Pouring libation is a standard practice in Orisa Lifestyle. I'll never forget the first time I witnessed a babalawo pour libation. It was around 1996 in Los Angeles, at the US Organization. I had accompanied my teacher, Babalade Olamina, to a lecture by Pa Wande Abimbola. He chanted a beautiful verse of Ifa and then poured a few drops of water onto the floor and invited the participants to come and receive blessings by touching the water on the floor, then touching our foreheads. Since then, I have been in ritual space with priests from Ghana, Nigeria, Cuba, the United States and Trinidad. All of them poured libation.
We pour libation for a variety of reasons. For example, when we pour libation the way Pa Wande did, we are cooling the earth and seeking a peaceful environment for all in attendance. There are other times when we invoke the primordial powers, one by one. It is customary to sprinkle a few drops of water following each deity we call forth. We do this based on the understanding that, when we call the deities, they will come. And, because it is polite to offer refreshment to a traveller who visits your home, we sprinkle the water as a gesture of hospitality and respect. Still, there are other times when we pour libation - either with water, gin or other liquids - as an offering associated with devotion.
ETUTU, APESE & ADIMU
Etutu, apese and adimu all refer to the ritual of pouring water or other consecrated substances onto the icon of a deity. While the offering is being made, the ritual specialist also chants oriki or Ifa verses corresponding either to the deity, the substance or the ritual itself.
In the process of Ifa divination, I could be directed to offer gin as an etutu (appeasement) to Orisa Esu.
I might start by reciting a verse of Ifa that explains the purpose of my devotion:
Pounded yam without soup can be difficult to consume
This was the Ifa cast for Etutu, appeasement
The child of Agbonniregun
He whose attitude was not acceptable
He who was full of bad character
He whose bad attitude had prevented him from coming to Ifa's domain
Now, we have come to solicit on behalf of Etutu
We have come to beg on behalf of Etutu
Father, please be patient
And overlook this provocation
We have come to beg on behalf of Etutu
Orunmila responded that, those of you who come to solicit on behalf of Etutu
Those who are begging on behalf of Etutu
How many children did Ifa have?
That he would cast out one?
Those who beg on behalf of Etutu.
- Holy Odu IrosunOturupon
Here, you can see that etutu was a son of Orunmila who had behaved poorly. As a consequence, somebody had to beg forgiveness on his behalf. This verse of Ifa demonstrates how etutu is meant to mitigate hostility or to redress some kind of offense.
Following the verse explaining the purpose of my offering, I could follow up with an Ifa verse that consecrates the substance to be offered, in this case, gin. Once I have consecrated the gin, I could then recite oriki Esu and finally pour the gin onto the icon.
Etutu is a form of sacrifice meant to put an end to unfavorable conditions. Here, it's important to note that there are strict and detailed rules for what must be done before, during and after the ritual. For example, people must NOT consume etutu offerings. Thus, etutu should only be performed under the watch of a qualified ritual specialist.
Another form of offering is called apese or ipese [ah-pwe-seh]. Whereas etutu is meant to appease the deities, apese is typically meant for the mouths of people, which can easily be used as agents of evil. More precisely, we recognize the presence of the ajogun, which are malevolent forces. When Ifa reveals that the ajogun are responsible for your hardship, apese may be prescribed in order to reconcile the situation and restore harmony between parties.
In a verse of the Holy Odu EjiOgbe, Ifa teaches us of the time when Ori was besieged by Awon Iyaami Osoronga.
A mature deer is the one with stripes on its back
This was Ifa's message for Ori
Whose destiny was being ruined by the Iyami
He was advised to offer ebo
Ori went to Ifa for consultation to prevent Awon Iyaami from disturbing him. He was advised to sacrifice. In addition, Ori was advised to prepare akara with esuru beads, cover it with palm oil and place it onto an earthen plate. Then, red cloth and a mirror should be added and it should be placed at Ikorita Meta, the three way intersection, which is the usual meeting place of the Iyami (the elders of the night). Esu then told Ori to hide in a place very close to the Ikorita Meta.
Before the Iyaami set out on their mission, Esu Odara appeared to them and told them, “I know you are on a very serious mission, but please have something to eat before you go.” They obliged and took the ipese that had been prepared on behalf of Ori. After taking it, Esu asked them where they were headed. They told Esu that they were on their way to Ori's place. "To do what?" Esu asked. They answered, "To destroy all of his achievements." They said that it was their usual way of destroying Ori and ensuring that he amounted to nothing in life.
Esu then asked them to pick up the mirror that was in the plate and use it to look at their faces. They did. Esu then said, 'Don't you see, after having taken the meal, you now all look even more beautiful’. They then said yes. It was then that Esu then told them that the meal was prepared for them by Ori, the one they had set out to destroy. Esu called Ori to come out. He came out and was embraced by the Elders of the Night. They then said to him: "Well done Ori! The one who uses Ileke esuru to prepare bean cake. Ori then replied, "Elders of the Night, You are welcome. You have done well. The ones whose beaks are made of esuru beads. The ones with beautiful delicate eyeballs." There, in the presence of Esu, they swore never destroy or disturb Ori again.
Adimu, the One We Cling to
Like etutu, adimu is intended for the deities. However, once the deity has accepted the adimu, people are free to partake of it. The purpose of adimu is to supplement the ebo riru (sacrifice) which has been performed by the ritual specialist.
One verse of the Holy Odu IreteOkanran illustrates the purpose and function of adimu:
To crouch in the forest in a way that looks like we are out of sight
To beat Igbin drum twice for Orisa in a way to make it sound pleasantly
And to give us satisfaction
To conceal two gongs under the garment
If they touch each other
They will make a rhythmic sound
These were Ifa’s declarations to Adimu
The one that would kindle a light for Obatala in order to actualize his destiny
He was advised to offer sacrifice
Adimu has kindled light inside
And has kindled light on the road
It is the light of success that Adimu has kindled.
- Holy Odu IreteOkanran
In this instance, you can see that Obatala is the orisa who bestows blessings. Thus, if this Odu appeared, you would be directed to gather materials for the babalawo to perform sacrifice for you. Following the sacrifice, you would be directed to light a candle for Obatala for seven days as part of the adimu.
Etutu, apese and adimu are rituals that enable the devotee to surrender to, honor and connect with the Orisa and the energy and power they exude. It is through proper devotion that we attain their blessings.
According to the directives of Ifa divination, you can perform these rituals for numerous purposes, such as empowerment, balancing spiritual energies, prosperity, removal of inner negativity and victory over enemies.
The ritual of pouring water, gin or palm oil on Orisa icons is potentially a form of cleansing and purification of your own mind. Each offering represents different spiritual properties; while some have a cooling effect, others are intended to have an animating effect. By offering the substances that represent different elements, the true adept will also request that the deity also activate these elements internally. As you propitiate the icons, you are invited to purge yourself of malevolent spirits, limitations, and emotional hindrances.
Falade, Fasina. Ifa, the Key to its Understanding
IITI Module 14
The wisdom of the Holy Odù Idinleke teaches us many important lessons. When the orisa resided in Osogbo, the great bastion of Yoruba spirituality, they found themselves in need of leadership and guidance. It was Orunmila who they selected for the duties; not because of his wealth, strength or cunning. Orunmila's gentle character made him the obvious choice.
