Randomly refreshing bits of Ifa wisdom:

"Whether a man is simply too liberal
or just liberally too simple,
in both cases he will often be lied too."

(Ika-Odi)


The confusion about…

July 29, 2013 by · 23 Comments
Filed under: Brenda's mental musings 

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What to do with the Opon or Mat?

The essence is not what to do with the objects used in divination, but to understand what they represent. When you understand what they represent it is easy to understand what has made them sacred. Understanding that, makes it possible to cherish those objects for the principles they represent. And cherishing and loving will give you access and connection, not only to yourself, but also to the knowledge they are related to: Ifa Cosmology. So what does Ifa represent? All There Is. “We are all the same dot, multiplied”, keep this sentence in mind.

If someone would ask me why I treat my mat with care and dignity, while to most around me it will only appear to be a pimped up tray for serving dishes, and that I’m probably insane. I’d say “See this picture of my late grandmother? To me it is a symbol of my memory and love for her, and by looking at it, I can easily connect to her and feel her presence, as if I last saw and held her yesterday.” And like the picture of grandma, some Ifa objects represent soul food to me.

Now I can burn a candle for my grandma putting it in front of her picture, knowing that it is not really her. But for me as a human being, it is a tool to have my Ori connect to her Ori in Orun and be able to feel that in my body. The picture helped by triggering my brains (body) to remember her smell, laughter and touch. In my mind that experience is very vivid, because my body is fully aware of that, I am conscious(ness). A body needs tools, as it needs food. Tools may function as a subliminal message; however not being raised with all the objects and their intrinsic meaning, logically doesn’t do the job.

Without understanding what the objects represent it seems impossible to me to really value those objects. And in my personal view it has no spiritual value to hold these objects sacred or use them just because you were told to, to show off, or just because everybody else does. (Members: click to read on)


Is Falokun a fake?

June 25, 2013 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Finding your way in Ifa-Orisha 

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If people who call themselves babalawos aren’t acting like babalawos, I stop calling them that. Instead I call them… well… I prefer not to call them at all. By now I am getting sick and tired of the diseased, obsessed, indeed insane behavior of the sorry lot that constitute the “Charles Spencer King Witch Hunt Pack”. This has nothing to do anymore with keeping Ifa-Orisha clean or decent… this has become a pathetic, sick, hypocritical mania, presently headed by a gleeful gloater.

I am not a man of particularly good character, a sad fact that, however, I never tried to hide. But even I can see that what’s going on here has become the self-righteous obsession of an apparently disturbed person.

 

The “Charles Spencer King Witch Hunt Pack”

Witches HatIn various places, for example in his Facebook article and subsequent thread at Three Authors: Ayo Salami; Awo Falokun Fatunmbi (David Wilson); Philip Neimark and Why they are in Hot Water the venerable Don Quichotte, in his present reincarnation as Charles Spencer King, attacks the three priests mentioned in the title of his diatribe. The first, Ayo Salami, I know kinda zilch about, and that suits me fine. The third, Philip Neimark, I exchange the odd bit of pleasantries and/or bickering with, and that also suits me fine. Neither of them is sufficiently familiar to me in order to have any educated opinion about them being crooks or not.

Now the second in the little row, Awo Falokun Fatunmbi, is another matter. He was the Awo who initiated me as priest of Oshoosi and omolawo of Ifa in October 1994. I’ve known him for a long time, and quite closely. That happens, you know, when you both are present in Igbodu. I haven’t seen him for quite some time now, but when he was in Amsterdam back in 1994 he carried a lot of Ashé, made a very positive difference in the lives of me, my family and various other people around us, and he was very effective as a priest. In fact during my initiation procedure something happened to me about the aftermath of which he said with a healthy bit of self-mockery: “Jaap, I must have done a better job than I thought I did” (wide grin)! About Falokun I do have an opinion, and I believe a sufficiently informed one. I am strongly convinced that he’s the “real deal” who, after the simulataneously despicable and hilarious behavior of his so-called “elders” in Ode Remo, probably is a lot better off without them.

The witch hunter…

As for the “Witch Hunter General” Charles Spencer King… although every now and then I feel a wave of nausea and anger coming up when I read his never ending diatribes (some initial liking and respect I had for the man has by now gone), I have come to mainly think of him as “Oh, it’s only Charles”.

