Randomly refreshing bits of Ifa wisdom:

"By not knowing what we have to do, we finish up doing exactly nothing; by not knowing what we should not do, we make the same mistake over and over again"... those were the ones who cast for Oshoosi, on the day that he was worried about his path.
Should he or shouldn't he try again, what in the past had only given him lots of trouble?
They told him that not even the donkey stumbles over the same stone twice, so why
would Father be more stupid than the beasts?

(Irosun-Oyeku)


Big changes!

September 10, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: All that does not fit elsewhere 

Greetings all!

This site has been wonky for a long time, due to the fact that the provider is located in the Ukraine, and Paypal which arranges the subscriptions doesn’t seem to be particularly fond of that part of the world. Result: less and less options are working, and pretty soon the whole thing may be removed from the internet.

‘t Would be a big shame if all the information that’s already here and all the interesting stuff that will be coming up soon (I’ve got a lot of articles to be posted in the next few months!) would be lost for posterity, so I’ve switched to a completely new service with many more options than this here ol’ site has.

So there are two things my present members might want to do.

1. Please cancel your present subscriptions (via Paypal) for this site – I don’t want y’all to be paying for something that might disappear anytime now.

2. Please go over to the brand new Ifa Knowledge Project where you will find a whole range of old and new options, including free Ifa divinations by me on specific leves of membership! I’m excited with all the new possibilities, and so should you be (happy grin)!

Actually, the cheapest level there (“Ore” at 2 US$ a month) will give the members of this here old site just about all perks they have here for 5 bucks, so you’ll be “grandfathered in” for less money as my thanks to your loyalty over the past years.

Many of you know that I have incurable cancer. The new site gives me the option to keep working in a more efficient and indeed more helpful way for y’all than before, plus it will enable me to keep writing and publishing my series of Odu Ifa text books. Y’know, thanks to Ifa I’m dealing quite well with the cancer, and I really intend to make my (hopefully many) remaining years as useful as possible.

I love you all (well, maybe not all, but that doesn’t matter – grin), and I hope to see you around in the new place which presently is in the building stage but will grow every day.

Be well, the lot of you, and see you around!

Jaap Verduijn, your cantankerous and cancerous old curmudgeon (grin).


Ifa Divination lesson 13

January 26, 2016 by · 7 Comments
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Ifa Divination Lesson 12

January 18, 2016 by · 4 Comments
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Ifa Divination Lesson 11

October 30, 2015 by · 11 Comments
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Ifa divination lesson 10

April 27, 2014 by · 1 Comment
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What is an Independent Ifa Practitioner?

January 25, 2014 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Apparently burning questions 

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Seems an interesting idea, being an Independent Ifa Practitioner. But… what does it really MEAN? Is it about learning directly from Ifa, or learning with the correct Babalawo? And what about Orunmila? Do you honor him as Independent practitioners?

A babalawo is by definition an initiate into the Orunmila system. Being part of a “system” inevitably limits what you are allowed to do, and often even what you are allowed to learn.

Ifa, the spirit of wisdomThe limits on what you are allowed to do, are not necessarily bad. After all, each club, group, society or association has its rules, and one is free to decide to accept these and join, or not accept them and don’t join. For those who accept its rules, the Orunmila system with its particular limitations is perfectly alright. For those who don’t, the same Orunmila system with the same limitations feels like a prison cell, and it’s this kind of personality that “Independent practice” might be very good for, and might help them fulfill their Destiny.

Fairly often within the Orunmila system (in fact within any established religious system) one is not only limited in what one can do, but also in what one is allowed to learn. One thing I feel “Orunmila inmates” are not allowed to learn, is that there are more NON-Orunmila diviners in the worldwide Ifa complex than there are Orunmila diviners. Another thing the Ifa system doesn’t want its adherents to know, is that initiation into Orunmila is not at all necessary to become a highly effective Ifa diviner. A third thing the Orunmila system doesn’t want its practitioners to know is that Ifa is not exclusively (or even basically) a Yoruba “thing”, but an Africa-wide, indeed world wide complex of binary divination systems of which “Ifa Orunmila” (so called in contrast with the non-Orunmila systems) is just one single branch.
 

Sooner or later Ifa begins to explain itself!

An Independent practitioner does his own studies, finds his own way(s) into Ifa, figures out how his individual personality (Ori) makes him function best within worldwide Ifa, and last but not least experiences to his/her great joy and considerable amazement that, once he begins to learn how to divine, sooner or later (usually sooner) the “system” begins to explain itself!

