Sunday, April 5, 2009

Initiation and Making of Iyanifa

In this Article, ODU IFA, the sacred “text” of the Yoruba (Ifa – Orisa) Tradition is the basis and reference of all positions and representations.
I stand to hear or read about any other “Ese Ifa” (Ifa verses) that says the contrary to all you will read below about this subject.
It is not a matter of the numbers of interviews conducted and or who was interviewed, but how well can interviewer and the interviewee substantiate their positions with the sacred text from the Odus.
There have been so many variations or sects of Ifa Tradition all over the world, from Voodoo, Lukumi to Candonmbale. Orisa/Sango Baptist and to Santeria to mention a few in Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and all over South and North America.
Yoruba as the root of Ifa Tradition or her variation/sects or whatever it is called anywhere in the whole word irrespective of the colour and creed of the practitioners has never and will never be controversial.
My husband grand mother Efunola Alate was initiated into Ifa same day with her three brothers. This was because her Father was born of Ogbe alara (ogbe–otura) during his initiation and was instructed to initiate all members of his household. The old woman never forget the authority from the Odu Ifa, it goes thus:
Emi ni ngori,
Emi ni ngori,
Emi ni gori gori,
Ifa was declared for Orunmila, when he was experiencing death of children and wives, he was advised to take all members of his house hold to “igbo aiku” (another name for Ifa groove meaning forest of deathlessness)
He did as advised and his children and wives never die young again.

The above verse from an Odu Ifa tells us clearly that it is not forbidden for a woman to take initiation into Ifa.
It will interest you to know that Efunola Alate is from Ode Remo, Nigeria.

I have continuously asked those {INCLUDING AWOYADE ADESANYA- THE ARABA OF ODE REMO] who think or believe a woman must not be initiated into the mysteries of Ifa to share with me one verse of our text that forbids that, please.
Ifa as A COMPLTE SYSTEM OF DIVINATION uses yesterday, which is history to appreciate and comprehend today and navigate into ones future. The manner in which challenges were approached/tackled and problems solved in the olden days can still be employed today to achieve a satisfactory resolution to problems, meaningful enhancements of strengths, turning weakness to challenges, taking advantages of opportunities and eliminating threats to life and many more are what initiation into the mysteries of Ifa can and will do for one. WHY EXCLUDING WOMEN?
Another Odu Ifa talks about how important it is for one to know and understand his/her purpose and mission on earth. During Ifa initiation, initiate will know their “birth” Odu.
Let me use ogbekeruwate (Ogbe-Irete), one out of many Odus that emphasize the importance of “Itelodu” another name for Ifa Initiation for all human beings. Both male and female.
It is very important in the dawns of ones life to find out the Odu that gave birth to one,
Ifa was declared for Olupo Alaelu and his wife Osufunmilayo, when they were weeping for all blessings and fortunes, and all they did were not successful and their life was tough and hard as a stone. They were both advised to go for Ifa initiation, while the woman must set her eyes on Odu.

It was after Olupo Alaelu and his wife knows their birth Odu, that they understand how to deal with life as a whole.
Ifa initiation encompasses crowning into all Orisas as against be crowned by ones crowning Orisa alone. Ones birth Odu is a perfect reflection of his/her life journey, the initiate will be given or receive the ASE to fulfill his/her destinies in life, enables ones to know the shortest course of action to follow. In addition it tells one what he/she can be doing or stops doing to be in perfect aligned position with his/her inner self and which brings about alignment with the outer universe.
You will be able to find and get all your aims, goals, ambition, desire materialize within the shortest possible time while expending the least energies.

