IFA = The Mystery System…

       Divine Message Of Olodumare To Mankind…

“There is not childbearing woman who cannot give birth to an Ifa priest. There is no childbearing woman who cannot give birth to Orunmila. Our father, if he gives birth to us in full, inevitably we shall in time give birth to him in turn. Our mother, if she gives birth to us in full, inevitably we shall in time give birth to her in turn. Ifa oracle was consulted for Orunmila, who said he would bring the heaven down to earth, he would take the earth back to heaven. In order to accomplish his mission, he was asked to offer everything in twos, one male and one female – one ram and one ewe, one he-goat and one she-goat, one cock and one hen, and so on. Orunmila heeded the advice and performed the sacrifice. Thus the earth became fruitful and multiplied greatly.”

” Ifa is not merely a collection of verses, proverbs, parables and anecdotes. Ifa is God’s sacred message to mankind. It is the embodiment of the totality of human existence.”

Ifa is the Divine Message of Olodumare to mankind and for all those who seek to receive it. Ifa’s universal relevance lies in the fact that, when an individual from any race, color or creed approaches an Ifa Priest for a personal message, Ifa may reveal a message national, continental or even global importance. For instance, the message may be a warning of an approaching war, famine, or pestilence…

THE EIGHT ESSENCES OF IFA –  The Spiritual Essence: This relates to the place of man (as a spirit) in the cosmos, the powers of matter and all aspects of ontological evolution and development. The Religious Essence: This relates to faith, catechism and preaching.  The Divine Essence: This relates to the methods of Divination and accessing of esoteric information; the mechanics of Divination and the systems of Divine Message collection, processing and interpretation. The Worship and Sacrificial Essence: This relates to the basis and meaning of worship and sacrifice. The Medicinal Essence: This deals with both magical and materialist medicine. The Historical Essence: This deals with the history of all creation, including the creation of materialist, non-materialist and spirit worlds. The Scientific Essence: This deals with the power of observation, axiomatic, astronomy, cosmology, cognitive experience, astral science, physical and biological sciences, logic, philosophy mathematics, statistics and computer science. The Cultural Essence: This relates to rites, rituals, politics, socio-economics, language dress and normative value systems. As it is obvious, these eight essences of Ifa are also in the main, coincident with the human essences, of planet earth and the non-human essences in the entire universe.

As a divinatory system centered on the intersection between aspects of the self, free will and destiny, it can inspire explorations of the nature of the self, and of relationships between human will and the factors that shape the course of human life. As a mathematical system, it can be adapted to the use of mathematics as a means of mapping ideas and phenomena, even up to scales as broad and as elaborate as the cosmos, one view represented for me by Babalawo-Adept of the esoteric knowledge of Ifa. As a literary system, it can motivate literary study, and inspire the reworking of its literature to create new, hybrid forms or the development of entirely new forms. As a system making unusual claims about the nature of phenomena, it can act as an inspiration for  examining the question of the mode of existence of non- material forms, such as  mathematical structures and other ideas.

Araba Agbaye  Awoyemi Aworeni Adisa Mokanranwale Ile-Ife 

On account of these adaptive possibilities, Ifa as a cognitive matrix  in which  several discipline  constellate and from which they may derive inspiration. Along those lines,  demonstrates an effort of mine to proceed with such an adaptation using  an Opon Ifa around which orbit  images of the Odu Ifa, the organizational categories and active agents of Ifa.  In the lines the Odu Ifa  are  correlated  with various aspects of existence. This style of adapting Ifa derives from its  character  as a divinatory  system but one which may be adapted  for uses beyond that older  orientation.

The Odu Ifa are spirits who represent all possibilities of existence, from the concrete to the abstract, from the temporal to the situational. One way of adapting this idea is that of correlating the Odu with forms one understands as the primary categories of existence. These derivations operate at various levels based on the expansion of one unit into two units in which the second  unit is a variation of the first one. The original two units then constitute the template in terms of which another two units are generated as variations of the first two. These four primal units are then used as templates for the creation of another twelve units which are variations of the first four units. The set of sixteen units thus generated is them employed as a framework for creating another two hundred and forty units, which are variations of the structure of the first sixteen units.

This sequence of derivations may be adapted to the development of an increasing number of ideas or principles from a few constituent ideas or principles. The underlying ideas could demonstrate what are understood to be the most broadly summative of principles in that system while the other ideas could be derivations from these underlying forms. Using such a process of derivation, one could adapt the description of the Odu as demonstrating all possibilities of existence. One could describe the primary Odu in terms of the most fundamental principles of existence and the other Odu that derive from the primary Odu as the subdivisions of these primary principles.

Oyegbade Latona – Ojugbona Awo Osogbo Osun State Nigeria

Using that strategy, the collage above depicts the first Odu, Eji Ogbe, as correlative with mind, because consciousness may be seen as the fundamental quality necessary for perceiving existence. Without consciousness, the cosmos would exist but no entity would register that existence. The fact of the existence of the cosmos or of any phenomena would be unknown. The second Odu, Oyeku Meji, is linked with matter, because existence, as currently accessible in an uncontroversial sense  by human beings,  is dependent on matter, be it matter known to be living,  this being humans, animals and plants, or matter not conventionally understood as living, such as rocks and air. The third Odu, Iwori Meji, is identified with space because matter necessarily implies space since matter occupies space. Space is also central to cognition because the human being, composed of mind operating in terms of matter, uses space in orienting itself. The human form is structured in terms of spatial orientation towards the front, two sides- left and right, and the back, this being primary templates for the description of space in terms of east, west, north and south. The fourth Odu, Odi Meji, is depicted in terms of time, since movement in space implies motion in time.

