Awonifa

Study the Teaching of Ifa and the Orisha's

Yoruba Fokelore

The Three Magicians

A CERTAIN King had engaged in a series of wars, during which he employed three magicians or medicine-men to make charms for him, so that he might destroy his enemies.

At the end of the war these three magicians came to the King and humbly asked to be allowed to return home. The King foolishly refused, and at this the magicians said:

We asked your permission out of courtesy, O King, but we can very easily depart without it.

Thereupon the first magician fell down on the ground and disappeared. The second threw a ball of twine into the air, climbed up the thread and disappeared likewise. The third magician, Elenre, remained standing.

It is your turn to disappear, said the King, trembling with anger, or I will slay you.

You cannot harm me, replied the magician.

At this the King ordered him to be beheaded, but the sword broke in two, and the executioners arm withered away. The King then ordered him to be speared, but the spear crumpled up and was useless. An attempt was made to crush the magician with a rock, but it rolled over his body as lightly as a childs ball.

The King then sent for the magicians wife and asked her to reveal his secret charm. At last the woman confessed that if they took one blade of grass from the thatched roof of a house, they could easily cut off his head with it.

This was done, and the magicians head rolled off and stuck to the Kings hand. It could not by any means be removed. When food and drink was brought to the King, the head consumed it all, so that the King seemed likely to die.

Magicians were hastily summoned from all over the kingdom, but the head laughed at all their charms and remained fast.

Finally came one who prostrated himself before the head and cried out:

Who am I to oppose you, great Elenre? I come only because the King commands me.

To this Elenre replied:

You are wiser than all the rest! and the head fell at once to the ground, where it became a flowing river, which to this day is called Odo Elenre, or Elenres river.

The magicians wife was likewise changed into a river, but because she had betrayed him, Elenre commanded the river not to flow, and it became instead a stagnant pool.

Yoruba use of Plants

The use of herbs and plants, called ewe in Yoruba, is of great importance. Herbs are picked for medicinal, and the spiritual powers they possess.The population can usually obtain herbs either by private practice or from the marketplace in town. In the Americas and the Caribbeans, Osain based practitioners are also directed to use herbs as medicine. Here the priest, as well as devotees alike gather herbs for medicine, baths, and religious artifacts. Because of the wide-spread practice of Osain in the New World, Nigerians and people from other African countries have begun to set up herbal businesses in increasing numbers. More and more indigenous herbs are now being made accessible to devotees here in the Americas. It is said that ewe (herbs) are for the “healing of Nations” and many health food stores provide them in powder, leaf, and capsule form. Adherents to the traditional practices of Osain are usually advised to use herbs as medicine before going to Western allopathic drugs for healing. There are many books written on the subject of herbology.

Therefore, researching the possibilities of herbal use is recommended. It is best that novices seek out divination before attempting to get and prepare herbal formulas. It is also advisable to rely on priests and qualified herbalists to begin the healing process before getting involved with the properties and powers of herbs yourself.

Tortoise and the Whip tree

There was a famine in the land, and everyone longed for food. Each day Tortoise went into the forest to see if he could find anything to eat, but in the evenings he came home discouraged with only a few herbs and dried-up nut-kernels for his family.

One day, as he walked through a grove, he saw two trees close together a small stunted tree and a big tree with thick foliage and spreading branches. What sort of tree are you? he asked the little tree.

I am the Chop-tree, was the reply.

Well, Chop-tree, what can you produce? asked Tortoise. And at the words the little tree waved its branches and a shower of food fell to the ground. Tortoise ate until nothing remained, and then turned to the tall and handsome tree.

And what tree are you? he asked, thinking that such a splendid tree must produce rich fruit. The tree told him that its name was Whip-tree, to which Tortoise replied: Whip-tree, what can you produce?

At these words the Whip-tree bent its branches and beat Tortoise until he cried for mercy. When the beating ceased, Tortoise went home, but, being of a greedy nature, he said nothing of the two trees, and showed his wife only a few poor nuts which he had found.

After that he went every day to the Chop-tree and feasted to his hearts content. While his family and all the people, even to the King, became thin and meagre, Tortoise appeared daily fatter and more prosperous, until Nyanribo, his wife, began to suspect.

One day Nyanribo resolved to follow him into the forest, and great was her surprise when she saw her husband stand under the little tree and say: Tree, do your duty! The branches waved, and rich titbits fell to the ground.

Nyanribo cried out in astonishment and reproached her husband for his greediness. She hastened back to the town and returned with the whole family of children and cousins. She stood under the Chop-tree and said: Tree, do your duty! When the food fell down, they all partook of the feast.