Iwa pele - gentle character - is not, however a projection of puritanical rigidity. Iwa pele, as practiced by Orunmila in Idinleke, is a dynamic form of service leadership. Here, Orunmila came into the habit of tending to the orisa every 4 days, feeding them, energizing them, praising them, instructing them. This is what we call Ose Ifa. In other words, Orunmila was facilitating their individual and collective successes. He was helping them realize their plans and minimize their problems. They saw their success was coming from Orunmilas support and saw in him a natural fit for formal leadership. So they handed over the reigns of power to Orunmila. This is how Ifa guides us towards excellence.
Much like Booker T. Washingtons philosophy which teaches us to be indispensable elements of our communities - as construction workers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc - Idinleke demonstrates how disciplined spiritual practice will position you for the highest degree of leadership. If you want to discover personal leadership and spiritual purpose today, Tap into your natural gifts and talents and find a spiritual community to serve.
Ifa ni, ka fini koni ka le baa lola
Ka fiwa kowa ka le baa niyi
A difa fawon Odu merindinlogun
Won jo n rin won o rinu ara won...
Ifa said we should reason together
So that we may be wealthy
That we behave well to earn honor
Cast Ifa for the sixteen Odu
Who were moving together but could not understand one another...
Whenever EjiOgbe would divine, OyekuMeji would despise him. Likewise, whenever OyekuMeji would divine, IworiMeji would despise him. In turn, whenever IworiMeji would divine, OdiMeji would despise him. On and on, each of the Olodu would insult one another.
Why was it that all of them had come into the world without a leader? Why was it that whenever one of them would divine, the other would belittle him? If was for that reason that the Olodu took their case to Olodumare for direction. The Olodu asked Olodumare to choose a leader from among them. They asked him to determine who would be the highest, who would be the lowest and who would be in between?
However, when they went to see Olodumare, OyekuMeji did not call on IworiMeji. IworiMeji did not call on OdiMeji. It was only Orangun who went to the house of EjiOgbe to ask why he had not departed with the others. EjiOgbe replied that he did not know that they had already embarked upon the journey. It was then that they decided to travel together. EjiOgbe explained the mission to his wife and then he bid her farewell.
As EjiOgbe left home, he went into the backyard, where he discovered a very large, black snake. He killed it and put the snake in his abeti aja cap. Then, EjiOgbe put the cap on backwards. Finally, EjiOgbe and OrangunMeji travelled together to see Olodumare.
When they arrived, they found the other forteen Olodu seated in a circle. Olodumare greeted them in the name of IworiWofun:
He who prostrates will grow old
He who prostrates will live long
He who prostrates will have all blessings
Olodumare commanded the Olodu to follow him. He pleaded with them, "Don't be vexed because I do not have much to offer you." He then gave each of the Olodu a mound of eko. He then prepared egusi stew with worowo vegetable in it. He apologized for not having any meat to offer the Olodu. A bowl of water was brought out for them to wash their hands. They all struggled to wash their hands at once, because none of them recognized one as their leader. The water spilled onto the ground. Each of the Olodu then touched the water on the ground and then they began to eat. This was the beginning of pouring libation.
Later, Olodumare greeted the Olodu. He greeted them for their trouble in making the journey. He pleaded with them not to be upset that he had no meat to offer them. It was then that EjiOgbe rose up, praising Olodumare:
King who reigns supreme, forever
King who covers all spheres of life
Why do you say you have no meat?I killed a creature on the way here. Olodumare asked to see it. EjiOgbe produced the snake he had killed. Olodumare asked EjiOgbe to hold it by the head. He asked OrangunMeji to hold it by the tail. He stretched the snake and then cut the head. Then, he asked OyekuMeji to hold the snake and cut another portion. One by one, Olodumare had the Olodu hold the snake, while he cut a portion. They all ate to satisfaction. But EjiOgbe did not eat the head and OrangunMeji did not eat the tail.
Olodumare then asked the purpose of their visit. The Olodu explained that they had gone into the world without a leader. They explained how one would insult the other any time he was divining. The Olodu explained how they all insulted one another. Olodumare then asked who was holding the head of the snake. EjiOgbe showed him the head. Olodumare then proclaimed EjiOgbe the leader of the Olodu.
"You are the head. You are the father. When they cast you, they must say 'Kabiesi'. They must not cast a second time." Olodumare then asked, who had the tail. OrangunMeji brought out the tail. "You are their chief whip, OrangunMeji. Whenever they see you, they must hail you, 'Hepa!' They must not cast a second time." Olodumare declared that the remaining Olodu must be cast twice.
Olodumare declared that the Olodu must be kind and good to one another. The Olodu than accepted EjiOgbe as their leader. They said, "We have a father today!" The Olodu accepted OrangunMeji as their chief whip. They said, "We have a chief whip today!"
Olodumare then proclaimed that the stomach of the snake is straight and the babalawo share one stomach. Therefore, they should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Sango devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Obatala devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Osun devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Ogun devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Esu devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Yemoja devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Olokun devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Oya devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Sanponna devotees should not betray one another.
The stomach of the snake is singular. Therefore, Osanyin devotees should not betray one another.
Leadership is more than telling other people how to do things right... To the contrary, leadership is doing the right things. To be clear, doing things right means following the recipe. Doing the right thing is knowing when to depart from the recipe, and WHY. This ability to meet the moment for what it is and then define it, transform it and make a way for others to PARTICIPATE in that moment is the hallmark of leadership excellence. It requires that you be relaxed and centered - not scattered, distracted or caught up in emotionalism. To lead your family, your community and yourself, it is essential that you're not running around feeling overwhelmed by feeling that you have too much to do. NO! The truth is that there is only ONE THING TO DO... And that is the ONE THING YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO DO
RIGHT NOW. Ifa helps you identify what REALLY needs to be done so that you can focus all of your energy and attention on what matters most.
Spiritual leadership has a great deal in common with any other form of leadership; it basically requires virtue and commitment to principles above convenience. But how about GREAT spiritual leadership? That is, what will it take to actually redefine the standards of orisa lifestyle locally and globally as well? Some priests and devotees are making it happen, while others are not even aware of the concept. By definition, it is not possible for everyone to be above average. This is why the elders will sometimes say that "Not all men are created equal. Let the fingers on your hand be your guide."
Similarly, the Holy Odu EjiOgbe teaches us that "If all men were destined to be buried in caskets all the iroko of the forest would be decimated." Yet and still, while we cannot all be great spiritual leaders, we can work together to create great spiritual experiences for more and more people. How? Be kind. Be patient. Be earnest. Be your very best with what you have EVERY-SINGLE-TIME. This is what it means to live the medicine.
When I was a student at Howard University, the School of Business was the place to be. It seemed like everybody who had beauty, style and grace was in the School of B! So, I made it my goal to be there, too. But there was one problem; Quantitative Business Analysis, better known as QBA. That was a gatekeeper course. If you could not pass it, there was no way you could get into the School of Business. I don't think I made it two weeks before it become crystal clear that I was in over my head. But I stayed with it for another two weeks, before I knew I had to drop the course or fail miserably.
The School of Business was an incompatible goal for me. That did not mean I could not graduate from college. It did not mean I could not complete graduate school. And, given the fact that I have been doing so for over a decade, the fact that I could not get into the School of Business doesn't mean I cannot run a business of my own. It just means that getting into the School of Business was an incompatible goal for me. Have you ever pursued something - or someone - that was incompatible with your wellbeing?