What else to think of a man, according to his own words a Senior Lucumi Babalawo with the Fourth Odu and the Knife, who in a reply to one of Falokun’s friends refers to Falokun who is several decades his senior as: “your boy the old omo awo”?

And also writes: “the white man you claim to be the paragon of virtue”? Nobody claims Falokun to be the paragon of virtue, and whaddafugg has his skin color to do with any of this???

And what about Charles’s tasteful statement to the aforementioned friend: “the old omo awo Falokun whose urine you sniff? Tell us lap dog….”

Oh dear… If this is what you lot in America and/or Lucumi expect from a Babalawo, I am increasingly glad that I ain’t one, don’t claim to be one, and don’t want to become one. Every day, in every way, I am gladder and gladder to be Independent.

 
Charles Spencer King, in my opinion, disqualifies himself as a decent babalawo by the way he uses words and terms to describe the subject of his witch hunt.

…and his pack

And then we get to the illustrious crowd that presents itself in Charles’s thread as the “Ode Remo Babalawos”. These are the people who claim that it took them twenty years to find out that their initiate Awo Falokun Fatunmbi acted as (wouldya believe it?!) an Awo, something that the whole world knew… including their own chief AKA the Araba Adesanya Awoyade, who already in 1995 had stated to a Nigerian friend of mine that he knew and approved of my initiation by Awo Falokun.

Let’s examine some stuff written about Falokun by the “Ode Remo Babalawos” in Charles Spencer King’s crusade thread. For the benefit of y’all I have given some small comment on each statement. By the way: the first “white man” referred to is myself, the later reference being more general.

“(…) the foolish white man (…)”

Having any problem with my skin color, Black men of the “Ode Remo Babalawos”?

“(…) How can you be an Ifa diviner and not be an Ifa priest (…)”

By, f’rinstance, not being a Yoruba in the Orunmila system. Ifa in Africa is quite a bit larger than just your village, state or even country.

“(…) not to listen to these white men cry (…)”

Again: having any problem with my skin color, Black men of the “Ode Remo Babalawos”?

“(…) we have no idea about any initiations he was making on people (…)”

Oh c’mon, grow up. In 1995 Lekan Babalola spoke with your Araba Adesanya Awoyade about me having been initiated by Awo Falokun. The Araba was fully aware and sent me his blessings.

“(…) he was doing that for money and fame (…)”

I don’t know about fame, but he certainly didn’t do it for money. Unless you call 1500 dollars including roundtrip ticket Oakland-Amsterdam-Oakland “doing it for money”.

“(…) The people that he initiated should collect their money back from him and contact us to redo their initiation (…)”

Which, undoubtedly, you will do not for money and fame, but in modest silence and for free (sarcasm off). Geez guys, GROW UP! This is the classic trick! It’s an oldie! We’ve all seen it dozens of times! Anyway, the REAL cat seems to be out of the bag.

Oh dear… Again: if this is how Ode Remo babalawos speak and behave, I’m damn glad I ain’t one of them.

 

Indeed, it’s the oldest trick in the Ifa-Orisha world: telling the unsuspecting punters that the initiations they had done by others are “invalid”, and offering to do them over. In the Diaspora, where nowadays these things are increasingly talked about, hundreds of thousands of dollars must already have changed owners this way, and Nigeria apparently isn’t far behind. Take the advice of a cynical old man: if, in whatever branch of Ifa-Orisha, people tell you that your initiation wasn’t genuine and that they will redo it for you… run. Run like hell. You’re being taken for a ride.

Asking for what he already has?

On December 19, 2011, the “Ode Remo Babalawos” wrote to Charles Spencer King about Awo Falokun: “(…) Seven years ago (note: that would have been in 2004 then. JV.) he sent $100.00 to Awo Sina Kuti and requested all the 256 Odus written down and translated sent to them (…)”
Now there’s something very interesting going on there because… Falokun already had that material that he allegedly was asking for in 2004, in his possession for over a decade… so I’m pretty sure he did not “ask for it” in 2004!

