Study the Teaching of Ifa and the Orisha's
clubbing and hacking his way in the jungles searching for food, but
with his aggressive manner would only scare the prey away. So he
pined starving and frustrated in the forest with only his ability
of his forge with which he could make knives and tools. Oshosi on
the other hand with his mysterious efficacy to hypnotize his would
be victim, would prize numerous catches. But without the tools with
which he could butcher them he also remained alone and starving with
numerous unopened carcasses that were of no value to him rotting. One day
Eleggua came about, hungry and curious and having seen Ogun not far
off in a similar predicament he said;
“Why don’t you and Ogun live together? Certainly you would be
formidable room mates. For you can catch to your hearts desire and
Ogun can open the prey”.
Eleggua then went to Ogun and proposed; “Why don’t you and Oshossi
move together and work with each other instead of quarreling or
being so exacting in your differences? Certainly if you live with
each other while one can hunt the other can make use of that which
Then Oshosi and Ogun said; “But we cannot guarantee that we will
always find what we are looking for. If we then both become hungry
then in our frustration of the best of friends we will become the
worst of enemies.”
To which Eleggua answered; “Not so, for if you share with me your
catch, for I only need very little as you see, I will show you
where to make the paths, where to find the grounds where at, you
will be successful in getting good catch and that way we three can
not only be friends but an indefatigable threesome that none can
And it is said that from that day forward Ogun and Oshossi share
the same cauldron and Eleggua…well, he comes and goes as he
pleases, so long as he is taken care for he will always at least
let the hunters know where to go for their success.”
Agogo ishere agbara
Elese kan sare ju ese meji lo”
`God of herbs
Dance bell of power
One-legged man running faster than men on two legs.’
One morning on the seashore they decided to fight to see which was the stronger, but, as both of them are protected by a hard shell, neither could succeed in injuring the other.
Finally they came to an agreement that they were equal in strength.
We are so well protected by our armour, said Tortoise, that no one can harm us.
And thus, said Crab, we are the strongest creatures in the world.
But at this moment a boy passed by and picked them both up. Tortoise was boiled in a pot and his shell was made into ornaments, while Crab was cooked in a stew for the boys supper. Since that day the descendants of the two boasters have always been ashamed to meet, and that is why they always shun one another.
The Yoruba believe that there is a god, Ori, who supervises people’s choices in heaven. Literally, ori means ‘head’ or ‘mind’, because that is what one chooses before birth. If someone chooses a wise head, i.e. intelligence, wisdom, he will walk easily through life, but if someone chooses a fool’s head, he will never succeed anywhere. Ori could be considered as a personal god, a sort of guardian angel who will accompany each of us for life, once chosen. Even the gods have their Ori which directs their personal lives. Both men and gods must consult their sacred divination palm-nuts daily in order to learn what their Ori wishes. In this way, Ori is both an individual and a collective concept, a personal spirit directing each individual’s life, and also a god in heaven, who is feared even by Orunmila.
In heaven, there is a curious character called Ajala, a very fallible man whose daily work is fashioning faces (ori) from clay. Sometimes he forgets to bake them properly, so they cannot withstand the long journey to earth prior to the beginning of life; especially in the rainy season the clay might be washed away and there would be a total loss of face!
Opinions to our associated practitioners of the rule of Ocha and the Cuban IFA cult.
1. Do not allow anyone to change what was achieved with so much sacrifice in any ceremony performed, Whether in Cuba or our brothers anywhere in the world.
2. Make sure the people who you share knowledge of the secrets of Ifa have actually been initiated under the Cuban religions traditions which are of African origin, or if they have been initiated in some other method which is not what was bequeathed to us by our ancestors.
3. Do not perform or participate in initiations whether IFA or Ocha that are less than 7 days of rituals.
4 When Oba (Oriate) says during an Ocha ita, acting as the intermediary of the odu, "acquitted for lack of evidence" you have to immediately dismantle the throne and the person who is being initiated should stay all 7 days normally required for ceremony.