Ifá warns against pursuing incompatible goals. Incompatible goals beget equally incompatible results. As they say, "play stupid games, win stupid prizes." Òrúnmìlà has offered numerous teachings that introduce us to this inescapable fact. In one verse of the Holy Odu Ìrẹtè Òbàrà, there was a man called Àlàó. He was told to sacrifice a goat. In an effort to deceive the babaláwo, Àlàó tied a rope round his own neck and pretended to be a goat. Imagine Àlàó's surprise when Esu condemned him to forever speak in the voice of a goat!!! Stupid game. Stupid prize.
Àgbá-ìnàmù ṣuku wéle
Òràn ò tán ní'lè yí bòròbòrò
They cast Ifá for Àlàó
Who tied a rope round his neck
And was bleating like a goat
He was advised to offer ẹbọ
He refused to comply
You have indeed deceived yourself
And not Ifá
Àlàó, who tied a rope round his neck
And was bleating like a goat
You have indeed deceived yourself and not Ifá
- Holy Odu Ìrẹtè Òbàrà
In another instance, there is a verse of the Holy Odu Òyèkú Òbàrà that teaches the lesson of Láṣílọ, who had a sore on his left leg, but chose to treat the right leg. His goal was to deceive other people. Unfortunately, this led to the leg being amputated.
A mouse cannot lick fermented locust bean liquid and survive
This was Ifa's declaration to Láṣílọ
The one who had a sore on his left leg
But chose to put medication on his right leg
He who has a sore on his left leg
But choses to put medication on his right leg
Is only deceiving himself
- Holy Odu Òyèkú Òbàrà
Anyone who thinks he is deceiving destiny is only deceiving himself. Many of us are interested in Orisa Lifestyle, not to become wise, but so that we can merely APPEAR to be wise. Since people are social animals and get real validation from others, we can easily lose sight of reality and end up obsessing over appearances. Òrúnmìlà realized that this pattern of behavior is counter-productive if one wishes to acquire true wisdom.
Here are three basic practices you can adopt if you want to make progress as an Orisa Lifestyle practitioner who aspires to personal excellence:
I am looking for leaders who are devoted to improving the world through positive influence. Is that you? If so, find out how Obafemi Origunwa and the Orisa Lifestyle Academy can take your life and your practice to the next level.
The Yorùbás understand that the òrìsà are agents of the Supreme God, which creates mutual respect among the different devotees of the various òrìsà. Also, the single most important unifying substructure of the different òrìsà is Ifá, the divination deity, and its corpus of divination chants, which embody the summation of Yorùbá beliefs, history, medicine and culture. Ifá informs everything from selecting a king to naming a child.
As the definitive source of Yorùbá indigenous knowledge, Ifá is the chosen spokesman of the òrìsàs. It is Ifá that allows one òrìsà – and its respective community of devotees – to communicate with another. Ifá is the oracle through which all of the divinities work in consonance with one another and never in discord. The Ifá oracle is their court, their judge, and their arbiter and its declarations and judgments are binding since disobedience carries sanctions from Olódùmarè.
Olódùmarè is worshiped through the various òrìsà, who control natural phenomena and social institutions, like spiritual offices and titles. Consequently, there are said to be 401 òrìsà, many of which are local avatars of universal spiritual phenomena. So, for example, in most Yorùbá kingdoms and villages, there are divinities associated with trees, hills, small bodies of water, such as Mokura at Ifè, the river Ofiki at Igana, òrìsà Alabaun at Ifon Alaiye and the great stone of Olumo at Abeokuta. Similarly, the same divinities manifest in various forms according to the local tradition. In Ifè, for example, Sango, the òrìsà of thunder and fire, is traditionally represented by Jakuta or Oramfe, the latter of whom also throws thunder axes, but does not make use of the symbolic paraphernalia characteristic of Sango.
The worship of the different deities does not, however, constitute denominations nor sects, and there are no complex organizations nor centrally planned liturgies. Similar to other aspects of Yorùbá folk tradition, like cooking, dancing or quilt making, each individual, family and state has a high degree of freedom to define its own recipe for religious activities. In every case, however, the primary objective of òrìsà worship is to venerate Olódùmarè by pacifying the deities to ward off evil and achieve peace and sustainable development. The sacred is regarded as part of the make-up of the entire society and, each man worships the various deities as is necessary in the general duty of serving the community. In so doing, he demonstrates his service of the one true God.
The worshipers do not, therefore, see themselves as belonging to different religions, sects or denominations. There is no justification for crusade, evangelizing and winning converts to the temple of another deity. Peaceful coexistence between the worshippers is, therefore, the direct sum of many, uncoordinated individual actions, where everyone works for common goals. In this way, it is possible for a husband to worship òrìsà Oko (deity of Agriculture), while his wife worships Oya. No need arises for the wife to seek the soul of the husband to worship her òrìsà. In fact, as we shall see more completely later on, the worshipers recognize the fact that spiritual
diversity is essential to the collective well-being.
In much the same way that a free market economy is strengthened by its diversity, so too, is Yorùbá tradition made stronger by worshippers of many different òrìsà. That is, it is through the òrìsà that each lineage defines its role in the society, spiritually, economically, politically and so on. Let us consider, for example, the mighty òrìsà, Ogún, who brought justice, metallurgy and warfare to earth. His descendants and devotees are the blacksmiths, hunters, carvers, pilots, drivers, barbers, policemen and the like. Ogun was a full-time warrior. He founded the town called Irè, which is today the most populous town in Oye Local Government Area in Ekiti State,Nigeria. As a warrior and a hunter, Ogun’s life was characterized by perpetual motion.
Consequently, he left his son as Oba (King) to govern the town when he went on his war expeditions. As a result of pestilence, the people of Irè had to relocate. On his return from war, Ogun could not find his people where he had originally settled them so he went in search of them. In the course of his search, he met a group of people practicing ritual silence. The meeting is up till today called Ijo Oríkì, (the silent gathering). Ogun greeted the gathering but there was no response in keeping with tradition.
Since he was very thirsty, he ignored their apparent lack of respect and made for one of the nearby kegs of palm wine. All the kegs, though standing, were empty. In a flash of rage, Ogun drew his sword and slaughtered the men at the ceremony. Those who managed to escape went to the palace to narrate their ordeal to the king. Immediately, the king was able to recognize the deed as the handiwork of his father who must have just returned from the war-front. The king quickly took some kegs of palm wine and roasted yam and palm oil (his father’s favorite dish and drink) and went with his people to welcome the great warrior, Ogun.
After eating and drinking, Ogun learned that the people he had just killed were indeed the very people that he had been looking for from the start. He was consumed with sadness and, to punish himself, refused to return to the palace in spite of all requests. He told his son that whenever his people needed his help they should come to that spot and call on him. He then drew his sword, drove it into the ground and vanished with it. A hut was then built on the spot and a Chief was appointed to take care of the site. The Chief is called the elepe (the Appeaser). The site is called Umeru. The Elepe is the mouth-piece of Ogun. He is forbidden from seeing the Kabiyesi Onire (king of Irè) face to face in keeping with the refusal of Ogun to return to his
The Chief Priest who is entitled to offer sacrifice to Ogun is called the aworo Ogun. He acts as the go-between for Ogun and the Onire (king). Ogun was one of the sons of Oduduwa and as such one of the compounds in Ilè-Ifè is, until today named Irè compound. As a Prince he was also given a crown by his father when he decided to go and fend for himself as a warrior. That is why the Kabiyesi Onire is till today one of the Oba Alade Merindinlogun (the 16 crowned Obas) in Yorubaland. In fact he is their Alaagbaakin, i.e. the Director of Socials, who shares gifts, food, etc. with each of the Obas at their meetings called Pelupelu.
