Study the Teaching of Ifa and the Orisha's
Orunmila is also referred to as Ifá (“ee-FAH”), the embodiment of knowledge and wisdom and the highest form of divination practice among the Yoruba people. In present-day Cuba, Orunmila is known as Orula, Orunla and Orumila.
Orunmila is not Ifa, but he is the one who leads the priesthood of Ifa and it was Orunmila who carried Ifa (the wisdom of Olodumare) to Earth. Priests of Ifa are called babalawo (the father of secrets)
Olodumare sent Orunmila to Earth with Oduduwa to complete the creation and organization of the world, to make it habitable for humans.
A woman will not be allowed to divine using the tools of IFA. Throughout Cuba and some of the other New world countries, Orula can be received by individuals regardless of gender. For men, the procedure is called to receive “Mano de Orula” and for women, it is called to receive “Kofa de Orula”. The same procedure exist in Yoruba land, with esentaye (birthing rites), Isefa (adolesants rites) and Itefa coming of age. Worshippers of the traditional religious philosophy of the Yoruba people all receive one hand of Ifa (called Isefa) regardless of which Orisa they may worship or be an Orisa Priest, it is that same Isefa that will direct all followers to the right path and their individual destines in life.
The title Iyanifa is in suspect since it is not used by either the Cuban or most of the West African practitioners of IFA.
Among West Africans, Orunmila is recognized as a primordial Irunmole that was present both at the beginning of Creation and then again amongst them as a prophet that taught an advanced form of spiritual knowledge and ethics, during visits to earth in physical form or through his disciples.
One morning on the seashore they decided to fight to see which was the stronger, but, as both of them are protected by a hard shell, neither could succeed in injuring the other.
Finally they came to an agreement that they were equal in strength.
We are so well protected by our armour, said Tortoise, that no one can harm us.
And thus, said Crab, we are the strongest creatures in the world.
But at this moment a boy passed by and picked them both up. Tortoise was boiled in a pot and his shell was made into ornaments, while Crab was cooked in a stew for the boys supper. Since that day the descendants of the two boasters have always been ashamed to meet, and that is why they always shun one another.
Tortoise was delighted with this arrangement, and at first he duly placed the sum of money on the ground every time he asked the Cloud for fine or wet weather.
One day, the occasion of a Chiefâ€™s wedding, the sky was very cloudy, and it seemed likely to rain. Tortoise heard the Chief complaining: â€œWe have promised the drummers a great deal of money, but if it rains nobody will come to see the maidens dance at my wedding!
Tortoise went to the Chief and said: If you will give me a certain sum, I will hold up the clouds on my hard back and there will be no rain.
The Chief readily agreed to pay the cowries Tortoise demanded, and Tortoise stood at the back of his hut and cried to the Cloud: Pass! Pass! The Cloud rolled back, the sun shone brightly, and the wedding took place with much rejoicing.
But Tortoise did not lay any money on the ground, and instead, he kept the whole amount for himself.
The next day a man came to Tortoises house and offered him much money if he would cause the rain to fall. For, he said, my fishing-stakes are too high, but if it rains the river will swell and the fish will come into my baskets.
Very well, replied Tortoise. I will throw a spear into the clouds, and the rain will fall.
Then he stood at the back of his house, where he could not be seen, and cried to the Cloud: Fall! Fall! It began to pour with rain.
But again he neglected to lay money on the ground and kept it all for himself. Soon, in this way, he grew rich and famous, and almost every day someone asked for fine or rainy weather. He stored many bags of cowries in his house and gave nothing to the Cloud.
When two people asked him for rain and sunshine on the same day, Tortoise pretended that he had grown tired with holding up the clouds on his back, and so the rain fell.
But after some time, seeing how rich Tortoise became, the hard-working Cloud was angry and decided to punish him.
One day Tortoise wished to set out on a journey with his family, so he stood outside his house and cried: Pass! Pass! Let the sun shine on my journey!
But as soon as he had set out, the Cloud rolled back again and rain poured down in torrents, causing a great flood in which Tortoise and all his famiIy were drowned.