5 Please do not enter into discussions or raise questions that will cause disagreement with people who wish to follow other methods of initiation.
6. Do not allow in our homes in the days of rituals, opinions or people who do not agree with our faith inherited from our ancestors.
7. Respect all the ceremonial which we have been doing for our higher education.
8 Only be guided by your elders and in the lack of them by those people you designate for this purpose.
9. this section and those following pertained to Cuba and are not worth translating, if you wish to read it. It appears fully in the Spainsh Version.
(a) Council of priests of IFA of the Republic of Cuba.
(b) Council of priests Obateros (Oriate) of the Republic of Cuba.
(c) Council of priestesses Iyalochas elders of the Republic of Cuba.
(d) Council of priests Babalochas elders of the Republic of Cuba.
(e) Council of priests heads of Councils of the Republic of Cuba
(f) Council of Arara older priests of the Republic of Cuba.
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.
Ifa first appeared on the earth at Ife, He tried to teach the inhabitants of Ife how to foretell future events, but they would not listen to him, so he left the town and wandered about the world teaching mankind. After roaming about for a long time, and indulging in a variety of amours, Ifa fixed his residence at Ado, where he planted on a rock a palm-nut, from which sixteen palm-trees grew up at once.
Ifa has an attendant or companion named Odu (? One who emulates), and a messenger called Opele (ope, puzzle, or ope, palm-tree). The bandicoot (okete) is sacred to him, because it lives chiefly upon palm-nuts. The first day of the Yoruba week is Ifa’s holy day, and is called ajo awo, “day of the secret.” On this day sacrifices of pigeons, fowls, and goats are made to him, and nobody can perform any business before accomplishing this duty.
A priest of Ifa is termed a babalawo (baba-ni-awo), “Father who has the secret,” as the natives never undertake anything of importance without consulting the god, and always act in accordance with the answer returned. Hence a proverb says, “The priest who is more shrewd than another adopts the worship of Ifa.” As Ifa knows all futurity, and reveals coming events to his faithful followers, he is considered the god of wisdom, and the benefactor of mankind. He also instructs man how to secure the goodwill of the other gods, and conveys to him their wishes, His priests pluck all the hair from their bodies and shave their heads, and always appear attired in white cloths.
The general belief is that Ifa possessed the faculty of divination from the beginning, but there is a myth which makes him acquire the art from the phallic god Elegba. In the early days of the world, says the myth, there were but few people on the earth, and the gods found themselves stinted in the matter of sacrifices to such an extent that, not obtaining enough to eat from the offerings made by their followers, they were obliged to have recourse to various pursuits in order to obtain food. Ifa, who was in the same straits as the other gods, took to fishing, with, however, he had small success; and one day, when he had failed to catch any fish at all, and was very hungry, he consulted the crafty Elegba, who was also in want, as to what they could do to improve their condition. Elegba replied that if he could only obtain the sixteen palm-nuts from the two palms -that Orungan the chief man, had in his plantation, he would show Ifa how to forecast the future; and that he could then use his knowledge in the service of mankind, and so receive an abundance of offerings. He stipulated that in return for instructing Ifa in the art of divination, he should always be allowed the first choice of all offerings made. Ifa agreed to the bargain, and going to Orungan, asked for the sixteen palm-nuts, explaining
to him what he proposed to do with them. Orungan, very eager to know what the future had in store for him, at once promised the nuts, and ran with his wife Orisha-bi, “Orisha-born,” to get them. The trees, however, were too lofty for them to be able to reach the palm-nuts, and the stems too smooth to be climbed; so they retired to a little distance and drove some monkeys that were in the vicinity into the palms. No sooner were the monkeys in the trees than they seized the nuts, and, after eating the red pulp that covered them, threw the bard kernels down on the ground, where Orungan and his wife picked them up. Having collected the whole sixteen, Orisha-bi tied them up in a piece of cloth, and put the bundle under her waist-cloth, on her back, as if she were carryino, a child. Then they carried the palm-nuts to Ifa. Elegba kept his promise and taught Ifa the art of divination, and Ifa in his turn taught Oruno-an, who thus became the first babalawo, It is in memory of these events that when a man wishes to consult Ifa, he takes his wife with him, if he be married, and his mother if he be single, who carries the sixteen palm-nuts, tied up in a bundle, on her back, like a child; and that the babalawo, before consulting the god, always says, “Orugan, ajuba oh. Orisha-bi ajuba oh.” (“Orungan, I hold you in grateful remembrance. Orisha-bi, I hold you in grateful remembrance.”
