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.
To illustrate this teaching point here is a good example. From the holy odu of Okanran Ika.
Etutu ni joju oku
Apo eera nii okinle
Moba moba ni ti alabahun
Oju to ba alabahun ko ni segi
Lodifa fun okanlenirinwo irunmole
Lojo ti won ikole orun bowa si isalu aye
Obatala oun Orunmila nikan ni won lehin
Ti won ru ebo
Riru ebo nii gbe ni
Eru atukesu adaladaju
Ko pe, ko jina
Ire gbogbo ba ni ni jebutu ire
Jebutu ire la a ba ni lese Obarisa.
Ritual eats up the eyes of death
The pocket of the ants is the belly of the Earth
Patience and calmness belong to the tortoise
The eyes and the target of the tortoise is accurate
This divined Ifa oracle for four hundred and one divinities
When they were coming from heaven above to the physical state of existence
Obatala and Orunmila were at the back of all the divinities
They were the only divinities among them that offered sacrifice
To offer sacrifice has enormous benefit
Rituals attract fortunes and success
Without much difficulties
All blessings meet us at the place of blessing-jebutu ire
At the feet of OBARISA (Obatala) lays all the blessings.
This odu speaks of the cooperation of Obatala and Orunmila together to fulfill what Olodumare created them to do, to give light, wisdom and success to humanity. All the other divinities failed to do so except for the two of them. Orunmila helped Obatala to carry his heavy load and offered sacrifice. This in turn helped him to attract many followers and all the good things of life.
It is through sacred service and personal sacrifice that the Irunmole send us what we need in order to serve. Which is yet another reason why we need to have a proper balanced understanding of view and practice.
Many of the divinities came to Orunmila for direction and guidance thru the blessings and command authority he received from OBAORISA (Obatala who is the King and leader of all the Orisas).
Obatala exalted and elevated Orunmila, and this is how the last of the divinities and the least of them all became the head of them all.
Obatala exalts those who wish to genuinely serve humanity because leadership requires true humble service to all. In the instance of this odu Ifa it was Orunmila who received this honor.
This is a beautiful example of how Ifa and Orisa work together and also how and why Orunmila has been given an exalted position by the Orisa Obatala. May we all be so fortunate to be exalted similarly.
People may speak of Ifa/Orisa at times as as juxtaposed to one another, however these divinities work together in serving the will of Olodumare.
We do well to honor, value and properly understand both and speak and deal with both respectfully as a balanced example of our inner cultivation.
This takes us back to our contemplation of how one may go about cultivating Iwa Pele or “good balanced character.”
Within the Ifa verse of Irete Odi we are told that good character goes so far as to provide sufficient armor of protection against all types of life’s challenges and unpleasantness.
Iwa pele, lokun aye
Fii to peti lowo eni
Adifa fun Obatala oun Orunmila
Ti o fi iwa pele
Gba okun aye lowo okanlenirinwo imole
Gentle character, it which enables the rope of life to stay unbroken in one’s hand
This was the Ifa oracle cast for Obatala and Orunmila who by means of gentle character
Were going to win the rope of enduring life from the 401 divinities.
Our practice and tradition at it’s highest expression and practice implores us continue to model gentle character in the likeness of our maker Obatala.
When we have opportunity to demonstrate humanity, compassion, and loving kindness to our family, friends or community let us do so.
Eepa Orisa oo.