This site is a dedication of my love for the orisa deities of Yorubaland (known as ‘irunmole’) and for the Brazilian guias, spirit guides, of the Xango religion as practiced in Northeastern Brazil.
It is through the orisa, principally Esu, and through the Mestres e Mestras, os Pretos Velhos e Velhas, os Cabocolos e Caboclas, as Pomba Giras e os Exus, that I have learned to respect the many ways in which they can participate in our lives, bringing endurance, acceptance, evolution, growth, healing and enlightenment. No matter where the orisa and eguns are called down from heaven, the same magical interchange of faith and renewal transforms the lives of believers as we open ourselves to receive the Divine.
Central to any orisa and Ifa worship is the gathering place where sacred rituals, words and intent can be focused to create a bridge between man and the divine, and that bridge used as both an exit and an entrance for both human and divine deity.
Ile-Ifa means literally “the house of Ifa”. The ile-ifa is one of the places where this bridge can be constructed; out of words, intention and prayer. The word Ifa is sometimes also used to signify the orisa Orunmila, the savior of the Yoruba people and their first sacred priest (known as a Babalawo). Ifa is the name used to define the sacred oral divination corpus of 256 “odus”, a type of binary code encyclopedic divination which holds all the potentials and outcomes, both good and bad-and how to overcome them-for man’s destiny. It was Orunmila who received the perfect knowledge, from God, of Ifa and the mastery of the oracle. The reasons for following Ifa are the same for any religious practitioner: the procurement of inner and outer harmony, health, money, love, children and a long life. There is no human on earth who does not strive to be better-whether in a negative sense or positive, depending on their free will.
I believe there is room on earth for all faiths to co-exist in peace, and the mark of a man or woman is how willing they are to live and let live, to take care of their own without the need to harm others who may not believe, live and worship the same as they. There is too much disharmony in the world today, especially within the religious practices of the Diaspora. I am striving to keep this website a place of purity and simplicity. I would rather see the things we all have in common. What matters is that the work functions, that the messages and development lift us up to a better place not only for our betterment, but for that of our families, our loved ones, our friends, neighbors and the world.
The content on this site is my own. I only write what I know about firsthand, what I have lived, experienced and what I practice. It is our Supreme Creator Olodumare who knows all.
Olodumare blessed the world with the ancient sacred Yoruba city of Ile-Ife, situated inland in what is now known as Nigeria, which lies on the West African coast. Considered the birthplace of the Yoruba civilization and race, the Yoruba nature deities called igba irunmole, came down from heaven and began their exploits on earth, opening the road for human inhabitants and leaving behind the highly complex divination and worship system known as Ifa.
It incorporates the use of plant, animal, mineral and elemental knowledge codified in oral verses, or, itan, held inside 256 odu signatures, a type of binary code which predated the modern computer. Each odu is a type of womb that we are born through, a life path and destiny we are born with which describes our human dilemmas, being that we are all born under the influence of a certain odu, similar in a way to being born “under” one sign or the other of the Zodiac. Each contains the blueprint to our individual birthright and destiny, giving the Babalawo clear instructions on which sacrifices must be made to avert our problems or negative tendencies, and ensure that our positive traits, talents and tendencies are stimulated and encouraged by means of proper sacrifices, following our personal taboos, and correct thinking and living-divinity in action.
The Babalawo, Iyanifa, or Olorisa priest or priestess can consult by throwing 16 cowrie shells (merindinlogun usually used by women), 8 seeds connected on a chain which is draped to have two “legs” (opele divining chain), or “beating” 16 sacred four-eyed palm nuts together while trying to transfer all from one palm of the hand to the other. He counts only whether one or two remain in the hand, thus creating the odu signature through consecutive attempts (palm nut divination is performed by male priests only, though there are some Iyanifa in Yorubaland who do). By following the advice of the chanted verses and their remedies, order, harmony and happiness can be restored to the client, and disaster can be transformed to prosperity and happiness when one is born under a difficult odu.
The Ifa divination system and its accompanying orisa worship, rituals and practices is the root source from which various Yoruba-based religions in the Diaspora sprung, such as: Santeria, Umbanda, Lucumi, Candomble and many others. The seeding of the religion in the Diaspora was realized by means of four centuries of trans-Atlantic slave trade. Millions of people who were violently gathered together from all points on the African continent were carried away from the West African coast to places such as Brazil, the United States, Cuba and many European countries and territories held by European occupiers.
There are distinctions between the practice of worshiping orisa in Yorubaland and, for example, Brazil, or Yorubaland and Cuba. This is logical given the mixture of captured peoples who were chained together both physically and spiritually on their terrifying journey across the sea to their new homes. Their different languages, cultures, religious practices and the deities they worshiped became a type of muqueca, a religious stew, which added new elements to a changing and evolving worship.
While Cuba preserved more of the elements which make up Ifa divination, with its sixteen sacred palm nuts consulted and their corresponding Odu signatures answering, Brazil lost a great portion of knowledge of using the ikin-the sacred palm nuts of Ifa-while preserving and expanding upon cowrie shell divining and intricate, highly ritualized orisa worship with emphasis on spirit possession by mediums, much like the Masquerade Egungun festivals held in modern day Nigeria in Yorubaland. What was not lost in either place was the intense need to try and manipulate their surroundings in order to survive, whether by using an ebo (offering) for Esu against the slave master, or using leaves and seeds to make a medicine to support the body and mind both physically and spiritually.
Some plants and leaves in the New World were similar to those in the motherland back home, but the new and changing landscape demanded flexibility when relics and tested healing medicines were not available. Spirit worship and practices were molded according to the circumstances, driving slaves to adapt Catholic or Christian saints, icons and religious motifs to their worship in order to dupe plantation owners and others who held their lives and fate in their hands.
In modern times, congregating to drum, sing, dance and be taken possession of by orisa in Brazil was outlawed and driven underground by force, even as late as the 1970’s. Similar conditions persist worldwide with ignorance and social pressure coming to rest on the head of the person who declares him or her self an elisin ibile, a traditional believer of the Ifa religions in all their variations, within and without traditional Yoruba land. We are the people of Brazil, Cuba, the United States, and many, many more nations, who are creating new trails and history on this earth, continuing the divine tie between heaven and earth, between orun and aiye, bonded together by a shared love and reliance on the nature deities and their forces. They teach us humility, endurance and adaptability by means of their overwhelming divine ase (power backed by wisdom and the spoken command), and their mysterious essence of the beyond. My wish is that we all come together in peace, acknowledging our similarities and celebrating our unique differences; to work together in Ifa to make the world a better place.
The Ifa religion excludes no one because of color, race, or sex. Many of us are making the trip across the waters to the African Continent, the true homeland of the entire human race. The slave ships which sailed under dark skies so long ago have now been replaced with sleek, modern aircraft ferrying spiritual pilgrims back to the motherland. Life has a way of balancing out, like water and truth, it cannot be stopped.
May Olodumare give us faith, peace, patience and tolerance. May he give us the wisdom to recognize our blessings and to recognize the Father or Mother, Son or Daughter, Brother or Sister in the person standing next to us, and that we all, throughout the world, see our fellow human being as worthy of tolerance, patience, understanding, love and respect. May we all find the strength to overcome our weaknesses, May we all find and listen to our divine inner voice, our ori, which elevates our hearts, minds and lives, May we all strive to set and be an example for others to emulate, May Olodumare, Ifa, Esu and all the irunmole guide and protect us, so we can live in harmony together on this earth we call home. Ase Ase Ase O!
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