Awonifa

Study the Teaching of Ifa and the Orisha's

Oshun (pronounced [ɔʃún]) is a spirit-goddess (Orisha) who reigns over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth and diplomacy. She is worshipped also in Brazilian Candomblé Ketu, with the name spelled Oxum.



Oshun is beneficient and generous, and very kind. She does, however, have a horrific temper, though it is difficult to anger her. She is married to Chango, the god of thunder, and is his favorite wife because of her excellent cooking skills. One of his other wives, Oba, was her rival. They are the goddesses of the Ọṣun and Oba rivers, which meet in a turbulent place with difficult rapids.

In Santería, Oshun (sometimes spelled Ochún or Ochun) is an Orisha of love, maternity and marriage. She has been syncretized with the Catholic Saint: Our Lady of Charity (La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre), Cuba’s patron saint.

She is associated with the color yellow, metals gold and copper, peacock feathers, mirrors, and anything of beauty, her favorable day of the week is Saturday and the number she is associated with is five. In one story, she had to become a prostitute to feed her children and the other Orishas removed her children from her home. Oshun went insane from grief and wore the same white dress every day; it eventually turned yellow.

According to the Yoruba elders, Oshun is the “unseen mother present at every gathering”, because Oshun is the Yoruba understanding of the cosmological forces of water, moisture, and attraction. Therefore she is omnipresent and omnipotent. Her power is represented in another Yoruba scripture which reminds us that “no one is an enemy to water” and therefore everyone has need of and should respect and revere Oshun , as well as her followers.

Oshun is the force of harmony. Harmony we see as beauty, feel as love, and experience as ecstasy. Osun according to the ancients was the only female Irunmole amongst the 401 sent from the spirit realm to create the world. As such, she is revered as “YeYe Cari yamori yeyeo” – the sweet mother of us all.

When the male Irunmole attempted to subjegate Oshun due to her femaleness she removed her divine energy, called ashe by the Yoruba, from the project of creating the world and all subsequent efforts at creation were in vain.

It was not until visiting with the Supreme Being, Olodumare, and begging Oshun pardon under the advice of Olodumare that the world could continue to be created. But not until Oshun had given birth to a son. This son became Elegua, the great conduit of ashe in the Universe and also the eternal and trickster.

Oshun is known as Ya-lorde- the mother of things outside the home, due to her business acumen. She is also known as Laketi, she who has ears, because of how quickly and effectively she answers prayers. When she possesses her followers she dances, flirts and then weeps- because no one can love her enough and the world is not as beautiful as she knows it could be.

Yoruba Fokelore

Yoruba Traditional Religion

To examine the Yoruba religion, one must look at the entire area of Yoruba cultural existence. Yorubas are located basically in the southwestern part of Nigeria and in some parts of Benin and Togo. The history of the Yoruba religion seems to be somewhat of a controversial subject in most sources that deal with this topic. There was really no mention of when the religion started or much about the origin of the people because the beginning of their existence was always noted as being in Ife, the center where the Yoruba people descended from heaven. Ife is said to have been founded around a thousand years ago and there was some mention that the Yorubas might have descended from some Middle Eastern heritage.

As far as dealing with the actual origin of the religion itself, it is only referred to as a surviving religion of a “higher” religion. That religion is said to be from the Ancient Egyptian–Religion otherwise known as Khamet or Kemet. Being that the language of the Yorubas is so strongly tied to the culture there are many comparisons analyzed as to why there is a belief that Yoruba religion has been derived from Ancient Egyptian religion. For example, in Lucas’ “The Religion of the Yorubas” word comparisons are made. Such a comparison is made with the Ancient Egyptian God Amon: “The God Amon is one of the Gods formerly known to the Yorubas”. The Yoruba words mon, mimon, “holy or sacred,” are probably derived from the name of the God” (p.21).

Many of the sources which I encountered did not attempt to even approach the topic of the origin of the Yorubas Orisa (Orisha). The Orisa is one of the key spiritual elements of traditional Yoruba religion. It is an example of the many deep rooted meanings of the religion of the Yorubas. The Orisa, according to Baba Ifa Karade’s “The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts,” are a series of Gods or divinities under the Yoruba’s main–God, Olorun or Oludumare. Karade also argues that there are many striking similarities between the ancient Egyptians and the Yorubas. The Orisha are “… an expression of the principles and functions of divine power manifesting on nature”(p.23).