For the consultation of Ifa a whitened board is employed, exactly similar to those used by children in Moslem schools in lieu of slates, about two feet long and eight or nine inches broad, on which are marked sixteen figures. These figures are called “mothers.” The sixteen palm-nuts are held loosely in the right hand, and thrown through the half-closed fingers into the left hand. If one nut remain in the right hand, two marks are made, thus | |; and if two remain. one mark, |. In this way are formed the sixteen “mothers,” one of which is declared by the babalawo to represent the inquirer; and from the order in which the others are produced he deduces certain results. The interpretation appears to be in accordance with established rule, but what that rule is is only known to the initiated. The following are the “mothers”:
This process is repeated eight times, and the marks are made in succession in two columns of four each.
No. 6 is No. 5 inverted; 8 is 7 inverted; 10, 9 inverted; 13, 12 inverted; and 14, 11 inverted. Meji means “two,” or “a pair,” and the following appears to be the meaning of the names:–(1) The close pair (buru, closely). (2) The removed pair (Yekuro, to remove). (3) The street pair (Ode, a street). (4) The closed-up pair (Di, to close up, make dense). (5) The squatting-dog pair (losho, to squat like a dog). (6) The cross-bow pair (oron, cross-bow). (7) The striped pair (abila, striped). (8) ?Vulture-pair (akala, vulture). (9) The pointing pair (sha, to point). (10) The pair ending downward (Ku, to end, da, to upset on the ground). (11) ?The top-heavy pair (Dura, to make an effort to recover from a stumble; opin, end, point). (12) The tattoo-mark pair (ture, name of certain tattoo-marks). (13) The edge pair (leti, on the edge of). (14) The folded-up pair (Ka, to fold or coil). (15) The opened pair (shi, to open). (16) The alternate pair (fo, to pass over, pass by, jump over, skip).
From these sixteen “mothers” a great many combinations can be made by taking a column from two different “mothers,” and figures thus formed are called “children.” Thus (13) and (2) and (11) and (10) make respectively-
The initiation fee paid to a priest for teaching the art of divination is, it is said, is very heavy, and moreover does not cover the whole of the expense; for the Oracle is, like Oracles generally, ambiguous and obscure, and the neophyte finds that he constantly has to refer to the more experienced priests for explanations of its meaning.
When a man is initiated the priest usually informs him that he must
henceforward abstain from some particular article of food, which varies with the individual.
Ifa figures in connection with a legendary deluge, the story of which, now adapted to the Yoruba theology, Some time after settling at Ado, Ifa became tired of living in the world, and accordingly went to dwell in the firmament, with Obatala. After his departure, mankind, deprived of his assistance, was unable to properly interpret the desires of the gods, most of whom became in consequence annoyed. Olokun was the most angry, and in a fit of rage he destroyed nearly all the inhabitants of the world in a great flood, only a few being saved by Obatala, who drew them up into the sky by means of a long iron chain. After this ebullition of anger, Olokun retired once more to his own domains, but the world was nothing but mud, and quite unfit to live in, till Ifa came down from the sky, and, in conjunction with Odudua, once more made it habitable.