The purpose of any spiritual or life affirming practice is to equip the seeker / practitioner with the needed tools to be or become the highest version of themself that they can possibly be, in this lifetime.
This comes with obtaining the correct view and then coupling it with effective, results-based practices. One of the challenges we face today engaging in old world indigenous traditions is falling into the trappings of fanaticism and religious fundamentalism, which are flawed because this places personal spiritual practice within the cult of personality and man.
Happy Ose Obatala, Iyami, and Egungun Day of worship to all of us today.On this day of veneration of Obatala we are encouraged to reflect upon the Odu of Iwori Obara and a verse of Ifa within it that speaks about safeguarding ourselves from self destructive behaviors, actions, and suicide even, be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.Some of the ways that this can manifest itself include distancing ourselves from our spiritual community of brothers and sisters, elders, one’s Oba, our Oluwo or Iyanifa, or those we share relations with. It can show up in neglecting to take time for prayers and veneration, holding grudges, choosing to actively nurture our personal triggers, choosing to live from our place of wounding, an unhealthy view of masculine and feminine vessels, personal biases, unrealistic expectations, seeking to assert dominance rather than managing our own lives… The forms this can show up are virtually unlimited. We see some of this reflected in the world we live in today and also in our own communities; these are things all humans wrestle with personally, no matter how elevated we might be or believe ourselves to be.
So what is a “Hand” of Ifa, anyway?
Isefa is called one Hand of Ifa, because it is a precursor step to full Ifa Initiation (Tefa), where one would receive the second and subsequent “Hands” (sets) of Ifa. A “Hand” of Ifa is a complete set of Ikin (sacred palm seeds) making up the consecrated Ifa. In other lineages and cultures that practice Ifa, it can be known as Awofakan, Kofa, Icofa/Ikofa, Mano de Orula, or other names. For the purposes of this writing, I will be focusing on the more traditional West African ceremony.
The performance of Isefa is oftentimes a 1-to-3 day ceremony, depending upon the lineage and its respective priests.
Eku Ose Obatala oo,
Happy day of praise, worship and prayer to Obatala and his divine consort Yemoo.
One this sacred day of worship and working with Obatala we are reminded of the importance of cooperation, community/nation building and balance. Obatala teaches us to look beyond the veil of illusion and judgement; rather to look at the sacred fabric that ties and binds all of creation and us as one.
The Irunmole and Orisas all work together to help us navigate our destiny in a very potent way. One of many things that makes Obatala unique is that he is credited as the Irunmole that created Iwa Pele or good character from the calabash of Igba Iwa. Orunmila on the other hand is the witness of fate and destiny. At one time the appellation we give to Orunmila as “Ibikeji Olodumare” was given to Obatala in the beginning. He later transferred this title to Orunmila. More on that another time.
As the elder of all Irunmole both Obatala and Orunmila share a very special relationship with one another.
Happy Ose Jakuta. Kabiyesi o Sango oko Oya.
All praise and reverence today to Sango and his favored wife Oya.As we give worship to Sango today we are reminded of the strength to speak truth to power, courage, strategy and willpower.
Sango helps us overcome all adversities and enemies but he also assists us with our inner spirit and elevation. The fires of Sango purifies and cleanses all our our impurities, leaving behind only that which serves to help us fulfill our chosen destiny with the royalty and grace of a King.
Oya the wife and consort of Sango is his counterpart and matches Sango in strength and courage. Oya brings necessary changes and growth. She is necessary endings for new beginnings, death and changes. Faithfulness and an unwavering sense of purpose. Ifa teaches us that everything in nature exists with it polar opposite.
We call this the principle of duality. Sango and Oya perfectly represent this as they balance fire upon their heads without ever being burned. May this remain so for us as well.
Facebook Live Interview led by Clyde Viechweg, with Oba Ifagbemi and Baba Jean-Jerome Baudry
Discussion on the Ifa belief system, sometimes denoted as Santeria
Aboru boye nile Ifa,
Greetings to everyone and blessings on this day of Ose Obatala. It is worthy of note that this Ose Obatala falls also on Christmas Eve, which for many is a time to rejoice and spend time with family and loved ones, to reflect upon the past year with plans for ushering in the new year. When many think of Christmas Eve they think of this as a time for practicing forgiveness and certainly Obatala of all the Irunmole worshiped embodies this principle the most as the Deputy and representation of Olodumare on the Earth.
In the video shared below we see a powerful and moving example of forgiveness in practice from what is an unimaginable loss, the murder of this Muslim woman’s son. Even with this immense pain and loss a choice was made to use this to bring about what Ifa refers to as the “good condition”.
There are not many who’s faith is tried in this manner and yet with whatever we may be going through we often feel it is worse than what anyone else could possibly be experiencing. Or we may feel the right to take matters into our own hands and justified even to call upon, work towards, or initiate harm to those we feel and maybe rightly so have pained us in some way.
Ifa teaches us that Obatala is the father of the white light and father of the Orisa. Undifferentiated pure consciousness before it hits the prism and erupts into an array of varied colors each with their own experience of self. Obatala as the King of the white cloth or King of the white light (ala); does his work in darkness including inner darkness either created externally or internally by the thoughts of our mind.
Obatala creates uses Igba Iwa (the calabash of character) as the great potter who molds humans from clay. Modification of our character and how we respond to stressful situations and life tribulations is not something we should only consider during National Holidays (holy days) but we know from our spiritual practice this is an ongoing daily matter of discipline. Spirit today has allowed us a rare opportunity to see a convergence point in our observation of Ose Obatala on this Christmas Eve and how it applies to this practice of forgiveness.
