Ifa divination lesson 11

April 27, 2014 by · 1 Comment
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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


Ifa Divination Lesson 10

April 18, 2014 by · 11 Comments
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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

Cowries with bagFollowing 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 and Ejife a “Yes”, Etawa and 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 the five patterns that can appear as answers to “Yes/no” questions.

Five patterns

The particular significance of Oyeku(s) appearing is that the Egun, the Ancestors, want to emphasize the importance of the answer to the question. When after an Oyeku a “Yes” appears, it is pretty clear that the Egun consider the relevant text very important for the client, and when followed by a “No” the Egun consider the text irrelevant to such an extend that reading it might confuse the client even more than he already is! So the answer given after one or more Oyekus is pretty final, and of great importance to the client.

In order to follow the KISS Principle (“Keep It Simple, Stupid!”) I suggest you don’t read the underlying Odu Ifa – simply consider Alafia and Ejife a “Yes”, and Etawa and Okanran a “No”. Of course you can give these answers just a little more depth by expanding Alafia and Ejife to “Yes with a blessing”, and if you are really “into” the reading there’s nothing that keeps you from reading the Odu Ifa that lies underneath in the way I have explained in the post Reading Four Cowries, but please be aware that this is most certainly not necessary, especially not when you’re in an early stage of learning to cast Ifa.

So: in order to decide what texts to read or not to read to any particular client, you ask Ifa! Like: “Does text #1 want to be read?”, “Does text #2 want to be read?”, “Does text #3 want to be read?”, and so on. I gues you got the picture.

Deciding what Orisha should be offered to

A related issue is what Orisha (if any) the offering (if any) is to be made to. Often the nature of the offering/sacrifice as mentioned in the text gives a good indication, even when the Orisha is not actually named: when a dog is mentioned one should think of Ogun, honey directs the attention to Oshun, when burning palm oil is mentioned Eshu Odara tends to be involved, snails are connected with Obatala, and Orunmila is known to enjoy the occasional goat. These are not laws written in stone though: many Orishas enjoy the same food, so again: ask!

Lemme make one point very clear: in Independent Ifa, as practiced in the West among people who often have no cultural roots in, or other connections with, “Yorubaland”, more often than not the most important offering or sacrifice the client can be required to make is internal – not external. By this I mean that in my own practice I rarely encounter the need for extensive offerings: usually the clients are encouraged to make the great big sacrifice of changing their outlook on the world, including their often totally mistaken views of their own destiny.

Of course, some small offerings to the Egun, or the Iyami, or one Orisha or the other, are often also required, but usually these tend to be confined to little food offerings. It’s not a bad idea anyway to habitually offer some of your daily food and drink to your Egun or Ancestors, and while you’re at it, also make some little offering to Eshu who, after all, opens or closes the roads for you! Red palm oil or some food is always appreciated by this worthy!

When in doubt, ask!!!

Oh dear, how simple is it all! When in doubt, ask!!! That’s what your cowries are for, after all! When performing Ifa divination you never need to leave the client (or yourself!) with any uncertainty, not when it comes to the practical things anyway. Ask, ask, ask! The answers will always be forthcoming!

>>> Lesson 11: Several levels of “Yes/No” answers


Destiny. Not religion

April 13, 2014 by · Comments Off on Destiny. Not religion
Filed under: Rituals and practice 

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There’s a BIG difference!

Time to bring my “Omolet” Brenda Beeks’s brilliant statement to your attention once again! People need to be reminded of these things every now and then!

Destiny - not religion!


Odu of the Year – sense or nonsense?

April 10, 2014 by · 4 Comments
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At the beginning of every year many “Odu’s for the world” are cast. Do they make any sense? Does the world need an Odu? Is it even possible to cast such an Odu?

Ninety percent of everything is bullshit, and I am quite prepared to raise this percentage to let’s say ninety nine for all those damn “Odus of the Year” that float around all over the internet… each and every year again.

It’s the remaining 10 (or 1…) percent that counts, and I am inclined to say that indeed not all is nonsense because the Earth, like everything, has its own Ori… and as such can perfectly well be read. You can with a certain amount of effectiveness divine for the damn Milky Way, if you’re good enough – which I probably ain’t.

GalaxyThe big mistake (at least it’s a big mistake in my eyes) with all those readings for “the World and its Neighboring Galaxies including Black Holes, Supernovae and God Herself” is that people forget that it’s for a large conglomerate, not for its individual members. When any group of Awos have read “The World” or, if they’re a bit more modest, Cuba or the United States, everything that is said in such a reading about individual behavior pertains to these individuals’ position in relation to the United States, Cuba or The World.

