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!