Awonifa

Study the Teaching of Ifa and the Orisha's

Obatala
Creator of Human Form, White purity, Cures illness and deformities.

Elegua
Messenger of the Orisha, Holder of Ashe (pover) among the Orisha, he is prime negotiator between negative and positive forces in body, enforces the “law of being”. Helps to enhance the power of herbs.

Ogun
Orisha of Iron, he expands, he is divinity of clearing paths, specifically in respect to blockages or interruption of the flow vital energy at various points in the body. he is the liberator.

Yemaya
Mother of Waters, Sexuality, Primal Waters, Nurturer. She is the amniotic fluid in the womb of the pregnant woman, as well as, the breasts which nurture. She is the protective energies of the feminine force.

Oshun
Sensuality, Beauty, Gracefulness, she symbolizes clarity and flowing motion, she has power to heal with cool water, she is also the divinity of fertility and feminine essence, Women appeal to her for child-bearing and for the alleviation of female disorders, she is fond of babies and is sought if a baby becomes ill, she is known for her love of honey.

Shango
Kingly, Virility, Masculinity, Fire, Lightning, Stones, Protector/ warrior, Magnetism, he possesses the ability to transform base substance into that which is pure and valuable.

Oya
Tempest, Guardian of the Cemetery, Winds of Change, Storms, Progression, she is usually in the company of her counterpart Shango, she is the deity of rebirth as things must die so that new beginnings arise.

Yoruba Fokelore

Razor Cuts

A CERTAIN King named Shango sent two slaves to a distant country on an important mission.

In due course they returned, and he found that one slave had achieved successfully what he had been sent to do, while the other had accomplished nothing. The King therefore rewarded the first with high honours, and commanded the second to receive a hundred and twenty-two razor cuts all over his body.

This was a severe punishment, but when the scars healed, they gave to the slave a very remarkable appearance, which greatly took the fancy of the Kings wives.

Shango therefore decided that cuts should in future be given, not as punishment, but as a sign of royalty, and he placed himself at once in the hands of the markers. However, he could only bear two cuts, and so from that day two cuts on the arm have been the sign of royalty, and various other cuts came to be the marks of different tribes.

Choice of Destiny

Oriseeku, Orilemere and Afuwape , These three were about to begin their earth-bound journey from their pre-natal existence. The last rite to perform was the choice of ori (destiny). They had a warning from Orisa-nla to go straight to the house of Ajala without changing course. The first two did as they were told while Afuwape, the son of Orunmila decided to see his father before making a choice. It turned out to be a good decision because in his fathers house, he met two of his fathers divination priests who advised him to offer some sacrifice. He did, and the result was good for him. The other two were not assisted in their choice, but Afuwape was assisted because as a result of the sacrifice he performed, he had directions on what to do to receive favor from Ajala, the maker and custodian of inner heads. On their arrival in the world, the other two noticed that things were going well for Afuwape while they were having difficult times. They reacted with a song:

Emi o mo bi olori n yan ri o
M ba lo yan temi
N go mo bi Afuwape yan ri o
M ba lo yan temi

I do not know where people with good destiny picked theirs
I would have picked mine there too
I do not know where Afuwape picked his good destiny
I would have gone there

To which Afuwape replied:

Eyin o mo bi olori n yan ri o
E ba lo yan teyin
Ibikan na la gbe yan ri o
Kadara o papo ni.

You do not know where good destiny is picked
You would have gone there for yours
We picked our destinies from the same source
Only their contents are not identical.

Orunmila meets Echu

One day Orunmila decided to journey to the city of Owo. Before beginning his trip, he cast sixteen divining nuts to see what lay ahead. Twice he cast the nuts, and twice they told him nothing, which was odd, since Orunmila was the father of divination. But he ignored the matter, and began his journey.

On the first day, Orunmila met Eshu, the orisha of chance, whom he greeted as a friend. On the second day, and again on the third, Orunmila met Eshu, coming from the opposite direction. “I am coming from Owo,” Eshu said simply. Orunmila thought it very odd to have met Eshu three times. But Eshu was rather odd in any case, and Orunmila was in a hurry to reach Owo, so he ignored the matter.

On the fourth day, Eshu took some fresh kola fruits and left them in the middle of the trail just outside of the city, where Orunmila would be certain to find them. Once more, Orunmila and Eshu passed one another. This close to his journey’s end, Orunmila did not feel the need to consult his divining nuts.

Orunmila found the kola fruits, and picked them up and began to eat. As he did so, a farmer came out onto the path. “Those kola fruits are from my tree.”