It does not, at least not directly, pertain to their own individual experiences, behavior or destiny in daily life. In other words: the reading is not about every individual Ori in the group, but about the Ori of the group itself.

A reading about your own Ilé, your own Tradition or your own World will give you some insight in how to function within and towards the optimum Destiny of that World, Tradition or Ilé, but it does not give detailed information on how to make your individual optimum Destiny manifest. In fact, it tells you next to fuck-all about yourself, apart from those situations that bear a more or less direct relationship to whatever the reading was held for. It depends on the closeness of that relationship how much or how little of the info in the Odu applies to the rest of your life: for most people that will be relatively little.

Let’s put it this way: if you have a reading for your car, your beloved Mustang 1964, the reading may indicate that the car as a whole will gloriously last through the whole of the year, provided you perform good maintenance.

Ford Mustang (Wikipedia)Now that’s great news for the car, but not necessarily for all its parts and contents. I you are the oil, you will have to be discarded and replaced. If you are the air filter, you will need a thorough cleaning. If you are the gearbox, you may need major surgery in the local garage. If you are the left front tire, you might experience a blow-out and “die”. I guess you get the picture.

However, there is still some sort of connection between the greater Destiny and all its individual Destinies. The oil knows that its Destiny does not contain it lasting through all the decades the car lasts, and the gearbox knows that it needs regular maintenance to keep it meshing alright. That’s what it’s a fuggin’ gearbox for, or a can of oil. So the Destiny of the car is not the same as, yet interwoven with, the Destinies of all its parts.

To use another example: in the human body millions of cells die daily while millions of others are born, in order to enable the body to function well and long. For the first group their Destiny is to die, for the second group their Destiny is to live. And it’s all good.

So: do these readings for the World make sense or not? My answer would be: in a limited way they do.


Universal Ifa

April 9, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Finding your way in Ifa-Orisha 

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Ifa is for everybody – just like the universe 😉

Most of us, with the possible exception of native Yorubas, will have encountered the occasional criticism or even outright attack on account of alleged “cultural appropriation”. Such a verdict tends to be directed at you when you do not exactly follow the tenets and traditions of whatever House and branch of the Ifa/Orisha complex you are (or were) in, whether that’s Lucumi, Traditional Yoruba, Candomblé, or whatever.

Being an Independent practitioner who never hesitates to shout his independence from the rooftops, I may have been (and am still being) accused of cultural appropriation somewhat more often than most others, but basically everybody who succeeds in seamlessly integrating Ifa into the ways of life of their own country and culture (or rather the other way around), runs the risk of being called a cultural appropriationist. I just made up this latter word, but I like it 😉 !

EarthI plainly and simply call these accusations bullshit, on account of the pleasing fact that, at least in my opinion and experience, cultural appropriation of the Forces and the Wisdoms of Nature can’t even exist! Compare it with oxygen: much of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon rain forests of South America – yet I don’t think any Kawahiva or Yanomani ever accused Texans, Inuit, Arabs, Californians or myself, who breathe this oxygen, of any sort of appropriation. It’s nature, ladies and gentlemen, it’s part of the Earth. And Earth is my home, whether you like it or not.

Ifa is universal, and hence EVERYWHERE

I really don’t think Ifa is culturally bound, on the contrary. I firmly believe that Ifa is universal, and as such quite able to exist and manifest under all possible cultural and geographical circumstances. I also believe that under all those different cultural circumstances the diviners (will) develop their own variations and additions to the Text Corpus, and also that the practitioners will eventually develop their own pantheon of Ancestors and, indeed, of Orishas themselves.

bekvechten100Below you’ll find a combined and condensed version of some statements I made in the past few years in various discussions and under various attacks. I think it’s a good idea to post this here, because as Independent Ifa practitioners you will undoubtedly find yourself in similar circumstances, every now and then.

A big change in Ifa practice

What I feel needs to be coming up, is a very big change in the way Ifa/Orisha is practiced, like people coming out of their boxes and brown paper bags, looking around them and hollering surprisedly: “Hey! Look at that! I never knew that was Ifa too!”… that sort of thing. One of the present problems is that, at least in my experience, too many people are stuck in traditions that have outlived themselves, and that often are not even religious, philosophical or theological, but kind of Ilé-centered or, in other words, “that’s how it’s done ‘in my Rama’ and that the only good way”!

