African Traditional Religion : Yoruba wisdom

Discussion in 'African Traditional Religion Study Group' started by awo dino, Oct 15, 2009.

  1. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Sep 11, 2009
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    Silva and Gold
    By Chief FAMA

    A verse of an Odu Ifa says in part:
    Ti oju o ba ri ohun bi okùn
    Ki i ri ohun bi ide
    Difa fun Ofuntola
    Ti aguntan re o ma fohun bi eniyan….

    If one has not encountered silva
    One may be unable to identify gold
    Divined for Ofuntopola
    Whose ram would speak like a person….

    Joy, happiness, contentment—with the three words meaning almost the same thing—signify certain state of equilibrium that we all desire, and that we all wish we can have all the time. Good (!muy bien)! Of course, we should have joy; of course, we should be happy; of course, contentment should be the ceiling of our achieved goals. However, the master designer wants us to toil first, then, reap the rewards of our toil (hard work) later. If we look around us, we will see evidence of these divine orders. For instance, everyone is involved with one thing or the other early mornings: students getting ready for school to toil in classrooms for their futures; workers, business operators, business owners, (and everyone in general regardless of our different callings), preparing and rushing to toil for rewards of our immediate and distant future comforts; immediate reward being pay-checks at the end of the month and distant reward being the foreseeable eventual, comfortable retirement from Odumare's ordained daily survival chores we call work.

    Ofuntola of mythological era went through the same routine one morning. By the evening, his luck had changed from rocky to greatness. So it is in our real daily life situations as there have been instances of similar occurrences. We probably know of somebody or heard of somebody or read about somebody whose life had been likewise dramatically changed for the best. As humans, we all have the divine luck for greatness; therefore, we should claim the ordained greatness after our daily toils, week after week, month after month, every time, and all the time. In addition to wishing you greatness this morning, may Odumare, via Ifa and the Orisas, crown your efforts with success, ase. Claim the silva and gold, that is the fortune that has been divinely bestowed upon you! A ji ire ni oni o (Good morning).

    Chief FAMA
    Electronic correspondence may be sent to [email protected].
  2. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Today and Freshness
    By Chief FAMA

    Mo fe ti ana danu
    I blew away staleness.

    An important aspect of Ifa practice is Ifa's emphasis on cleanliness and purity. For instance, a verse says in part, "Mo we owo mi iteni-iteni, mo we ese mi iteni-iteni" ("I washed my hands thoroughly, I washed my feet thoroughly") which means the entire body has been washed clean. Even when it is assumed that the body has been washed clean early in the morning, Ifa still most times implores that the hands of devotees be dusted for purification with Ifa's spiritual powder, iyereosun. When this is the case, an accompanying statement is, "Mo fe ti ana danu o (I have blown away staleness)."
    Every day is an Odumare (God) given opportunity in this terrain we have labeled life because every morning is an indication of the extension of our existence. It is assumed that our bodies are washed clean every morning; periodically during the day, we wash our hands for cleanliness. Another cleansing we can add to our regimental physical cleaning is that of staleness. And, staleness comes in many forms: it can be staleness of ideas, staleness of motivation, or staleness of consciousness. Backing up good ideas with actions remove staleness; motivating ourselves for a good cause removes staleness; consciously embarking on positively enriching pursuit removes staleness from our lives and from our environs. May our day be thoroughly cleansed of staleness today as we go about our daily tasks, ase. A ji ire ni oni (Good morning).

    With the newness from staleness idea, it is hereby announced that Chief FAMA'S latest book, Reflections on the Wisdom of Ifa, is now available—online at,, and at Ile Orunmila Communications. Ile Orunmila Communications can be reached at 909 886 6023.
  3. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Yemoja; Hope, Balance, Joy
    By Chief FAMA

    A song to Yemoja from a verse of an Odu Ifa says:
    O wo awo yo
    Yemoja wo awoyo
    Olomo agbesere.

