Randomly refreshing bits of Ifa wisdom:

Restles mouth, slippery mouth; the evil brought about by mouth is the worst kind of evil.
It's the mouth of Chatterbox that eventually kills Chatterbox;
it is the mouths of those who idly chatter that will kill those who idly chatter.
It is the restles mouth that kills Chatterbox, Blabbermouth.

(Otura Meji)

Ifa Divination lesson 14

January 26, 2016 by · 7 Comments
Filed under: Ifa divination lessons 


Opira and Ifa

Opira is a pattern in Merindinlogun AKA Dilogun AKA Sixteen Cowries divination: all sixteen shells go “belly up”. Opira embodies violent change… it warns against the possibility of mental disease, destruction of the family, widespread famine and all kinds of natural disasters; it is also a warning against premature tragic death. In Merindinlogun Opira instructs the client to make sacrifice to the Earth, in order to try to escape Death. In fact, this sacrifice to the Earth is a last desperate attempt to prevent the client himself from being “sacrificed” (buried).

Opira, or two times Oyeku Meji

Ifa can be read from Merindinlogun, and what you read “underneath” this numerical Dilogun pattern of “zero mouths up”, is two double Odu Ifa: we see Oyeku Meji twice. To make that easier to see, I have arranged the shells in the above drawing in a four by four grid pattern.

Although I usually follow the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) by using only four cowries to cast Odu Ifa (see Casting Ifa page) which takes one cast for each “leg”, every now and then I like to take the scenic route and use sixteen cowries that produce four legs AKA two double Odu Ifa with each cast. In the video below you see how it is done.

So… it is clear that Opira can appear in Ifa… it simply being the same as two Oyeku Mejis. When you cast Ifa with sixteen cowries or with two simultaneous opeles, a double Odi Ifa appears immediately. If you cast with one opele (one double Odu Ifa appearing at a time) or with four cowries (one single leg of Odu Ifa appearing at a time), the situation is slightly different. Myself, I always go for one full Odu Ifa as the main Odu, and a second full Odu Ifa as the supporting Odu. If we look at the video again we see that, reading from right to left, the main Odu is Oyeku-Owonrin, and the supporting Odu is Owonrin-Irete. If, in that video, the main Odu would have been Oyeku Meji and the supporting Odu would also have been Oyeku Meji the result would have been equal to Opira. In other words: two Oyeku Mejis are equal to Opira!

Only once…

In all my years as a practicing diviner I have encountered Opira only once, and I sincerely hope to never see it again. It was somewhere in the 1990’s, when a truly gorgeous young woman of 22 years (let’s call her Patricia) came for divination, sent by one of my regular clients who was very worried about her. Patricia, who was profoundly depressed, was under all kinds of psychiatric treatment and in various therapies – one of the symptoms was that she had no self-esteem at all. At a certain moment she said: “Jaap, it seems that all men want to have sex with me, and I don’t care. So if you want me, just say so and you can have me”.

Ignoring the testosterone gushing through my veins I told her of the strict taboo on sex between diviner and client, so we changed the subject and began the divination. Opira appeared, and quite a lot of subsequent information. She didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell: nothing could really be done for her. Of course I wrapped it up somewhat nicer, gave her all possible advice I could, and asked Ifa if any ebo could be made to help her… but no: she had almost reached the end of her allotted time here on earth. Couple of hours later she left, somewhat less depressed on account of our nice talk and even smiling every now and then, but when I watched her disappear down the street I knew I saw a dead woman walking. Three weeks later I received the message that she had killed herself. Patricia, even after so many years I think of you often…

Yes, I did make the offering to the Earth on her behalf, but sometimes you know that the end of the road has been reached.

Opira IS a part of Ifa!

Opira is definitely part of Ifa, and as such it should be taken extremely serious in those rare cases when it appears. Thanks to Olodumare they are very rare! And no, it doesn’t by definition have to be fatal… but sometimes even the best priest stands empty-handed.

Ifa Divination Lesson 13

January 18, 2016 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Ifa divination lessons 


Sacrifice – what to do or not to do?