The actual word “Orisha” has a deep meaning itself. For example, the word ori is the “reflective spark of human consciousness embedded on human essense, and sha which is the ultimate potentiality of that consciousness.” This gives a strong example of how strong language is tied to religion. This Ori is the aspect of the human that is in a sense in control of their spiritual actions. The ori is divided into two which can be known as the ori apari and the ori apere. The ori apari represents the internal spiritual head and the ori apere represents the sign of an individuals personal protector. The common Orisa which seem to come up time after time are these major ones: Obatala, Elegba, Ogun, Yemoja, Oshun (Osun), Shango (Sango), and Oya.

Each of these gods has a specific purpose when dealing with the human spirit. Each of the orisas has a specific color and natural environment associated with them. Obatala represents the embodiment of true purity of one’s soul. Obatala is also said to represent ethical purity. Such purity is represented by pure whiteness. There is great measure taken to carry out the importance of this pure whiteness because the temples which worship the divinity Obatala have the color of white in all the instruments of worship. For example, the clothing of those involved with the worship in the temples are white. In addition, all the emblems are kept in white containers and the ornaments are white as are the beads for the priests and priestesses. Obatala is said to be the father of the Orisha and the divinity in charge of the carving of humans out of clay into the form they are today. He is worshiped or appeased by his followers when they want children, revenge for wrong doings, cures for sickness and so on.

Yemoja is the divinity that governs over all the waters or oceans. Yemoja is said to be the mother of all the Orisha. She is the water or ambiotic fluid in the mother’s womb and the breasts which nurture a new born child. She is the Matriarchal head of the entire universe. Her natural environment are the salt water–oceans and the lakes and the colors associated with her are blue and crystal. There is much confusion concerning the subject matter as to who is the chief female divinity because the different sources represent different view points on this subject matter and this was really unclear.

Sango or Shango to non Yoruba speakers is said to be a human that was made into a deity. He was said to be the ruler of old Oyo that was hung (legend has it that he committed suicide by hanging himself to a tree after his failure to amass all the political powr to himself) because of his greed for power. Sango is the god of lightning in addition to being the Orisha of drum and dance. He is also known to change things into pure and valuabe objects. His followers come to him for legal problems, making bad situations better, and protection from enemies. His natural environment happens to be any place that has been struck by lightning, and the base of trees. It is said that no god is more feared for malevolent action than sango.

Ogun is said to be the god of iron and basically everything that becomes iron. He is known for building or clearing paths for the building of civilizations and is the divinity of mechanization. Ogun is considered to be the holder of divine justice and truth. He is also said to be the executioner of the world. Natural environment are in the woods, railroads, and forges.

Oya is the divinity that is associated with the death or the rebirth into a new life. She is considered to be the wife of Sango. Oya is also known as the god of storms and hurricanes and has power over the winds. She is also the deity that is in charge of guarding the cemetary. Osun (Oshun) is the deity of diplomacy and all giving or unconditional love. She is a river deity because she symbolizes clarity. She is the divinity of fertility and feminine essence. Oshun is said to represent the strenght of feminine love and the power of motherhood. It is she who is appeased when it comes time for a mother to give birth.

Elegba is the messenger of the deities and his major role is to negotiate between the other orishas and the humans and is very close to all the forces of the deities. He is in charge of giving from the humans to the divinities. Elegba is the one who tests the human souls. Even when worhsipping other divinities, he is also worshipped because of his important role in the Yoruba religion. Elegba can both punish and reward and is known for having great wisdom. He is also the divinity who takes the body upon death and the divinity that saves. Although he does not match the role exactly, he is what the western world would call the devil. Elegba is not evil.

It is particularly important to discuss the dieties because they represent such an important aspect of Yoruba traditional religion. The Yorubas have a deep and symbolic meaning attached to each of the divinities which is exhibited through prayer and worhsip. These divinities give the reader some idea of the powerful belief system of the Yorubas. Many scholars or anyone not familiar with the Yoruba system of worship which is based in the belief in more than one god, may see this religion as “superstitious” or “pagan”.

The Yorubas have many festivals to give honor and praise to the many divinities within the Orisa system of belief. The Yoruba festivals are extremely elaborate and have much deep rooted meaning in practice related to them. Certain Yoruba towns have certain orisas which are honored. This is extremely important because it shows the diversity of Yoruba culture and futhermore the facets of traditional Yoruba religion. It would be tedious and quite boring to examine and give an account of every single festival and the villages in which they take place because the Yoruba religion covers so many (actually all) towns in Yorubaland. The discussion could go on forever. However, I will give one account of this widely practiced aspect of Yoruba religion.