In all my life experience and learning Ifa I have not seen, read or hear about any verse of Ifa that prevents a woman from learning the art and science of Ifa divinations or partaking or leading in any Ifa rituals except in seeing Odu.
The next Ifa verse that am going to use on this subject is Ogundofun (ogunda-ofun), it goes thus:
Ogundofun, Olokanran fo oloye, Irunn lawo Onisaki,Obu obinrin tuto ki oko o sa, Ko je ki oko oo mi, ko je ki awayo o fo hun, Arere gosu Eye oosa, omo ikose Orun mila ni won, baba ko wo ni dida owo, baba ko won ni oun te ile, baba ko won ni okuru ebo ni i ha, won kii ifa yan ran yan ran, won si je eeru yanran, yanran . MEANING
Ogundo fun, Olokanranfo oloye,Irunnla awo Onisaki,Obu obirin tuto ki oko osa,Ko je ki oko omi ko je ki awayo o fo hun, Arere kosu Eye osa, these are the names of ORUNMILA students, baba taught them how to divine, baba taught them how to do initiation, they are well versed, knowledgeable in Ifa ,They are knowledgeable in Ifa prescription and medicine.

What I want to draw our mind /attention on ,are the names of the diviners, the name of the Babalawo /Iyanifa that cast the Ifa and the person to whom the divination is cast for and for what purpose or reasons . ALL of these are mentioned in each odu Ifa .One other thing I will like to also draw our attention to is that when bringing out the taboos from an odu in ifa or want to know the characters that cast the Ifa and for whom, who look at the names or nick names which describe the characters, to say this is who cast the ifa and for who. Now let look at those names
Ogundofun, one can infer that this should a name of a man,
Olokanran fo oloye{olokanran speaks with wisdom} can be said to be a name of a man
Irunnla Awo Onisaki{one with plenty hair the awo of Onosaki} can be said a name of a man
Obun obirin tu to ki oko osa{ the untidy woman that splits and the husband runs away}this describe a woman and her character.
Ko je ki oko o mi ko je ki awayo o fu ohun{the one that does not allow her husband to have peace of mind and does not give the favorite wife a chance to express her self] that is describing a woman and her character.
Arere ko sun EYE OSA{Arere powder herself with cam wood, the bird of the osa} this describe someone with the energy of Osun, and powdering one face or body with cam wood is an ACT done by women to beautify themselves, so one can say this is a woman.

From the above Ifa text, Orunmila taught them how to divine, cast, the ACT and science of ifa divination, Initiation, Ifa medicinal preparation etc.
This shows that the act and science of Ifa initiation and divination are not restricted to the men alone; the only aspect that women are excluded is the part that is concern with ODU. ONE thing I will want to draw to our attention is that Ifa is all about balance between male and female energy, nature and force nor supremacy of the male over female. During Orisa Initiation which practitioners are saying is the act and science that is of women, there are roles that men are assign to do during the initiation this is to bring about balance .And Orisa Initiation is not only for women .

I recently brought a book, WOMEN IN YORUBA RELIGION BY OLUWO OLATUNJI SOMORIN. Oluwo Olatunji is a Babalawo from ode Remo, and had initiated women into Ifa in Ode Remo. His book explains the meaning and essence of women in the Yoruba religion, the roles they occupied and SHOULD occupy with emphasis and drawing from different Odu Ifa to support this claims. The books also explain the feminine and masculine nature of Yoruba spirituality and tradition as complimentary. It gives information also about whom the Iyami are, how to appease them and how to use their energy and support.

Ifa are the words of Olodumare, the Creative Force through Orunmila to Us, Which Explains How Things Were, Are and Should Be. The odu Ifa Osetura Told Us How Male Orisas Were Organising The World And Excluding Female From Taking The Active Part And Role In The Decision Making. This act was opposed to what Olodunmare had told them to do and the World Was In Disarray.
Oworin niki and Osa meji, affirmed the role of the women as the mother and the ameliorators of the World through the Iyamis, women who has the power given by the creative forces. Who are these women, specific women, the mother earth, Aje{wealth, money}, the Ocean, Sea, all water bodies, the keeper of the forest, The keeper of the Savanna, desert ,all Vegetation, the wind, the world it self to mention but few of the natural feminine energy.
I will advise all Babalawos both young and older who are against the women initiation and learning ,to take a deeper look and understanding into the verses and texts of the Ifa and should reframed from the behaviors exhibited by the Orisas in Osetura so that the world could be a better, best and peaceful place to live. We should not allow our Ego to take the better part of us. WHAT EVER ACT, ACTIONS AND BEHAVIOR WE EXHIBIT THE MOTHER EARTH WILL JUDGE US