Finally, this represents both an historical account of Ogún and a motif of Yorùbá migration and settlement patterns. Similar stories explain the lives of the 401 òrìsà, their Ifè origins, migration into new settlements, as well as their roles in those respective settlements.
 AJAYI, Ade J.F. “Promoting Religious Tolerance And Co-
operation In The West African Region: The Example Of Religious
Pluralism And Tolerance Among The Yorùbás”
 Bascom, William. The Sociological Role of the Yorùbá Cult
Group. Page 38
 Adekanmi, Adewale. Written communication.August 7, 2007.
The house did not crack internally
And the walls did not split outside
After our discussion, who went outside to leak our
deliberations and strategies?
These were the Ifa cast for Orunmila
When he, Obatala, Ogun and Esu Odara
Were mandated to create the human species
In the dawn of time
They were advised to offer ebo
And they complied
- Holy Odu OgbeOfun
As Ogun was present at the dawn of time, assisting Esu and Obatala in the creation of humanity, I pray that he will be present at the dawn of a new month. Ase.
Let Baba Jegi Jegi open the way to fulfillment in this season. Ase.
Whatever it is that we set out to accomplish, I pray that Ogun will enthusiastically support. Ase.
In the verse above, Ifa tells how the orisa gathered in secret to complete the task that Olodumare had assigned to them. No one was to know what they were doing.
Awon Iyaami sent Okete the giant rat, to dig a tunnel into their hiding place and spy on the divinities. It was then that Okete discovered that the orisa were creating ENIYAN, human beings.
And so, Awon Iyaami sent Okete back to sabotage the creation of Eniyan. Fortunately, the orisa discovered the interruption in time and they went to consult Ifa in order to know how to address the problem.
They were told to acquire a pointed, iron rod. When they resumed their work, they should drive the rod into the ground at the four corners of their studio. The orisa complied.
When they drove the rod into the ground, it empaled Okete, thus ending the treacherous deeds of the detractors.
May all spies be rewarded with the same consequences suffered by Okete. Ase! May Ogun's rod pierce the throats of those who would obstruct our mission to bring about the Good Condition. Ase!
The poor, righteous teacher is an archetype that is important to our consciousness. In life, the man who renounces the world in favor of wisdom is revered and held in high esteem. Ifa is filled with teachings about the importance of renunciation. In the Holy Odu ObaraIrosun, Obatala advises his three travel companions not to interrupt their journey in search of money.
At the same time, the archetype of the hard working, skilled expert is also very important. A man who has paid his dues and mastered his craft deserves to be paid accordingly. Consequently, Ifa provides numerous examples of why we must adhere to the law of proper compensation. In the Holy Odu IkaObara, Orunmila is advised to study Ifa so that he might prosper:
Let a Babalawo study Ifa extensively
To the point where he will be wealthy
Let an Herbalist study medicines extensively
To the point where he will be prosperous
Ifa’s messages for Orunmila
When he was advised to study the Ifa which brings prosperity
And those which bring all ire of life
He was advised to sacrifice
Those who are wicked
They will die a wicked and painful death
Mine is the Ifa which brings prosperity
- Holy Odu IkaObara
And so, it is safe to say that Orisa Lifestyle teaches devotees to seek a healthy balance between renunciation and compensation. Generally speaking, our approach is to suffer in the beginning of any endeavor so that you might prosper in the end. There are many verses of Ifa what make the formula very plain. Principal among them are the teachings of the Holy Odu OgbeIwori, one verse of which tells of Yodungbeyin (it-shall-be-sweet-in-the-end):
If you are denied your rightful share
Do not let it perturb you at all
Whatever an awo will consume
Will never be scarce at the feet of Ifa
This was Ifa's teaching to Yodungbeyin (it-shall-be-sweet-in-the-end)
The first child of Ewuro (bitter leaf)
When he was in the midst of misery and want
He was advised to sacrifice
- Holy Odu OgbeIwori
Yodungbeyin suffered in the early stages of his work, but through continued discipline, combined with sacrifice, he was able to reap the benefits of his labor. In the end - as his name implies - Yodungbeyin prospered greatly. Here, it is important to emphasize the significance of sacrifice, both in terms of ritual offerings and personal compromise.
Yodungbeyin started off working hard. He sacrificed his own comfort in order to become more proficient and to produce higher quality work. When he became impatient with the process, he went to consult Ifa, at which point he was advised to add a ritual sacrifice to his habit of hard work. Yodungbeyin was told that eventually, all of his efforts would yield prosperity for him. He complied and it was just as Ifa predicted. In the end, Yodungbeyin became a very important person in his community.
And so it is, as you mature in your practice, you grow to appreciate the positive effects of studying in the beginning. The elders say, It is in poverty that a boy learns Ifa but it is in prosperity that he enjoys old age.
The Orisa Lifestyle Academy is dedicated to supporting our students at every stage of learning and development. We offer instruction in ritual proficiency, analysis of the sacred text, as well as instruction in applying the teachings to the students' everyday lives. We do all these things in an effort to protect you from the pitfalls of poor training. The archetype of the over-ambitious novice features quite highly in Yoruba thought as well. As such, there are numerous verses that teach about the consequences of refusing proper training. Let us revisit the Holy Odu IkaObara, for example:
Ika is the Awo of Olujolu
And Olobara is the Awo of Olujosi
The Lucky one is the one given the title of Opara in Ido land
Ifa’s messages for the Youth of Ijero land
He who uses his mouth as going to call on war (against himself)
He was advised to sacrifice
I intended to call for Igun, Vulture
And not Ogun, war and uprising
Please do not carry sheaths
Do not look for arrows
What I intended to call for is Vulture
And not war and uprising!
-Holy Odu IkaObara
Here, the Youth of Ijero accidentally invoked a war upon themselves. They mispronounced an incantation by saying Ogun in stead of Igun. As you might imagine, the results were less than desirable. Nowadays, we hear new reports of well-intentioned, but inexperienced, practitioners who put the cart before the horse and try to practice things they have not been trained to do. But if you are unwilling to suffer in the beginning so that you might learn properly, then you will invariably suffer in the end for you lack of proper training and education.
Learn more about the learning opportunities available at the Orisa Lifestyle Academy.
What happens when you discover that your best isn't good enough? Many years ago, I was a tutor at a San Francisco high school where I had honor roll students who were reading on a 5th grade level and doing 4th grade math. Read that again.
Around the same time that I was tutoring I was also a student of Ifa. This was in the beginning of our exposure to the West African tradition and the overwhelming majority... like 99% of the leadership had spiritual houses, filled with godchildren, but could not recite a single verse of ANYTHING... not an oriki, not a verse of Erindinlogun, not a verse of Ifa. Their understanding of Yoruba theology was almost entirely based upon anecdotes, opinions and concepts they borrowed from other spiritual traditions. Read that again.
Most - not all - of these people were what I would call decorated underachievers. They were like big fish in a small pond. More importantly, when faced with the true assessment of their knowledge, skill and ability, most people go into strict denial. They would rather practice willful ignorance than rebuild a solid foundation.
And while the priests and priestesses in question are all well into their 60's by now, they have spawned a legacy of ignorance that is unmistakable today. Our tradition is overrun with people who have stockpiled beads, pots and titles but have never actually been subjected to direct instruction.
Without a clear understanding of what the practice truly consists of, too many of today's seekers are still confused about the differences between having an opinion and knowing the tradition. Read that again.