Among the people of Osogbo, the Orisa Osun is the center of the town’s attention even though it is worshipped by the people in all areas of Yorubaland. The reason for this vast diversity may be due to the fact that there are major differences in the landscape of each of the villages where the Yorubas settled. Each orisa has a natural environment and a different emphasis may be put on a different orisa. For example, the reason why the people of Osogbo worship osun may be because their town was founded near a river and osun’s natural environment is in fresh rivers and lakes. The historical legend or belief behind the worship of osun is that the people of Osogbo found it hard to find any fresh drinking water for the village. It was the divinity osun who gave the people of Osogbo fresh water. Osun has also been credited to give infertile women children.

In Yoruba traditional religion, life is circular. What is meant by this that in the Yoruba religion, there is no such thing as death. Death is seen as a transition from the physical plain to the spiriitual plain. The life cycle of the Yorubas is very complex. Before an individual is born into the world, they choose a destiny with God (Olodumare) in heaven. The goal is to fulfil the destiny. There is one exception, once a child is born he or she forgets the destiny he or she has chosen. The purpose of this is for the individual to learn and gain wisdom for life in the spiritual plain. The Yoruba traditional religion believes in predestination. It is also important to point out that there is no hell in traditional Yoruba religion. The Yoruba believe that all of one’s wrong doings will be paid for and all good deads will be rewarded. Under the orisa system, the early cycle of life is called “morning”. Morning of one’s life spans from the time of birth to the age of fifty. It is in this time period that the individual learns and experiences life’s most difficult lessons. This also is the time when the Yorubas raise their families. The Yorubas believe that no one is a master in any area of life until they reach age fifty. The time period from the age of fifty until the transition into the spirit realm is called the evening. It is in this time period that individuals enjoy life the most. By this time most Yoruba men and women would have raised their children and have much free time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The evening is a time period when the Yorubas prepare for their transition. Long life and family are the two most important blessings in Yoruba religion.

The Yoruba believe that there are three types of people: achievers, people who assist achievers, and bystanders. Whichever role one chooses dictates the type of life that the person will live. The babalawo is the most important figure in Yoruba religion on the physical plain. His role is one of great respect and experience. The Babalawo’s training is long and indepth. It is said in some temples of Yoruba divination that Babalawos are said to stay in their temples for seven years before being released into the world to pracitce Orisha. The babalawo, by his knowledge and training, is the link between the divinities and man.

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.

A Favorite Elegua story

One day Echu began a journey wearing a hat, red on one side, white on the other. Making not a sound he walked between two friends, one seeing the white side of his hat, the other seeing the red. Later in the day the two friends spoke to one another about the mysterious man in the hat.
Immediately, they began to argue about the color of the hat. White! Red! The quarreling turned to blows, as each man professed to know the right answer and demanded to be acknowledged as the victor in the violent discussion.The Trickster Eshu chuckled at the sight and walked over to the men, now bloodied and angry, and showed them his hat – red on one side and white on the other.

He was delighted by the fact they would fight about something as ridiculous as the color of another mans hat, ruining their long-standing friendship in the process. Taking pleasure in testing the strengths and weaknesses of mankind, he provides the lesson of making the right choices in life.

He is found at the crossroads, can see in all directions, watchs what people do, good and bad. His punishment is swift but he is also kind.

Eshu sits at the threshold to your home, guarding the entry.

Ifa Related

The Story of Biague

There was an Awo called Biague who had a son named Adiatoto, Biague had taught this son his only
secret. A method to cast Obi (coconut)

In the house of Biague, there lived several other children, They obeyed Biague, he feed and clothed
them. But only Adiatoto the smallest was his son. All lived as brothers. One day Biague died, and the
adoptive children conspired against Adiatoto, and robbed him of all his belongings. Adiatoto
experienced much difficulty.

After a time, the king of the town, Oba-Rey, wanted to find out who owned the lands that had belonged to Biague.

He ordered his men to find this out. Many came forward and made a claim on the lands, including the
adoptive brothers but no one could pass the test, and prove ownership.

Adiatoto heard the news that the king’s men had been asking about him.
When they appeared before him, they asked him to show the secret that proved the lands had been
passed on to him. he said: “The lands belong to me, I will go to the plaza in front of the wall and from
there I will throw coconuts in the method my Father showed me.The coconuts will fall facing up
which is the proof that is needed. Thus is was, and the King gave Adiatoto all the lands and
belongings that had been taken from him

The coconuts (obi), have a limited role in divination
This role is limited to questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no
It should not be used to ask other more complex subjects.
The message given by consulting the Obi depends on which pieces fall facing up, and which face down.

Alafia, the four pieces with the white mass upwards. Definitely an affirmative

Eyeife, two pieces with white mass upwards and two with the crust, this is the most firm response

Otagua, Three pieces with white mass upwards and one with the crust. Some consider this to be an affirmative response. Some others view it as questionable, requiring another throw to rectify.