 

 

Seems pretty clear to me. If Awo Falokun Fatunmbi was able to let his students have copies of this stuff as study material in 1994 he must, quite reasonably, have had it in 1994… at the very latest. Otherwise he couldn’t have given it to me and my co-student Ellen AKA Iyawo Taiwo. I never asked when it was supplied to him, but I sure know when he supplied it to me: October 1994. Why would Falokun in 2004 ask for study material that had already been supplied to him at least a decade earlier? Beats me. I think the story is bull.

The text on the front page of the collection in the video also puts an end to the accusation that Falokun plagiarizes without giving credit to the “Ode Remo Babalawos”. It’s really printed there: “By Awo Sina Kuti. Egbe Ifa Ogun Ti Ode Remo”

The Araba knew, and he approved

As for the “Ode Remo Babalawos” and their claims that Falokun Fatunmbi is a fake without permission to work as an Awo: my friend and spiritual brother Lekan Babalola is a blood relative (some sort of nephew) of the Araba Adesanya Awoyade of Ode Remo, in fact Lekan’s mother comes from Ipero Remo, only a few kilometers from Ode Remo. He travels often between Europe and Nigeria, and a year after my initition, in 1995, he visited his uncle in Ode Remo and spoke with him about many things, among which my initiation the previous year by Awo Falokun… which turned out to be perfectly alright with the Araba. Lekan told me afterwards: (I paraphrase, not remembering the exact wording): “Jaap, I spoke with the Araba about you. He knows about you and your initiation by Awo Falokun as a priest of Oshoosi and an Omolawo of Ifa. The Araba sends you his blessings”.

There’s yet more to it. When I was about to get initiated, Awo Falokun invited Lekan Babalola (remember: a nephew of the Araba!) to assist in the initiation. Lekan couldn’t attend on account of business elsewhere, but that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is: if Falokun was doing things that he shouldn’t, couldn’t, and had no training and permission for… in short, if he was doing something sneaky that the Ode Remo crowd shouldn’t know about… why on earth would he, of all people in the world, ask the Araba’s very own nephew to assist him??? Think about it. Does any of you still reckon the accusation makes sense?

It’s a mess

I have the advantage of not (anymore) belonging to a lineage, egbe or ilé… I only belong to Ifa and myself. It’s possible that this makes it easier for me to see the mess the religion is in, than it is for others who are constantly surrounded by the elders, youngers and peers in their branch. I dunno. All I know is that every day, in every way, I am gladder and gladder to be Independent.


What is this thing called “Ifa”…

April 2, 2013 by · Comments Off on What is this thing called “Ifa”…
Filed under: Finding your way in Ifa-Orisha 

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… and whaddafugg is it for?

This little article is specifically geared towards newbies in Ifa-Orisha. For others it may contain nothing new. But read it anyway… you never know… 😉

Called Ifa Ifa in its in the West best-known form is an ancient, levelheaded religion and a way of life, grounded in the West-African Yoruba culture. Ifa recognizes complex combinations of spiritual and metaphysical forces called Orisha’s, more or less (probably less…) comparable with the archetypes of Jung’s psychology.

In this Ifa tradition, Orunmila is the spiritual force that was present when Olodumare (God) decided to create the earth and populate it with human beings. Orunmila knows all the secrets of creation, the forces of good and evil, and the possibilities to deal with those; he represents the moral and ethical order in the universe, in contiuous interaction with Eshu who represents the creative disorder behind all sorts of evolution.

Initiated persons, when using metaphysical techniques, are able to communicate with the Orisha’s. This is called Ifa divination, a spiritual experience that helps lead a balanced life in a world that is full of conflicts and contradictory interests.

Ifa Divination, whaddayaknow?!

Ifa divination knows 16 metaphysial principles that may be combined in 256 ways. Each principle or Odu is a window on reality; through divination the Awo (Ifa priest) determines the window behind which the client stands, in order to help him or her see their situation in the right perspective. The Odu that is applicable to the client’s situation of the moment comes out through the casting of an oracle chain (Opele), sixteen palm nuts (Ikin) or sixteen cowrie shells (Owo Merindinlogun); a second, sometimes a third cast supplies additional information on how to interpret the first Odu.

Each of the 256 combined Odu’s contains several texts; those Odu’s that are important during the consultation are clarified by one or more of these ancient myths and historical tales. The texts give, among other information, “prescriptions” for daily life, tailored to the client’s specific situation. During Ifa divination all kinds of questions may be asked, preferably formulated in such a way that they can be answered with “yes” or “no”. As it happens every question, even those containing multiple choices, may be divided into subquestions that can be answered with a clear yes or no.