    Looking at the earthenware, she was filled with emotion (she was choked up)
    [Yemoja was awestruck]
    Yemoja looked at the earthenware and was filled with emotion
    Mother of plenty, happy children.

    Whether one is religious or non religious, whether one believes in the existence of spirit or one does not, whether one believes in the concept of Odumare (God) or one does not believe in it, an undeniable phenomenon to mankind on earth is the acknowledgment of mystery, that is, the unknown. Most times, womankind is so wrapped up in the present that the unknown is repressed. Even when the unknown is not repressed, moving head-on into the unknown unfolds another phenomenon—uncertainty. A little bit down the route of uncertain is the question of security.

    Life with its ambiguous curves and shifts consist of many unknowns. Sometime the unknown is anticipated. Such anticipated unknown usually has a joyful ending attached to it. In real life situations, a calculated shift can be the catalyst for an unanticipated unknown. Such shift can bring balance or imbalance into an otherwise glorious life. But, when change is necessary, one can retrospectively view hitherto unknown curves and shifts in one's life; then, compare the results of the then unknowns with the presently known results. The obvious results, indicative of a spiritual code, should provide the insight needed in moving forward with the unknown that Odumare has deliberately woven into a person's life on earth.
    So, as today's journey unravels with the known securities of our jobs, businesses, relationships, families and support groups, may the unknown complements these known securities, ase. For those whose journeys continue today with the unknown with which yesterday was marked, continue to nurture the hope of a greater tomorrow. In ancient philosophy, Yemoja did it! She did it in old age and with grey hair, too. Plus, when another shift occurred in her already joyous state, she was awestruck. May we be so blessed that we will look at life and be amused with joy and smile--today, tomorrow, and until the span of life itself, ase. A ji ire ni oni o (Excellent morning, good people). "Be fired up" (*) for greatness.
    *Present President of the United States of America—Barack Obama.

  4. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Ori, Slandering, and Atori
    Ori, Ibayanje, owun Atori

    A difa fun olori-ire
    Ti won nfi ejo re wi kiri
    Atori, Ifa ni yi o to temi si rere, atori

    Ifa was cast for the person blessed with good destiny
    Who was the target of vicious slander and gossip
    To the person intent on destroying me
    *Atori, Ifa, the energy with the power to straighten,
    will straighten things out for me

    *atori means "cane," or "switch," but also means, "to straighten..."

    Ancient people were not immune to slander, as evidenced in the above verse of Odu Ifa. If the ancients had to deal with slander, we too will have to deal with it. So, as we go about our daily activities, we should mentally immunize ourselves against slander. Should one be an unfortunate victim of slander, then one should ask Ifa, the energy put forth by Odumare to deal with such problems, to straighten out things in one's behalf. Ase.

    excerpt from "Reflections on the Wisdom of Ifa"
    Chief FAMA
  5. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Bi Ifa o gbe eni (gbe'ni)
    Ekun ni ngbe eni (ngbe'ni)—

    When Ifa wants to bless one
    Crying wants to take center stage…

    According to Ifa, sometimes, a blessing comes in the form of pain.
    In this regard, the pain could be in the form of a disappointment, a
    discomfort, even in the form of something that seems embarrassing.
    Running away from any such situation only prolongs an existing
    condition because by running away from the situation, one might also
    be running away from a divine solution to the problem.

    Two related itan (stories)

    (1)Three unexpected visitors knocked on Orunmila's door. Orunmila received them warmly. But, there was a concern: not enough food in the house. Orunmila auctioned off a prized possession to raise money
    for the purpose. The visitors spent some days and were well cared for. The visitors were emissaries and their purpose was to bless Orunmila. Their mission was designed in such a way that, in order to
    bless Orunmila, they had to test Orunmila's temperament first. To add to the twist, the treasure they brought to Orunmila was disguised as a personal effect, and they left it behind. Orunmila sent a
    telepathic message to remind them of their forgotten property. It was at this stage that the nature of the emissaries' visit was revealed to Orunmila.

