Awonifa

Study the Teaching of Ifa and the Orisha's

Oya is the Goddess of the Niger River. She is seen in aspects of warrior-goddess of wind, lightning, fertility, fire and magic. She creates hurricanes and tornadoes and guards the underworld.

Her full name is Oya-Yansan, which means “mother of nine.” In Brazil, in candomble she is generally saluted with the phrase “Èpa heyi!. while in Cuban-derived Yórùbá traditions, the faithful often salute her by saying “Hekua hey Yansa.”

She is closely associated with many Orishas, but most especially Shango/Changó, Oggun, Oba (Obba), Yewá/Euá and Ochún/Oxum. Oyá is also called “the one who puts on pants to go to war” and “the one who grows a beard to go to war”. As the Spirit of the Wind, Oya manifests in Creation in the forms as sudden and drastic change, strong storms, and the flash of the marketplace. Oya’s representation of wind, creation, and death is not as arbitrary as it may seem. Oya has a sister named Ayao that is received by her initiates.

Oya has been syncretized in Santeria with the Catholic images of Our Lady Of Candelaria (Our Lady of the Presentation) and St. Theresa. Her feast day is February 2.

In Brazilian Umbanda she is represented by Saint Barbara.

Yoruba Fokelore

Destiny

The Yoruba (Nigeria) believe that the success or failure of a man in live depends on the choices he made in heaven before he was born. If a person suddenly becomes rich, they will say that he chose the right future for himself, therefore poor people must be patient because even if they have chosen the right life, it may not have arrived yet. We all need patience. The word ayanmo means ‘choice’, and kadara means ‘divine share for a man’; ipin means ‘predestined lot’.
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!

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.

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.

Ifa Related

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

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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Ifa

Ifa, god of divination, who is usually termed the God of Palm Nuts, because sixteen palm-nuts are used in the process of divination, The name Ifa apparently means something scraped or wiped off: he has the title of Gbangba (explanation, demonstration, proof). Ifa’s secondary attribute is to cause fecundity: he presides at births, and women pray to him to be made fruitful; while on this account offerings are always made to him before marriage, it being considered a disgrace not to bear children. To the native mind there is no conflict of function between Ifa and Obatala, for the former causes the woman to become pregnant, while the latter forms the child in the womb, which is supposed to be a different thing altogether.

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.