Ultimately, the trend of underachievement amongst Orisa devotees must be squarely addressed and corrected. Get trained!
In the School of Orisa Studies, there are five things EVERY devotee must master:
1. Worship calendar
3. Oriki Esu, Egungun, Ori, Ifa
4. Dida Obi
5. Offering omi, oti, obi, orogbo, epo
Key word, MASTER. Not exposure or familiarity, but MASTERY.
Mastery dispels superstition in the same way that light casts out darkness.
The Holy Odu OturuponOwonrin says;
"When we awaken in the morning,
we should teach one another wisdom
and not lay the foundation for foolishness.
When we have a problem,
we should consult one another and then,
if we cannot find a suitable solution,
we should turn to our ikin..."
It means that we are obliged to learn and now lead one another astray. Similarly, the Holy Odu OkanranOyeku goes on to say;
"Praises of Ifa do not let us know Ifa
Praises of Opele do not let us understand Opele"
It means that your love of the tradition is not a substitute for actual training and education.
I am looking for LEADERS who are committed to changing the world through positive influence. Is that you? If so, find out how Obafemi Origunwa and the Orisa Lifestyle Academy can take your practice and your life to the next level. Learn more: CLICK HERE
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.
1955 was the year universal primary education started in Yoruba nation and the whole of then Western Region of Nigeria. That was the year, that ‘bully’ Awolowo forcefully enrolled all youths in the then Western Nigeria to full, free primary school. Many parents complained that they would have no help in the farm but he would not listen.
‘Where will he get the means for that gargantuan project?’ some other premiers wondered. But that fellow would not listen. Awolowo schools started in all kinds of ramshackle buildings. The children were called Awolowo children, mainly in derision, because many people just knew that they would amount to nothing. The fellow just pressed on.
As long as your right arm went over your head to touch your left ear, you are registered. That was all, no questions asked.
The Awolowo experiment produced doctors, engineers, lawyers, educators, scientists, civil servants, etc. and keeps on producing these even till today.
At present, a Yoruba child does not need to be told what the next step in life is going to be. His life is already ordered for the next twenty years and he knows that. Once he is four, five or six years old, he starts on this journey: primary school to secondary school to possibly a tertiary school.
Order leads to wealth creation and disorder leads directly to poverty.
Eku ojo awo! Eku odun o! Today, in the light of the full moon and the dawn of the Yoruba New Year, we give thanks and praise to Olodumare for the blessing of our beloved Yeye Osun.
She is the owner of wealth, the embodiment of compassion.
Her way is gentle and compelling, like the pull of the moon upon the ocean.
May we move like Osun Osogbo, the one who carries small children on her back.
Graceful mother, we salute you today.
Nothing gives us greater joy than to see you smile.
Queen of quality assurance, we appeal to you today.
May our efforts meet your standards of excellence!
In the same way that you protected Osogbo from invasion, please, empower us to protect the interests of Yoruba descendants around the world today, Iya.
Yeye Osun, who buries wealth in the river bank, grant us the WISDOM to create intergenerational wealth through investing in Black-owned companies, through creating family trusts, through becoming great entrepreneurs.
Mother of the depths, whose force is deceptively calm, I praise you today!!! I recognize your ability to move quietly, yet relentlessly.
In the same way that the river cleaves a path through the mountain, I beg you, please empower Africans around the world to cut a path to prosperity, health, victory and freedom!
Apetebii extraordinaire, preferred bride of Orunmila, I kneel humbly before you, Iya. I give thanks for your dutiful demeanor and meticulous care. Without you, we can accomplish so very little. With you, impossible is easy!
Yeye Osun, oooo!!! Whisper words of inspiration that will compel all babalawo to work ceaselessly to help bring about the Good Condition!
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | OrisaLifestyle.com
Ko gbe Apetebii, ko gbe Akapo
Bless the Babalawo's wife, bless the Babalawo's disciple
The Babalawo who teaches you is called your Oluwo. To be an Oluwo, however, is more than the mere dissemination of knowledge. As you can see from the prayer above, he is a purveyor of blessings. In this regard, your Oluwo is also your protector. When you are an apprentice, you are routinely covered in prayer and shielded by sacrifices made by your Oluwo.
The Oluwo is committed to refining his apprentices by testing them in order to discover their potential. He encourages the apprentice to aspire to a practice that can be considered complete, both inside and out. When treated well, the apprentice will transcend the ups and downs of the learning process and reach an exalted state.
In return, as an apprentice you are expected to pledge allegiance to your Oluwo. You show your Oluwo deference and respect in his presence and demonstrate the highest cultivation of his teachings in his absence.
While the apprentice is loyal to the Oluwo, the Oluwo is loyal to the teachings. Together, Apetebii, Akapo and Oluwo uphold the highest principles of Ifa.
Join me and Chief Lanre Okemuyiwa for an INVITATION ONLY conversation about Akoda & Aseda.
Odi-seere mese, the awo of Ori
They cast Ifa for Ori
When lamenting that he had not be able to site any Ire with his eye
He was advised to offer ebo
Ori it is high time for me to have financial success
It is financial success that one needs to possess
Ori it is high time for me to have compatible spouse
It is compatible spouse that one needs to possess
Ori it is high time for me to have good children
It is good children that one needs to possess
Ori it is high time for me to have all Ire of life
It is all Ire of life that one needs to possess
It is through the power of 200 Akisan leaves
All my matter shall not but turn to success
- Holy Odu ObaraIrete
Mental energy is the matrix for physical, emotional and spiritual energies. It is symbolized by orí, the head. Here, it is important to note that “the Yorùbá do not use orí in entirely the same way as the English word head is conceived of by [the native] speakers of English. In fact, apart from its conceptual meaning of head, orí has no direct translation in English. Thus, any understanding of the ‘phenomenon’ beyond the physical and literal meaning would be achieved only through recourse to the cultural perspective – the viewpoint of the present description.”
Thus, there are two dimensions of orí, which are known as orí ode and orí inú. Orí Ode is the physical head. It is highly valued because of its social and biological importance as a site of perception, communication, and identity. Orí ode is regarded as the outer shell for orí inú, the inner head. While orí ode governs everything anatomical and psychological, orí inú governs every- thing subtle, energetic and metaphysical. Likewise, orí inú is synonymous with ìwà, or nature/character. Ultimately, òrìsà lifestyle seeks to establish and maintain harmony between the two aspects of orí. However, there is a frequently recited prayer that reminds us that orí inú is the greater of the two; it says Ori inu mi ko ma ba ti ode je, which means “May my inner head not spoil my outer one.”
Orí organizes mental energy primarily through images that carry meaning, facilitate imagination and enable learning. Images provide frameworks for perception. We hold mental images of how we want to perceive ourselves and our environments. Similarly, we hold mental images of how we want to be perceived by other people. Here, it’s important to note that orí ode gathers and organizes images from the external world. Likewise, orí inú images gathers and organizes images from the internal world. 
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | ObafemiO.com
 Origunwa, Obafemi. Fundamentals of Orisa Lifestyle Pg 40
APPRENTICESHIP MINDSET: THE STUDENT LOVES THE TEACHER
I will never forget the day I met my first teacher, Babalade Olamina. I had just finished running scales on my cornet at Pasadena City College. At that time of my life, I had been avidly reading anything I could about Yoruba civilization. Even more importantly, however, I was expecting my first child.
