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Odu, Gods, Olodumare, Orunmila, Sacrifices

Good and Evil Forcesl

Sacrifices could be said to be an exchange for failures. This could be seen in a verse under holy Oguda Otua, Orunmila asked human beings to bring rats, fishes, animals, birds etc to him once they noticed an aberration pointing to failure in their life and the lives of their children.

 

Sacrifices are not only an exchange for failures, they provide food for both heavenly spirit, the mother earth, and fellow men as a kind of sharing, to let everybody have a feeling of love and relevance. Sacrifices are offered in the physical world to the mouth (The mouth is an Orisha See Okanran Otua A mouth that is satiated is a grateful and prayerful mouth. Thanks and prayers definitely would be directed at the person that refuses hunger to kill his kinsmen. One can imagine the mouths of everybody in a community, praying for a singular person to achieve a certain goal. Definitely, god would hear such majority cry. Hence sacrifice offered, bring blessings from god and thereby elucidating faith and continuity in the tradition.

 

In the African tradition it is unthinkable to embark upon any major task without first consulting the oracle (Ifa) to ascertain whether or not the proposed action is favourable or not and to probe the probable outcome.

 

To embark upon serious actions like marriage, child conception, new business ventures or the treatment of disease without first seeking the guidance of Ifa is careless and foolhardy. This is a major mistake for the masses of African descendants in America that desperately need such guidance.

 

 

 

Ifa works with the unseen forces of the universe through the inter-play of the forces of expansion and the forces of contraction. The forces of expansion are symbolized by a single vertical line (I). The forces of contraction are symbolized by a double set of vertical lines (II). These forces are seen as existing in eight dimensions which form two spheres, one inside the other. This sphere is symbolized through the use of two vertical columns. Each column is made up of four sets of either single or double vertical lines.

Ifa, Opon, Table, Opele, Ocuele, 256 Odus, Awo

Illustrated Ogam Lines

The Babalawo has two sets of tools to practice this divination: the Opele or Ocuele and the Opón Ifá or Table of Ifá proper.

 

The Opele is a chain separated by 8 small disks. Of these two, the Opele is most commonly used for seeing people with Ifá, the Table of Ifá usually being reserved for truly big things such as finding out a person's guardian Orisha, the itá during the initiations of abo faca and kofá or when a person is in a situation beyond the facility of the Opele.

When a person is seen with Ifá, one of 256 Odus or signs will be seen to be accompanying the person. Each of these 256 odu has its own patakís or ancient histories, its own suyeres or prayers and 16 paths, which these Odu can take.

 

Babalawo's, Initiation

 

This adds up to a staggering 4,096 Odus and paths that a Babalawo must learn and memorize.

 

Of course, no Babalawo can learn it all as no Babalawo can know as much as Orunmila himself, but all Babalawos must devote themselves to learning prodigious amounts of knowledge pertaining to these Odus.

 

This is one of the reasons there are so few Babalawos.

 

In Ifá there are two initiations: receiving kofá for women and abo faca for men, and making Ifá, the initiation where a person becomes initiated as a Babalawo.

 

Though the initiations of abo faca and kofá are similar, there are differences between the two that cannot be gone into here.

 

However essentially women are the seniors in Ifá until the man makes Ifá, if that is their calling. Only men can make Ifá, and they cannot have ever been ridden or possessed by eggun, or by an Orisha.

 

Gays are also not able to follow this particular path. Actually very few people are called to Ifá and of those very few actually become initiated as Babalawos.

 

One reason is the responsibilities and intensive learning involved, as there is no such thing as a dilettante or part-time Babalawo.

 

Also, the initiation is very expensive and is a much harder one to pass through than that of making Ocha and even includes several severe beatings with sticks, which is the only part of the initiation that is public.