But spiteful Tortoise was displeased, and exclaimed:

I wish you would stand under the other tree and receive your proper reward!”

Hearing this, they all went to stand under the Whip-tree, and Nyanribo again cried: Tree, do your duty! Alas! The branches began to beat them all soundly until they died.

Tortoise was alarmed at this and hastily returned to his house, but the neighbours soon noticed that his wife and family were absent, and the King ordered Tortoise to account for their disappearance.

Tortoise therefore led the King and all the nobles and the people into the forest, and when they were gathered under the Chop-tree he cried out: Tree, do your duty! and, as before, a feast appeared, which the hungry people soon devoured.

Tortoise then asked them to stand underneath the othet tree, and this they were eager to do. The King himself was the one to cry out: Tree, do your duty! and the branches began to beat all those who stood below until they cried out with pain.

In a great rage the people hunted for Tortoise, desiring to kill him; but he hid inside his shell, in a secret place, and they could not harm him.

He stayed in concealment until the King died and a new King was found, and then he thought it safe to appear in the town. But whenever he hears the two words Chop and Whip, he hides in his shell, thinking himself in danger.

Ifa Related

UNESCO Proclamation

Ifa Divination System in Nigeria The Ifa divination system, which makes use of an extensive corpus of texts, is practised among Yoruba communities. The word Ifa refers to the mystical figure Ifa or Orunmila, regarded by the Yoruba people as the deity of wisdom and intellectual development. In the twelfth century, the city of Ile-Ife, located in the Osun region of the South-west of Nigeria, emerged as the cultural and political centre of this community. It is also practised by the African diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean. img In contrast to other forms of divination in the region that employ spirit mediumship, Ifa divination does not rely on a person having oracular powers but rather on a system of signs that are interpreted by a diviner, the Ifa priest orbabalawo, literally “the priest’s father”. The Ifa divination system is applied whenever an important individual or collective decision has to be made. The Ifa literary corpus, called odu, consists of 256 parts, which are subdivided into verses called ese, whose exact number is unknown as it is in constant growth (ther are around 800ese per edu). Each one of the 256 odu has its specific divination signature, which is determined through a procedure held by thebabalawo using sacred palm-nuts and a divination chain. The ese, considered as the most important part of Ifa divination, are chanted by the priests in poetic language. The ese reflect Yoruba history, language, beliefs, cosmovision and contemporary social issues. The knowledge of Ifa has been preserved within Yoruba communities and transmitted among Ifa priests. Under the influence of colonial rule, traditional beliefs and practices were discriminated. The Ifa priests, of whom most are already advanced in age, have only little means to maintain the tradition, to transmit their complex knowledge and train future practitioners. Thus, there is an increasing lack of interest among the youth and the Yoruba people in practising and consulting Ifa divination, which goes hand-in-hand with growing intolerance towards divination systems in general.

UNESCO website

Ebo en el Ate

How to do an Ebo on the Opon Ifa
According to way Miguel Febles Padron performed the ritual
Translated by Ogbeate

this page is not yet completed,
I intend to add images or drawings soon to correct misaligned Odu


Table of Contents

1 Preparation of the required material for Ebo on the Opon
2 The 4 different tablets used on the Opon during the Ebo
3 Instructions pertaining to the first tablet on the Opon
4 Instructions pertaining to the second tablet on the Opon
5 Instructions pertaining to the third tablet on the Opon
6 Instructions pertaining to the fourth tablet on the Opon
7 Conclusion of the Ebo

Part One: The preparation of the Ebo

1 Find a square piece of strong brown, shopping bag paper. about a foot square, and place inside a smaller square of paper. This now become the Ebo any reference to ebo means that the items are added to the paper square

2 Take the leaf of the Malanga remove the central stem on the leaf, and the three points. place it in the ebo at the center of the 2 sheets of paper.

3 Take an eko remove the paper wrapping. and place some on the leaf

4 Take some Epo and spread liberally over the Eko then add three pieces of Ekute and three pieces of Fish

5 add also toasted corn, and some dirt from the doorway of the home. If the home has more than one entrance, add dirt from every doorway. bring the dirt in both your hands, first adding to the paper ebo with your right hand and saying the words INLE LALHELU and
then with your left hand and say INLE LALHELA

6 After the dirt is added , combine with all the items specified for the particular ebo. If an item is to large, keep it outside of the ebo so that you can better perform the ritual.

