Ifa Divination lesson 14

January 26, 2016 by · 7 Comments
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Opira and Ifa

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

Opira, or two times Oyeku Meji

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

Ifa Divination Lesson 12

October 30, 2015 by · 11 Comments
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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.


Etawa: yes, but…


Okanran: no, but…

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

One such quantum leap is that you can completely get rid of the “but” in the “no, but…” in Okanran. Sure, that’s heresy in the eyes of organized branches, but we’re not organized… we’re Independent and that’s what we want to stay. So here’s the very simple way for you to dump the “buts” in Okanran and (Members: click to read on)

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, 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)

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, 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)

Ifa divination lesson 9

July 26, 2013 by · 10 Comments
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Positions of shells on the tray/mat

Ifa-Divination-LessonsFor some reason that I frankly don’t understand, there is a lot of interest in the significance of where exactly on the tray or mat the shells fall during Ifa divination with four cowries. The relevance of these positions in one or more of the quadrants as shown in the illustration, is of less importance than what the shells (and the accompanying Odu texts) actually say… In fact I hardly if ever include the positions of the shells in the interpretation of the various casts, simply because after several hours the client begins to get hungry and wants to go home (wide grin)! After all, there’s a limit to the amount of info a person can handle, and any overkill soon becomes more confusing than enlightening. But since the position in the quadrants may provide some background information for the diviner him/herself, let’s give it a go anyway.

Quadrants of the OponThe first thing you have to bear in mind when doing Ifa divination, is that the diviner is, or at least should be, always in control of the divination process. Of course it is Ifa who is in charge and control of the messages conveyed and of the remedies prescribed, but as for the process of divination it is the diviner who holds the reigns and is in charge. This can’t be emphasized strongly enough… yet it is often overlooked.

It’s you who sets the rules!

So it’s you who sets the rules, and in order to work with the quadrants of the tray you have to tell your divination system what the quadrants are and what they represent. This is not a difficult concept to grasp: both Ifa and you must know what the rules (Members: click to read on)

Ifa divination lesson 8

April 17, 2013 by · 4 Comments
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Deciding what texts to read

Ifa-Divination-LessonsWhen an Odu is cast in Ifa divination, a number of Ese Odu Ifa (Ifa texts) presents itself to us. In some Odus there may be only three or four texts, while in others (like the Mejis) there may be dozens. There are several methods to determine what texts are applicable to the client. Some diviners simply chant verses until the client stops him because (s)he recognizes something relevant, which in my opinion is not the best option because more often than not the problem the client thinks he has, is not the real problem at all. I want neither the client nor myself to decide what is relevant… I want Ifa to decide (Members: click to read on)

Ifa divination lesson 7

March 23, 2013 by · 3 Comments
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Alternative invocations for divination

Ifa-Divination-LessonsThere are several traditional and not-so-traditional methods of invoking the Spirit of the Oracle AKA Ifa. On the page Ifa divination lesson 4 I gave an example, and I also mentioned that there is a “shortcut” to “getting there”. Such a shortcut is different for everybody, it being a very personal thing between you and your Ifa.

In fact everything in Ifa divination ia a very personal thing between you and your Ifa, or between me and my Ifa. My methods are emphatically not part of the “Orunmila system” AKA Ifa as practiced in Yoruba Traditional Religion and in Lucumi – they are Ifa (Afa, Eba, Evwa, Fa, Eva etcetera) as can be cast by anybody who takes the trouble to learn the craft, without the need to be initiated as an Ifa priest or Babalawo in the Orunmila system.

Orunmila diviningI operate outside the Orunmila System… unusual to those inside Yoruba Ifa, where Ifa divination with cowrie shells is out of the question, and initiation into its tutelary deity Orunmila is required before one is allowed to divine. Other systems either have another tutelary deity, or none at all. Homework on the total Ifa divination “tree” shows that the original tree trunk is available to all, regardless of initiation. When the tree developed branches, some kept this tradition, while others introduced initiation into Orunmila or another deity. The ways of Ilé Dafa are firmly rooted in the most ancient tradition: Ifa divination AKA accessing he Wisdom of Nature, is available to all. Nobody needs anybody else’s permission (“initation”) to tap into Nature’s Wisdom… period.

Divination is all about “being in the mood”, by (Members: click to read on)

Ifa divination lesson 6

March 13, 2013 by · 12 Comments
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Contents of the Odu

Ifa-Divination-LessonsMuch in Ifa divination boils down to diminishing mechanically predictable effects. In fact all the paraphernalia like Ikin, Opele, cowries or whatever you use, function as a random generator and… the more random the generator, the better the divination works. If any “predictor” functions totally random from a mechanical point of view, it becomes easier to disregard statistics and probability… what “speaks” through the totally random equipment is much more likely to be “Spirit”, than when you work with f’rinstance an Opele that is so stiff that the pods quite consistently fall the same way up, cast after cast. The “mechanics” behind the various forms of Ifa divination are quite varied and interesting, but that will be covered in a later lesson. In this 6th Ifa divination lesson we won’t dig too deep into mechanics stuff… I’ll supply just some general information on how I go about with Odus and Odu texts. So let’s make two imaginary casts in order to get a double Odu:

Etawa supported by Otura Okanran supported by Ika

As you know, Ifa is cast/read from right to left, so what we have here is the Odu Ika-Otura, which in the traditional (Members: click to read on)

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