One of the first things I heard from Ifa was this; Ifa is a journey, not a destination!
Ifa is a philosophical system, and sometimes this point can be forgotten, because of its allure of mysticism and divination. This spiritual system called Ifa is a way of life, practitioners of Ifa due to the philosophy understand that we are part of the universe, and it's literal, not just figuratively.
There are three major concepts of Ifa they are The Orisha, Ancestor Worship, and Divination.
Let's first start with the Orisha and what they are and how they help us in our everyday lives. The Orishas are energy that represents aspects of our environment. Yemonja/Olokun (Pronounced Yeh-MO-Zha/O-lu-KUN0) this deity is the ocean, mother, provider of wealth; Esu (Pronounced A-shew), is the messenger to Oldumare(the single God), owner of roads and opportunities, owner of Ase (spiritual energy); Osun (Pronounced O-Shun) she is the owner of the sweet water, love, money, conception; Obatala (Pronounced O-BA-ta-la) the owner of the head, clarity, arbiter of Justice; Oya (Pronounced Oi-YA!) is the owner of the marketplace, tornadoes, change of fortune, she is a female warrior, there are many others, but I want you to get the sense of the Orishas. Since we are part of this intricate universal body, we all contain portions of these energies from the universe. With the worshipping of the Orisha, we can take our quantity of these orisha energies and loop it to its associated energies. So, let's say a woman is having trouble with conception she would go and seek the power of Oshun the Orisha of sweet water, love, money, and fertility.
Ifa teaches us that we all have one single Orisha from the universe that is predominant within us. In Ifa we call this your guardian Orisha. Understanding and learning the energy of your guardian Orisha and becoming comfortable with their characteristic will help us in a meaningful way. They are helping us towards successfully traveling our paths.
Next, we will discuss ancestor worship and how it works. Ancestor worship is a formalized structure for connecting with the collected knowledge, wisdom, and power of our dead blood relatives. In Ifa, we understand that energy- the life force in all of us- can't be created or destroyed. Our ancestor's power and wisdom are uniquely attached to us and is also available to us. It is not merely RNA and DNA that connects us to our past; it's a road of energy and power that is available to those of us who know and practice the rituals.
Within Ifa, we hold the belief that our destinies or life pattern were established before our birth into this realm, and that through information obtained through divination, we can learn something about our futures and the outcomes of all our endeavors. We believe that we can improve upon these life patterns with proper offerings and devotions. In Ifa, we're taught that except for the day you are born, and the day you are to die; there is no single event that cannot be forecast and changed when necessary. No like other paradigms like astrology, I Ching, or Tarot, Ifa divination tells us what is likely to happen if we do nothing to change our circumstance. Ifa not only forecast the future, but it also offers an opportunity to change it. Ifa divination will identify a potential problem or potential good wealth; the Babalawo can then pinpoint the energy sources needed to alter or enhance it as well as provide the client with a special ritual for accessing these orisha/energy that will assist with these tasks.
Ifa is a way of life, that must be respected and taken seriously. We have many philosophies that we live by and what you read above is this base of our beliefs. Our God, ancestors, and Orisha are significantly important to the practitioner of Ifa. Our environment, nature is something that we honor because our Orishas live there. Ifa is a beautiful system that teaches respect and understanding; it shows us to have no fear. Below you will find the 16 Truth of Ifa. Ase!
1. There is a single God.
2. There is no devil.
3. Except for the day you were born, and the day you are supposed to die, there is no single event in your life that cannot be forecasted and, when necessary, changed.
4. It is your birthright to happy, successful, and fulfilled.
5. You should grow and obtain wisdom during the process.
6. You are reborn through your blood relatives.
7. Heaven is “home” and Earth “the marketplace.” We are in constant passage between the two.
8. You are part of the universe in a literal, not a figurative way.
9. You must never initiate harm to another human being.
10. You must never harm the universe of which you are a part.
11. Your temporal and spiritual capacities must work together.
12. You are born with a specific path. It is your goal to travel it. Divination is your road map.
13. Our ancestors exist and must be honored.
14. Sacrifice guarantees success.
15. The Orisa (Orisha) live within us.
16. You need have no fear.
Works CitedNeimark, P. J. (1993). The Way of The Orisa:Empowering Your Life Through the Ancient AFrican Religion of Ifa. New York: HarperOne.
Author: Orishas Child of Silfren Circle
My name is Soulangie Leeper, and I am in obatala priestess in Ifa. I am a mother of two beautiful boys, and I live in Westchester NY. Currently, I am a student majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Sociology. I also have a degree in Business Management.