Black Spirituality Religion : Orunmila and the Ifa Corpus

Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by Sekhemu, Jul 2, 2007.

  1. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Orunmila is deemed the prophet of the Yoruba religion and "culture." It was he who developed and expounded upon the system of esoteric worship known to this day as Ifa. Through the study of human nature and divine nature. Orunmila saw that the dual levels of potentiality existed. Through him we (aborisha) understand that the study of animate and inanimate, manifest and unmanifest, visible and invisible worlds leads to fundamental understandings bring about the evolution of human spirit, which, in turn, encourages divine behavior, worldly progression, and expanded cosmology.

    Orunmila,as with all prophets, is a deified personage who has been elevated to a central point in the creative origin of life itself. According to Yoruba religion, Orunmila is said to hold a position comparable to the "son of God." He is said to have been present (in conscious-divine form) when Oludumare created all beings. Hence, he knows the truth of all beings, and too, the destiny of all beings.

    Of all the Yoruba divinities, Orunmila is the most esoteric. He acts and speaks, yet has no physical form. THere are no sculptured reflections of Orunmila himself. All references of him are expressed through the divinatory implements utilized by his priestly order dedicated to his teachings. Those of his sacerdortal order are known as Ifa priests or babalawos, meaning "father of mysteries." Yet Orunmila did actually exist.

    Orunmila's physical origins are shrouded in ancient legend, however it is believed that he was born of humble west African parents. To the people of the land he was clearly recognized as a divine child, and although poor and crippled, he expressed from the onset divine wisdom and attributes. Orunmila grew to be know as "the little man with the big head." His great intelligence superceded all known teachings and his divine nature was seen as a blessing of the angelice forces.

    As Orunmila matured he traveled across the continent sharing wisdom with the prophets and sages of the land. There is evidence of Orunmila's influence in ancient Kemet, and too, in the Essene community of the Judeo-Christian era. Yet, the potency of Orunmila's teachings were directect to the Yoruba people centered around the city of Ile Ife. It was here, in Ile-Ife that Orunmila built his temple on the sacred hill calle Oke Tase. It was here in Ile-Ife that Orunmila gained heavenly status "only heaven knows the way to salvation." clearly indicating his prophetic messianic status among those who believe in his being.

    Accoring to oral tradition, Orunmila is described as a Yoruba man who came to Ile-Ife in order to each a system of ethics, religious beliefs, and mystic vision. It must be reinforced, however, that Orunmila, as all prophets, merely assessed and delivered sytems of conscious evolution by means of life study, ritual, and spiritual-heavenly beliefs that existed eons before his death. The elders of If maintain that they are practicing the original religion of humans on earth.

    Orunmila, in this sense, is not seen as the creator of Yoruba religion per se. However, Orunmila is the structural originator. He is the focal point of ancient religious practice for the era of human existence. The exact time frame of his presence on Earth is difficult to determine. To place is worldly existence at about 4,000 years ago or 2,000 B.C. is but an approximation.

    The teachings of Orunmila provide religious aspirants with the means and potential to reach what is called, in Yoruba translation, alignment. By studying the Ifa corpus, devotees strive to reach a state of divine oneness. That oneness comes about when one's earthly consciousness (known as Ori) is developed and elevated to the place of unification with one's heavenly consciounsness (Iponri). Orunmila teaches that such an endeavor is arduous, difficult and takes years of soul-searching and effort. Those who embark upon the journey (irin ajo) need to do so with a pure heart, and with sincerity, for although the attainment is glorious, the pitfalls are horribly devastating.

    Wisdom, ritual, and transcendence are the key elements to Orunmila's teachings and they are bound by African cultural interpretation. The is no difference here in light of all world religions. Destiny, however, brings about deeper thought. What is our destiny? What is your destiny? It is important to somewhat determine this before setting out to reach it.

    Destiny (Ayanmo), from a religious point of view, describes a person's return to the inner realization of primal essence or divine being. Orunmila, as all true prophets, preached that humans must return to their divine nature. It is a human being's destiny to reach or return to his/her divine state internally-heavenly, and to live upon the earth plane-existence as a reflection of the divine state. This is the supreme reason for true religious involvement.

    Orunmila continues in his religious corpus know as Ifa that one's destiny can only be reached through:

    a. the divinatory processes left to us by the ancestors.

    b. prescriptions of ritual and sacrifice to the spiritual dimensional beings whose forces impact upon human development and evolution.

    c. the moral ethics to which humans must adhere in order to be victorious over oppressive human and spiritual forces.

    The ancients/elders, who are the Ifa corpus, are known in total as the odu. The odu are comprised of sixteen heavenly prophet who existed when the earth was very young. Sent to earth by the heavenly council they imparted their divine essence and prophesized. They relied on both heavenly (Orun) and earthly (Aye) life experiences so as to relate to and then elevate the consciousness of the people. These sixteen ancients revealed themselves to Orunmila and are now said to be his heavenly disciples form the timeless cosmic eternity.


    Each of the Odu represents the epitome of Yoruba proverbial wisdom and religiosity. Each contains an enormous amount of verses (ese) and moral teachings (kiki) expressed through mythological, hisorical, and social development (itan) as seen through religious eyes. The priestly Yoruba are set to learn and apply the knowledge and wisdom of the odu as to present ways of transcendence and salvation to spiritual seekers. Each of the 16 major odus (Oju odu or Olodu) and the 240 minor odu (omo odu or Amulu) is said to contain 1680 verses making such an endeavor a great one. And, although no one priest is said to be able to reach such a degree, the objective is to continually stive for greater insight and understanding.

    Orunmila was able to reach the conscious height of the odu and thereby reveal the holy messages that they embody. The ablitiy to achieve this state is manifested in the ability to divine. Each odu has its own mark pattern and its own accounts, rituals, ethics, and morals. Within each odu there exist revelations of the angelic and oppressive forces know as Orisha and Ajogun respectively. The Orisha are angels of heaven sent to continually wrestle with the human nature in order to uplift it--to purify it. The Ajogun are the "demonic" beings. They are warlocks, wizards, witches and all earthly and heavenly forces whose destructive intent is to waylay evolution and off-set humankind's salvation. The ancestral entities (egun) also dwell within the realm of Ifa. It is they who are the guardian spirits whose directives are to provide the continuation of family line, heritage, and identity as a people united. It is they who have made the history and have set the social conduct and individual behavior.

    To experience divination in the Yoruba context is to experience the core essence of Yoruba philosophy and worhsip. Unfortunately, divination is too often related to "getting a reading," which belittles and berates the sacred act. Psychics can "read" a person, but religiosity is not required. In order to approach Ifa divination religiosity must be present. Only through the priestly initiated should Ifa be summoned.

    It is through the processes of divination that seekers come to know of themselves and the forces that are shaping their past, present, and future lives. Thouth the process of divination seekers come to understand the need for alignment with their most heavenly of selves and how to overcome the opposing forces that disrupt their efforts. Study, interpretation, reflection, and refinement of the psychological and spiritual dimensions are foremost as novices understand the austerities of Orunmila's teachings.
     
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