In response to the question once posed, Who receives Ebo? What happens? I pose this interpretation.
To whom does one offer ebo? When consulting Ifa, there are two parts to the process. The first being divination, for which the Babalawo acts as interpreter of the Ifa Oracle. Ifa merges with the female energy of Odu, causing the metaphysical birth of a specific Odu which reveals your present and potential future. In the second part the Babalawo, interpreting Ifa, suggests an Ebo, whereby you offer items/actions in hopes that a given divinity will intercede on your behalf to either ensure your favorable future, or resolve your problems/remove your obstacles. Who are these divinities? Ebo can be offered to your Ori, a specific Orisa, Egun, Isheshe (the inhabitants of heaven), Ajogun, Iyaami, nature spirits, or all those heavenly beings including Olodumare. So what is Ifa's role?
Ifa's role is threefold. To play the male counterpart to Odu's female energy, whereby the Odu specific to a certain person at a certain time is "birthed". Also, to act as a guide, along with Esu, in ensuring that the offering made by the adherent reaches it's intended location/recipient. Of special note in this process, regardless of whether Esu is the intended recipient of Ebo, he receives part of the ebo as payment for guiding (and not interfering with) the Ebo (as mandated in Ose 'Tura). Like a casino, Esu always takes a cut. And lastly in certain situations, where Ifa is the intended recipient of Ebo, Ifa may act as advocate for the client, interceding on his behalf with other Orisa/Divinities in order to ensure a positive future.
So, is Ifa neutral?
Orunmila, the Orisa/prophet ( as opposed to Ifa) like all Orisa, is not exactly neutral. There are many Ese Ifa where Orunmila is talked about, and in some he takes sides, or has a preference, or decrees what he thinks is best. That said, like any judge, when manipulating Ikin and performing 'dafa, he is said to interpret Ifa in a manner that will best help the person (which isn't exactly what I'd call neutral, but more along the philosophy of king solomon, doing what is "right"). So Orunmila is not perfectly neutral. Ifa, however, is meant to reveal one's chosen path, and help one to align themselves with it. Though Ifa is meant to have a net positive effect, it's neutral in the sense that it only "reveals" and you are required to take actions in order to achieve the positive effect.
What makes Ifa neutral then?
Although Orunmila, the Orisa/prophet may intercede on behalf of any given person/divinity, Ifa through Odu will always reveal the truth, ensuring that there is always a check and balance in the system. That's not to say that Orunmila would act negatively against a person, but no matter what any Orisa may/may not do, Ifa through Odu will always reveal the truth of a matter.
On revelation I'll leave you with an Ese Ifa from Irosun Meji
Ita ruku, l'awo ita ruku
Ita ruku, l'awo ita ruku
Ita ruku, l'awo ita tataata
a d'ifa fun 'gba, igba nsh'awo lo s'ode oyo
Igba a rula
Igba a rukan
A ii w'aye eni ai nigba
Dusty road, diviner for dusty road
Dusty space, diviner for dusty space *
Open dusty place diviner for open space
Divined for time, time was on a spiritual journey to Oyo town
The time to harvest Okra
Is different from the time to harvest Ikan (okra family)
As individuals, we all have our destined times (no matter what happens, we all have remarkable times in life)
*(note, the words are different because of accents not shown)
I will note that one of the most important phrases for a Babalawo is:
Which translates in Yoruba roughly to:
May ebo reach heaven
May ebo be accepted
May ebo allow that which I ask for to come to pass
Once Ebo is accepted, we can only supplicate ourselves to the Orisa and humble pray: Aboru Aboye Aboshishe.
Marcos Ifalola Sanchez