New covers of Jaap Verduijn’s Odu Ifa Collection

August 28, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Recommended books and such 

public-article-balk

Here we present to you the new covers of Jaap’s Odu Ifa Collection. Next month – September 2013 – the reprint of the Ika Book will be available.

Odu-Ifa-Covers small


Small Gods…

August 23, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Recommended books and such 

public-article-balk

Orisha worship simply explained 😉

Small GodsAs most of you know, I am fully aware that Orishas don’t make man, but that man makes Orishas… in Yoruba culture an Orisha can be compared to a “Big Man”, who is only big as long as he has a range of followers. I’m not the only one who thinks this way: Karen Barber in “Oríkì, women and the proliferation and merging of òrìṣà” explains it better than I can.

Especially in the Diaspora, where many Ilés and Elders insist more on maintaining a re-enactment society with an extremely rigid (and mercilessly enforced) hierarchy than on helping their practitioners develop spiritually, some of the beliefs and worship seems to have shifted away from the Orishas towards the largely imagined “sacredness” of rituals and ceremonies. No ritual is sacred by itself… it is a means to a purpose, and the less bullshit the better. I notice much of this bullshit in the simplest of things, like opening a divination for one or two quick questions: I’ve seen “established” practitioners preparing, mojuba’ing and invoking for close to an hour(!!!) before they finally got around to the divination itself. “Form” has become more important than “function”

But thank (any) God that we have Sir Terry Pratchett! His Discworld novels allow us a mirror view into our own lives, and since our Good Knight isn’t a stranger to spirituality there’s always, in every Discworld book, the odd piece of wisdom that we as Ifa-Orisha practitioners can apply to our own lives.

In Small Gods Pratchett confronts us with many practices that are also wide-spread in Ifa-Orisha, and he does it in such a way that we manage not only to laugh about ourselves, but also promise to do better in future!

This Discworld novel is set in the previously unheard of locale of Omnia, where the Quisition, led by Deacon Vorbis, tortures into its heretical citizenry a belief in the Great God Om. But the central question in the book is: what happens when belief dissipates, and is replaced by simple routine? Following the rituals of a religion is not really the same as believing in the power and glory of a God.

And on the Discworld, like in Orisha worship, there’s not exactly a lack of Gods to choose from. There are billions of them, and they’re all likely to strike you down where you stand if you insult them in any way. Great God Om used to be the greatest of all Gods, but he’s fallen on tough times. The brand of belief favoured by Vorbis is not the kind of belief Om needs. He’s losing true believers in the process, and has become quite ineffectual. Om and his one true believer Brutha follow a Pratchett tradition of teaming a wide-eyed innocent with a cynical curmudgeon, and watching as the two personalities eventually meet in the middle. Brutha is a true believer in the face of pure evil, and it’s this innocence/ignorance that allows him to survive. Om is a perpetually pissed-off little dude, angry at his new lot in life, and unsure how to get his powers back. All he knows is that Brutha is his only hope, for Brutha is the only one that can truly hear him. Their joint quest is a joy to follow. Small Gods is great fun, but it is also a great book in its seriousness. The book takes a witty look at the perils of making religion too organized – in paying more attention to the priests rather than to the Gods. This book really is “Orisha worship simply explained”  ;-)!

Note for the easily bored: The book takes off a little slowly, but hang on for a few pages and you’ll be gripped!


Africans, Europeans, Native Americans…

August 22, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Recommended books and such 

public-article-balk

Causes of worldwide inequality explained

Guns, Germs and SteelWhy did Pizarro capture Atahualpa and conquer the Inca Empire, instead of Atahualpa capturing Charles I and conquering Spain? Why didn’t the Ashantis conquer the British and capture Queen Victoria, instead of the British conquering the Ashantis and capturing king Prempeh? Rabid racists will be sorely disappointed with the answers to these and many related questions, but since I’m pretty sure there ain’t no rabid racists visiting this site, I guess y’all will delightedly read the book that explains it all!

In his book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion – as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war – and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth club of California’s Gold Medal.

A few years ago I read this book for the first time, and presently I’m reading it again. I like it, and I believe it’s mandatory reading for everybody who deals with different cultures, peoples, histories and traditions (don’t we all?)! Is Jared Diamond correct in everything he states? I dunno. But I do know that he makes sense. And that’s much, much more than what racists do!


Falokun welcomed in Egbe Ifa Ifanikaki, Ota

August 5, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Finding your way in Ifa-Orisha 

public-article-balk

Awo FalokunAlthough the hopeless haters and hapless harpies probably won’t let go of the matter (it means so much to them), it seems that they will be screaming into hollow space, exposing themselves even more as trouble making empty-mouths as they already did before. The hullabaloo around Awo Falokun Fatunmbi has ended: Falokun has left the “Ode Remo Babalawos” to their own devices, resigned from their club, and was subsequently welcomed with open arms as an Awo Ifa in the Egbe Ifa Ifanikaki in the city of Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria. Here comes his statement on the matter.
 

On July 25th 2013 I traveled to Ode Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria to meet with the elders of Egbe Ifa Ogunti Ode Remo. Due to a disagreement over the issue of initiating women into Ifa, I requested a resignation from Egbe Ifa Ogunti Ode Remo. My request was granted without prejudice or opposition. This request does not affect my status as an Awo and does not impact initiations I have already done.