The ancestors knew I would need someone very special to escort me into the realities of becoming a BABA, and so they sent Babalade, the best teacher in the world. He had travelled the country as a jazz musician, hung out with Fela Kuti in Nigeria, learned to carve in Oyotunji and was well-versed in Eastern philosophy.
Babalade was the only person I had ever met who fully understood the scope of my thoughts and ideas. He would answer my relentless torrent of questions and listen to my far fetched ideas about Yoruba identity. When I would get too far out there, he would say something like, "That and a plane ticket will get you to Paris" or "Oh, you're being creative again..."
Not surprisingly, the name Babalade means, "Father confers a crown." Babalade conferred upon me the highest crown any man could ever bear; fatherhood! To do so, he taught me so many important lessons, the most memorable of which was a simple statement he made in passing one day: "The first person I ever saw wear an agbada was my daddy!"
On the day of my own naming ceremony, Babalade and my father sat on the couch talking, while I scrambled around, looking for the ingredients that Babalade had told me to gather for the occasion. Somehow, their conversation descended upon Viet Nam, where Babalade's elder brother had given his life in the armed services. As fate would have it, they discovered that my father had prepared his corpse.
And so, on the day that my teacher was preparing me to guide my first born son, I learned that my father had supported my teacher's elder brother on his way into the realm of the ancestors.
The admiration, love and respect that I have for Babalade extends to my feelings about Orisa Lifestyle overall. As my first teacher, he is synonymous with the tradition in my mind.
The teachings of Holy Odu OwonrinMeji inform us this way:
Iba Araba l'ale Ife
Mo juba Ogubona
Afeyiti mo dase
- Odu Mimo OwonrinMeji
I pay homage to my father
Homage to my mother
Homage to my Oluwo
Homage to Arábá of Ife
Homage to Akoda
Homage to Aseda
I pay homage to Ojugbona
Unless I act without recognition and homage to elders and spiritual forces
May I succeed in all I do
- Holy Odu OwonrinMeji
AKODA & ASEDA: Chieftaincy Tiles
In the kingdom of Ile Ife, there are sixteen preeminent babalawo, called the Awoni, priests of the Oni. Every Yoruba kingdom has its own cadre of babalawo, who rank above all others. In Ife, an Awoni must be an indigene of that kingdom. Each Awoni bears a title and carries out specific spiritual duties in service to the palace. Among them are the Akoda and Aseda.
AKODA & ASEDA: Praises of Olodumare
By some accounts, Akoda and Aseda are oriki Olodumare. This is further reinforced with the opening lines of Ijuba, which say:
Mo júbà Akoda Ayé
I pay homage to He who created earth
Mo júbà Aseda Orun
I pay homage to the controller of heaven
AKODA & ASEDA: Orunmila's Sons and His First Students
According to other accounts, Akoda and Aseda are Orunmila's first students. The Holy Odu OgbeAte says:
Ogbe waa te k'ara o ro wa
Ogbe, come be initiated in order to be comfortable
Mo gba, mo te ni iregun Ifa
To take the hand of Ifa and then be fully initiated is the pride one has in Ifa
Dia fun Orunmila
Cast ifa for orunmila
Baba yoo te omo re ni ifa...
baba planned to initiate his child into ifa
The verse goes on to say:
Orunmila lo te Akoda
Orunmila initiated Akoda
Orunmila lote Aseda
Orunmila initiated Aseda...
The Holy Odu OgundaBede goes on to reinforce the idea that Akoda and Aseda are, in fact, the sons of Orunmila:
Oju ririri, oju oku irikuri
Enu fofofo, enu oku ifokufo
Adifa fun Orunmila,
Nigba ti baba foju sogbere omo,
ebo won ni ki baba kowase
baba gbebo, orubo
Nigba ti o maa bi
obi AGBONGBON ofi se ekerin won.
Nje ari AKODA ari awo
Ari ASEDA ari awo
Ari ARIWONIYANGI ari awo
Nigba ti ari AGBONGBON lawo pe.
The eyes have witnessed many bad things
The mouth has mentioned many rubbish words
Cast ifa for ORUNMILA
When he had no children
He was advised to make a sacrifice and he did
When he was going to give birth,
He first gave birth to Akoda
Next he gave birth to Aseda
Later he gave birth to Ariwoniyangi
And lastly he gave birth to Agbongbon
Therefore whenever you see Akoda and his other brothers,
then you have seen it all
Where ever you see the four combination
Ifa is complete
Wisdom is complete
If we accept the assertion that Akoda and Aseda praises of Olodumare, chieftaincy titles or sons of Orunmila, it is clear that they are essential to the structure and practice of Ifa. This is underscored by the way that Akoda and Aseda are mentioned in an oriki Ifa, which tells us:
Akoda ti nko gbogbo aiye ni Ifa
Akoda, who taught Ifa to the world
Aseda, ti nko gbogbo agba ni imoran
Aseda, who taught understanding to the ancients
In the spirit of teaching, please join Obafemi Origunwa and Chief Lanre Olaifa Okemuyiwa in an exclusive conversation:
The True Identity of Akoda and Aseda: Rediscovering the Apprenticeship Mindset
Magnetism is the result of your spiritual vitality. In order to radiate and attract beauty, power, wealth, and love, you have to be connected to the source of those energies. Contrary to popular belief, merely having beads, pots and titles is not enough to create such a connection. Simply participating in rituals, carrying charms and consuming concoctions is not enough either.
Anybody who is truly committed to your development within Orisa Lifestyle will tell you that the tradition of daily devotion is one of the single most powerful tools for improving your spiritual connection. Even if you are brand new to Orisa Lifestyle, it won’t be long before you hear something about the relationship between the Orisa and the days of the week. And while each tradition has its own variation of the worship calendar, they all serve the same purpose, which is to guide your daily devotion.
Daily devotion will invite orderliness, patience, and a sense of clarity into your life. After being a professional teacher for more than 20 years, I know that personal energy is radiant and open by nature. No matter what your spiritual discipline has been, I can say without hesitation that you have a certain level of magnetism that draws people and experiences to you all the time. The challenge is learning to harness that power and let it be governed by something greater than your ego and emotions.
Stated another way, you may have an emotional predisposition that tends towards unhappiness or doubt. Likewise, your emotional predisposition may be aimlessness or entitlement. Over the years of returning to this emotional default, you don't have to exert much effort to go there and stay there for as long as you like. Your emotional disposition becomes second nature. Eventually, it shows up in your body language, your tone of voice and the overall vibe you emanate.
QUESTION: Are you confident in the vibrational message you're sending? Is it saturated with your inspiration?
Think of your emotional predisposition as a telescope. Looking at a telescope and exploring all its parts could be quite interesting. But that's not the true function of a telescope! You're supposed to use a telescope to see the cosmos. Likewise, your emotions are meant to facilitate your connection to something greater than yourself. Adopting an appropriate daily routine is certainly one of the most grounding and nurturing things you could do for yourself. It will break the cycle of emotional predisposition by creating opportunities for you to stop looking AT your emotions and start looking THROUGH them.
The Orisa Lifestyle Academy has developed a number of resources to help you create and implement a personalized daily devotion.
Our resources are organized to help you to perfect five practices associated with daily devotion:
Because the spirit of daily devotion is to support your alignment with destiny, the best starting place is your present path of transformation (if you don’t know yours, consult Ifa for guidance). Even if you're uncertain about your path of transformation, you can still develop your spiritual practice responsibly. This can be accomplished by getting properly trained by a qualified teacher.
