Ifa divination lesson 8

April 17, 2013 by
Filed under: Ifa divination lessons 


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 what is relevant!

In Lesson #6 I used Ika-Otura as an example, which will suit me fine in this lesson too. so here it comes:


Content Ika-Otura

Ifa was cast for:

1. End my misery, bring me abundance
2. Orunmila
3. Bring no regrets, it has been worthwhile

* Metaphysical Principles & Warning


Verse 1:

“Ika-Otura, the collector, the combiner,
help me to gather money. Help me
to gather women. Help me to gather
children. Come and bring all good things
together in my home”, cast Ifa for
“End my misery, bring me abundance”.
On the day they told him to offer a bit of whatever
money he had left, to the poor of his town,
and then they made ewe for him.
“End my misery, bring me abundance”
listened, and he made the sacrifice.

• Some money to the poor

• Write Ika-Otura in iyerosun,
chant the above invocation,
use this to mark the head with,
or put it in oil and eat. Prosperity
is part of this persons destiny.


Verse 2:

“Ika pushed me, and I didn’t fall.
Ika sent evil to my house,
and my house did not disperse.
All good things gather for me”
was the one who cast for Orunmila
on the day that the people mutinied
against the teachings of Ifa.
They said that the mutiny against Ifa
would only result in shame for the mutineers.
Orunmila was instructed to sacrifice six pigeons,
12,000 cowries, alligator pepper and ewe.
Burn together kuti leaves, ito leaves and
alligator pepper; mix the resulting powder
with black soap, for bathing with.
Orunmila listened and made the sacrifice.

• Six pigeons
• Six units of money
• Kuti leaves and ito leaves, and prepare as instructed


Verse 3:

“Good things are coming, oh!
Good things are coming!”
was the one who cast Ifa for
“Bring no regrets, it has been worthwhile”
on the day that his destiny took a turn
for the better. There was “Bring no regrets,
it has been worthwhile”… what should he do?
They told him to make sacrifice to Oshun,
the Shaper of all good things. And they told him
to sacrifice to Ogun, the Clearer of roads.
“Bring no regrets” listened and made the sacrifice.
They told him that he only had arrived here
because he had bravely endured the sufferings
before, and that he had no need to regret anything.
Ifa says here is a person who has lived through
great adversity, but with the right offerings
and the correct attitude his destiny will change.

• Five fine pigeons to Oshun
• One sturdy dog for Ogun


Metaphysical Principles



Ika-Otura speaks of difficulties coming to an end, and prosperity beginning. The clients circumstances will take an advantageous turn.

Both in Iré and Ibi:
Ika-Otura is quite positive about the outcome as long as the client takes Ifa’s admonitions very serious. Some Odus emphasize the fact that Ibi isn’t inherently bad: it simply indicates how simple it can be to go for Iré!”



All combinations with Ika admonish the client to be very careful of everything that is, might be or might become an infection. Take this in the broadest sense of the word. If you cut your finger, however small, put some iodine on it. If you take anything out of the fridge, look at the expiration date and when in doubt, don’t eat it. Be careful what you eat, cook certain foodstuffs well and thoroughly to kill all possible bacteria. Stay away from places of possible infection or contamination. In this day and age the Ika warning also pertains to sex, unfortunately. If you have sex with anybody (with the possible exception of your regular partner), take care of good quality protection! Now don’t get paranoid for Ifa does not say that you will get a infection of inflammation, Ifa simply says that all combinations with Ika warn against the possibility, so you can take precautions.

What we do now, is using our cowrie shells to simply ask Ifa what “wants” to be read. I usually start with a question like:

“Should the metaphysical observations be read?”

Let’s say the answer is Ejife, which is two mouths up:


This means “Yes!”, so we read the metaphysical observations of the Odu to the client. Pretty simple, isn’t it? Neither you nor I have to decide what the client should know: Ifa decides! By the way: generally, while asking these questions, we don’t have to read the underlying Odu Ifa (which in this case would be Odi… if you look very closely!), but simply confine ourselves to the various “yes” or “no” answers.

The next question would be: “Should text #1 be read?”

Now let’s say the the cast results in Etawa, which is three mouths up:


Etawa means “No”. So again we ignore the underlying Odu Ifa (which in this case would have been Ogunda), and we don’t read text #1 to the client.

Well… I don’t have to explain that we do the very same for the remaining texts, do I? All through this procedure there are only “yes” and “no” answers, Alafia and Ejife meaning “yes”, Etawa and Okanran meaning “no”. The odd one out is Oyeku (four bellies up) which, in the system I am describing, does not mean “no” but simply indicates that the question should be asked again, because the answer is of enormous importance, usually considered so by the Egun who will then influence the second time you ask the question. It is not unusual at all for two or three Oyekus to appear in a row, each and every one reinforcing the importance of the final answer: the Egun either absolutely do want, or absolutely do not want the text in question to be read!

If you would like to read up on, and refresh your memory of, getting “yes” and “no” answers from four cowries, just go to my Four Cowries lesson where you’ll find the whole thing explained. But again: during the stage of the divination process described here in Lesson 8 (deciding which texts to read and which not to read), you may ignore the underlying Odu Ifa.

>>> Lesson 9 – Part 1: Positions of shells on the tray/mat.


4 Comments on Ifa divination lesson 8

  1. Adickinson on Mon, 20th May 2013 20:06
  2. Hi Jaap,

    Question: after how many Oyekus do you decide to read or not the Ese in question ? and do you move on to the next Ese ?

    Thank you


  3. Beek Brenda on Wed, 22nd May 2013 04:49
  4. Hi Alex,

    Jaap has a departed relative, so he’s a bit occupied for a few days. I can answer your question too though, Jaap will correct me if I’m wrong about it when he’s back on track again.

    It’s not uncommon in our practice that a few Oyekus in a row show up; once in a while three or four show up. Just keep casting until you receive a “yes” or a “no”. The number of Oyekus though reveals how important your ancestors find it to read, or not to read a text. 😉


  5. Adickinson on Wed, 22nd May 2013 16:33
  6. Im sorry to hear about Jaap, please extend my condolences to him.

    Brenda thank you for your explanation, it was very helpful.


  7. Jaap Verduijn on Sun, 2nd Jun 2013 12:39
  8. Thank you, Alex! It was the last member of the old generation Verduijn I buried… now I’m “the old generation” myself!
    Omolet Brenda’s explanation is right on target, so I don’t have to correct her ;-)!