On July 26th 2013 I traveled to Ota and requested entry into Egbe Ifa Ifanikaki in the City of Ota Nigeria. My request was granted by Chief Fasola Fagbemi Opayemi, the Oluwo Ifa Ado – ooo/Ota Awoni Land, Olofin Awo of Ibandan Land, Olotagiri Agba Egungun of Ilogbo land. Yo Orunmila Adulawo Ota Baba Egbe Ifanikaki.

From this point on the work I will be doing training Awo, and the initiations into Ifa, Orisa and Egun will be rooted in the training and spiritual Discipline of Egbe Ifanikaki. I am grateful for their acceptance of my participation in their extended family, I am looking forward to working with an Ifa Egbe that shares my views on the full participation of women in Ifa ritual and spiritual practice. I believe together we are building a strong bridge between our faith as it is practiced in its place of origin and our faith as it is practiced in the Diaspora.

I thank the Irunmole, Orunmila, the Orisa and the Egun for opening the door to this new chapter in my life and this gracious support of the members of our extended family.

Ire, ase, to

Awo Falokun Fatunmbi
omo Egbe Ifanikaki

 
I congratulate Awo Falokun on this new stage in his life as an Awo Ifa, a friend, and a human being. May the Immortals help us all to use the past as a foundation for the present and the future. Ire oooo!
 

Awo Falokun in Ota

Awo Falokun Fatunmbi in Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria, as a member of the Egbe Ifa Ifanikaki. No discrimination against women there: you see Babalawos and Iyanifas!


 


Jaap Verduijn is NOT a Babalawo…

August 4, 2013 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Jaap's mental musings 

public-article-balk

… so can we finally cut the crap, please?!

Sometimes I have the feeling that the bullshit never ends. Today, in a Facebook Group that I left precisely for that reason, the administrator insisted on calling me a Babalawo. That’s a new one for me… during the past fifteen years I have been dozens of times accused of claiming to be a Babalawo (which I emphatically am not), but this time it’s somebody else who claims I am a Babalawo (amused but also irritated grin)!

I have tried to reason with this man in the hope that he would stop, explaining to him that the title Babalawo is a well-defined concept, to wit a person in the Yoruba/Orunmila system who went through initiation as an Ifa priest within a well-defined structure and lineage. It is at the same time a rank, and a title of honor, neither of which I deserve, or even aspire to. Geez… I’m not even in the Orunmila-system, so how could I be a Babalawo?

No babalawoThis is a great big bother for me, because it totally opposes what I have been doing for fifteen years online: making clear that I am not a Babalawo, I am not an initiated Ifa priest… I am a simple Ifa/Fa/Evwa/Afa/Ebba etcetera diviner. This shit will begin to lead its own life again, because when this spreads nobody will know or remember that it was not me, but that Group’s administrator that calls me a Babalawo… and as usual the angry shouts will start: “See: Jaap Verduijn is claiming to be a Babalawo! He is a liar and a cheat”. Well now, I’m far from a saint, but a cheat and a liar I am not, and for the hundredth time I state clearly and plainly: I am NOT a fuggin’ Babalawo! What about that is so difficult to grasp?

This thing has been going on for far too long: since early 1998, and now it is suddenly revived. I can do without the aggravation – I have work to do instead of countering this kind of bullshit, which in the past has come with lots of hatred and even death threats. Can we finally cut the crap? I am not a Babalawo, so don’t fuggin’ call me one! It really is that simple: if I ask a person not to call me a Babalawo because I am not, why not honor that simple request? It’s a bit like military rank: if a person is a sergeant, you don’t call him a captain.

Apart from the crap that has been coming my way for fifteen years and that has been revived by the actions of that Group administrator, there is also a very serious spiritual issue involved. Firstly: calling me a Babalawo is disrespectful towards the real Babalawos. Secondly, Ifa simply forbids me to call myself a Babalawo. Thirdly, Ifa forbids others to call me a Babalawo, simply because I am not a Babalawo. It’s very clear that not only me but first and foremost Ifa states that I am not to call myself, nor be called by others, a Babalawo. Ifa wants me to call myself, and be called by others, an Ifa diviner. I have made the person in question aware of this, stating “It’s up to you to decide to go against the word of Ifa or not…”

Well… the person decided to wipe his ass with Ifa’s words, making various statements about Ifa like: “Whatever its validity may be, it is not infallible” and “The views anyone ascribes to Ifa or to any representatives of Ifa are secondary to my rights to insist on my views based on my understanding of the Ifa system”. In other words: “Fuck whatever Ifa says, because it is always overruled by my rights to insist on my views”. Do you see the irony? This person insists on calling me a Babalawo, and subsequently throws to the wind what Ifa says through me… Now that’s what I call disrespect!

I have had too many drama’s in the past to be interested in starting it all over again. So let’s finally cut the crap (again… deep sigh…): Jaap Verduijn is not a Babalawo, does not claim to be a Babalawo, and does not want to be called a Babalawo. Is that finally clear? Well… for most of you. But there will always be some who don’t get it. And then, inevitably, it will all start over again.


Independent social flow…

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

public-article-balk

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 

members-only-balk

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)