    (2) The Yoruba word "Iyawo" means "wife" in English. By definition,
    iyawo means "Iya" (pain), "Iwo" (a town called Iwo)—Pain-[at]-Iwo.
    Ifa has it that Orunmila went to this ancient town to get his bride.
    Everything was okay until the bride decided to personally test her
    prospective husband's temperament. She broke Orunmila's professional
    instrument, she left Orunmila unattended for a long while. Even the
    food she served Orunmila had a story of its own. Orunmila was level-
    headed while the prank lasted. Having passed the tests, the bride
    happily went with her husband to her new home. Back home and when
    town-folks asked Orunmila information about his wife, his answer was
    always, Iya-ti-mo-je-ni-Iwo (the result of my indignation in Iwo
    town). This eight syllable word, "Iya-ti-mo-je-ni-Iwo" became known
    today as Iyawo.
    (baba’s iyawo turned out to be a wonderful partner and blessed him with many children)
    Please, make a sound decision today; do not pass off a good
    opportunity because of a slight discomfort. May we be divinely guided
    in our endeavors today and always, ase.

    Chief FAMA
  6. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Different Expressions but Same Focus
    By Chief FAMA

    "Iba"; Standing on the shoulders of those who came before us;
    "Founding fathers"; "A moment of silence."

    We express our gratitude to those whose footsteps we are following when we use any of the above expressions. Also, with any of the expressions in our discourse, we are advancing the horizon of those who have paved the way for us to continue with a known task, program, or tradition. In addition, one of the expressions is in recognition of a life that could have otherwise continued but cut short and was sourly missed. Interestingly, we can relate to all the expressions because each of them affects us uniquely; they also overlap in context. For instance, the expression "Founding Fathers" is acknowledging the feat of those whose vision created our country, the United States of America, and made it possible for us to be in America where this expression is most unique and paramount. Paradoxically, the expression intertwines with "Iba."
    When we say "Iba" or "Mo juba," we are either acknowledging the presence of spiritual energies or the spirits of fore-gone predecessors for the knowledge they bestowed upon us, whether the knowledge is that of Ifa or it is of any of the ancient technology (skills) that still sustains most people and most cultures today. The "Standing on the shoulders of giants" or of those who came before us, is an acknowledgment of the sacrifice of those who made our present achievement possible. Therefore, we should humbly acknowledge the ancestors, whose blood still flows in our veins even, as we go about our festive activities today. We should remember that these ancestors paved the way for the comfort we now enjoy. We should also remember the intense labor of those who gave up joy so we may enjoy the luxury we now have. Lastly, we should remember that we would love to be appreciated, remembered, and thanked by those who will continue from wherever we leave o ff when we, too, someday in the far future, become ancestors. Because "Thanksgiving" and "Iba" are relatives in some ways, (in the sense of those who received and those gave generously), we should say "Thank you" to the multitude unseen but felt positive energies that guide us everyday. Good luck, good morning, and happy "Thanksgiving," gracious people.
    Aboru aboye

    Chief FAMA
  7. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

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  8. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Water submerges below the ground.