7 Lastly add Oti and honey, then you are ready to begin the ritual at the Opon Ifa.

8 At the place where the ritual will be performed, you should already have the mat with the Opon Ifa in the center, the Irofa and the okuele to the left and to the right the brush, container of water and a sheet with the odu for the particular ebo. any animals that might be required and those items that might be too large to include inside the ebo

9 The ebo, now having been prepared, should remain to the right of the mat, in front of the Opon Ifa

Different Arrangements of Odu on the Opon Ifa to perform an ebo

To perform the Ebo in such a way that it meets all the required rituals and ceremonies the babalawo needs to place on the opon Ifa certain odu of Ifa at different times during the procedure. These different parts of the entire ritual have been called Tablets of Ifa. Since they are placed upon the Opon Ifa . A through understanding will make it easier to explain the ebo completely.

Tablet number 1
This is the most important of all, although not diminishing the other tablets used during the process. Without which the ebo would be incomplete. This tablet is begun by placing the odu. Baba Eyiogbe in the center. Starting from the bottom upwards. dividing the opon ifa into two equal parts. to the right of the lines, place the combination signs of Ifa. to the left place the melli sign of Ifa. after adding the melli signs to the left side, also place the odu’s of Iwori Ojuani and Iroso Umbemi
An example of the first tablet of the Opon Ifa follows below.

Tablet number 2
This tablets is used so the person that is receiving the ebo can symbolically wash the hands with the feathers of the ebo. The hands are washed with the feathers and then they are deposited in the ebo itself. place in the center of the Opon Ifa the sign that brought about the ebo, and also Ogbe Iroso and Otura Oche

Tablet number 3
This tablet is used to seal the ebo, after all the required rituals are performed and the final destination for the ebo is determined by the ebo. just as you did in tablet number 1, place the odu Baba Eyiogbe so that it divides the opon ifa into sections, but this time also draw a line across to divide the opon into four parts. DO NOT CROSS THE SIGN IN THE CENTER

Tablet number 4
This tablet is used to dismiss the ebo,

remember that every time that the odu Ika Melli is invoked, the opon ifa should be encircled with the two middle fingers to build a house around ifa and the iroso that remains in the finger tips should be added to the ebo.

First tablet

II II OO OO II II XX IO
II OO II OO II OO XX IO
OO OO II OO II II XX IO
OO II OO OO II IO XX IO

OO II OO II OO II II II II OI OO
II II OO OO OO II II OI IO IO II
II II OO OO II II II OI IO II OI
II OO II OO II IO OI OI IO OO IO

II II II OO OO II OO II II IO OI
OO II OO OO II OI IO IO OI II II
II OO II II OO II OI II II II II
OO II II OO OO IO OI II II II II

OO II OI OI OI II
II OO IO IO II OI
OO II II OO OI OI
II OI II OI IO II

II OO OO II II OO OO II
II OI OO OI IO II II IO
IO II OO IO OI IO OI OI
IO IO OI II IO II II II

these odu should be written left to right

Second Tablet

II XX II
OO XX II
II XX OI
OI XX OI

Feathers and Ache de Ifa are used to break the odus that have been placed on the opon by using a circular motion with the Irofa. Then and place them in the person hands.

The person rubs them with his hands and adds all to the ebo
The odu labeled with an X represents the odu that was cast originally for the person prior to the this ebo.

Third Tablet

La Historia De La Letra del Ano

Historia de la Ceremonia de la Letra del Año


La Ceremonia de la Letra del Año es el evento religioso más importante que se lleva a cabo por los Babalawos, tanto en Cuba como en Nigeria, aunque en fechas diferentes, por lo que debe ser del conocimiento de todas las personas que se preocupan por la cultura Yoruba.

No cuestionamos, ni cuestionaremos jamás lo que hacen los hermanos de las diferentes ramas religiosas dentro de su Ilé Osha, tanto en Cuba como en el mundo; pues merecen todo respeto y consideración hacia la identidad y diferenciación que puedan tener según sus códigos culturales.

Cuba es el territorio donde mejor se conservan las tradiciones culturales de esta religión que nos fuera legada por nuestros ancestros esclavos traídos desde África a finales del siglo XVIII. Esto se debe en gran medida a los esclavos pertenecientes a la etnia Yoruba, en específico los de las religiones de los Orishas e Ifá. En nuestro país esta religión es considerada como Religión Cubana de Origen Africano teniendo en cuenta, a través de la historia, los elementos tradicionales rescatados por nuestra población religiosa; elementos que han sido conservados y revitalizados y que por su apego popular han llegado a formar parte de nuestra cultura y de nuestra identidad nacional.