“That is not possible,” Orunmila said. “I found these fruits here, in the middle of the trail, and there are no trees nearby.”

But the angry farmer did not believe Orunmila, and tried to take back his fruit. In their struggle, the farmer cut Orunmila’s palm with his bush knife. Orunmila turned away from Owo, and slept by the side of the road that night. He despaired that he would always be known in Owo as a thief, though he had never in his life taken another man’s property.

During the night, Eshu entered the house of all the people of Owo–including the Oba and the farmer–and cut everyone’s palms. The next day, Orunmila decided that he would complete his journey. Once again, he met Eshu.

“Eshu, I always considered you a friend, but I think you have made my trip to Owo difficult.”

“Quite the contrary,” Eshu replied. “Enter the city without fear. If there is any trouble, I will speak for you.”

The kola farmer saw Orunmila when he entered Owo with Eshu, and he went to complain to the Oba, who ordered the stranger brought before him. Again, the farmer accused Orunmila of the theft.

Eshu then spoke for Orunmila, as he had promised. “This stranger has come to Owo only today: how can he already have enemies? What evidence do you have that this man stole your fruit?”

“We struggled outside the city,” the farmer said, “and I cut the palm of his hand. If he opens his hand, we will see the evidence of his crime.”

“And why should he be the only one examined?” Eshu demanded. “I am sure that many of the people in Owo had the opportunity to steal your kola fruit. Let them be examined as well.”

The Oba consented, and had all the people of Owo come forth and display the palms of their hands. And across each one, there was a fresh red cut.

“If a cut is a sign of guilt, then all of Owo is guilty,” Eshu said, and the Oba agreed, and proclaimed Orunmila’s innocence. The people of Owo brought the mistreated stranger gifts of goats and wine and kola fruits.

And so it was that, both despite and because of Eshu’s actions, Orunmila was welcomed in Owo.

Ifa Related

The Story of the Irde

Death (Iku) was gathering humans before there full time on earth had passed.
The Orishas worried about this, until Orumila said he would resolve this matter.

One day when Iku was busy, Orumila went and took his hammer
Iku became furious when he discovered the Hammer missing.
He rushed back to Orumila’s house, and demanded the hammers return.

Orumila said, Oludumare had assigned you the task of gathering humans when thier time had come,
but you are gathering them when you want, prior to thier predetermined death.
Iku answered, if humans do not die, the earth will die.

Orumila answered “you are not right to take humans before their time.
After a long discussion, Orumila began to see the logic of Iku’s task
Orumila aggred to return the Hammer, But Iku must swear not to take any of Orumila’s
children before there full time has passed.

Iku answred, When I see the Irde Ifa on a persons left wrist, I will pass over them, unless it is there predetermined time to die. Orumila and Iku aggreed, and from this day, Ifa devotees wear the Irde on the left wrist, as a sign of the pact between Iku and Orumila.

Los Guerreros

The Warriors / Los Guerreros

The Guerreros (warriors) are a set of orishas that an initiate receives usually after having received their Elekes and it is usually an indication that the person is on their way to Kariocha. The warriors consist of Elegba, Ogún, Ochosi and Osun. The warriors are received in a person’s life in order to protect them, strengthen their spiritual framework, teach them the importance of hard work and to open their spiritual road.

This is strictly a Lukumí initiation in that it evolved out of the environment that the Lukumí people were subjected to when they were brought to the new world as slaves. Originally, in the motherland, these orishas were worshipped and propitiated in communal outdoor shrines that belonged to the entire village or tribe. The exception would have been Elegba, which was received as an Eshu (a stone) by individuals when they were crowned, along with their crowning orisha. Elegba’s shrine was a large stone or collection of stones, Ogún’s shrine contained his iron implements, Ochosi’s included animal horns and the like, and Osun was a special staff that was much taller than today’s version and it was kept outside the home, staked into the ground – yet its function is still preserved in the modern version. All of the modern warriors are usually kept behind the front door, near the front door or facing the front door – indicating their importance in opening a person’s spiritual path, protecting the home from negativity and intruders, and still hinting at their closeness to the outdoors.

The modern Lukumí version evolved because the tribes of Lukumí people were split up and intermixed with other tribes and there was no possible was of having an outdoor public shrine at which offerings could be given without making it known to the slave masters. Thus each individual was to receive their own Elegba – which consisted of an otán (stone) and usually a cement head packed with magically charged substances that is essentially used like Elegba’s tools with which he can affect the physical and spiritual worlds. Here is a typical depiction of an Elegba to the right. But Elegbas vary from road to road, and each is unique and personal to the initiate in its own way. Usually Elegba that is received with the warriors is not a complete Elegba in that he does not have diloggún shells – usually these are added and empowered at the Kariocha. (But I have heard of ilés where they give diloggún with the warriors version of Elegba, but the diloggún are not yet fully empowered to speak.)