    All the Òrìsà that appear in the Ifá corpus are the personification of Spiritual Forces that exist in Nature. There are four fundamental Natural Forces in Ifá cosmology. They are Earth, Air, Fire and Water. According to Ifá, each of these forces has a direct impact on the process of spiritual transformation. This idea is based on the belief that all that exists in Nature is interconnected and interrelated. The cosmology of Ifá is not linear; it is cyclical and spiral like a snail shell. This means that the Forces that guide evolution reappear beyond time and space, and exist in multiple dimensions of reality. In other words, the Forces of Earth, Air, Fire and Water have similar dimensions in all the domains of Being. Said simply, the Òrìsà are qualities of power that represent the original forces of manifestation. At the personal level, the Earth represents the physical body, the Air represents the intellect, Fire represents the individual spirit and Water represents the emotions. On a planetary level, these elements are clearly material Forces in Nature. In a subatomic universe, these elements represent the quality of interaction between particles. All the elements fundamental they interact and create new levels of complexity. The Fire of the Creation cools down to form the stars, the Fire of the stars cools down to form the planets, the Fire in the center of the Earth cools down to form the firm ground, and the firm ground makes use of the Fire in the process of rejuvenation and transformation.
    To say that the water submerges below the ground is to express the obvious truth that at the same time that water is running across the ground in all directions, it returns to the Earth. In Nigeria, the water table is very near to the surface and there is a complicated chain of underground water channels that are invisible from above. Superficially, this proverb is a simple observation on the thermodynamics of moisture. Water represents the emotions in the majority of Native American cultures and the image of water is used often by Taoism to represent the Tao. In Ifá, water is a symbol of the emotions and of the power of intuition that generates from strong feelings. The spiritual meaning of the proverb is related to the secret influence of the emotions on the physical body. In Yorùbá, the word for "emotion" is "ègbè." In accordance with Ifá, the ègbè, or the emotional center of any human body, has a tremendous influence on the general physical and mental health of the individual. The same way water submerges under the ground to form underground currents, the emotions are absorbed by the body, affecting the self in ways that remain invisible, or that are not completely comprehensible. A key element in all forms of spiritual transformation is the illumination of unknown influences that affect behavior. Ifá refers to these influences as "omi l'enia" this means "humanity is a water." One of the first stages of initiation into Òrìsà is to carry out a funeral for the inner self (ori-inu) of the initiate. The intention of this funeral is to completely remove the negative influences of the invisible and unconscious emotional currents that flow through the body. On having invoked the “death” of the initiate, the novice is returned to the state of innocence that accompanies a new baby into the world. With the tools and skills provided by initiation into the Òrìsà, the rebirth of the initiated one includes the possibility of seeing, comprehending, understanding and guiding these emotional currents that run below the skin.
  9. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    The Yoruba Religion:
    Introduction to Its


    The following is the last chapter of Awo
    'Fayomi's book by the same title.