In Ifa philosophy, lifestyle and divination, the concept of sacrifice plays an immensely important role. The concept is not particularly difficult to grasp: if you want to get something out of Nature you need to give something back. Otherwise there will be a vacuum which Nature abhors, so you’d better fill it up with something you can afford to donate, or Nature will take over and fill the vacuum with something you might not be able to afford to part with. I don’t mean that you should become paranoid – I simply indicate that in Ifa balance is a big thing, which the clever practitioner tends to be aware of.

Since most practitioners in the diaspora base their practice to a large extend on Yoruba practice, Yoruba culture and Yoruba(-based) divination texts, the concept of making ebo, adimu, sacrifice, offering or whatever happens to crop up, can be extremely confusing. Cultures may be enormously different, prescribed offerings may not be available where you live, animal sacrifice may be prohibited in your country or town, you might not have the faintest idea which spirit (if any) to make the offering to, or you might simply not know what the fugg all the stuff is about.

Although not the only issue, it is especially the concept of animal sacrifice that tends to create confusion, raise problems, turn off people, and make our way of life somewhat suspect in the eyes of our neighbors. In fact animal sacrifice is a regular cropper-upper among Westerners who are either used to buying unrecognizable (because heavily processed) meat in the local supermarket, or are vegetarians/vegans who get abhorred by the whole idea.

Especially in the diaspora I have noticed a tendency to over-offering, and to over-simplification of the concept of sacrifice, which may be expressed in the following sequence: “I have a small problem; I will now snuff a chicken and the Orisha will solve it for me. I have a big problem; I will now kill five chickens and the Orisha will solve it for me. I have a very big problem; I will now kill a goat and the Orisha will solve it for me. I have a truly enormous problem; I will now kill five goats plus ten chickens and the Orisha will solve it for me.” Sure, sounds pretty simple… but I don’t think it really works this way. It most definitely doesn’t in my own life with Ifa.


Since these animals, whether chickens, goats, sheep or for all I care elephants, need to be bought and paid for, one might say that this particular interpretation of sacrifice reduces the process to a money matter. It’s a bit like the old indulgences in the mediaeval Roman Catholic church: you misbehave, you pay indulgence money, and all is forgiven.


Although I never had any qualms snuffing the odd animal in my earlier years of Ifa/Orisha practice, it used to be quite a lot of bother, in fact so much bother that it redirected too much of my attention from the spiritual process of sacrifice towards the need to stay on the right side of the law (and the neighbors). Here in The Netherlands you can’t slaughter your own animals in or around your own house – with only very few exceptions, under controlled circumstances. Which created an amusing situation when I was initiated into Oshoosi way back in 1994 (wide grin)!

bromsnorBefore my “godfather” Awo Falokun Fatunmbi came over to The Netherlands for the ten days of my initiation, I contacted the local police (where I had some friends) and conferred with them on the issue of sacrifice. They told me: “Jaap, take care that no neighbors see, hear or smell what is happening. We prefer that you do the killing yourself, but if for reasons of protocol that isn’t possible, watch that Falothingummy bloke closely to see if he does it in a decent way. If not, immediately take the knife away from him, call us and we’ll come deal with the situation. We won’t bother you if not necessary, but you alone are responsible for what that foreigner will be doing, so keep him under control”.

This resulted in the interesting and hilarious situation that not my godfather but yours truly was in charge of several important parts of the initiation where I was legally obliged to supervise him, and if necessary take the knife away from him (wide and amused grin)! Needless to say that all sacrifices went smoothly so that I had no reason to stop Awo Falokun. It’s equally needless to say that back then I didn’t inform him of the situation, I didn’t even bring it up later because it had become a moot point by then. But it sure gives a picture of the complicated, even funny situations that may arise when practicing out of context and out of culture, not to mention operating within the jurisdiction of Western European laws that don’t give a fiddler’s fugg about what Yorubas or their American followers do.

Solved by Ifa… delightfully!

Now the pleasant thing with Ifa is that it always recognizes what the local or cultural issues are, and it’s not particularly prone to expecting icebergs in equatorial seas, or tropical rain forests on the barren coasts of Greenland. The same goes for time and time-related traditions: Ifa doesn’t seem to attach much value to its practitioners forming a re-enactment society of rituals from other times and other places, nor do I have the impression that we, like f’rinstance the Amish, should let go of modern transport and start riding in horse-drawn buggies instead.