Ultimately, having a sense of routine from one day to the next is almost as important as perfecting the five practices. I recommend that you approach this process with a sincere commitment to continuous improvement, no matter how small or large. After having helped so many devotees establish their practices, I know that even the most humble effort to embrace a routine is likely to have a positive impact on your life and the lives you're destined to serve. For the very best results, approach your daily devotion with joy; be nourished by the process and add more to your routine as you feel truly inspired to do so. As you grow, so will your daily practice.
A hobby is something you do in your spare time. When I was playing drums, I would jump at any opportunity to swing by a dance class or a drum circle at the flea market. But I never considered going to play drums instead of going to work or instead of preparing a meal for my children. I loved to drum and I got a great sense of fulfilment from it, but at the end of the day, it was just a hobby.
Ifa is my pathway to destiny. So, even when I was playing drums, I was worshipping Ifa. When I was tending to my children, I was worshipping Ifa. I was a top performer at my job precisely because I spent the greater part of my time translating the principles of Ifa into corporate language. Eventually, Ifa inverted my conditions so that I found myself reverse-articulating many of my corporate teachings into Ifa language.
A hobby is nice to have but destiny is a must; it is indispensable. Your hobby may bring you joy, but it should not be confused as a pathway to destiny. Here is a the real challenge: Some of you have chosen Orisa Lifestyle as a hobby. You chant in your spare time. You study when you get the chance. You consult Ifa and make offerings when it's convenient.
Some of you have the beads, pots and titles, which makes it seem like you're on the path. But the reality is, your practice is just a hobby. You see, because a hobby is casual, you have no expectation to actually accomplish anything. I am reminded of a verse of the Holy Odu OkanranOyeku which teaches this way:
Praises of Ifa do not allow one to learn Ifa
Praises of opele do not allow one to know opele
When you commit to Orisa Lifestyle as the path of destiny, there is an explicit expectation that you will learn and develop in your practice. Here is a list of five capabilities every practitioner ought to demonstrate AT WILL:
When I think about the drum circles, I remember all the guys who never discovered the concept of "the one", in spite of playing for years. Some of them had expensive drums. Some wore tape on their fingertips. Others scowled and grimaced passionately when they played. But they were almost always out of sync with the rhythm. This did not make them lesser people, mind you. It was just that drumming was not their path; it was only a hobby. They were doing it for the fun, for the emotional release, for the social interaction. All of that is fine, so long as you know that it's your hobby.
One of the tell-tale signs that your practice is a hobby is if you call yourself "spiritual" but not religious. Here, let me make an important distinction: Having a spirit and being spiritual are closely related but not quite the same. We all have a spirit. But to BE SPIRITUAL - especially when you're saying it to mean you do not have a religion - implies that spiritualism is your practice, your methodology or your approach.
Over the years, I have come into contact with a considerable percentage of people who are quick to say, "I'm not religious. I'm spiritual" but they cannot demonstrate what spirituality is, beyond having things that "look" spiritual and saying things that "sound" spiritual. If spirituality is the discipline by which you intend to fulfill your destiny, you ought to be able to actually do something spiritual.
Here is a list of five capabilities you should be able to demonstrate - AT WILL - if you are spiritual:
In the spiritual systems of old, the practitioner was trained in the art and science of spiritual discipline. You were required to learn certain practices and demonstrate particular abilities. You had to dream something specific or encounter a particular key in your visions. Your prayers had to manifest. All of these were considered revelations of your calling, which defined the specific ways in which you would serve a higher cause.
I am looking for spiritual leaders who are ready to respond to the call to serve something greater than themselves. If that is you, find out how Obafemi Origunwa and the Orisa Lifestyle Academy can help you take your practice ot the next level.
Every 16 days, we cast Ifa in our temple. At that time, Ifa will give directions and insights into how we should proceed as individuals, families and as a spiritual community. Today was especially meaningful, as we have officially joined forces with the Iwori Meji Temple, our sister temple in Trinidad, which is headed by Awotunde Ejigbotifa Elebuibon. Below is a portion of the message that Ifa gave to us today. It resonates from Port of Spain to Oakland and everywhere in between.
Ifa says that people have conspired against you. They sought to publicly shame and embarrass you. Ifa says that what you have lost will be recovered. Go to Olokun in search of it. Ifa says that your spouse must not be among the conspirators, lest he/she will be ruined along with them.
Akoo nii gbe'buule jeko
Cast Ifa for the 401 Irunmole
When they were going to celebrate Olokun's annual festival
He also cast Ifa for Orunmila
When he was going to celebrate Olokun's annual festival
They were advised to sacrifice
- Holy Odu OgbeAlara
Every year, Olokun would celebrate her annual festival. Every year, Orunmila would arrive last, after everybody else. When he arrived, Orunmila would descend into the festivities from the rooftop of Olokun's palace. Olokun had a giant, brass tray placed at the center of her royal court. When Orunmila arrived, he would throw his ikin onto the tray and everybody would start rejoicing at the spectacle. Then, Orunmila would cast Olokun's Ifa for the year.
Eventually, however, envious people started to complain about Orunmila. "Why should he come steal the show every year?" They promised to put an end to it. By next year, they would put Orunmila to shame. The plan was twofold: First, to steal Orunmila's special ikin. Second, to convince Olokun that Orunmila had planned to disgrace her at her own festival. They failed to get the special ikin many times. then, they decided to enlist the cooperation of Orunmila's wife, the Apetebii. They promised her a big reward for getting Orunmila's ikin. She agreed.
Two days before Olokun's ceremony, Apetebii snuck into Orunmila's room and stole his special ikin. She took them to the conspirators and then returned home with the promised reward. Then, the conspirators took the ikin out onto the sea and tossed them overboard. By the time the conspirators got back to shore, they had concluded that Orunmila's wife could no longer be trusted. Anyone who would betray their spouse for money would certainly do the same to others with no hesitation.
Early the next morning, Orunmila went to gather his implements for the festivities. He could not find the ikin, however. He called out to Apetebii for help. She pretended to look frantically. Finally, she burst into tears, "Orunmila, what are we going to do?" He sent her to summon his babalawos to consult Ifa on the matter. When they cast Ifa, the Odu that showed up was Ogbe Alara. The awos told Orunmila that he was enveloped in conspiracy. They told him that the culprits were both outside and inside of his house. The awos told Orunmila not to worry, but to sacrifice to Esu and to appease Ifa with the biggest fish caught that day.
Orunmila prepared the ebo and sent Apetebii to buy the biggest fish in the market. She went away happy and confident. She had gotten her reward, completely fooled Orunmila and was about to get her hands on the biggest fish in the market. Meanwhile, as Olokun's festival was in full swing, the conspirators were planting seeds of dissent all over the place. They said Orunmila was a fraud, that he was just seeking glory at Olokun's expense. They said they would not even be surprised if he failed to come to the festival at all this year, just to snub Olokun. Eventually, these poisonous ideaas reached Olokun, who was furious.
By the time Apetebii reached home with the fish, she gave it Orunmila. They began to pray over it together. Orunmila cut open the fish and, to his amazement, found his special ikin inside the fish!. Now, Apetebii started to shake with fear. Ifa would surely expose the conspirators and her along with them. She knelt down and confessed her complicitness in the scheme. Orunmila immediately dashed over to Olokun's palace.