 
In short: the Independent practitioner learns with Ifa itself, and is not easily tempted to let a priest come between himself and his god. Learning with the “correct babalawo” might be theoretically possible, but in practice not many babalawos are willing to teach students forms of Ifa divination that are outside their own system. There will hardly be an Ifa priest (Babalawo) who will tell his omo’s: “Look guys, of course it would be nice if you were initiated, but it really isn’t necessary. I’ll teach you how to become a damn good Ifa diviner without ever having the need to become initiated”

But how important is Orunmila in Independent Ifa?

Since Independent Ifa practitioners are by definition kind of… eh… independent, I can’t speak or even pretend to speak for all of them, so I’ll produce my personal point of view.

Considering that Orunmila only surfaces in the Yoruba version of Ifa, his importance seems to be limited to that version. Even within Yoruba Ifa, Orunmila seems to be a fairly recent praise name for the Orisha Ifa. With “fairly recent” I mean that, going back in time, we see the mention of the name Orunmila slowly dwindle in favor of the name Ifa, until we arrive around 1850 before which ALL mention of Orunmila seems to stop, and ALL documentation speaks of only Ifa instead.

I found some stuff from the 19th century, pertaining to the position of Ifa vs Orunmila, from Awori-Egbado, Lagos-Ondo, Egba and Ibadan. The general tendency seems to be that Ifa is seen as both the system AND the driving Orisha behind it.
 

In Ibadan, 1853, a worshipper got quite exited, waving a sword and declaring: “Ifa is God, no other word shall be heard”.

 

In 1858 at Otta an olorisha states that Ifa is an Orisha, and in 1868 a babalawo says that there is no enmity between Ifa and Olorun, which implies that he too considered Ifa a deity because, if it were only a “system”, the above statement wouldn’t make sense.

 

In 1878 in Adeagba (Egbado) an olorisha verbally kicks the butt of a missionary stating that “we olorisha worship Olorun through Ifa”… without any mention of Orunmila.

 

Around the same time, in Lagos a babalawo states that Ifa is the god of his fathers and therefor he worships him.

 

In Leke in 1878 there’s finally a reference to Orunmila… but not as a separate Orisha but as a praise name for Ifa. An Ifa priest by the name of Agogo states that Ifa is the mediator between God and men because of the name Orunmila… implying that it’s a praise name or complementary title of Ifa.

 

Beju, 1879: some olorisha state that their town has been built by Ifa and the people will be directed by Ifa. The second mention of Ifa could certainly refer to the system, but the first one clearly indicates a deity.

 

Ondo, 1877: the king and his chiefs confirm their adherence to the worship of Ifa and their other Imole.

 

In Lagos, somewhere during the second half of the 19th century, a babalawo was recorded saying that the sixteen palm nuts were not the object of worship, but “mere representatives” – the true Ifa was a Spirit.

 
So… to me “Orunmila” is a praise name for the Orisha/Spirit of Ifa, a praise name which may have derived from a possibly mythological, possibly historical, possible both, character or individual that we see surface in many Ifa texts as a CLIENT of Ifa.
 
In the vast collection of Ifa texts I have, there are many incidences of a person named Orunmila who goes for divination to Ifa, which seems to indicate that Ifa and Orunmila have separate existences of their own. In other words: in the texts that probably are very old, they are thought of as DIFFERENT characters.
 
Again, only in the second half of the 19th century does one encounter the first mention of Orunmila being a praise name of Ifa, indicating that the two are beginning to be thought of as “the same”.

For me, not being in the Yoruba system, Orunmila does not have the same importance as he has for those who are in that system. In fact I think there’s good reason to believe that “Orunmila” is simply the Yoruba pronunciation of the Arabic “Ar Raml” (sand cutting) which, although a different system, is as much Ifa as is the Yoruba system.

So… what’s the final verdict on being Independent?

The Independent Ifa practitioner studies wherever he can, practices whenever he can, and lets Ifa talk and teach to him through the increasingly sophisticated way the student learns to handle the paraphernalia. He/she is not opposed to the Orunmila system as practiced by the Yorubas and their spiritual descendants in the Diaspora but… he is most certainly not a part of it. It’s a different branch, with it’s own different rules.


Independent social flow…

August 3, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Brenda's mental musings 

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In a topic one of our members started about Egun practice in our “members only” group “Palaver House”, a signal emerged that I would like to address separately, namely this article. Personally, I’m glad that one of our members stood up for what was being felt, because from my position I sometimes feel a bit awkward, still taking certain traditions in account. I haven’t been studying Ifa for long, little over a year, but I did it very intensely. And though I still have much to learn, I do feel I have found a foundation and got over a bunch of confusions. 

Talking this issue over with Jaap, I get answered that a lot of people, how Independent they may feel, are still unawarely instructed by their customs. And I myself have of course observed the social dynamics within several groups; and I often have concluded that there are many gaps that not only go unnoticed but are even causing a reason for animosity. I have a few ideas to share about that. What lays in that gap is waiting for us to discover it.

