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Ifá

Sixteen Principal Odu
Name 1 2 3 4
Ogbe I I I I
Oyẹku II II II II
Iwori II I I II
Odi I II II I
Irosun I I II II
Iwọnrin II II I I
Ọbara I II II II
Ọkanran II II II I
Ogunda I I I II
Ọsa II I I I
Ika II I II II
Oturupọn II II I II
Otura I II I I
Irẹtẹ I I II I
Ọsẹ I II I II
Ofun II I II I

Sixteen Principal Afa-du
(Yeveh Vodou)
Name 1 2 3 4
Eji-Ogbe I I I I
Ọyeku-Meji II II II II
Iwori-Meji II I I II
Odi-Meji I II II I
Irosun-Meji I I II II
Ọwanrin-Meji II II I I
Ọbara-Meji I II II II
Ọkanran-Meji II II II I
Ogunda-Meji I I I II
Ọsa-Meji II I I I
Ika-Meji II I II II
Oturupon-Meji II II I II
Otura-Meji I II I I
Irete-Maji I I II I
Ọse-Meji I II I II
Ofu meji II I II I

Ifá is a religion and system of divination and refers to the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odu Ifá. Orunmila is identified as the Grand Priest, as he is who revealed divinity and prophecy to the world. Babalawo's or Iyanifas use either the divining chain known as Opele, or the sacred palm or kola nuts called Ikin, on the wooden divination tray called Opon Ifá.

Ifá is practiced throughout the Americas, West Africa, and the Canary Islands, in the form of a complex religious system, and plays a critical role in the traditions of Santería, Candomblé, Palo, Umbanda, Vodou, and other Afro-American faiths, as well as in some traditional African religions.

History

The 16 principle system seems to have its earliest history in West Africa. Each Niger-Congo ethnic group has its own myths of origin; Yoruba mythology suggests that it was founded by Orunmila in Ile Ife when he initiated himself and then he initiated his students, Akoda and Aseda. Other myths suggest that it was brought to Ile Ife by Setiu, a Nupe man who settled in Ile Ife. According to the book, The History of the Yoruba Religion from the Earliest of Times to the British Protectorate, it was Arugba , the mother of Onibogi, the 8th Alaafin of Oyo who introduced Oyo to Ifa in the late 1400’s.[1] She initiated the Alado of Ato and conferred on him the rites to initiate others. The Alado, in turn, initiated the priests of Oyo and that was how Ifa came to be in the Oyo empire. Igbo mythology suggests that Dahomey Kings noted that the system of Afá was brought by a diviner known as Gogo from eastern Nigeria.[2]

Orunmila came to establish an oral literary corpus incorporating stories and experiences of priests and their clients along with the results. This odu corpus emerges as the leading documentation on the Ifá tradition to become a historical legacy.

Yoruba canon

In Yorubaland, divination gives priests unreserved access to the teachings of Orunmila. Eshu is the one said to lend ashe to the oracle during provision of direction and or clarification of counsel. Eshu is also the one that holds the keys to ones ire, thus acts as Oluwinni (ones Creditor), he can grant ire or remove it.[3] Ifá divination rites provide an avenue of communication to the spiritual realm and the intent of ones destiny.

Igbo canon

In Igboland, Ifá is known as Afá, and is performed by specialist called Dibia. The Dibia is considered a doctor and specializes in the use of herbs for healing and transformation.[4]

Ewe canon

Among the Ewe people of southern Togo and southeast Ghana, Ifá is known as Afá, where the Vodun spirits come through and speak. In many of their Egbes, it is Alaundje who is honored as the first Bokono to have been taught how to divine the destiny of humans using the holy system of Afá. The Amengansi are the living oracles who are higher than a bokono. A priest who is not a bokono is known as Hounan, similar to Houngan, a male priest in Haitian Vodou, a derivative religion of Vodun, the religion of the Ewe.

Odù Ifá

Divination tray

There are sixteen major books in Odu Ifá[5] literary corpus. When combined there are total of 256 Odu (a collection of sixteen, each of which has sixteen alternatives ⇔ 16^2, or 4^4) believed to reference all situations, circumstances, actions and consequences in life based on the uncountable ese (poetic tutorials) relative to the 256 Odu coding. These form the basis of traditional Yoruba spiritual knowledge and are the foundation of all Yoruba divination systems. Ifá proverbs, stories, and poetry are not written down but passed down orally from one babalawo to another.

International recognition

The Ifá Divination system was added in 2005 by UNESCO to its list of the "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity".[6]

Notable Followers

See also

References

  1. ^ Johnson, Samuel (1921). History of the Yorubas from the Earliest of Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate. Nigeria Bookshops. 
  2. ^ "Afa in the African Diaspora". 
  3. ^ [1] Archived September 25, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Igbo Medicine". 
  5. ^ Sixteen major 'books in Odù Ifá Archived July 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Ifa Divination System". Retrieved 5 July 2017. 

Further reading