Ogún that is received in the warriors set is actually a smaller, less complete version of Ogún. This does not mean that Ogún is less effective, merely that he still has room to grow. He is received in an iron cauldron, with his otán, his tools that quite literally look like the tools that a blacksmith or a warrior would use and other iron implements. He does not usually come with diloggún either – these are usually received either in a separate ceremony, or at the time of Cuchillo. Inside of Ogún’s cauldron living with him, is Ochosi (his best friend or brother depending on which version of the legend you have heard.) Ochosi is also received in a very scaled down form, with the warriors. He is merely a metal crossbow that is empowered and lives within Ogún’s pot. Ochosi is received in complete form, in a separate ceremony. Often when Ogún is made full – by giving him diloggún and feeding him four legs, Ochosi is given full at the same time. Often this occurs at Cuchillo if it has not yet been done for an individual to that point.

Osun is a small staff that is packed with magical substances that acts as a person’s personal guard or watchdog. Many people say that he is your spiritual head, or the foundation for your higher self or Orí. He is lidded and sealed metal cup with a stem and is about 9 inches tall. on top of the lid is a metal rooster – the symbol for Osun. Hanging from the lip of the cup’s lid, are four jingle bells hanging from little chains. Osun is supposed to be placed in a high place in the house – preferably above the initiate’s head with the rooster facing the front door, so that he can watch for danger. He is supposed to remain upright at all times, and if he ever falls over, it is an indication that something very bad has either been thrown at the initiate or is on it’s way to harm the initiate. Osun should be immediately turned upright and the primary godparent should be notified of what happened. This is the scaled down modern version of the original that was found in Africa. There are human-sized Osuns but they are received for different purposes and in a separate initiation.

The warriors, when received into a home for the first time, or when the initiate moves into a new home, have to go through a special ebbó called the ebbó de entrada (the offering of entry.) This involves eyebale to Elegba, Ogún, Ochosi and Osun at the door to the house (Shilelekun.) This not only empowers and strengthens the door to the house for protection, but it also strengthens the presence of the warriors in that home and in effect lets them know that it is their new home and they are bound to protect it from any enemies or negativity. The initiate is then to tend to his new orishas in his home by cleaning them from time to time, coating them lightly with epó (palm oil), and a bit of honey, offering them rum, and occasionally cigar or a candle. Some ilés offer candies to Elegba, or fruits and toys. In my ilé we do not give candy to Elegba until he has completed something for us, as a reward.

Now that the initiate has received Elegba, the orisha can guide them spiritually, open their psychic senses and their doors to evolution and in general assist them through life. Many ilés call the initiate an Aborisha (follower of the Orishas) after having received the warriors.

Adechina brings Ifa to Cuba



Adechina
Remigio Herrera (Obara Meji)


Adechina (“Crown of Fire”) is credited as being one of the most important founding fathers of Ifa in Cuba. A Yoruba born in Africa and initiated as a babalawo there, he was enslaved and taken to Cuba as a young man in the late 1820s. Legend has it that he swallowed his sacred ikin ifa used in divination in order to take them with him across the ocean. An intelligent and gifted man, He worked at a sugar mill until his freedom was paid for in 1827. He later became a powerful property owner in the Havana suburb of Regla. In addition to his large African and Creole religious family he had many influential godchildren from Havana’s Spanish, white elite and had important high society connections. He set up a famous religious institution, the Cabildo of the Virgin of Regla (the Cabildo Yemaya) in around 1860, which became a powerful center of Ifa and Orisha worship. Along with his daughter, the famous Ocha priestess Echu Bi, he organized the annual street procession on the feast day of the Virgin of Regla, every September 7th. Each year seminal Afrocuban drummers like Pablo Roche Okilakpa would sound the mighty Ilú batá in honor of Yemaya as they processed around the town. Incredibly, Adechina is also reputed to have returned to Africa, the land of his birth, in order to acquire the sacred materials needed to initiate babalawos. He returned again to Cuba with these sacred items in order to build Ifa there.

All the mojubas (prayers and recitals of lineage to honor the ancestors) of babalawos in Cuba include Adechina.

A great man who helped carry African profound spiritual knowledge to the Americas.
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