The Yoruba believe that there is a god, Ori, who supervises people’s choices in heaven. Literally, ori means ‘head’ or ‘mind’, because that is what one chooses before birth. If someone chooses a wise head, i.e. intelligence, wisdom, he will walk easily through life, but if someone chooses a fool’s head, he will never succeed anywhere. Ori could be considered as a personal god, a sort of guardian angel who will accompany each of us for life, once chosen. Even the gods have their Ori which directs their personal lives. Both men and gods must consult their sacred divination palm-nuts daily in order to learn what their Ori wishes. In this way, Ori is both an individual and a collective concept, a personal spirit directing each individual’s life, and also a god in heaven, who is feared even by Orunmila.
In heaven, there is a curious character called Ajala, a very fallible man whose daily work is fashioning faces (ori) from clay. Sometimes he forgets to bake them properly, so they cannot withstand the long journey to earth prior to the beginning of life; especially in the rainy season the clay might be washed away and there would be a total loss of face!
The Guerreros (warriors) are a set of orishas that an initiate receives usually after having received their Elekes and it is usually an indication that the person is on their way to Kariocha. The warriors consist of Elegba, Ogún, Ochosi and Osun. The warriors are received in a person’s life in order to protect them, strengthen their spiritual framework, teach them the importance of hard work and to open their spiritual road.
This is strictly a Lukumí initiation in that it evolved out of the environment that the Lukumí people were subjected to when they were brought to the new world as slaves. Originally, in the motherland, these orishas were worshipped and propitiated in communal outdoor shrines that belonged to the entire village or tribe. The exception would have been Elegba, which was received as an Eshu (a stone) by individuals when they were crowned, along with their crowning orisha. Elegba’s shrine was a large stone or collection of stones, Ogún’s shrine contained his iron implements, Ochosi’s included animal horns and the like, and Osun was a special staff that was much taller than today’s version and it was kept outside the home, staked into the ground – yet its function is still preserved in the modern version. All of the modern warriors are usually kept behind the front door, near the front door or facing the front door – indicating their importance in opening a person’s spiritual path, protecting the home from negativity and intruders, and still hinting at their closeness to the outdoors.
The modern Lukumí version evolved because the tribes of Lukumí people were split up and intermixed with other tribes and there was no possible was of having an outdoor public shrine at which offerings could be given without making it known to the slave masters. Thus each individual was to receive their own Elegba – which consisted of an otán (stone) and usually a cement head packed with magically charged substances that is essentially used like Elegba’s tools with which he can affect the physical and spiritual worlds. Here is a typical depiction of an Elegba to the right. But Elegbas vary from road to road, and each is unique and personal to the initiate in its own way. Usually Elegba that is received with the warriors is not a complete Elegba in that he does not have diloggún shells – usually these are added and empowered at the Kariocha. (But I have heard of ilés where they give diloggún with the warriors version of Elegba, but the diloggún are not yet fully empowered to speak.)
Ogún that is received in the warriors set is actually a smaller, less complete version of Ogún. This does not mean that Ogún is less effective, merely that he still has room to grow. He is received in an iron cauldron, with his otán, his tools that quite literally look like the tools that a blacksmith or a warrior would use and other iron implements. He does not usually come with diloggún either – these are usually received either in a separate ceremony, or at the time of Cuchillo. Inside of Ogún’s cauldron living with him, is Ochosi (his best friend or brother depending on which version of the legend you have heard.) Ochosi is also received in a very scaled down form, with the warriors. He is merely a metal crossbow that is empowered and lives within Ogún’s pot. Ochosi is received in complete form, in a separate ceremony. Often when Ogún is made full – by giving him diloggún and feeding him four legs, Ochosi is given full at the same time. Often this occurs at Cuchillo if it has not yet been done for an individual to that point.