About that time, the conspirators were all hovering around Olokun, spewing lies about Orunmila and suggesting a replacement diviner. One of the conspirators was recommended as the ideal candidate. And just as Olokun was about to begin her prayers, they suddenly heard the sound of the special ikin falling onto the brass tray. The whole place fell silent. Orunmila descended from the rooftop. Everybody jumped and rejoiced at the spectacle. The conspirators started looking for escape routes.
Orunmila cast Ifa for Olokun. Part of the ebo included 200 mats. Once the ebo was completed, Orunmila called the 400 Irunmole to huddle together. He ordered the 200 mats to wrap themselves around the Irunmole, along with the ebo materials. He then summoned all the ase of heaven and earth and commanded that henceforth, the Irunmole would become invisible. People would be able to hear their voices but no longer behold their physical form. And so, the 401 Irunmole disappeared from sight.
Learn more: bit.ly/OrisaStudies
OrisaLifestyle in Trinidad is characterized by an amalgamation of Yoruba traditions, especially Ibadan and Oyo. Of course, it also has been influenced by the contributions of Ibo, Congo and Mandinka practices, not to mention those of the Hindu.
Of particular interest, however, is the Adja Fon - Dahomean - influence, which was brought to my attention during a recent visit to Trinidad. In Trinidad, the Fon are known as Rada, which derives from the kingdom of Allada. While at a ceremony, at Ile Orunmila, I met a lady at a ceremony who was of Dahomean descent. Since then, I had heard bits and pieces about a flourishing Rada community in Belmont district of Port of Spain.
In 1868 a man named Abojevi Zahwenu- Papa Nanee - got a parcel of land in Belmont, Port of Spain. There, he built his compound, which he called Dangbwe Comme [House of Dangbwe]. Dangbwe is the serpent deity, whose worship is rooted in Whydah, but is well-known in Haiti and everywhere the Fon people have gone. The book by Wade Davis called the Serpent and the Rainbow is based upon the mythology and rites associated with Dangbwe.
Abojevi was a bokono, which is the Fon equivalent to a babalawo. As such, he served as a diviner and spiritual advisor in his community. Remembered today as Papa Nanee, Abojevi left a legacy as a great and selfless medicine man. More importantly, perhaps, in his own time, his wisdom, kindness and service made his name a household word in Belmont. He joined his ancestors in 1899 and was laid to rest in the private burial ground near the compound.
As fate would have it, I was driven by the front compound en route to Laventill. But, as we attempted to back onto the main road in our car, it became so cumbersome that we ended up having to enter further into the cul de sac to make a three point turn. It was at that moment that we actually drove up to the very gates of the Rada burial grounds, where I briefly paid my respects and took a quick picture! Just behind the iron gate, you can see a tombstone.
Carr, Andrew. A Rada Community in Trinidad
During the full moon of November 2018, I visited with the illustrious, Senator Barbara Burke, who introduced me to a particular ceremony, called mourning. Although she did not give any concrete details, I was instantly intrigued by what I heard. For example, both Orisa devotees, as well as Spiritual Baptists participate in the mourning rituals. In fact, it is through mourning that a person might discover his or her path of devotion. I distinctly recall Senator Burke telling me that, if you come out marching, you're a Baptist and if you come out dancing, you're an Orisa person.
Beyond those two general designations, the mourning ceremony also shapes and defines a person's role and responsibilities within the spiritual community. For example, within the Spiritual Baptist community, one might be a Leader, a Mother, a Shepherd, a Pointer, a Nurse, a Prover, a Captain or a Teacher, each of which has its own ritual and mundane responsibilities. In any case, however, these positions and duties are acquired during the mourning ceremony.
Morning is characterized as ritual process involving sensory deprivation and isolation. It may be as short as three days and as long as twenty one days. During this time, the worshipper participates in an orchestrated series of relentless spiritual exercises, that include fasting, prayer, song, chanting and meditation. The proper combination of these elements induces a prolonged dream state, wherein the worshipper travels in what might be called a vision quest.
As a babalawo, I naturally wondered about any correlations between Ifa and the mourning ceremonies. There is a verse, taken from the Holy Odu OyekuBaturupon, wherein Orunmila was on the verge of taking a spiritual journey. They promised Orunmila that he would bring honor back from the other side of his travels. However, before embarking upon his journey, Orunmila should sequester himself and remain indoors for seven consecutive days. After that time, he would be ready for a successful and prosperous journey.
In another verse from that same Odu, Orunmila was visited by a nightmare. In response, he went to consult Ifa, at which time he was told that Death, Sickness, Litigation and every type of adversity were after him. The awo told Orunmila to sacrifice. Not only that however, they advised Orunmila to deliver his sacrifice while wearing filthy, ragged clothing. They told him to dance like a madman when bringing the sacrifice to Esu.
A third verse of he Holy Odu OyekuBaturupon tells of the time when one hundred fifty drums were going to celebrate the ancestral festival at Oyo. All of the drums refused to sacrifice, except Dundun. And so it was that Dundun performed the proper sacrifice and returned from the festival with honor, being hailed as the king of drums!
On the New Moon of July 2019, my student, Fayinde and I went to the St. Philomena Orisa Healing School in Lavantille, Trinidad to participate in the mourning rites with Bishop Preston Williams. During our seven day sojourn, we heard several names for the ritual space where the ceremony took place: "mourning ground", "court", "the grave" and the "throne of grace" are those that I can recall at the present moment. In any case, mourning is - without question - an intensely arduous and challenging ceremony to endure. As implied by the Holy Odu OyekuBaturupon, it requires hours of strenuous dancing to drums. After a few days on the ground, our clothes became filthy and ragged. Still we danced ourselves into a frenzy of exhaustion that approached delirium! That being said, it is common for people to repeat the ritual up to twenty one times!
Mourning is said to have four main parts: the "pointing", the "spiritual travels", the "rising" and the "coming out". During the "coming out" ritual, the nurses will bring the spiritual travellers out, before the full congregation for another round of prayers and songs.
Again, I am reminded of the wisdom of Ifa. This time, the Holy Odu Iretengbe teaches us: Let us pretend to stumble, to see who will catch us. Let us pretend to fall down to find out who will pick us up. Let us pretend to be dead, to know who shall come to MOURN us. When Orunmila suspected that his spiritual community was insincere, he put them to the test. Orunmila pretended to die. He disappeared from sight. While he was gone, his apprentices, colleagues and fellow divinities showed up at his house, one by one. Each of them said a word of condolences to Apetebii Osunleyo. After doing so, they would say how Orunmila owed them something or another. It was only Esu who proved himself to be sincere. And so, Orunmila and Esu become inseparable companions.
When Fayinde and I were presented to the community in Lavantille, we were also fortunate to have the presence of an African American professor and pastor, who happened to be completing a tour of African spiritual centers in the diaspora. It was a very pleasant surprise to have him speak and pray on our behalf.
The highlight of the "coming out" ritual is when the travellers reveal their "tracks". This is the time when we gave abbreviated summaries of our visions and listened to the interpretations given by the elders in the congregation.
Ultimately, however, the single most important information received by the mourner is the revelation of his or her new status and relationship to the divinities. That is, when you successfully embark upon your travels during the mourning rituals, you make direct contact with the divine. When you "see" the deity or an ancestor in this particular way - without pots, accoutrements or any other contrivance, the experience bestows merit on you, from the inside out. Such a manifestation is a gift that signifies that moment in which the divinity is ready to let you see it. This intimate, deep and personal way of getting a sense of the divinities takes time. They do not show themselves to you right away. But when they do, you experience an affirmation and a certainty that restores a profound sense of balance, deep within your consciousness. Live the Medicine!