Head (Ori) = Inu “Inner Head – Destiny” *** Head (Ori) = Akoko “First Head – Designator”
Distinction between Heaven (Orun) & World (Aiye) * Heaven contains: Owner – Deities – Ancestors… * World contains: Human – Animals – Sorcerers…
The Heaven/World distinction is important in understanding Yoruba concepts of Life, Death, Destiny, Reincarnation & Soul. Firstly, Yoruba thought makes a distinction between the physical body & the spiritual elements which inhabit it and give it life & individuality. The characteristics of these two spiritual elements appear as the most important are Breath (Emi) & Head (Ori)
Breath (Emi) is generally thought of as the vital force, without which the body dies. In some accounts it is also thought of as the conscious self. It not only provides locomotion for the body, but can think independently of it, and can travel abroad on its own in dreams. Head (Ori) is more complex it rather than Breath is the seat of the intellect. It is also related to a person’s destiny, as the element which predetermines his success or failure in the world.
Head (Ori) is given to, or chosen by, an individual before his/her birth, creating limits within which success in the world can be expected and within which the Breath is able to act. In contrast to this rather fatalistic model, Head is also to be the Ancestral Guardian Soul – A spiritual entity which can be influenced by humans in efforts to improve life on earth. Each individual has two Ancestral guardians, one on the Head, and one in Heaven which is doing exactly the same things as the individual is doing on Earth. With the support of the Ancestral guardian in Heaven, an individual will live the allotted span of life.
Head (Ori) is believed to be the first and the most important Deity in Heaven. The spiritual and personal Head (Ori) or Divinity possessed by each and every individual. Each person and deity before coming to earth, must visit Ajala – maker of Heads in heaven. If one has the bad luck to choose a less than perfect Head, his/her life on earth will be severely affected. Head (Ori) refers to one’s spiritual intuition and destiny. It is the reflective spark of human consciousness embedded into the human essence, and therefore is often personified as an Orisha in its own right. It is believed that human beings are able to heal themselves both Spiritually and Physically by working with the Orishas to achieve a balanced character, Oriwa-Pele. When one has a balanced character, one obtains an alignment with one’s Head (Ori) or divine self. It is also believed that Head (Ori) be worshiped like Orisha. This is because whatever one becomes or whatever happens in one’s life is as destined by Head (Ori)
A person’s Head (Ori) is so crucial to a successful life that it is propitiated frequently, and its support and guidance is sought before undertaking any new task. Personal Head (Ori) shrines are indispensable and are present in most homes, irrespective of sex, religious belief, or cult affiliation. And in the performance of virtually all sacrifices, Ancestral worship, since it determines their favorable outcome.
As above, so below. Ifa offers the term Head (Ori) to explain the exact path from our “Origin” to us and between us and others. It is our portion of the divine spark that is encoded with our destiny. Its components are seated in certain chakra points within and above us. Above -Below or better yet, simply Without – Within” to describe the path by which the two are connected: Our original form of pure energy or true spirit body that manifested first, from our original energy source. Our Head (Ori) also resides in one of the first realms created by that source.
Physical Head: This may even refer to our brain. It houses the next three Ori portals. It is located at the crown of our head. This is the point where our silver cord or chain connects us to our original and true spirit self in Heaven (Orun). The Head (Ori) is vested with great importance in Yoruba art and thought. When portrayed in sculpture, the size of the head if often represented as four or five times its normal size in relation to the body in order to convey that it is the site of a person’s Power (Ashe) as well as his or her essential nature, or Character (Iwa). The Yoruba distinguish between the Exterior Head (Ori-Akoko) and Inner Head (Ori-Inu). Exterior Head (Ori-Akoko) is the physical appearance of a person, which may either mask or reveal one’s Inner Head (Ori-Inu) aspects. Inner qualities, such as patience and self-control, should dominate outer ones.
The head also links the person with the other-world. The Imori ceremony – Head (Ori) is the first rite that is performed after a Yoruba child is born. During Imori, a diviner determines whether the child comes from his or her mother’s or father’s lineages or from a particular Deity (Orisha). If the latter is the case, then the child will undergo Deity (Orisha) initiation during adulthood, during which the person’s Head (Ori) becomes the spiritual vessel for that Deity (Orisha). To prepare for these ceremonies, the person’s head is shaved, bathed and anointed.