Yes indeed, over here in The Netherlands Ifa is very much aware of, and possibly even the driving force behind, the fact that times are a-changing, and although I couldn’t literally predict it, I certainly felt it coming: after my initiation the frequency with which the Orishas asked for animal sacrifice decreased steadily, while the number of demands for a considerable change of attitude increased at a similar rate. In fact the whole range of physical demands diminished, more often than not leaving me and/or my clients with a bunch of the most difficult sacrifices one can imagine: letting go of outworn ideas, actively improving ones character even if it hurts like hell, accepting difficult situations as part of ones path to optimum Destiny… that sort of thing.

greek animal sacrificeHaving pushed it forward for years, it must have been in 2013 or 2014 that I finally could not ignore Ifa’s subtle hints any longer… so I took out the paraphernalia, hollered a pretty strong invocation and… asked! The answer, repeatedly given in various forms but always with the same core message, was clear: Ifa finally considered (and keeps considering) it time that, at least in my house, my country, my culture, my practice and my circumstances, animal sacrifice goes the same way as human sacrifice… to wit extinct, and simply taboo.

It took the venerable Spirit of Divination long enough to make it clear to me… on account of yours truly having quite a thick skull, and regardless of me having felt it coming for a long time, in the end some divination with the impact of a sledge hammer was needed to ram it home: in my family, group, house, ilé, or asylum for the incurably insane (strike out what you don’t consider applicable), a general taboo has been placed on animal blood sacrifice.

Although in future there may be isolated instances where this taboo will be temporarily lifted, this should be specifically indicated by divination as an exception. Also, Ifa says that an animal that is dying already, may shed its blood for the general good… like recently I didn’t let the blood of a bird caught by one of my cats go to waste, but gave the animal a mercy killing right over the head of the stone Eshu in my front yard. Ifa, who has a wicked sense of humor, also says that, if I can’t control an irresistible urge to make a blood offering regardless of his taboo, I could always cut my own throat. Tongue in cheek, good old Ifa speaks, every now and then (wide grin)!

When in doubt, ask!

Some, even many, of the issues I encounter with clients (and sometimes even with myself) are the result of too strictly adhering to traditions and idiosyncrasies of another culture. When done with good measure there’s nothing wrong with that, but some things that work in the lush rain forests of near-equatorial Africa simply don’t make much sense in the totally different culture and circumstances in Amsterdam, Berlin or Moscow. Like going to the river as part of an initiation ceremony in early January, for example. No problem whatsoever in Nigeria, but it you try that in most of Europe the river is either completely frozen over, or at least so bloody cold that dipping more than a single shivering toe in it might result in a fine double pneumonia. Instead go for an indoor swimming pool, or even a bath tub. No Orisha will blame you.

BoesterSame goes for many traditionally prescribed offerings. Our Western circumstances, cultures and lifestyles are so completely different from those in ancient Ifa texts, that we should use our brains and figure out what Ifa thinks will work for us, right here. Never, never ever simply skip an offering – after all, it’s offering that helps a person, not offering has never helped anybody. But use your common sense, and simply ask Ifa of instead of snuffing your faithful dog Fido on behalf of Ogun, it might not be a better idea to finally gather your guts together and deal with the issues our modern Western world confronts us with. And when, at the end of the divination, the final question “Eboda?” is answered with a reverberating “Yes!”, you can be sure that the offering has been made, has been accepted, and has been effective.

NB: What’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander. What I state above works for me and mine, divining and offering here in The Netherlands. If you happen to be in doubt about making an offering or not, and if so, what and to whom, ask. Ask! ASK! That’s what casting Ifa is for: getting answers you can’t obtain anywhere else!

Divination lesson 14

The book Iwori is available!

January 6, 2016 by · Comments Off on The book Iwori is available!
Filed under: Recommended books and such 