Osun is a small staff that is packed with magical substances that acts as a person’s personal guard or watchdog. Many people say that he is your spiritual head, or the foundation for your higher self or Orí. He is lidded and sealed metal cup with a stem and is about 9 inches tall. on top of the lid is a metal rooster – the symbol for Osun. Hanging from the lip of the cup’s lid, are four jingle bells hanging from little chains. Osun is supposed to be placed in a high place in the house – preferably above the initiate’s head with the rooster facing the front door, so that he can watch for danger. He is supposed to remain upright at all times, and if he ever falls over, it is an indication that something very bad has either been thrown at the initiate or is on it’s way to harm the initiate. Osun should be immediately turned upright and the primary godparent should be notified of what happened. This is the scaled down modern version of the original that was found in Africa. There are human-sized Osuns but they are received for different purposes and in a separate initiation.
The warriors, when received into a home for the first time, or when the initiate moves into a new home, have to go through a special ebbó called the ebbó de entrada (the offering of entry.) This involves eyebale to Elegba, Ogún, Ochosi and Osun at the door to the house (Shilelekun.) This not only empowers and strengthens the door to the house for protection, but it also strengthens the presence of the warriors in that home and in effect lets them know that it is their new home and they are bound to protect it from any enemies or negativity. The initiate is then to tend to his new orishas in his home by cleaning them from time to time, coating them lightly with epó (palm oil), and a bit of honey, offering them rum, and occasionally cigar or a candle. Some ilés offer candies to Elegba, or fruits and toys. In my ilé we do not give candy to Elegba until he has completed something for us, as a reward.
Now that the initiate has received Elegba, the orisha can guide them spiritually, open their psychic senses and their doors to evolution and in general assist them through life. Many ilés call the initiate an Aborisha (follower of the Orishas) after having received the warriors.
Death (Iku) was gathering humans before there full time on earth had passed.
The Orishas worried about this, until Orumila said he would resolve this matter.
One day when Iku was busy, Orumila went and took his hammer
Iku became furious when he discovered the Hammer missing.
He rushed back to Orumila’s house, and demanded the hammers return.
Orumila said, Oludumare had assigned you the task of gathering humans when thier time had come,
but you are gathering them when you want, prior to thier predetermined death.
Iku answered, if humans do not die, the earth will die.
Orumila answered “you are not right to take humans before their time.
After a long discussion, Orumila began to see the logic of Iku’s task
Orumila aggred to return the Hammer, But Iku must swear not to take any of Orumila’s
children before there full time has passed.
Iku answred, When I see the Irde Ifa on a persons left wrist, I will pass over them, unless it is there predetermined time to die. Orumila and Iku aggreed, and from this day, Ifa devotees wear the Irde on the left wrist, as a sign of the pact between Iku and Orumila.
Opinions to our associated practitioners of the rule of Ocha and the Cuban IFA cult.
1. Do not allow anyone to change what was achieved with so much sacrifice in any ceremony performed, Whether in Cuba or our brothers anywhere in the world.
2. Make sure the people who you share knowledge of the secrets of Ifa have actually been initiated under the Cuban religions traditions which are of African origin, or if they have been initiated in some other method which is not what was bequeathed to us by our ancestors.
3. Do not perform or participate in initiations whether IFA or Ocha that are less than 7 days of rituals.
4 When Oba (Oriate) says during an Ocha ita, acting as the intermediary of the odu, "acquitted for lack of evidence" you have to immediately dismantle the throne and the person who is being initiated should stay all 7 days normally required for ceremony.
5 Please do not enter into discussions or raise questions that will cause disagreement with people who wish to follow other methods of initiation.
6. Do not allow in our homes in the days of rituals, opinions or people who do not agree with our faith inherited from our ancestors.
7. Respect all the ceremonial which we have been doing for our higher education.
8 Only be guided by your elders and in the lack of them by those people you designate for this purpose.
9. this section and those following pertained to Cuba and are not worth translating, if you wish to read it. It appears fully in the Spainsh Version.
(a) Council of priests of IFA of the Republic of Cuba.
(b) Council of priests Obateros (Oriate) of the Republic of Cuba.
(c) Council of priestesses Iyalochas elders of the Republic of Cuba.
(d) Council of priests Babalochas elders of the Republic of Cuba.
(e) Council of priests heads of Councils of the Republic of Cuba
(f) Council of Arara older priests of the Republic of Cuba.