Ashe = Mystical – Preternatural & Esoteric Powers…
Ase – Ashe = (Ah Shay) … A Yoruba Word Meaning ** Power – Command & Authority. The Ability To Make Whatever One Says Happen. Often Summarized As “So Be It” = “So It Is” = “It Definitely Shall Be”
Ashe-Power is a component of the life force breathed into each human being by God; it is spiritual power; it is the power to create everything – Gods, ancestors, spirits, humans, animals, plants, rocks, rivers and voiced words such as songs, prayers, praises, curses, or even everyday conversation. Existence, according to Yoruba thought, is dependent upon it; it is the power to make things happen and change. The power of the word is an important part of harnessing Ashe.
Ashe-Power: is an African philosophical concept through which the Yoruba of Nigeria conceive the power to make things happen and produce change. Existence, according to Yoruba thought, is dependent upon it. In addition to its sacred characteristics, Ashe-Power also has important social ramifications, reflected in its translation as “power, authority, command.” A person who, through training, experience, and initiation, learns how to use the essential life force of things to willfully effect change is called an Alaashe.
Rituals to invoke divine forces reflect this same concern for the autonomous Ashe -Power of particular entities. The recognition of the uniqueness and autonomy of the Ashe-Power of persons and gods is what structures society and its relationship with the other-world.
The concept of Ashe-Power influences how many of the Yoruba arts are composed. In the visual arts, a design may be segmented. Such elements can be seen in Ifa trays and bowls, veranda posts, carved doors, and Ancestral masks.
The language of Ashe-Powers is profound because the Yoruba conceive of their religious discourse as such ritual language is “Deep” and stylized, and it possesses Ashe-the capacity to invoke Powers, appropriate fundamental essences, and influence the future. Rich in metaphor and poetic devices, it expresses fundamental ideas of ritual power which are highly valued and closely guarded. Because of restrictions imposed by Deity-Orisha cults, ritual-language texts are difficult to record. Many are performed only once a year, and some only once in a lifetime. To sing or perform them at other times is infelicitous. One must bring offerings and undergo many Initiations to gain access and trust. In addition to these practical problems of restricted access, the texts themselves are difficult to understand.
Ritual language texts are of course verbal, oral-talking. They are spoken, sung, chanted, even danced in dialogue with drums. Formal categories based on stylistic criteria are always mixed in practice-praises can include proverbs and incantations extensively from Ifa. But the language itself remained a closed book. Textual fragments which possess Ashe-Power are clearly rich in metaphor and allusion-as in most poetry are sensed and intimate rather than formally explicated. Like the deeper meaning of ritual symbols, the language of Ashe-Power undermines the fundamental differences-linguistic which it outwardly reproduces. Best way to discuss ritual language is by letting it speak for itself, as it were, through transcriptions, translations…
These mystical, preternatural and esoteric powers are virtually inexplicable, but they cannot escape notice when they are manipulated by those who have access to them. Outsiders tend to dismiss such powers as superstitions; others class them as Mumbo-Jumbo and the like. But we should realize that one person’s superstition is another person’s belief. Traditional society understand the belief in mysterious and mystical powers which manifest themselves in different ways-in the form of incantations, medicine, magic, sorcery and witchcraft. Belief in these powers which can alter the course of nature is very real and prevalent among the Africans.
Incantations involve the chanting or uttering of words purporting to have magical power. Sometimes the incantations go with some medicinal preparation which is carried in the form of a ring, amulet, girdle, small gourd or needle. Words coupled with charms have mysterious powers which are frequently used by “those who know how”, to escape death, to vanish in the approach of an imminent danger, to escape a ghastly accident, to destroy an enemy or wild animal, to shorten distance, and such like.
Eshu receives Ashé when all the gods journey to the supreme god to find out who is the next most powerful. Each brings a huge sacrifice, carrying it on his or her head. But Eshu consults the Ifa oracle before he goes, and finds that all he needs to bring is a bright red feather set upright on his forehead. When the supreme being sees this he grants Eshu the power of Ashé, because Eshu had shown his unwillingness to carry burdens, as well as his sensitivity to the power of information. To this day, Eshu figurines often have a large phallic plume or nail on the head. Eshu shows us that one must “cultivate the art of recognizing significant communications…or else the lessons of the crossroads–the point where doors open or close, where persons have to make decisions that may forever effect their lives–will be lost.”
Ashe is an African philosophical concept through which the Yoruba of Nigeria conceive the power to make things happen and produce change. Àshe = a coming to pass; law; command; authority; commandment; imposition; power; precept; discipline; instruction; effect; consequence; is derived from the meanings: law, command, authority and power.
Ashe as the vital power, the energy, the great strength of all things. It is also the divine energy manifest in the process of procreation of life, to begin. Ashe does not signify anything particular, yet it invests all things, exists everywhere and as the warrant for all creative activity, opposes chaos and the loss of meaning in human experience. The underlying spirit of this root is “the power to cause to happen, the authority to make changes.
Ashe is power and this power is manifested in two primary forms: biological power which shapes one’s physical existence for good or ill, and political power which shapes people as moral and social beings. It is in its latter branch of meaning by which “kingship” becomes a euphemism for Ashe.
Ashe among the Yorùbá is associated with the very force which is life and brings things into being in the universe. As we will see later on, it is also associated with the power of speech as can be seen in its meanings of command, ordain, and law. We will see that there are two primary themes for Ashe – power and speech and these are derived from two different linguistic roots that were pronounced the same in ancient times. These terms have merged over time because of the similarities in associations.
Èshú : keeper of the word which is also the life-force and is master of language. In Yorùbá, one of the paths of Èshu is known as Elegbara.