|Randomly refreshing bits of Ifa wisdom:|
Orunmila said: "It is wise
to suffer in the beginning,
and be prosperous in the end".
I said: "It is wise
to suffer in the beginning,
and be prosperous in the end."
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).
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 (Members: click to read on)
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.
So 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!
Getting rid of those irritating “no but” answers
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.
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 (Members: click to read on)
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:
ODU IFA COLLECTION: THE MAIN ODU AND THEIR FIFTEEN SUB-ODUS
Available for purchase at www.lulu.com
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!
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.
Irete Meji and its 15 sub-Odus available
Several 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)
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.
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!
The 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!
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, via yes but…” and “no but…” replies, additionally via “yes” or “no” with one “underlying” leg of Odu Ifa, to the even more complicated “yes, but…” or “no, but…” answers that are clarified by two “underlying” legs of Odu Ifa AKA a full double Odu. For yes indeed: if necessary we can read underneath initially unstable and unclear answers a double Odu Ifa which offers us its full range of texts (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, Ejife and Etawa simply a “yes”, and Okanran and Oyeku simply a “no”. Nothing more, nothing less. Often, in utterly uncomplicated questions like “Does this text want to be read for the client?” this basic interpretation is sufficient. Nothing complicated (Members: click to read on)
Not sure? All you have to do is ASK!!!
One of the questions that reach me regularly is: “When I am divining, how exactly do I decide what texts from my Ifa Corpus are applicable to the client?” The answer is of a beautiful, almost devastating simplicity: since you are already in the process of working with (the paraphernalia of) Ifa, all you have to do is ask!
Deciding whether a text wants to be read
Following my system you work with four cowries that can be read as either half a leg of Ifa, or as the answer to “Yes/no” questions, or both. In the case of deciding what texts to read, you go for the “Yes/no” answers and simply cast the cowries while asking: “Does this text want to be read?” The reply will be given as either Alafia, Ejife, Etawa, Okanran or Oyeku. I advise you to keep it simple, and consider Alafia, Ejife and Etawa a “Yes”, Okanran a “No”, and Oyeku an “Ask again, because this is very important!”.
Alafia, Ejife, Etawa and Okanran are very straightforward, providing the answer immediately. Oyeku instructs you to ask the same question again, and when either Alafia, Ejife, Etawa or Okanran appears you have your answer. Fairly often, however, the initial Oyeku will be followed by a second and even a third Oyeku before eventually a clear yes or no comes up.
Just as a reminder, here are (Members: click to read on)