About how respect is expressed traditionally…

The greatest barrier I have experienced while being amongst an international company of Ifa-Orisha traditions, lies in the way respect is expressed. A fashion I personally feel is obstructing the major part of possibilities and chances. There are two known ways:
• In African tradition the hierarchy is based upon physical age, one respects the one older.
• In Lukumi tradition the hierarchy is based upon initiated age, one respects the one earlier initiated.

Respect, dobale

Shows of respect are relative. In Nigeria this is good and respectful; in Independent Practice it is thoroughly disapproved of.

If I had to chose between these two ways of hierarchy and respect, then I would without any doubt chose the African way; based upon what I’ve learned through “family constellations-therapy”, natural age is a very natural human way to decide ones position within a community. It gives the most peace. And on top of that, this technique is supposed to derive from ancestral practices from people that still live in a tribal structure. Which makes the therapy as a tool, or technique even more interesting to me. It works great by the way! Not taking into account the natural age, but initiation age, as in some Lukumi environments is customary, would lead to imbalance and trouble within any tradition or family, simply because it doesn’t fit human biology.

The unusual factor

In this specific Independent Practitioners group, however, is a very unusual thing going on. We are not specifically a community, we’re more like a gathering. And within that gathering the expression of respect can be fulfilled in a traditional way, but as we have been witnessing quite a lot of times, in the end it leads to obstruction. Because if nobody does not do what is not allowed within all traditions gathered, nobody actually feels free to speak and is actually very limited, regardless of their experience and talent. To put it the other way around: if you only do what is allowed in all traditions, you finish up doing nothing, because nothing is allowed everywhere… just about everything is forbidden somewhere, somehow, sometime.

Ugh… That’s not what we aim to do here; moreover it’s our aim to see a universal knowledge being unwrapped from a traditional paper and reveal its true essence. When individuals would get to see the true essence, we would not be fighting and discussing about how true essence should be expressed; we’d just be inspired by the many ways to express – and individualize – it.

If I use traditional vocabulary, the group in fact has a Baba and an Iya, namely Jaap and Brenda B., who also are in the role of Elder (teacher) and Omo (student). A situation that in a traditional environment would almost be unthinkable, and most possibly practically undoable. So how to deal with this situation?

About how respect is expressed in this group…

Amongst independent practitioners the hierarchy is based upon having a good time together, one respects the one that deserves to be respected based on who they are and what they have to share (spiritual experience) and not necessarily what they represent (hierarchical status).

There are a few things very different within the social flow between any traditionals and independents like Jaap and I experience it; which within our group is based upon how I and Jaap interact, and thus also how respect is being dealt with within our own culture. I am aware this is so against what most are used to, that I find it hard sometimes to decide where to cross the line and where to let it be. In a way tradition is still dominant.

I can only share this short directive on how we deal with respect. Primarily we respect anybody and everyone; meaning everybody is allowed to express what they feel or mean. Usually by talking about a subject we find out who has the most experience or the wisest view, and then it only seems natural that we let this person have a final say, and be the leader at that moment if the situation needs a leader at that moment anyway. Then we move on. In general, in most cases that would be the oldest, but not in all cases the oldest has the most extensive life experience; life on some places on planet Earth have changed and drifted so far away from a traditional lifestyle.

Inspired by Nature…

Homo Sapiens has got to be so dominantly present in this world due to specialization. Meaning when there is no problem to be solved, the oldest lead, but are informed by the opinion of the younger persons. And when there is a problem, it is determined by the circumstances who should lead and be an initiator in making decisions. This way every person in a community has equal chances to serve themselves and others in the best possible way, and be beneficial to the whole. So everybody has a chance to be respected for what they have to offer.

My personal experience is that although we are an Independent group, I still feel I have to respect and take in account traditional ways not to offend people sometimes. And yes, very few times I feel tradition pressing upon me, especially when the subject is formalities, and truth and essence are being made part of rituals. Because in a true essence, on Ori level, my consciousness could outage your consciousness for over a thousand of lives… If you understand what I’m trying to say?

What is the meaning of rituals. All moving organisms show ritualistic behavior, both humans and animals, because this helps them survive somehow, someway; to me that is the only valid essence of rituals.

So how do these obstructions manifest?

• People got used to customs and just stick to that, not because they specifically want to, but they are just used to the allocation of roles.
• People got used to accustom to customs just not to insult or offend people, or simply not to be bullied upon.

Since I feel that nobody really likes to be disrespectful, I can imagine that any hurting behavior to one or both sides may emerge from good will to walking on egg-shells.

