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Proverbs

Ifa says:
Strenous laboring does not bring wealth; struggling like a slave does not eradicate poverty

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Olokun

OLOKUN (oni-okun, he who owns the sea), “Lord of the Sea,” is the sea-god of the Yorubas. He is one of those who came from the body of yemaya.

As man worships that from which he has most to fear, or from which he hopes to receive the greatest benefits, the inland tribes pay little or no attention to Olokun, who is, however, the chief god of fishermen and of all others whose avocations take them upon the sea. When Olokun is angry he causes the sea to be rough and stirs up a raging surf upon the shore; and it is he who drowns men, upsets boats or canoes, and causes shipwrecks.

Olokun is not the personally divine sea but an anthropomorphic conception. He is of human shape and black in colour, but with long flowing hair, and resides in a vast palace under the sea, where he is served by a number of sea-spirits, some of whom are human in shape, while others partake more or less of the nature of fish. On ordinary occasions animals are sacrificed to Olokun, but when the condition of the surf prevents canoes from putting to sea for many days at a time, In ancient times a human victim was offered to appease him. It is said that such sacrifices have been made in recent times, even at Lagos, by the people of the Isaleko quarter, who are chiefly worshippers of Olokun. The sacrifice was of course secret, and according to native report the canoemen used to watch by night till they caught some solitary wayfarer, whom they gagged and conveyed across the lagoon to the sea-shore, where they struck off his head and threw the body into the surf.

A myth says that Olokun, becoming enraged with mankind on account of their neglect of him, endeavoured to destroy them by overflowing the land; and had drowned large numbers when Obatala interfered to save the remainder, and forced Olokun back to his palace, where he bound him with seven iron chains till he promised to abandon his design. This, perhaps, has reference to some former encroachment of the sea upon the low-lying sandy shores, which are even now liable to be submerged at spring-tides.[1]

Olokun has a wife named Olokun-su, or Elusu, who lives in the harbour bar at Lagos. She is white in colour and human in shape, but is covered with fish-scales from below the breasts to the hips. The fish in the waters of the bar are sacred to her, and should anyone catch them, she takes vengeance by upsetting canoes and drowning the occupants. A man who should be so ill-advised as to attempt to fish on the bar would run a great risk of being thrown overboard by the other canoemen. Olokunsu is an example of a local sea-goddess, originally, as on the Gold Coast at the present day, considered quite independent, being attached to the general god of the sea, and accounted for as belonging to him.

Yoruba Fokelore

Tortoise and the Pigeon

TORTOISE and Pigeon were often seen walking together, but unfortunately Tortoise treated his friend rather badly, and often played tricks on him. Pigeon never complained, and put up with everything in a good-humoured way. Once Tortoise came to him and said:

I am going on a journey to-day to visit my cousins; will you come with me?

Pigeon agreed to accompany him, and they set off. When they had go ne some distance they came to a river, and Pigeon was forced to take Tortoise upon his back and fly across with him.

Soon afterwards they reached the house of Tortoises cousins. Tortoise left his friend standing at the door while he went inside and greeted his relatives. They had prepared a feast for him, and they all began to eat together.

Will you not ask your friend to eat with us? said the cousins; but Tortoise was so greedy that he did not wish Pigeon to share the feast, and replied:

My friend is a silly fellow, he will not eat in a strangers house, and he is so shy that he refuses to come in.

After some time Tortoise bade farewell to his cousins, saying, Greetings to you on your hospitality, and came out of the house. But Pigeon, who was both tired and hungry, had heard his words and determined to pay him out for once.

When they reached the river-bank, he took Tortoise up once again on his back; when he had flown half-way across, he allowed Tortoise to fall off into the river. But, by chance, instead of falling into the water, he landed on the back of a crocodile which was floating on the surface, and when the crocodile came up to the bank, Tortoise quickly descended and hurried away.

Pigeon saw what had happened, and that Tortoise had safely reached the land; so he flew ahead of him until he came to a field where a dead horse was lying.

To trick Tortoise once more, Pigeon cut off the horses head and stuck it in the ground, as if it grew there like a plant.

When Tortoise reached the field and saw the horses head, he went straight away to the King of the country and told him that he knew of a place where horses heads grew like plants.

If this is true, said the King, I will reward you with a great treasure; but if it is false, you must die.

The King and a large crowd of people accompanied Tortoise to the field, but meanwhile Pigeon had removed the head. Tortoise ran about looking for it, but in vain, and he was condemned to die. A large fire was made, and Tortoise was thrown on to it.

But now Pigeon repented of the trick he had done, and quickly called together all the birds of the air. They came like a wind, beating out the fire with their wings, and so rescued Tortoise.

When Pigeon had explained this trick, the King pardoned Tortoise, and allowed the two friends to depart in safety.

Ifa Related

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.
 
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