Ocana, Three pieces with crust upwards and one with the white mass,

Ocanasorde, Four crusts, a definite negative, and requires more question to isolate and problems that need immediate attention.

El Primer Babalawo en Cuba

El primer babalawo que hubo en Cuba fue Addeshina (Obbara Meyi), este nació en
Africa Occidental a principios de los 1800, otros Yorubas compraron su libertad ya que reconocieron su rango de rey, Addeshina significa "Corona abre-camino". Se dice que Addeshina logró tragarselos ikines antes que lo capturaran y los defecó en el barco.Unos años despues de el llego otro babalawo conocido como Ño Carlos Addebí (Ojuani Bocá) que logró su libertad en camaguey gracias a que la apostó a su amo a que le adivinaba a los amigos de su amo y estos quedaron sorprendidos. Lo hizo con el primero okpele que existió en Cuba hecho con una soga de majagua y con cascaras de naranja secas.Addeshina y Addebi se encontraron luego en la Habana, en Guanabacoa. Addeshina le hizo ifá a solo dos personas, una se fue para estados unidos y no se conoce su nombre y el otro fue Bernardo Rojas (Irete Tendi). Bernardo cuidó a Addeshina hasta su muerte, y junto a el aprendio todo lo de ifá.De Bernardo Rojas surge la rama mas grande de babalawos de Cuba. Bernardo fue el que mas ahijados consagró. El otro gran pilar fue la rama de Taita Gaitán (Oggunda fun), nacido en matanzas, su padrino fue otro babalawo traido como esclavo llamado Lugery (Oyekun Meyi) que regresó a Nigeria y allá murió, pero antes de irse mandó a Taita Gaitán con su hermano de consagracion que estaba en Matanzas, llamado Ño Cárdenas, que nunca consagró a nadie pero leenseñó todo a Taita Gaitán. Y otra rama famosa fue la de Asunción Villalonga.El primero criollo que se hizo Ifá en Cuba se llamó Cornelio Vidal y de el surge otra rama.Todas estas ramas al final se cruzaron una con otras. Nuestros mayores en ifa en Cuba son Addeshina (Obbara meyi), Addebí (Ojuani Bocá), Bernabé Menocal, Babel Babá Ejiogbe (Ifá Lolá), Taita Gaitán (Oggunda fun), Bernardo Rojas (Irete Tendi), Cornelio Vidal, Asuncion Villalonga, Guillermo Castro, Alfredo Rivero, Joaquin Salazar (Osá Forbeyo), Ramon Febles (Ogbe tua), Panchito Febles (Otura Niko), Miguel Febles ( Odi Ka ), Sevilla Baró (Oshe Yekun), el Chino Poey (Oshe Paure), Felix el Negro (Osa Rete) y Andres Bombalier (Oggunda Biode) .

adechina remigio herrera

Orunmila

Orunmila is an Irunmola and deity of destiny and prophecy. He is recognized as “ibi keji Olodumare” (second only to Olodumare (God)) and “eleri ipin” (witness to creation).

Orunmila is also referred to as Ifá (“ee-FAH”), the embodiment of knowledge and wisdom and the highest form of divination practice among the Yoruba people. In present-day Cuba, Orunmila is known as Orula, Orunla and Orumila.

Orunmila is not Ifa, but he is the one who leads the priesthood of Ifa and it was Orunmila who carried Ifa (the wisdom of Olodumare) to Earth. Priests of Ifa are called babalawo (the father of secrets)

Olodumare sent Orunmila to Earth with Oduduwa to complete the creation and organization of the world, to make it habitable for humans.

A woman will not be allowed to divine using the tools of IFA. Throughout Cuba and some of the other New world countries, Orula can be received by individuals regardless of gender. For men, the procedure is called to receive “Mano de Orula” and for women, it is called to receive “Kofa de Orula”. The same procedure exist in Yoruba land, with esentaye (birthing rites), Isefa (adolesants rites) and Itefa coming of age. Worshippers of the traditional religious philosophy of the Yoruba people all receive one hand of Ifa (called Isefa) regardless of which Orisa they may worship or be an Orisa Priest, it is that same Isefa that will direct all followers to the right path and their individual destines in life.

The title Iyanifa is in suspect since it is not used by either the Cuban or most of the West African practitioners of IFA.

Among West Africans, Orunmila is recognized as a primordial Irunmole that was present both at the beginning of Creation and then again amongst them as a prophet that taught an advanced form of spiritual knowledge and ethics, during visits to earth in physical form or through his disciples.