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Monday, October 13, 2008

Does d'afa (Ifa divination) lie?

Aboru Aboye Aboshishe,

I've been asked many times if Ifa "lies" or is incorrect. So many times, that I decided to post my thoughts on the subject. The first part of this answer lies in understand two concepts, one that Ifa is by nature transient, ie it is a constantly changing thing. And when you go for Ifa divination, the Odu Ifa that appears for you is not "permanent" (with the exception of "Ita" of Dosu/Kariosha and your Odu Ifa in itelodu). So while an energy of an Odu may cover you during a certain period of time, that period is finite, and can last as little as weeks, to as long as a few months. But, no matter what, it eventually changes.

The second concept to understand is the role that your "Ori" plays in this process. Just because Ifa tells you what to do, it doesn't mean your Ori will decide to do the right thing. We see clearly, Ori must choose to do sacrifice in order to attain good effects in the odu Irete Ofun:

Dia fun Okanlenirino Irunmole
Won nlo sode Apere
Atefun-tefun eyin oni
Awo Ori lo dia fun Ori
Ori nlo sode Apere
Won ni ki won sakaale ebo ni sise
Ori nikan0nikan ni nbe leyin ti nsebo
Ebo Ori waa da ladaju
Nje Ori gbona j'Orisa
Ori ma gbona j'Orisa
Ori nikan-nikan lo ko won l'Apeere
Ko si Orisa to to nii gbe
Leyin Ori eni
Ori gbona j'Orisa

He who prints the chalk on the back of crocodile
He was the Awo who cast Ifa for the 401 Irunmole
When going to Apere (a state of perfection)
He who prints the chalk on the back of crocodile
The Awo of Ori who cast Ifa for Ori
When Ori was going to Apere
They were all advised to offer sacrifice
Only Ori responded by offering the sacrifice
The sacrifice of Ori had been abundantly rewarded
Ori is higher then all Orisa (deities)
It is only Ori which reaches Apere, the perfect state
No other Orisa (deity) can give support
Outside of one's Ori
Ori is higher then all Orisa (deities)

Without Ori acting in accordance to what Ifa asks, in this case making sacrifice, it can not be abundantly rewarded. In the case of D'afa (Ifa divination), the reward can be anything from avoidance of ills, to literal rewards, to simply having peace. The important thing is that your Ori (ie you) chooses to perform sacrifice. So, Ori has the ultimate decision in whether what Ifa says will come to pass, and can affect the outcome of even those things that Ifa seems to guarantee. Our Ori can be the greatest obstacle in the way to finding our own path.

The second part has to do with seeming contradictions in what Ifa says. It may seem at the time of divination that Ifa is saying something far fetched, or even completely contradictory, but over time with hindsight, we might realize that Ifa was actually correct. In a personal example, I asked Ifa if it would be ok to have someone housesit our house, Ifa said no. However there was a particular person who asked enthusiastically if they could watch our place, so I decided to ask Ifa and Ifa said yes to that person watching our place. It seemed like a contradiction to me at the time and I was confused, thinking perhaps it was dumb of me to ask the question. Having heard Ifa, I told the person yes. Well, low and behold, one week before we left, the person called me telling me they would be unable to watch our place afterall. The seeming contradiction had worked itself out to be truth. No one watched out place. Sometimes, it takes a bit of time to see things as clearly as Ifa does.

The third part of the answer comes from a more obscure and less talked about idea, that of the character and training of the priest (be in a Babalawo with Ifa or Olorisa with dinlogun). It is not spoken of, but an untrained priest can in fact incorrectly cast Odu, meaning just because it's cast, doesn't make it right. An improperly initiated priest can also have improperly consecrated/unconsecrated Ikin, meaning just because it's Ikin, doesn't mean it will automatically access Ifa. The Odu Ofun Otura says:

Eke pa bi, o di
Odale pa'bi, ko yan
Oninure pa bi, o ye peregede

The liar casts the Kola nut and it yields a bad omen
the commitment breaker casts the kola nut and it does not yield a good result
But the good hearted person casts the kola nut and the result is clearly promising

The layers of richness of this small Odu are many. First, Awos make a commitment when initiating Ifa to uphold and protect Ifa and the principles of Ifa, so Awos who have broken this commitment when casting of a tool of divination (this case kola nut, but again Ifa is metaphors, so to me, any form of divination, including Ikin Ifa) will not yield a good result. This Odu tells us that the the state/character of the diviner IS in fact important to the result, and affects the outcome of d'afa.

Secondly, it show us, that in the wrong hands, the tools of Divining can yield bad results. For even though they are not talking about Ikin, do we not use Kola Nut to give voice to Ifa? Yes! Further, the prayers and action of the Awo before casting Ikin are designed specifically to awaken the voice of Ifa through the Ikin, if not done properly, the ikin remain ikin, and not the voice of Ifa. It's important to remember the if consecration was the only thing that make Ikin or Dinlogun/Cowrie "speak" the priest wouldn't have to pray or do anything, simply cast and go...

Simple verse ... most profound truths ...

Aboru aboye aboshishe,
Marcos Ifalola


Fayomi said...

Aboru, Aboye, Abosise Modupe O Baba Ifalola, it is a wonderful writing and a much needed one in our community of Ifa and Orisa. Often many of our people are plagued with doubts and fears when a reading/dafa does not go the way they anticipated or foresaw themselves. However, in the profound wisdom that you have just stated, Ifa lo loni ni, Ifa lo lona, Ifa lo lotu nla Pel lu e
Orunmila lo nijo mere 'e rin Oosa Daye, Ise Ori ran mi, Oun ni mo npe: O'na ti Orisa yan fun mi oun ri mo nto. Again, thank for your writing and maintain the honor and spirit of Ifa. This means much to us here in the world.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting blog Ifalola!!!!

Below is what caught my eye the most of everything said...something trULY to remember....

"...It's important to remember the if consecration was the only thing that make Ikin or Dinlogun/Cowrie "speak" the priest wouldn't have to pray or do anything, simply cast and go..."