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Olorun, Olokun, Orunmila, Obatala


Illustrated with historical, oral and mythical record as well as some of the most ancient and sacred religious symbols. In the beginning, there was only the sky above, water and marshland below.


The chief god Olorun ruled the sky, and the goddess Olokun ruled what was below. Obatala, another god, reflected upon this situation, then went to Olorun for permission to create dry land for all kinds of living creatures to inhabit. He was given permission, so he sought advice from Orunmila, the oldest son of Olorun and the god of prophecy. He was told he would need a gold chain long enough to reach below, a snail's shell filled with sand, a white hen, a black cat, and a palm nut, all of which he was to carry in a bag. All the gods contributed what gold they had, and Orunmila supplied the articles for the bag.


When all was ready, Obatala hung the chain from a corner of the sky, placed the bag over his shoulder, and started the downward climb. When he reached the end of the chain he saw he still had some distance to go. From above he heard Orunmila instruct him to pour the sand from the snail's shell, and to immediately release the white hen. He did as he was told, whereupon the hen landing on the sand began scratching and scattering it about. Wherever the sand landed it formed dry land, the bigger piles becoming hills and the smaller piles valleys. Obatala jumped to a hill and named the place Ife. Obatala soon found clay with which to mould figures like him and started his task, but he soon grew tired and decided to take a break. He made wine from a nearby palm tree, and drank bowl after bowl.




Not realizing he was drunk, Obatala returned to his task of fashioning the new beings; because of his condition he fashioned many imperfect figures. Without realizing this, he called out to Olorun to breathe life into his creatures. The next day he realized what he had done and swore never to drink again, and to take care of those who were deformed, thus becoming Protector of the Deformed.



The new people built huts as Obatala had done and soon Ife prospered and became a city. All the other gods were happy with what Obatala had done, and visited the land often, except for Olokun, the ruler of all below the sky. She had not been consulted by Obatala and grew angry that he had usurped so much of her kingdom. When Obatala returned to his home in the sky for a visit, Olokun summoned the great waves of her vast oceans and sent them surging across the land.


Wave after wave she unleashed, until much of the land was underwater and many of the people were drowned. Those that had fled to the highest land beseeched the god Eshu, who had been visiting, to return to the sky and report what was happening to them. Eshu demanded sacrifice be made to Obatala and himself before he would deliver the message. The people sacrificed some goats, and Eshu returned to the sky. When Orunmila heard the news he climbed down the golden chain to the earth and cast many spells, which caused the flood waters to recede and the dry land reappear. So ended the great flood.


Ifa, The Babalawo Order

Ifaism is usually referred to as Yoruba. The name Yourba in Africa encompasses a group of people that speak the same language and live within certain boundaries in West Africa, which stretched from Senegal to Sudan. Before there was any sort of writing there was Ifa. Ifa at this time, of course, was oral. In Africa, specific individuals spent their entire life, from childhood, learning Ifa verses. These verses number in the thousands and express every single facet and possibility

in life. Ifa verses cover the creation of this earth, the creation of every animal species, man and even this computer. Ifa is the totality of our earthly and heavenly realms and gives us a direct and individual phone number to God.


The Babalawo's are priests of Orunmila that are specially trained, via years of instruction from elders on the secrets of divination. Babalawo literally means, Father of Secrets. Within the same verses that detail your fate you have the appropriate sacrifice prescribed by the Babalawo to assure a favourable outcome.

This is similar to visiting a MD in the western world. You visit the doctor; he reads you with his instruments and prescribes some medicine. Your body will sacrifice something for the betterment of the targeted problem if the prescription is followed. Babalawo's are spiritual doctors that use the instruments of Ifa through divination to heal and guide our spiritual being (prescription). Divination can also be referred to as Managed Care.


In the Beginning, Olodumare (God) gave the Orisa Orunmila a flawless method of communication between himself and the Orisa called Ifa. Ifa is linked to destiny through the symbolism of the number sixteen. Sixteen is the number of cosmos; it represents the primal order that issued from the unity of Olodumare. (Sixteen is also a significant number in the world of computers.) When the world was first created, it spread out from an original palm tree that stood at the centre of the world at Ile-Ife. The palm tree had sixteen branches, which formed the four cardinal points and the sixteen original quarters of Ile-Ife. In political terms, Odudua, the first oni of Ife, fathered sixteen sons who founded the sixteen original kingdoms of the Yoruba. On a deeper level still, Orunmila taught the art of divination to his sixteen sons; they, in turn, passed it down to the Babalawos who practice it today.


Through the linked concepts of order, creation, and destiny, the number sixteen represents the variables of the human condition, the sixteen possible situations of human life.


Ifa Divination Phycology


For the Yoruba, the sixteen principle signs are called Odu or Olodu, from each of which are drawn sixteen subordinate signs (omo-Odu, "children of the

odu" or Odus). These represent the sixteen essential life situations with sixteen possible variations each.


This means 256 possible combinations (Odu's) or two to the eighth power. Each Odu is a recital of a set of poems called ESE that provide clues for the resolution of the problem during a divination session.


There are at least, and by far not the most, 16 different ESE's for each of the 256 Odu. This adds up to at least 4096 different scenarios.


The goal of the Babalawo is to arrive at the appropriate Odu for the situation of his "quitrent".





Orunmila! Witness of fate Second to Oludumare (GOD) Thou are far more efficacious than medicine, Thou are the Immense Orbit that averts

the day of Death.


My Lord, Almighty that saved mysterious Spirit that fought death. To Thee salutation is first due in the morning. Thou are the Equilibrium that adjusts World Forces. Thou art the One whose exertion it is to reconstruct the creature of bad lot.


Repairer of bad-luck, He who knows thee becomes immortal Lord, the undisputable king, Perfect in the House of Wisdom! My Lord! Infinite in knowledge! For not knowing thee in full, we are futile, Oh, if we could but know thee in full, all would be well with us. Ase o, Amen, Amun or Amen-Re.




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