    Looking Forward
    I had several purposes or objectives for
    the presentation of the material in “The
    Yoruba Religion.”
    My first purpose was to create an understandable,
    truthful, yet nonthreatening
    document for persons within the
    religion. A residual effect is understandable
    information for the uninitiated.
    In most books written on LUCUMI or
    SANTERIA there are references made
    to the “mother” YORUBA religion from
    which it spawned. Usually the information
    that follows is not information on
    the YORUBA religion. When there is
    information, it is abbreviated or in some
    instance inaccurate. Most of the information
    tends to speak of the fragmented
    YORUBA belief system after the
    diaspora and not of the religion that
    existed before in Yorubaland. It was my
    objective to create an accurate body of
    knowledge of the mother religion that
    New World Africans and interested others
    can objectively consider.
    A second purpose was to afford my
    godchildren a document that they could
    read in the comfort of their homes.
    There are a few books written on the
    YORUBA religion, (tradition); on divination
    (IKIN, OBI, Coconut, and also
    cowries); on Rites and Rituals and on
    ancestor communication, however, I
    found that they did not collectively satisfy
    the needs of my godchildren. Some
    were too dogmatic, others too frivolous.
    Some were written in such a way
    that they frightened or intimidated the
    reader, others were written in an advanced
    academic style that many fol-
    lowers needed help in understanding.
    Nothing can be gained by naming the
    books and I will not denigrate the authors
    because they gave knowledge to
    the unknowing. I can only comment
    that I believe this document will more
    readily meet the initial needs of my
    During the period when I was writing
    this book, I had been asked quite often
    by colleagues and interested parties,
    what did I think of the future of the
    religion. It sounds like a relatively simple
    question to respond to, but in actuality it
    probably one of the most complex of
    questions that one could ask. The
    answer cannot be based on an outcome
    of let’s say man’s interaction with
    higher forces but rather it lies with how
    man will interact with other men and his
    own ego.
    Up until the last 1960’s most New World
    Africans travelled to Cuba to become
    high priests of the religion, and the
    YORUBA tradition practiced by New
    World Africans had a distinct LUCUMI
    flavor. There existed language barriers
    between Spanish and English and
    LUCUMI. The LUCUMI that I speak of is
    “ritual YORUBA,” an archaic and now
    somewhat distorted language of the
    YORUBA that had meaning three to
    four hundred years ago. It is no longer
    a language of communication nor conversation.
    There also existed some
    philosophical differences and ritual practice
    differences that will never be resolved.
    Under ordinary circumstances these
    differences or rifts would be large
    enough to establish them as two separate
    religions, however the more in depth
    the pursuit of LUCUMI or
    SANTERIA becomes, the more African
    and less Catholic it becomes, and one
    discovers that it is YORUBA.
    New World Africans now travel to
    Yorubaland to receive IFA (to become
    BABALAWOS). The language barrier
    is lessened since it is now between
    English and twentieth century
    YORUBA. English is also the second
    language of choice in YORUBA Nigeria.
    Most New World Africans are reassuming
    YORUBA traditions and are not
    only practicing rites and rituals, but also
    learning the YORUBA spoken language.
    From these observations, one sees the
    emergence of two systems, based on
    two languages, one Spanish, the other
    English. The Spanish system has its
    rites and rituals based on LUCUMI,
    which few, if any YORUBA understand
    today, and the English system has its
    rites and rituals based on YORUBA
    spoken and practiced in Yorubaland
    today. This information does not desig-
    nate one system as being better than
    the other, but it facilitates the English
    speaking person to seek out the
    YORUBA spoken system.
    Collectively, SANTERIA is considered
    the worship of saints. This would encompass
    both Cuban and Puerto Rican
    practice; but there exist subtle differences
    between Cuban and Puerto Rican
    practice of the religion which is popularly
    known as Santeria. This allows for
    several Spanish-speaking enclaves,
    similar, but not the same.
    The English system is also producing
    its enclaves. Primarily because there
    does not exist a society for BABALAWO
    to exchange information and hence, we
    will form enclaves based on where we
    received IFA. There will be an IFE
    enclave, ODE REMO enclave, EJIGBO
    enclave, ABEOKUTA enclave, a
    LAGOS enclave and an ISEYIN enclave.
    All outward signs will show growth and
    proliferation of the religion, but I do not
    know how healthy this growth will be.
    The religion will be growing without
    communication or order. The religion
    will be growing without quality control.
    The religion will become global without
    being universal. The religion may grow
    without being able to monitor the purity
    of certain practices. If there is no positive
    intervention soon, it could become
    large and unmanageable and will further
    splinter and disintegrate as major
    religions did two to four hundred years
    Yorubaland is experiencing its own problems.
    I’ve mentioned the impact of
    Christianity and Islam on the tradition
    and the steady decline of practitioners.
    But there is the additional threat from
    within, whereas independent churches
    have risen that have taken over the
    functions of the traditional religion.
    These churches have grown at geometric
    proportions since the early 1980’s
    and are numerous. They include the
    Apostolic Church, the Church of the
    Lord, the Cherubim and Seraphim, and
    the Celestial Church of Christ. Their
    practices are similar to LUCUMI,
    display the Christian cross on the out-
    side and practice ORISA on the inside.
    IFA can now be gotten in America. It is
    in Miami and apostles of ORISA and IFA
    are spreading the word. As African-
    Cubans were the keepers of the Tradition
    for 400 years in Cuba, Cuban-
    Americans have now transplanted their
    old traditional faith to a new country and
    will keep it in existence for at least
    another 400 years. There’s talk of
    bringing IFA from Yorubaland, but so far
    it is only talk.
    What can we expect from our present
    situation? We can expect further growth
    and proliferation of the religion, which
    will call for more priests and priestesses,
    and that will come. But where is
    our quality control? How do we police
    our religion?
    We YORUBA have a king in the United
    States. Born an African-American and
    initially adopting LUCUMI, he is without
    a doubt, the greatest spearhead of the
    YORUBA culture that has taken hold in
    the United States. Oyotunji Village in
    Sheldon, North Carolina is Yorubaland
    in America. The king, Oba Oseijeman
    Adelabu Adefunmi I, is genuine. As a
    king, he is respected by all YORUBA,
    and is seen as both a spiritual and
    cultural voice of the YORUBA; but there
    are so many issues at hand, that he will
    need massive help and strong leadership
    in bringing together the various
    factions to discuss the issues and reach
    decisions that will be binding. This can
    be done if men will remain of good will.
    The overview that I present for the religion
    is one of growth. I foresee in the
    United States a continuous influx and
    expansion of houses on the east coast
    added to a revitalized west coast. The
    south, motherland of former slaves, will
    continue to experience reunification with
    their African past. Many professional
    African Americans after identifying with
    African art, music, and dress will investigate
    further and upon enlightenment
    will then seek their spiritual and religious
    heritage. For others, I do not see
    language, ethnicity nor color as barriers
    to participation. If the efficacy of
    ORISA and IFA are to be preserved in
    the New World during this proliferation
    a concerted move must be made now
    to obtain global association and communication
    with the independent enclaves
    that presently exist.