Iwori Meji plus its fifteen sub-Odus

Well now, it took us a bloody long time to produce this one, but here it is: the book Iwori, Volume #4 in the series of Ifa divination text books by Brenda Beek and myself! There were many reasons for the delay, most of which were part of daily life like the occasional illness or lots of other things to do in the area of social obligations, while a few were specific to the weird and to me increasingly repulsive habits of some representatives of Ifa/Orisha. I guess y’all know the kind of stuff I mean… everybody who happens to lift the occasional finger on behalf of Ifa, inevitably gets criticized, attacked and cursed by those who disagree. Considering that most of the established branches disagree with me, you can easily imagine the kind of discussions I got involved in… until I decided to let it all go, not to take part in any (alright: most) of the bullshit anymore, and simply concentrate on the series of Odu Ifa books and some other Ifa (book) projects Bren and I are working on.
Iwori-AdvertisementSo here is the result: volume 4 in a series of 16! It’s looking quite good again, so lemme use this occasion for praising Brenda Beek, who creates all the visual appearances of the books, that is the covers, the layout and all the illustrations. She also encourages me in various ways like pulling my beard, feeding me, showering inventive insults on my head, and calling me to say that she is waiting for the next bunch of texts. Yes, it’s a tough life, you can see that now (wide grin)! Seriously though: without Brenda I would not have started this series, let alone keep going with book after book! Speaking about Brenda, I can see a clear growth and development in the way she interprets the Ifa texts and subsequently puts the essence into illustrations. Both her insights and her style are evolving, making each volume better than the previous one. Image how volume sixteen will turn out (wide grin)!
Anyway, here it is: Volume 4 “Iwori”… having taken a long time in the making, but finally there, for your pleasure and my relief after a long, looooong birth! Yet there’s no rest for the wicked – the next volume Obara is already well on its way, planned for this summer for those living on the Northern hemisphere, and this winter for those living on the Southern half of our planet.

So here’s what I’d like you to do: hit either the picture or one of the links in this text, and order Iwori! Enjoy!

Ifa Divination Lesson 12

October 30, 2015 by · 11 Comments
Filed under: Ifa divination lessons 

public-article-balkGetting rid of those irritating “no but” answers

This lesson has been overtaken by time and progressing insight (grin). I leave it up anyway, but I strongly advise you to bear in mind what I have added in the last (italic) paragraph.

Part of Ifa divination is, next to the reading of double Odu Ifa, the asking of questions that can be answered with either “Yes” or “No”. As explained in previous lessons, Ifa divination with four cowries contains some uncertain answers, to wit “Yes, but…” and “No, but…”. The various patterns with three mouths up produce a “Yes, but…”, the patterns with three bellies up mean “No, but…”. The first is called Etawa, the second is called Okanran – this we all remember from the previous lessons, of course. Just to refresh your memory, I’ll give you a couple of pictures.


Etawa: yes, but…


Okanran: no, but…

Now the interesting part is that, as you become more and more proficient with casting Ifa, the system kind of begins simplifying itself. I hesitate speaking about “shortcuts” because Ifa generally doesn’t offer those – it’s more that your Ori begins to increasingly understand what the system is trying to tell you. You could, with some delightful exaggeration, call these “quantum leaps of the Spirit” instead of shortcuts. I know, I know… I’m being melodramatic (wide and wicked grin)!

One such quantum leap is that you can completely get rid of the “but” in the “no, but…” in Okanran. Sure, that’s heresy in the eyes of organized branches, but we’re not organized… we’re Independent and that’s what we want to stay. So here’s the very simple way for you to dump the “buts” in Okanran and make Ifa speak more clearly to you.

Much simpler than it seems

In Ifa, we formulate our questions in such a way that “yes” is the desired or most positive outcome – this is because “yes” all by itself brings some good energy and positive vibrations. When Etawa appears, it traditionally means “Yes, but…” and there’s nothing wrong with that. The answer is “yes” and hence positive… there’s simply a bit more to be told, and the “but” prompts you to explore the road to this extra information. So in Etawa we leave the “but” in place, and go happily on our way to further clarification. In fact Etawa is nothing more and nothing less than a simple “maybe”… which is exactly how I treat it.

Okanran however is different. When we ask a question that is answered with “No” we don’t need a specific admonition to go on asking! Sometimes the “No” isn’t inherently bad but it simply tells us not to do something after which we probably ask what to do instead, or it isn’t as straightforward as that and then we ask further questions anyway! In neither situation do we need to consider the “but”, because we go on asking as a matter of course.

So what I have learned to do through my personal evolution inside the Ifa system, is to treat Okanran not as a “No, but…” but as a straightforward “No”! This makes the whole process considerably cleaner, by cutting out the unnecessary “but”. Of course I do occasionally read the underlying leg of Odu Ifa underneath an Okanran in order to get some more insight in why exactly the “No” is there… but not always. Because proceeding in the way I described, within a very short time during the further divination, Ifa invariably enlightens me about such circumstances anyway!