Yoruba do not consider the Head (Ori) symbol really complete without an accompanying container to house, honour and beauty it. This is the most costly acts of honour an individual can do to any Deity. It is hard to imagine a more fitting residence for Head, the cause and essence of one’s being. During consultation or Propitiation, the devotee will place Ibori – House Of Head (Ori) on a well-swept & polished floor which has been covered with a white cloth. Devotee offers standard items of sacrifice to Head like water, kolanut, and is free to add other items of choice. Depending on the nature of the request, a corresponding symbolic sacrifice is made.
Coconut Water – Omi Agbon as Head softener (Ero), makes it work more in favour of the owner where that Head is found to be hard. Snails (Igbin) are offered to ask Head (Ori)to avert an impending disaster. Sugarcane – Ground Roasted Corn & Honey are offered to attract good fortune – happiness or joy…
Consequently the Yoruba Concept of Head (Ori), is always conscious of the duality of his being, namely the material mortal self, and the spiritual one. In actual life experience, the spiritual Head’s qualities such as immortality, ever-presence and insuperable power are employed where human efforts fail or appear inadequate. Thus, in extreme conditions of bad or good health, fortune or misfortune, the Yoruba resort to Head (Ori) for rectification or gratification.
***Because of the circumstances of their creation, all Deities have to pay homage to Head (Ori). Similarly, all cult heads & devotees have to touch the Earth with their forehead as an act of symbolic respect for the first Ori-Akoko in heaven who in turn will roll side to side in reverence to Owner of Heaven on behalf of the appellant on Earth. (Ofun-Irete)
Ori is the essence of a human being, Ori is the guide and guardian of our life with one specialty – Ori has been with us since before we were even born, he follows us through our whole lives until death and beyond. Consequently, all our accidents, mishaps we encounter, are all reflections of our Ori. We can consider Ori as the source of everything, the foundation of everything we experience in life. It is the energy that motivates us at everything; it is responsible for our dynamic energy, for our achievements, our mistakes, our consistency.
There are two types of Ori, namely – Ori Ire – good fate, good Ori Ori Buruku – bad fate, bad Ori. This is all very visible in our life. We can recognize the people who have good luck and certain people with a bad luck or negative fate.
Ori is an individual choice of a human life. Everybody has the right to own choice, be it bad or good, from experience or without, with risk or without it. Sadly, that same Ori can turn against us. In fact, our most vital energy is what can let us down when we need it the most. When we work for ourselves, it is actually our intelligence that can fail us. Our life resources are also our experiences, our personal security and self-confidence – all the resources we need in order to survive. All this can collapse. That leads us to destruction, to negative experiences. Accidents happen because of this; we make wrong decisions, we get angry for no reason or we fall into a deep depression. We can regard this as failure of our Ori in a certain cycle of life.
This is beyond the concept of any religion. This is the concept of a human being. Ori is the nature of a human being, the power of fate. Ori is the personal guardian responsible for all our noble deeds, our vitality, our achievements and for our failures. It is our essence. Ori is the principle that serves the basic human needs in order to have a worthy life. The basic needs are: common sense, knowing our own restrictions, responsibility and fear. Fear is also needed because if we did not have it, we would go beyond our restrictions. Every time we go beyond our limitations, we expose ourselves to greater risks.
When people with this kind of energy expose themselves to extreme risks, it often leaves them with irreversible damage. That is when we tend to say: “This was his destiny“. However, fate is actually only an aftermath of irresponsibility towards oneself. Experiences that follow usually are not satisfying. Our Ori is responsible for all the energies that are needed in order for us to protect our lives, to ensure our survival and the possibility of another life. But our Ori is also responsible for all the energies that lead us to our deaths. If we do not use all our natural resources with adding positive things into our lives, we can encounter a large number of negative experiences. The paradox of life is that a lot of people actually do not even care whether they take risks, they do not care if they are protected or not, and that they are actually digging their own graves.
All requests must be sanctioned by Head (Ori) before any other Power, Force, or Divinity can act on them, favourably or otherwise. Head (Ori) is the channel of communication between individuals on Earth and the Deities.
Reference Sources: Ifasola Ogundabe Ajigbotifa =