keke ihinrere: Money is the engine (bicyle) of the gospel
Oogun ti a o f’owo se, ehin aaro ni gbe: A spiritual medicine bought cheaply has little value
Owo eru kii gb’oro: Money should acquired in a clean way
Ise l’oogun ise: Hard work is the antidote for poverty
All the divinities of orisa lifestyle have their own ojubo (shrine). The ojubo not only represents the divinity, it is also the place you go to invoke the divinity for guidance and protection. 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 in your life, according to divine principles. In this way, you develop a relationship with money that is in alignment with the spiritual laws that govern the universe. Ifa teaches us that people are called eniyan, the chosen ones. We are all selected by Olodumare – God Almighty- to bring about the Good Condition. In the holy odu IrosunIwori, Ifa teaches us this way:
Let us do things with joy
Those who wish to go may go
Those who wish to return may return
Definitely, human beings were chosen to bring good fortune to the world…
The pinnacle of human excellence, according to Ifa, is to create a world in which there will be full knowledge if all things, joy everywhere, life without anxiety or fear of enemies, attack from snakes or other dangerous animals, without fear of death, disease, litigation, losses, wizards, witches, misery or poverty.
How is this possible?
Ifa goes on to tell us that it is because of your inner power, good character and wisdom that you will achieve this, which is known as the Good Condition. In this regard, in orisa lifestyle, we aspire to make money work for the Good Condition. Money has historically been a problem where there are no clearly defined values. For this reason, there are rituals specially organized around six core values:
- Giga | Elevation: Money is meant to serve the highest intentions of the human spirit.
- Otito | Trust: People are best served when the use of money is based on long-term relationships.
- Afarabale | Discipline: Economic success will be defined by balancing social, spiritual and ecological impact, not by financial results alone.
- Egbe | Networks: The strategic integration of social networks will be increasingly important in the circulation of money.
- Aseyori | Innovation: A deeply entrepreneurial culture is required to generate breakthrough ideas at the intersection of social change and finance.
- Idogba | Equality: All who seek to align their values with their money will be granted access to opportunities for investing, lending, and giving.
Live the Medicine
I have been reading a very insightful book called Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. The heaviest line I have read so far is simply this: Not all groups are teams. Just because you live in the same area, practice the same religion or work in the same department, that does not mean you're part of a team. Obviously, it doesn't make you bitter adversaries either. But it is important to know the specific definition and function of a team. That way, you will know how to set expectations and act accordingly.
A team is a relatively small group of people that shares common goals, as well as responsibilities for achieving those goals. Let's start with goals. By definition, goals are measurable by time and numbers. For example, my goal for the Orisa Lifestyle Academy is to organize 1 million volunteers by the year 2024. Now, based on that example, my team's responsibilities would include data management, communications, logistics, finances and training. Without shared goals and responsibilities, there can be no such thing as a team.
This is even more true of High Performance Teams. A High Performance Team is distinguished by the fact that it outperforms all other similar teams and eventually redefine the standards of excellence in a given field. Team members are so devoted to their purpose that they will surmount any barrier to achieve the team's goals. A High Performance Team is further distinguished by the members, who are highly skilled and are able to interchange their roles. Imagine a jazz quintet, whose members all play 2 or 3 instruments. Because of this high level of commitment, skill and flexibility, team leadership is not vested in a single individual. Instead various team members will assume leadership responsibilities as is necessary, according to the need at that moment in time. There is a sense of clear focus and intense energy within a High Performance Team. Collectively, the team has its own consciousness, indicating shared norms and values within the team.
Living the medicine means coming out of the shrine. It means cultivating spiritual energy and eternal wisdom so that you can face the problems of the world gently, but firmly. Orunmila is hailed as the king of the Irunmole because of his great wisdom, which enabled him to govern the world well.
Those who use a big calabash to draw water
If they do not know how to draw it properly
They will end up spilling the water on their own heads
This was the message of Ifa to Ogun
When going to wage war with his own siblings
He was advised to offer sacrifice
Anyone who plants the seeds of wickedness
Those seeds will grow and germinate on the heads of their own children
This was the message of Ifa to Obatala
When going to wage war with his own siblings
Bear the burden of laterite stone
Anyone who puts the burden of laterite stone on my head
I shall revenge by putting the entire wall upon the heads of his children tomorrow
This was the message of Ifa to Orunmila
When his siblings declared war against him
He was advised to offer sacrifice
- Holy Odu IrosunOtura
Here, Ifa teaches us the consequences of negativity and thus encourages us to make a positive contribution to the lives of those we serve. Spiritual activism is, therefore, an explicit requirement of Orisa Lifestyle. Please join us to internalize the wisdom and teachings of Ifa that will empower us to live the medicine that will heal our lives and heal the lives of the people we are destined to serve. Ase.
Learn more about Community Worship.
In Yorubaland, the concept of "religion" as a discipline separate from everyday life did not exist 1500 years ago. It has only become popular in the wake of Islam and Christianity, which are basically economic and religious inventions that have been imposed upon Yoruba people through colonization. But back then, in the ancient times, when religion had not yet been invented, Orisa Lifestyle was simply a therapeutic approach to life that permeated everything, from farming to family structure to rulership and governance. In this way, the tradition itself functioned as a sort of medication for the inner being.