So what do we finish up with, when we follow the above described system?

  • Alafia (four mouths up): Yes, with a blessing
  • Etawa (three mouths up): Maybe
  • Ejife (two mouths up: Yes
  • Okanran (one mouth up): No
  • Oyeku (no mouths up): Ask again

And now for something completely different!

During my decades as an Ifa practitioner, there was never a moment when my learning stopped. It did, does, and will progress constantly. After I wrote this article Ifa kept guiding me, making things clearer to me all the time. In this particular case this resulted in a shift in Etawa which, from an initial “Yes, but…” progressed via a tentative “Mayby” to a plain and simple “No”.

  • Alafia (four mouths up): Yes, with a blessing
  • Etawa (three mouths up): No
  • Ejife (two mouths up: Yes
  • Okanran (one mouth up): No
  • Oyeku (no mouths up): Ask again

You see: we all keep learning!

>>> Divination lesson 13

Book 3: “Irosun” is available

October 22, 2014 by · Comments Off on Book 3: “Irosun” is available
Filed under: Recommended books and such 


October: we made it!

Through very hard work we managed to make the deadline of October after all: Volume #3 in our series of Odu Ifa books Irosun is available NOW. This means that presently the first three books in a series of sixteen are available to you:



Available for purchase at www.lulu.com

Volume 01 – Ika (70 verses): http://bit.ly/odu-ika
Volume 02 – Irete (74 verses): http://bit.ly/odu-irete
Volume 03 – Irosun (93 verses): http://bit.ly/odu-irosun

The thirteen other volumes will appear over the next few years in alphabetical order, momentarily we are working on Iwori. More information and FAQ right HERE!

Ifa and Unesco

May 4, 2014 by · Comments Off on Ifa and Unesco
Filed under: All that does not fit elsewhere 


What to tell those who don’t take Ifa serious

Every now and then I grow tired of explaining to people what Ifa is, and why I’m sufficiently interested in it to be a practitioner, and to invest decades of my life in collecting texts and publishing them in books. In such a tired moment I advise people to look up the connection between Ifa and Unesco – after all, in 2005 Unesco has recognized Ifa as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. Click on the pic to go to the Unesco site.

Ifa with Unesco

The Irete book is on the market now!

May 1, 2014 by · Comments Off on The Irete book is on the market now!
Filed under: Recommended books and such 


Irete Meji and its 15 sub-Odus available

Irete-AdvertisementSeveral days earlier than the planned 5th of May, we managed to get the Irete book out in the open! It has been published and is available right now!

There is a confession to be made though: I must immediately admit that the proud statement “a few days earlier than the planned date” is kind of misleading, because the book was already several months overdue before we set the final publishing date. Indeed, due to lots of unexpected circumstances, including the fact that there was so much more work involved than we initially imagined, our planning turned out to be waaaaaay off. But we kinda got into our stride now, having settled into some kind of regular work schedule and having ironed out a bunch of wrinkles in the process, which means that the third volume Irosun will easily follow later this year. But for the time being: here is your long-expected Irete book! Enjoy!

Irete – The main odu and its fifteen sub-odus:

• The book contains 74 Ifa verses
• Metaphysical Observations
• The book is fully illustrated
• Arranged in alphabetical order

Number of verses:
Irete Meji (14)
Irete-Ika (3)
Irete-Irosun (3)
Irete-Iwori (4)
Irete-Obara (3)
Irete-Odi (3)
Irete-Ofun (4)
Irete-Ogbe (6)
Irete-Ogunda (4)
Irete-Okanran (3)
Irete-Osa (9)
Irete-Oshe (5)
Irete-Otura (4)
Irete-Oturupon (3)
Irete-Owonrin (3)
Irete-Oyeku (3)

You can order the book by clicking on either the illustration or the blue link higher up in the text, or simply here. The price is US$ 21.95 or the equivalent in your own currency.

Ifa divination lesson 11

April 27, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Ifa divination lessons 


Several levels of “Yes/No” answers

A fair part of every Ifa divination consists of the asking and answering of questions. In fact I strongly encourage my clients to ask concrete questions, because Ifa has the uncanny knack of coming up with equally (or even more!) concrete answers!