    Awo ‘Fayomi is an African-American of
    Caribbean heritage (Trinidad). He is
    the founder of Ile Orisa Sango of Mount
    Vernon, New York. Awo ‘Fayomi is the
    author of The Yoruba Religion: Introduction
    to its Practice, The Yoruba
    World of Good and Evil and a series of
    booklets on the recitations of the Odu
    Corpus. The English translations of the
    sacred verses are called Odu Ifa. Odu
    Ifa: Book One (Eji Ogbe) is presently
    on the market. The series will include
    books with verses from all of the major
    Awo ‘Fayomi received Ifa in Ejigbo,
    Nigeria and belongs to the lineage of
    the Agbede’s. He is a retired Marine
    Colonel, a former Corporate Executive
    and former professor at Lincoln University
    Graduate School.
    His major thrust is to bring knowledge
    and better communication within the
    Ifa/Orisa community of North America.
  10. awo dino

    awo dino Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Ifa manifest on many different levels. Ifa is complete but the problem becomes one of interpretation and perception by those of us who are children of Ifa. At its deeper level, Ifa is not even a religion but the destiny that other religions point to. Ifa at its deeper level is a science of the subtle and gross laws of the universe. It is good to believe in Ifa but Ifa is beyond belief; Ifa is knowing. Belief is for those who don't know but accept and go along with a premise or idea that has not been proven. In science, we have true-false-and not yet proven; not proven is a theory that we accept until we can prove it's true for us, our testimony. Those who are looking for the truth of life and discipline themselves to learn enter the laboratory of their Iya to perform experiments that will reveal the truth to them. Until then, they hold on to their unproven beliefs or religions. And like the shifting sands of the desert, if they don't stay close to her, they will be l ost and pushed one way and another by external influences of life. As I said, Ifa includes all religious subjects but it is not on the same level as religion; it transcends religions. I use the word science but most scientists are trapped on the level of continuous skepticism and endless questioning, and intellectualism never coming to the fundamental, basic, or core truths of life. They can't see the forest for the trees. The science I speak of is the science of the subtle law of the universe, the science of the soul of the universe. Religions use emotion and words, but Ifa is beyond the surface level of emotions and thoughts but uses emotions and thoughts only as a starting point to point the way to truths that are miraculous and unspeakable.Ifa gives us the essence of different religions teachings and points the way to spiritual knowing not just belief. Ifa points the way to spiritual internal self cultivation or self knowledge that is above the general differences in different religions.Ifa is root knowledge this is why other ethnic groups other than the Yoruba could accept it without feeling diminished(The Fon Ewe, Akan even the people of the Congo-Angola as well as Europeans and Asians).
    A ji ire ni oni o (May we awaken with ire today)

    Chief Fama (Iyalaje)