Esta religión, como la vida ha demostrado, se ha trasladado desde Cuba a cualquier región o país del mundo, de una forma natural y espontánea sin perjudicar la religión en general. Por el contrario, ha tenido un intercambio que le da riqueza a la religión y a la cultura, pues exportar una tradición como esta que se caracteriza por no hacer proselitismo "la convertirá en la religión del Siglo XXI", como expresara el Prof. Wande Abimbola (AWISE ABAGE, Inspector general de la religión Yoruba en el mundo), expresión con la que estamos completamente de acuerdo.

Nuestra Institución ha estado luchando desde hace muchos años por la unidad de todos los practicantes de la Regla Osha e Ifá del mundo en los aspectos más importantes y generales donde la Letra del Año tiene un papel fundamental.

En cuanto a este último aspecto hemos tratado de unificar a todos los religiosos sin lograr hasta el presente un resultado final. Esto es debido a que los patrones de cada practicante en ocasiones se vuelven absolutistas y es posible que no se haya pensado en que al rechazar la unificación y no tomar una decisión positiva no se hayan tenido en cuenta las dificultades que ocasionan. Y no sólo atañen a una persona, a un grupo institucional o familiar, sino que se daña una religión que nos fue legada por nuestros antepasados y forma parte del patrimonio que debemos respetar y preservar seriamente.

Se ha tratado de hacer un trabajo de unificación para llegar a un consenso en cuanto a la Letra del Año. Nos referimos a un sistema adivinatorio de probabilidades y es por esta razón que cada ceremonia da por resultado la regencia de distintos Orishas y odun en el año. Las personas, creyentes y no creyentes, se ven confundidas, no saben en quien creer, ni por cual letra regirse. Lo que hace que pierda credibilidad, prestigio y se considere que a nuestra religión le falta seriedad, respeto y la unión por la que luchamos.

Historia
Desde sus inicios las investigaciones cuentan que la Letra del Año comenzó a sacarse a finales del siglo XIX, sin poder precisar la fecha exacta. Por datos y documentos se nos revela que Babalawos procedentes de las diferentes ramas religiosas existentes en el país comenzaron a reunirse para efectuar con todo rigor las ceremonias establecidas, que concluían el primero de enero con la apertura del la Letra del Año.


A través del Oráculo de Ifá se daban a conocer las orientaciones y recomendaciones que debían cumplirse durante ese año, con el fin de evitar o vencer los obstáculos y las dificultades. Por esta razón la primera Letra del Año que se realizó en Cuba la efectuó el Babalawo Remigio Herrera, Obara Meyi, Adeshina, de origen africano, apoyado fundamentalmente en cinco de sus ahijados, a saber:

Marcos García Ifalola Baba Ejiogbe
Oluguere   Oyeku meji
Eulogio Rodríguez Tata Gaitán Ogundafun
José Carmen Batista   Obeweñe
Salvador Montalvo   Okaran Meji
Bernardo Rojas   Ireteuntendi

Es bueno señalar que algunos de los ahijados de Adeshina tenían como Oyurbona a Oluguere que era también de origen africano.

En el año 1902, por problemas de salud de Adeshina, Tata Gaitán asume la responsabilidad de la Letra del Año apoyado por los Babalawos antes mencionados y participando además:

SecundinoCrucet Osaloforbeyo
Bernabé Menocal Baba Ejiogbe
Quintín Lecón García Oturaniko
José Asunción Villalonga Ogundamasa


Igualmente contó con la participación de casi todos los Babalawos de esos tiempos. Aunque la ceremonia siempre se realizaba con la mayor discreción posible y en privado; ya que en el gobierno imperante, todo este tipo de prácticas de creencias africanas estaban consideradas como un delito común dentro del código penal. Por esta razón en algún que otro año se trató de disminuir la participación masiva de Babalawos y se invitaban a los jefes de familia con sólo uno de sus ahijados.


El 9 de mayo de 1959 fallece Bernardo Rojas y su sucesor, el Dr. José Herrera, hereda las deidades de Adeshina y la responsabilidad de la Letra del Año. Tomando en consideración que Joaquín Salazar era el Babalawo mayor y Obá de la rama, el Dr. Herrera le cede la dirección de la apertura del año; llevándose a cabo con la misma efectividad y rigor religioso que las anteriores ceremonias correspondientes a la Letra del Año.

Las actividades en estos años fueron realizadas bajo la dirección de Joaquín Salazar y la rama Adeshina, representada por el Dr. José Herrera.