Ejife on trayThe core of my questions-and-answers system is of course formed by the familiar system that in the Diaspora is often cast with pieces of coconut called “Obi”, its African predecessor that is cast with kola nuts called “Obi Abata”, or with any set of four flat objects can can fall either side up… in Africa I have seen people successfully divine with coins, trouser buttons, and of course my own favorite four cowries – which are used in this whole series of divination lessons anyway. We’ll stick to them, and below you see the five basic patterns with their names that the four cowries can fall in, when we are only concerned with “yes” or “no”. This should already be familiar to you by now, but hey: nothing wrong with a little bit of overkill every now and then!
Five patterns

But there is much more to answering questions than just “yes” or “no”! In this lesson I will guide you through various levels of answers, from the very simple basic “yes” or “no” without any bells or whistles, to answers that are clarified by an “underlying” leg of Odu Ifa. For yes indeed: if necessary we can read underneath initially unclear answers an Odu Ifa (Ese Odu Ifa) to help us understand what’s the matter!

The first level: basic “yes” and “no”

The most basic way of interpreting the five patterns is by considering Alafia and Ejife simply a “yes”, Okanran and Etawa simply a “no”, and Oyeku “Ask the same question again, because the Ancestors want to speak”. Nothing more, nothing less. In simple, uncomplicated questions this basic interpretation is sufficient. Nothing complicated here, just two straightforward options: “yes” and “no” (after Oyeku eventually also a “yes” or “no” will arrive). Ifa for Dummies (wide and wicked grin)!

The second level: additional information

Generally, the questions posed by the client (or the diviner!) tend to be of a somewhat more complicated nature, in the sense that we want some additional information beyond a simple “yes” or “no”. Luckily we can go on to a deeper level of interpretation, where instability and uncertainty of the patterns can be explored, and through repeated questions can be turned into clear positives or negatives.


Alafia Alafia

The basic essence of Alafia is “Yes” with some blessing attached. Many diviners consider it necessary to ask again, but in my personal experience that’s not at all a necessity. Alafia simply means “Yes” in a very happy way.

Okanran Okanran

Although Okanran often is considered to mean “No, but…”, I consider Okanran a clear and straightforward “NO”.

Ejife Ejife

Ejife is a very clear “Yes”! Many diviners consider Ejife a firmer “yes” than Alafia, but I don’t agree with that point of view. It’s “Yes”. Period.

Etawa Etawa

Although Etawa often is considered to mean “Yes, but…” I consider Etawa a clear and straightforward “No”.

Oyeku Oyeku

Some people are scared shitless of this pattern, considering it a very negative “No”. I don’t see it that way: in Oyeku the Ancestors (Egun) want to speak, emphasizing the answer to the original question. So: ask that exact question again, and don’t be surprised if Oyeku appears… again! If that happens ask the question yet again, and when either Alafia or Ejife appears it means an absolute, definite “Yes!”. When Etawa or Okanran appears, it means an absolute, definite “No”. Ifa and the Ancestors have spoken.

The third level: reading one underlying leg of Odu Ifa

You can interpret all casts with four Cowries in a more expansive way, by reading the “underlying” Odu Ifa, which is simply done by viewing them as a vertical row. The shells are then read from the top (the furthest away from you) down which, indeed, positions them in a vertical row. Sometimes two shells seem to be on the same horizontal level, but if you look closer you will, in 9,999 of 10,000 cases, be able to distinguish just a tiny little difference in position between the two, enabling you to see them as a vertical row. Don’t worry about the 10,000th case: if you ever arrive there you will be such an experienced diviner already that you will be able to ask your oracle what to do 😉 !

Ejife with Oshe on trayTo the left you see an illustration of this “vertical row” style of reading. As a plain answer it pretty clearly shows Ejife (“Yes”), and if we start reading from the top down we encounter the shells in the sequence 1, 2, 3 and 4. The shells 2 and 3 initially seem to be on the same horizontal level, but closer observation shows us that shell 2 lies slightly higher up than 3. So the leg of Odu Ifa we see here is: Oshe.

Now there are two results in Four Cowries that can only have one Odu Ifa underneath, because all cowries are lying in the same position: that’s Alafia with all four “mouths” up, and Oyeku with all four “bellies” up. In other words: the underlying Odu Ifa in Alafia is always Ogbe, and in Oyeku it’s always Oyeku… plain and simple. In Okanran, Ejife and Etawa however, there are various possibilities, which I give below with a short interpretation for each fall.