It so happens that the practice of Orisa lifestyle was born on the bank of the Isinmirin River in Ile Ife, Nigeria. People that are born within that region are now referred to as Ife, which is very appropriate, given the fact that Ife means "to expand". And so it is, that the tradition, heritage and history of Ife has expanded and been transformed into the Yoruba cultural empire. Thus, Ife is the source of our geographical and cultural identity, as Adulawo.
Yoruba identity has been associated with Orisa Lifestyle, especially Ifa. But Ifa can also be defined as a way of thinking, a technology, and for some, a religion. Particularly in the diaspora, Orisa is practiced as a religious system, in much the same way that one would practice Islam or Christianity. For people who are strictly religious adherents, it is a common and acceptable to take the position that, just because the practice of Orisa devotion has originated from the Yoruba people, it doesn’t need to be associated with Yoruba language and culture.
However, for those of us who identify as Yoruba descendants, it is quite impossible to compartmentalize our spiritual consciousness as something different from our cultural identity. This is based upon the fundamental understanding that identity is destiny. One of my teachers explained it to me in the form of a proverb, which basically says, "The tree is inside the seed." That is, when you plant a seed in good soil, water it, fertilize it and expose it to proper light, the seed will reveal roots, a trunk, bark, leaves, flowers and eventually fruit. Your identity is the seed. Orisa Lifestyle is the process by which you cultivate seeds. So, whereas religions focus on condemnation vs. salvation, Orisa Lifestyle is only concerned with destiny.
Learn more. Live the Medicine!
Experience is the best teacher. The more awakened you are during the experience, the more you will learn. And while it is typical to measure learning in numerical terms, Personal Priesthood is measured by the strength of your commitment to deliver on the Promise. There are experiences on the path of initiation that bring you into a deeper relationship to your spiritual identity (your purpose/destiny). On the surface, these experinces may look like difficulties, challenges or inconveniences. But when you observe yourself - physically, emotionally, mentally - as these experiences transpire, you can witness your own growth and transformation. As you reflect on your journey of life, you can certainly recall instances wherein you faced a difficulty that really facilitated your development. It is in retrospect that you realize how a particular relationship or job or set of living conditions really brought you into a deeper sense of who you are, where you're coming from and what you believe. Imagine being able to discern all of that in the moment. How might your journey be different if you be awake during certain, pivotal experiences? You would learn much more!
One way to learn from your experience is to use your experience as a teaching tool. All you have to do is tell your story. Share those experiences that facilitated your development and self discovery. As you tell them, recall your physical experience, your emotional response, your mental state, to the best of your ability. That is, bring the listener INTO the experience with you. This is an important process, by which you will relive the experience, as well as set the stage for other people to relate to you more deeply. Invariably, those who know your experience will also be reminded of similar experiences of their own. And so, this is what we mean when we say experience is the best teacher. Live the medicine!
You cannot be in a relationship and avoid being in a three way. In fact, it is the tension and intensity of the three influences that gives the relationship its intensity. Let's examine the anatomy of a three way:
1. The individual identities, commonly called "me" and "you"
2. The identity of the relationship, which is known as "we"
3. The divine purpose of the relationship, which is "why"
It is important to have a well-developed ego consciousness, because it helps you to set proper boundaries and personal direction for your life. You cannot successfully participate in a relationship without a clear understanding of who you are, where you're coming from and what you bring to the table, so to speak.
While most americans are adept at the rhetoric associated with ego development, very few of us actually have much experience PRACTICING it, which is why our concept of WE is typically marred with meaningless power battles and relentless blaming other people for things we really should be doing for ourselves.
This brings me to the most important and most neglected aspect of contemporary relationship building; the divine purpose or reason WHY the relationship was created in the first place. When you name the force that brought you together, do you consider the Ancestral Promise? Do you make room for the will of the Orisa, who may have enabled the relationship in order to bring about a much needed outcome for the World? Have you ever asked Ifa, Who are we TOGETHER and what is our shared mission?
The clarity of your mission will contextualize your individual contribution to the relationship. When you know why you have been uniquely prepared to add value to the relationship, your love will be deeper, your work will be more focused and the enjoyment derived from your participation will be as fun as play! This is equally true for all relationships, romantic, friendship, professional and spiritual. The Orisa Lifestyle Academy is dedicated to building relationships between 1 million volunteers, who are committed to living the medicine that will heal each of our lives and heal the lives of the people we are destined to serve.
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | www.OrisaLifestyle.com
I came to the Omoluabi Lecture because I was intrigued by the information that Baba Popoola had to share about Ifa. During the lecture, I learned characteristics of being a good and complete human being. The most special thing about the lecture was that the lecture resonates with my everyday life.
- Anonymous Participant
Adulawo, e jo, e yo
Adulawo, dance and rejoice
A bo l’oko eru (l’oko eru)
We are free from slavery (from slavery)
A bo l’oko eru, e e e!
We are free from bondage, yes!
A bo l’oko eru,
We are free from bondage,
Adulawo, e jo, e yo,
Adulawo (members), dance and rejoice
A bo l’oko eru.
We are free from bondage.
The spirit of freedom is fundamental to Orisa Lifestyle. Everywhere in the world, Adulawo (Yoruba descendants) distinguish themselves as people who cherish and defend their culture and heritage at all costs. It is through practicing the language, the culture and social traditions that Adulawo deliver upon the Ancestral Promise.