Posteriormente Joaquín Salazar y otros mayores se dieron a la tarea de reorganizar nuevamente las ramas tradicionales existentes. De esta forma se volvió a ampliar la participación en la Letra del Año a todos los Babalawos. Es así como fueron llamadas, entre otras, las ramas que siguen a continuación:

Rama Nombre Signo Representación Signo Ifabi
Francisco Villalonga Ogunda Kete Ángel Villalonga Ogundaleni
Adeshina Remigio Herrera Obara Meji Fernando Molina Baba Eyiogbe
Ño Karlo Adebi Ojuani Boka Ángel Padrón Baba Eyiogbe
Pericón Pérez Ogbe Yono Alejandro Domínguez Osa Guleya



La letra que se interpreta en la ACYC hace ya algunos años, es la realizada por los Babalawos del país con mayor cantidad de años de iniciados y que desde su comienzo lo han hecho de forma ininterrumpida hasta la actualidad.

Las ramas más tradicionales del siglo XIX y del comienzo del XX estuvieron dirigidas por Babalawos africanos que después delegaron esta responsabilidad en sus sucesores cubanos.

No pretendemos centrar ni establecer tradiciones, sino defender la legitimidad de las ya existentes, transmitidas de generación en generación.

Nos satisface sobremanera que la Santería, "Regla Osha e Ifá, fructifiquen en cualquier territorio del mundo, con la misma fuerza que lo han hecho otras Religiones Cubanas de Origen Africano, que son las que hoy constituyen su fortaleza, como son por citar algunas, el vodú y el palo monte, siempre y cuando no exista en su trasfondo una base de proselitismo y el ánimo de lucro y comercialización.

Aprovechamos la oportunidad para dar a conocer nuestra inconformidad con el sacrificio público de animales, que realizan muchas personas en cualquier latitud en distintos festivales, eventos, espectáculos, videos etc., por una razón muy sencilla pero fundamental, no creemos que para llevar a cabo estos menesteres públicos de envergadura sea necesario llegar al sacrificio de animales, máxime cuando nuestra religión cuenta con tantas bellas manifestaciones y expresiones culturales posibles de exhibir..

Somos de la opinión que aquellos que se han prestado para ofrecer este tipo de actividades, no tienen bien definida su religiosidad, pues debemos tener muy presente que no todos los elementos de la cultura y la religión de un pueblo son comercializables, así como que no todos los habitantes del planeta deben tolerar la realización de un tipo de espectáculo de esta envergadura, pues su visión sobre esta cuestión es bien diferente y en ocasiones muchos son afiliados de asociaciones protectoras de animales, lo que conlleva a que su opinión sobre estos actos sea denigratoria, lo que en lugar de enriquecer nuestra cultura la lleva a su detrimento.

La Historia de la humanidad refiere, que todas las religiones en sus inicios sacrificaban seres humanos, pasando posteriormente de acuerdo a su mitología y patrones al sacrificio de animales, los que posteriormente fueron sustituidos por algún elemento que suplantara este sacrificio, no siendo el caso de las religiones de origen africano que hasta nuestros días siguen utilizando en su ceremonial secreto el sacrificio de animales.

Muchas son las personas que equivocadamente o erradas se aprovechan ahora de la popularidad que ha adquirido esta religión en Cuba y nos atrevemos a decir que en el mundo, para utilizarla como medio de lucro y de enriquecimiento, cuando anteriormente estás mismas personas la consideraban como cosas de negros, de personas atrasadas y de oscurantismo.

Sepan que le reservamos gran respeto a todas las religiones con las que cuenta la humanidad, que no nos preocupa que alguien que no se respete, hable mal de otra religión para que la suya prevalezca, al contrario nos da pena de que alguien tenga que utilizar este medio para que su religión florezca pues eso deja mucho que desear y se puede interpretar que su religión no está lo suficientemente fuerte ni tiene principios sólidos que sustentar.

El respeto es la base de la vida y cada persona es libre de escoger su credo y su línea a seguir ya que entre los seres humanos debe primar el respeto y no el intrusismo en la vida de cualquier semejante sea profesional o no, y en mayor medida si se trata de su fe religiosa.

Somos creyentes de una de las religiones más antiguas con las que cuenta la humanidad, ya que hoy en día se conoce que el lugar donde hubo vida humana por primera vez en la existencia de la humanidad fue en el continente africano y precisamente en la ciudad sagrada de los Yoruba (Ilé Ifé), procuraremos que esta no sea manipulada y ni sea objeto de espectáculo sólo porque a algunos les interese hacerlo.


JUNTA DIRECTIVA ASOCIACIÓN CULTURAL YORUBA DE CUBA

This article is reprinted with the permission of the Cuban Yoruba Cultura Association.
I invite you to visit their website directly at CubaYoruba