Alafia supported by Ogbe Alafia supported by Ogbe

Alafia can only be supported by one particular Odu Ifa: Ogbe. The blessing that comes with Alafia is partly caused by Ogbe giving an impulse towards expansion, evolution and elevation. Alafia/Ogbe kind of goes “beyond the intellect”, Ogbe representing the perfect alignment between Ori or Consciousness and Iponri AKA the Higher Self. In order to make the blessings materialize, acting upon the “Yes!” answer should be done in a very ethical way because Ogbe, though bringing good stuff, also warns against narcissism and egotism. Although I’m not a great proponent of exaggerated humility which is often no humility at all but simply a form of reversed arrogance, after seeing Alafia/Ogbe it sometimes makes sense to pursue the line of questioning to make sure if the client understands the need to avoid egotistical and narcissist behavior. This having been said, in my practice I rarely if ever do such a follow-up: generally speaking Alafia means a clear “Yes!” with a blessing.

Okanran supported by Obara Okanran supported by Obara

Modesty is needed, take care that lessons taught by those who are older and wiser have been well absorbed. There may be too high an opinion of oneself, leading to a doubtful result. Overestimation of oneself leads to various mistakes, like rash actions. Self-confidence is good, but when Okanran is supported by Obara one should take care that it doesn’t become self-deception.

Okanran supported by Okanran Okanran supported by Okanran

Resistance from family or surroundings may be playing a role. If the one who asks the question expects support from others, he might well find himself very disappointed. Possible uncertainty in Okanran may be the result of this person not fully understanding how big the opposition might be. This Odu speaks of a lone prophet, who has the guts to go against the majority, especially in defense against moral decay. In my own practice I see the strong influence of Oshoosi in Okanran, Oshoosi being the pathfinder and tracker who guides us via the shortest route to our optimum destiny.

Okanran supported by Ika Okanran supported by Ika

Unexpected illness may block a positive result. Gossip and self-doubt are also a form of illness, it’s important to remember the power of the word: don’t use it negatively because that’s a form of self-hexing! Okanran supported by Ika often suggests gossip, self-doubt, or possibly as a result of hexes, spells and curses from outside.

Okanran supported by Oturupon Okanran supported by Oturupon

Now this is a real pisser: Okanran supported by Oturupon often refers to the distinct possibility of deliberate attempts by others to prevent a good outcome. There may be need for psychic protection. Often silence is the best protection: we don’t discuss our plans with everybody and his ancient mother.

Ejife supported by Iwori Ejife supported by Iwori

Ejife an any form is a firm “Yes”! When the patteris is supported by Iwori, action as a follow-up to the question will have positive results for spiritual transformation through blessings by Shango, or emotional transformation through blessings by Aganyu. Fire, both in a literal and metaphorical sense, is the key to transformation. The client will need to commit himself to positive change, which is what the fire in this pattern suggests: the heat of passion to make things change for the better! In my experience Ejife supported by Iwori indicates that we are not yet on the brink of these positive changes, but that we’re working steadily towards them

Ejife supported by Odi Ejife supported by Odi

Ejife supported by Odi is a firm “Yes” with the blessing of the birth of something truly new… although on fact every birth is of course a rebirth, or a form of regenerating and revitalizing. Blessing of Yemoja, in the form of a new enterprise, a new idea, a new relationship or maybe even a new child. Ejife with Odi underneath is a pattern of “birth”, in other words we are on the very brink of good changes… that is, if with the help of the oracale we make them good!

Ejife supported by Irosun Ejife supported by Irosun

Ejife supported by Irosun is a clear “Yes” with a blessing from the Egun and Osun, the latter (not to be confused with Oshun!) being the Orisha who protects the consciousness of those who search for spiritual transformation. The client for whom this pattern falls tends to be aware of the spiritual aspects that play a role here, has learned the lessons from the ancestors, and follows the right path. There is a good foundation for learning how to let go of ineffective thoughts about living in this world. The admonition by the Egun is that this person should proceed carefully and cautiously in order to progress through difficulties.