It will take a lot of time to change that attitude – it’s already nigh impossible to get people to understand that Ifa isn’t limited to the Yorubas and the Orunmila system… if it’s already so incredibly difficult to get your average practitioner thinking about comparative religion “within the family”, how much more difficult will it then be to make them think in terms of theology and comparative religion with other world religions?! At present it’s completely out of the scope of most practitioners in the diaspora, and I am bold enough to blame, to a large extend, their own Elders and their own Traditions for this lack of view… Much will have to change, and indeed, we can only eat this particular head of the rat bit by bit…

No cultural “appropriation”

As stated, it was often suggested by participants in discussions that I am doing “cultural appropriation” which, by the way, is another thing that only our religion seems to consider bad… all other world religions are only too happy if people in other cultures do a bit of “appropriation”. Anyway, I don’t think cultural appropriation is the case, as you can read below in a quote from one of my reactions to such accusations.

Fir cone“(…) Cultural appropriation is when you appropriate another person’s culture – that’s exactly what the term says. I see Ifa as universal, it can be practiced in every part of the world according to the own culture and mores of that part. When I was young I have seen an old maiden aunt of mine here in Holland cast segments of a pine or fir cone into patterns that I only much later came to recognize as Odus… she had never heard of Ifa, wouldn’t know an opele or a bunch of cowries even if she held them right in front of her nose… yet she was a damn good Ifa diviner who used paraphernalia available and appropriate in this part of the world and this climate. I wish I had paid a lot, a lot more attention to her then! She’s been dead for many decades now, all of her generation are dead. I missed out on a lot of instruction then! I remember enough though, to recognize it now as Ifa divination… which was practiced in my close surroundings before I had ever heard the word ‘Ifa’. No cultural appropriation there. Just in our own culture, our own way, our own Ifa… or rather the other way around: we were Ifa’s own (…)”

Do I practice another people’s religion? No!

Then again a very common misunderstanding cropped up, namely the idea that I am practicing another people’s/culture’s religion. As you can see from my reaction below, I don’t.

“(…) Actually that’s the whole point: I am not practicing another people’s religion. In fact I am not practicing any religion at all. I am a loner, an almost totally solitary (by choice!) practitioner of a spiritual discipline and lifestyle that I believe to be quite universal… to be found all over the world under many names and guises, locally surviving components of something much larger. I think of Ifa (Fa/Afa/Ebba/Evwa et cetera) on our earth as a worldwide organism, the underground parts of what once was a global culture still present everywhere like some sort of mycelium: underground, and in most places invisible (the parts above ground often having been deliberately destroyed), but still very much alive!!! And here and there, like beautiful and nutritious mushrooms out of their own mycelium, some visible parts either survive, or crop up and grow again! (…)”

Mushroom myceliumActually, I like that worldwide mycelium metaphor! It implies that in any given area you can destroy the mushrooms… but you can never destroy the organism itself! And once you stop destroying, the very much alive mycelium will grow new mushrooms in places where they haven’t been seen for a long time! Well now… think of what I’m doing here in Holland, the way I live and practice here, as a mushroom (grin)!

But bear in mind: I did not import that mushroom from anywhere else, whether Africa, Antarctica, or Southwest Belouchistan. I simply let it grow out of it’s own mycelium that has been here all the time… since far before there were ever any Yorubas, Dutchmen, or even Cro Magnons.

Maybe Ifa is the Universe!

You might ask: “But if Jaap doesn’t practice the Yoruba religion, why does he call whatever he is doing ‘Ifa’?” That’s easily answered: because among its very many names, this is the best known. Using that name is not “cultural appropriation”… if it were, you might as well call it cultural appropriation that I am writing here in English, and not in my native Dutch… because using the English language without being a born and raised Englishman could be considered “cultural appropriation”. Only by idiots, of course… but still!

Ifa is much, much more than just the Yoruba Orunmila system. The Yoruba Orunmila system got the best press and has the best spin doctors – that’s all. To which I add that in the diaspora the Cuban-American (Lucumi) branch of the Yoruba Orunmila system also has the biggest and loudest mouth.

Ifa Divination systemsDoes anything I have ever written mean that, as I have been accused, I “falsely believe we are saying culture started in Europe”? Not at all – what I have written implies that I believe that Ifa (which I sometimes call “All That Is” or “The book with the Million Pages”) was present on Earth and in the Universe long before any culture developed anywhere, long before any humans developed anywhere. In fact I sometimes believe Ifa in fact is the Universe.

So: I am not practicing a Yoruba religion. I have no religion, I am following a spiritual discipline and lifestyle, based on Ifa divination. You know, that stuff with the single and double lines. It’s working well for me, and I’m working well for it. And if that might inadvertently change, I’m pretty sure Ifa will let me know!