The ultimate markers of time, the revolutions of the celestial bodies, demonstrate spatial motion at the largest scales. Other primary markers of time, such as the developmental cycles of terrestrial forms, of which the human body and mind are central but which also includes animals,  plants and geological forms, are not dependent on motion in space, but may be described metaphorically in terms of motion purely in time. The remaining twelve of the foundational set of sixteen Odu ifa  are then described as derivatives of mind, matter, space and time, demonstrating specificities of these four primal units.. Perhaps the model  would be more comprehensive if forms of matter are also explicitly included in the subdivisions, but I am reflecting on that for a possible future development of the model.

Including the subdivisions of matter would be vital because Ifa operates in terms of a cosmology grounded in an understanding of Ashe, a cosmic force that enables existence and change, being and becoming, as pervading all forms of existence, and enabling mutuality of existence between various forms of being, this mutuality being meditated through, or understood in terms of, the Orisha Eshu, whose face is an invariable feature of every Opon Ifa, craved into its border, overlooking the empty space where the dialogue between forms of being takes place within a divinatory session, a symbolic construct that may be adapted to an understanding of Ifa divination as analogous  to  the emergence of possibilities through the  intersection of forms of being from within the interactive space symbolized by the empty centre of the Opon Ifa. After all, divination is meant to address practical issues that come up in people’s daily lives, issues for which they think  their own intelligence or  human intelligence as they understand it is too limited to address adequately, so they go to a diviner, a person understood to demonstrate access to supernatural knowledge and power. So, if one is adapting a divinatory system, should one not also try to see how far one can go with developing that adaptation into a cognitive force which may be applied in daily life.

The structuring of the Opon Ifa into unified segments  created through the inscribing of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines into its surface in order to commence divination. In terms of the saying that Ori is the ultimate deity with respect to the self and that without Ori’s consent, no other deity may grant any blessings to the individual and the superb Ese Ifa poem presents in Sixteen Great Poems of Ifa indicating that Ori is the only Orisha or Deity who can follow its devotee through the journey of life and into the ultimate journey represented by death. This adaptation may be developed in terms of an understanding of the center of the Opon not only represents the place where the  individual is standing in time and space, but also represents the  consciousness of the person in question, as well as the totality of all  there is.

As Orunmila told us in Ejiogbe: The basis for understanding the beginning and end of all things. Through Ifa is revealed the Great Mysteries of life. Only Ifa explains the reasons for the existence of life, living, death, sickness, success, failure, poverty, wealth, life before birth and life after death. Only Ifa reveals the spiritual basis for reincarnation experience; why no living thing, having sucked from the, breasts of mother Nature, will fail to taste the bitter truth of death.  Only Ifa tells it exactly as it is. In short, only Ifa guides the life of man from cradle to grave! Although, as a result of close association through the several millennia, Orunmila has been regarded as being synonymous with Ifa (the two names are actually frequently interchanged in the Sacred Verses). Ifa as the embodiment of Olodumare is the ultimate level of esoteric consciousness, a level attained only by Orunmila. Presumably anyone can reach that level, but so far, it is not achievable by mere mortals.

The real key to life lies in Ifa: It forms the foundation of the all-governing principle of life for them. Before a betrothal, before a marriage, before a child is born, at the birth of the child, at successive stages in one’s life, before a King is enthroned, before a chief is installed, before anyone is appointed to civic office, before a war is prosecuted, before a journey is made, in times of crises, in times of sickness, at any and all times, Ifa is consulted for guidance and assurance. Because Orunmila is the Great Interpreter of Ifa and witness to destiny.  Orunmila himself seeks guidance from Olodumare through Ifa.

It is also clear that Religion, Worship and Sacrifice are but few aspects of what constitutes the Divine Message known as Ifa. It constitutes what is also known as the Great Mystery System. Thus, while Ifa Religion represents the transcendental and Evangelical dimension of Ifa worldview, Worship and Sacrifice epitomize the corrective and restorative facets of that worldview.

3 thoughts on “IFA = The Mystery System…”

  1. Aboru Aboye O !!! .Awo-Orunmila = Babalawo It is said when a Babalawo dies, a library has burned to the ground. A Babalawo is a human library. A Babalawo is a (historian, adviser, spokesperson, diplomat, peace-maker, praise-singer, interpreter, translator, musician, teacher, composer, and witness). In many African tribes, a Babalawo is all of these things and more, a tangible link to the past.

  2. Arleif Day = Love love love this! Working with these, within the sweet spot of life, just keeps the blessings flowing and us growing. Blocking and choosing to limit oneself with closed or negative perspectives creates fear and trouble. All of these essences of life are powerful in creating connection, health, and fullness of life. It comes down to our perspective. Are we in alignment? Are we embracing the delicious magical beauty surrounding us? Do we face the challenges in alignment or step out and return to our old ways? Each week brings new growth, history, knowledge, connection, awareness, & appreciation. Those embracing their path bless others. Thank you Yagbe Awolowo Onilu!

  3. Raquel Johnson = Chief Yagbe Awolowo Onilu! I thank the Ifa for you. I am grateful for you more than you will ever know. Your reading with the Ifa truly answers some questions for me. And what I have always known needed to be done now has to be done. I will be talking to you soon. Ase O!

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