Ejife supported by Owonrin Ejife supported by Owonrin

Ejife supported by Owonrin means “Yes” with blessings from Eshu or the Egun… or possibly both. Either way, the Ancestors look favorably upon the subject of the question and on the client’s way of proceeding. Consult the Ancestors to obtain additional depth and clarity, and be aware that the intervention of Eshu can lead to unexpected changes in the circumstances that led to the asking of this question. What Owonrin brings can get lost again quite easily, so be alert and disciplined… because Owonrin is an unstable Odu!

Ejife supported by Oshe Ejife supported by Oshe

Ejife supported by Oshe brings a “Yes” with the blessing of Oshun, in the form of f’rinstance sensuality, erotics, abundance and fertility, depending on the nature and subject of the question. In a life that is lived according to the instructions of Ifa, that is: in harmony with nature and with the spiritual forces that keep creation intact, Oshun can supply all these blessings.

Ejife supported by Ofun Ejife supported by Ofun

When Ejife is supported by Ofun, the meaning is “Yes” with the blessing of Obatala. The client should take good care to act according to ethical principles. The blessings of Obatala come to those whose social behaviour and personal actions are consciously directed towards the highest possible spiritual standards and aspirations. There should be no excess of any kind. The client should truly maintain spiritual, physical, and domestic cleanliness. Clean, white, pure, ethical… those are the words that come to mind when Ejife falls with Ofun as supporting Odu!

Etawa supported by Ogunda Etawa supported by Ogunda

Etawa supported by Ogunda suggests that obstructions should be confronted and removed. In the Odu Ogunda, Orisha Ogun spreaks very strongly, which is a good thing because he is the one who moves obstacles out of the way! The obstructions can be external or internal, implying the removal of physical circumstances that prevent improvement (a change in circumstances), or the removal of ineffective thoughts and attitudes (a change in consciousness). Courage is required, and the determination of Ogun… the warrior spirit!

Etawa supported by Osa Etawa supported by Osa

Etawa supported by Osa brings the Winds of Change! What seems important now, can change because of presently unknown causes that are in movement. Shape and content of the present issue can suddenly change. Through the presence of Oya, who controls the conversion or indeed the “twilight zone” between the living and the dead, the Ancestors can cause sudden change. This partical form of Etawa comes with a struggle, possibly as the result of a lack of preparation or the absence of a “Plan B”.

Etawa supported by Otura Etawa supported by Otura

Etawa supported by Otura may indicate the need for a spiritually more elevated approach. The end result is acceptable, but possibly there’s something not completely ethical in the way the person who asks this question wants to reach that result. Otura is the Odu that makes or breaks families, and depending on the situation either the one or the other is relevant. Here is a strong reference to social responsibility. In case of continuing confusion, Otura speaks of fasting and meditating in order to gain clarity.

Etawa supported by Irete Etawa supported by Irete

Etawa supported by Irete often indicates that the person who asks this question has the unconscious tendency to sabotage his own efforts. There is a reference to insecurity and self-doubt that may stand in the way of a good solution. Selfrespect and self-affirmation should be examined, and where necessary encouraged.

Oyeku supported by Oyeku Oyeku supported by Oyeku

Oyeku can only be supported by one particular Odu Ifa, also named Oyeku. For me, Oyeku lets the Ancestors (Egun) speak very loudly! Usually, when Oyeku falls, it turns out to be one or more (easily identifiable) Egun hammering at the importance of the answer, saying: “Cast again, asking the same question! And stick, stick, STICK to the answer! No shortcuts here, no tricks of the trade: ask the question again and if the answer is either Alafia or Ejife it’s an absolute “YES!!!”, when Okanran or Etawa appears it is an absolute “NO!!!”, and when Oyeku falls again it either emphasizes the importance of the issue even more (cast again with the same question!), or the Egun want to be consulted in depth on the issue. Oyeku by itself never means disaster, and the paranoid reaction of many diviners to its appearence (throwing water, doing “gymnastics” and such) has no equivalent in Independent Practice. But it does indicate a very important situation, usually illuminated by the Egun.

Now get cracking!

Well now, that should keep you occupied for a while! Get your cowries out from wherever you keep them, and start practicing while (I say it again!) bearing in mind that you’ll probably never need to read the yes/no answers to such a profound depth as to combine them into a double Odu Ifa. Don’t say I didn’t warn you 😉 !

>>> Lesson 12: Getting rid of those irritating “no but” answers

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