Hopefully we can walk away from this learning something of value that we can carry into the New Year of 2019.
Papa nla lo terin i yan o
Opopo oju ona lo tesin i juru gbonna juru gbonna
Esin a sare ni popo oju ona tan
Esin a juru faka, juru faka
Dia fun Oke
Oke ntorun bo waye
Oke de’le aye tan
Oke n be laarin edidi
O n be laarin ota
O n fojoojumo kominu ogun
Ebo ni won ni ko se
O gb’ebo, o ru’bo
Ogun lenirinwo oko won nboke sota
Otalelegbe iwale, won nboke dite
Oke ni o jeo
Oke ni o mu o
Oke ni yoo reyin ogunlenirinwo oko
Omo onibu agbon-ongbe o
Ni kiki akasa
Kodo ma lee gbe o
K’odo ma le e fa
Gbogbo won la o mu j’orun la
Omo onibu eja
Ni kiki akasa
Ogunlenirinwo oko ti nb’Oke e so’ta nko Ifa?
Won kasai menu won wo’le
Otalelegbeje iwale it nboke e sote nko Ifa o?
Won kasai m’enu won wole
Awa la o leke e won o
Ayamo b’Eji-Ogbe ko lob anile Ifa
Awa la o leke e won
A big plain ground is good enough for the Elephant to run
A wide thorough fare is good enough for a horse to run through and waggle its tail
After running throng, it will waggle its tail sideways
Ifa’s messages for Oke
When coming from heaven to earth
When Oke arrived on earth
He was right in the midst of temptation
He was in the midst of enemies
He was contemplating uprising everyday
Four hundred and twenty hoes were waging war against Oke
One thousand four hundred and six diggers were conspiring against Oke
Oke did not eat
And Oke did not drink
But Oke will certainly overcome the 420 hoes
And also at Kiki Akasa
Small fishes are offering ebo
For the stream not to dry up
Fingerlings are also offering ebo
For the water level not to go down
Both small fishes and fingerlings
All of them shall be cooked inside dried okro soup
At Yeye land
Also at Kiki Akasa
What about the 420 hoes waging war against Oke, Ifa?
They shall all drag their mouths on the ground
And the 1,460 digger conspiring against Oke?
They shall all rub their mouths against the ground
We shall be victorious over them
Except if Eji-Ogbe, is not the king of Ifa
We shall be victorious over them
Even in the worst of times and most trying of circumstances we as God’s creations have the power to choose how we act and react, how we initiate and respond. This is what it means to have divinity. Like we see demonstrated and lived here.
On this Ose Obatala the light of wisdom is driving away the darkness. Look at the ground. Now you can see your own shadow. If you are scared by the shadow that follows you just remember… “Wherever shadows fall, light is always nearby.”
Remain blessed. May Eledumare guard and protect us all. Ase
Eku Ose Obatala today. Blessings on this day of veneration of Obatala the divinity of clarity, prosperity, light, abundance and great wisdom.
Obatala is said to control Aba and Ase. Aba is imagination or intention, while Ase is manifestation, and fruition of our imagination. Obatala teaches us what it means to be fully human, including our imperfections, as well as how to cultivate the mind to live well.
As you think, so shall you live. As the co-architect of your destiny and by the thought forms of your own mind, your life and the things you have or lack are entirely your own responsibility to bear. Spiritual practice is intended to show you where you are.
So many times we get caught up in the details of our lives and we lose track of the small miracles and blessings in our lives; or we make evaluations or judgments of our practice, thinking things like, “I am still struggling”, or “Nothing in my life has improved”.
Is that really true?
I always encourage people to pray. Prayer is free and can be done anywhere and with no exertion whatsoever. But, how do you know what prayers are being answered and when? How do you know what prayers are truly in alignment with your destiny?
Perhaps a job promotion or raise didn’t come through for you; maybe the spouse you have been praying for and seeking hasn’t made an appearance. We need to be honest with ourselves and ask, are we truly in alignment with what we are asking for? Does our lifestyle, thinking, feeling, being, acting, etc truly attract the things we are asking for?
It is easy to say “yes, I’m doing all those things correctly.” Then why the constant complaining and crisis? It is very easy to fall into feeling dissatisfied over what one believes to be the lack of tangible results; but if asked what has been done to encourage personal progress, are the answers in the final analysis vague? There is practice and being engaged, and then there is proper practice and proper engagement. Which is yours?
The next time you find yourself dissatisfied or distraught by life’s little twists and turns, take a step back. Say a little prayer. Give yourself a moment to evaluate and be gracious. In this tradition as in life you get out what you put in. If you come to your spiritual practice with doubt, jealousy, dishonesty, skepticism, negativity or knowing-it-all, your progress and personal life will reflect as much. No one can teach you that which you already know.
These are good things to be thinking about as we all do our own “inner work” with intention and mindfulness.
Our temple’s prayer to Obatala today is:
Eepa Orisa, Orisa Eepa! Ogbe omo re o soo daje. O ni ki won rerin in, won rerin in.
He stands by his children, and makes them materially prosperous. He gives them cause for laughter, and they laugh.
May our lives and inner alignment give us cause for prosperity and laughter. Ase
Chief Ifagbemi Faseye