As a moderator of the Palaver House forum, and as Jaap’s right hand here in Ile Dafa of which the palaver House is a part, I feel that our member was right to say something about what was taking place. I also feel that the people giving advice (wether it was asked for or not) was done solely with good intentions. Nobody was wrong, but still there was a bit of harm visible there. Honestly I have been waiting for something like this to happen to address you all about how I, with Jaap’s consent, feel about this. In fact how we feel about this together.

What is expected?

I also can imagine that a few people don’t really know what is expected from them in a behavioral way within this group. Well I generally answered to that in what I’ve already written. To specifically answer to it, I have the following to mention:

Whether it is a gathering or a community there is an individual aspect to anybody within a structure. Some people like to teach, some people like to explore. It would be beneficial to all of us when we try to find or express what we are and how we can offer what we have to offer, and above all be clear. That would give a lot of freedom and create a lot of space for good things to happen. Being clear is to ask what you want to ask, how you want to ask it, in a way that feels respectful to you.

What roles do we have?
Oshe on tray
It is clear that Jaap teaches how to perform divination; that is his thing. He is not too much dedicated to how to perform rituals properly, not a big secret. As his student I understand that does not derive from disrespect but is based on a view with a metaphysical matrix. Meaning that he has a view and way to experience reality from an Ori-point of view, thus consciousness; and not solely from flesh and blood.

So what is my role? First I’m Jaap’s student, I happen to experience reality from a similar point of view. So I do understand, not just by brain, but also by heart why Jaap does see Ifa the way he sees it. Second, it has everything to do with my destiny of which I want to say this about: What connects Jaap and me is that we are part of the same soul group, to be precisely we are the core of a certain subdivision of that soul group. We have been reincarnating on this planet since we were one-cell beings and we met and lived millions of lives together. We seem to incarnate very quickly after croaking, and perhaps therefor we only have to return a few more times to finalize the stage of being Earth-dwellers and move on to the next event horizon. So… I don’t know about your destinies and how that destiny perhaps is related to being a member of this group?

Teaching or sharing

Some members have expressed several times they like to teach. Feel free to teach… Or in Independent vocabulary: “Share what you know”, and with that find out who wants to know what you are sharing? So teachers step in the role of sharers instead of teachers, this way I hope that it will help to step out of traditional role-play, at least within this group. I at least would appreciate it a lot.

So, don’t sit and wait for Jaap or me to give you food for thought, and keep asking questions when you feel you need to know more. We’re not traditional in the way that we keep certain strict rules towards superiors in title. Until we open our mouths and start sharing, it will become clear who is superior in his own unique way or specialization, this way we could all benefit from one another in a positive way.

For your own challenge people, as a starting point you could attempt to reveal the essence that is expressed with any ritual whatsoever. This has as much more value than just stick to the rules, I think then we’re entering the gap that needs to be lightened up.

A way to spiritually grow…

So, flesh and blood clearly have other needs than consciousness. And if we answer the question “How do we spiritually grow?”, the answer most likely would be: “By following our consciousness.” Consciousness is our essence. Metaphysics as the science of consciousness, thus includes the essence of Ifa’s teachings. So what is the essence of our practice? Knowledge of rituals? Or knowledge of consciousness? Personally I stick to the latter, rituals may help, but are not the essence. The thing with rituals is that along the passing of time they often start to replace the essence that is expressed, and whilst becoming a replacement, they tend to cover the essence up…

For those who haven’t read the Rules of the House yet… to remind you it exists ;-).


Make your own Igba Ori

August 2, 2013 by · 9 Comments
Filed under: Rituals and practice 

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The House of the Head

Ilé OriMy Omolet Brenda Beek, who not only looks slightly better than her Blabla but is also the more creative of us two, will as a good Independent Practitioner be making her own Igba Ori, which for us exiles here in The Netherlands prompts questions like “Where can I get a few kilos of cowrie shells for a decent price?” and “Does anybody have a clue what the basic construction usually is made of?” An Igba Ori, by the way, is also called Ilé Ori although, due to many different languages, colloquialisms and lineages, I am not sure if the concepts are always exactly the same. Anyway, the Igba Ori is the physical representation of the metaphysical Ori. On the picture you see one from Nigeria.

When you look at the impressive piece of home crafts, it’s clear that it will be, as Brenda says, “quite a challenge to get it done 😉 one for Jaap, one for me; but I will succeed ;-)”! Well, I’m pretty sure she will!

Now if you want to make a container, it reasonably should contain something (grin)! So the next (and quite sensible!) questions was: “Brenda, do you know what goes inside the Igba Ori?” The faithful Omolet, who just like her Blabla feels no obligation to follow any particular tradition that was developed by other cultures in other times in other countries (in fact we are generally forbidden by Ifa to do so!) simply (Members: click to read on)


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