Besides diagnosing problems, in most cases Ifa divination also offers their solution. Often this is pointed out by the texts, while in other instances the Awo’s knowledge and experience give the first impulse to solution. The ultimate purpose of divination is to help the client live in harmony with his/her destiny, which is not a fixed and narrow path, but an extensive navigation map from which one may choose the very best road!

What the Awo thinks he’s doing

Ifa divinerSpecialists in Yoruba-based Ifa divination are called, depending on their initiation(s), Babalawo, Omolawo and/or Awolorisha. The translations would be something like “Father of the Mystery”, “Child of the Mystery”, and “Mystery of the Orisha”. The position of diviner is not gender-specific; many Owo Merindinlogun (Dilogun) diviners both in Africa and in the diaspora are female, while mainly but not exclusively in Africa also female Opele and Ikin diviners are not unheard of.

The Awo is consulted on important issues in daily life, like spiritual development, material prosperity, marriage, health. Their advice is also asked for decisions or choices on making a journey, change of jobs, buying a house, or choosing a partner. It is not necessary to be a follower of Ifa to consult an Awo. Actually almost nothing is required by Ifa, except the development of good character. As an initiate in the mysteries of his/her Orisha the Awo speaks a universal language, communicating with the client’s conscious and unconscious self, and with external spiritual forces.

The Awo never stops learning; their study is a lifelong process. The more the Awo learns, the better he/she is able to counsel, diagnose problems, prescribe traditional or non-traditional remedies, and perform rituals on behalf of those who consult them. Depending on where one lives, the rituals may get either less or more emphasis than in Africa. This should not be regarded as a deviation, but as an example of the remarkable adaptability of this ancient tradition, that for the Awo is a way of life as well.

(Note: for old-timers and others who know me and this site, it should be clear that the above is a description of what’s traditionally accepted in the Yoruba system of Ifa. I posted it this way because for most newcomers that’s the only system they may have heard of. However, I do not limit myself to the Yoruba system, nor do I subscribe to the idea that for performing Ifa divination any initiation into f’rinstance Orunmila would be required.)


Ifa divination lesson 7 should be a later number, it is temporarily skipped on Patreon, for later addition and numbering.

March 23, 2013 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Ifa divination lessons 

(Please become a member and/or log in to view this article.)


Some divination tools (1)

March 23, 2013 by · Comments Off on Some divination tools (1)
Filed under: Ifa divination general 

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Ifa’s palm nuts or ikin

Ikin IfaWithin the Orunmila system of Ifa divination, the sixteen palm nuts or Ikin are considered the most elevated form of divination, to the extend that they are often called the “sacred palm nuts”. They are used in combination with the Ifa tray or Opon Ifa, on which the signs are written that are indicated by the Ikin. The diviner takes all 16 ikin in the left hand, and then grabs them with the right hand. Usually some stay behind, if one ikin is left the diviner writes a double mark (II) on the divining tray or Opon. If two remain, a single mark (I) is drawn in the iyerosun. Sometimes more than one remains in the left hand, or none at all, and such a grip is discarded and no mark is made. The process goes on until a full double Odu Ifa has been written in the iyerosun on the tray. Although the palm nuts or Ikin are held in the highest regard compared with other Ifa divination methods and paraphernalia, it’s a remarkable though sad fact that they are the easiest to deliberately manipulate by unscrupulous diviners.

Opon Ifa, Ifa divination tray

Opon IfaThe Opon Ifa or Ifa divination tray is one of the best known objects within the Ifa divination system. With collectors of ethnografica they’re very popular indeed, and some of them are admittedly quite impressive! The one pictured to the left, that once used to be mine, is very large with carvings in unusually high relief, truly a beauty! It was a very old one, and a couple of Awo’s who are much better than me informed me that it had been fed human blood, long ago…

It took me some time (and profound divination!) to figure out how to orient the tray when working with it – the proliferation of Eshu heads made it far less straightforward than would have been the case with simpler trays! And for those who are morbidly interested: no, the human blood never bothered me (wide grin)!

Of course this is only the beginning… eventually I will post many more diviner’s’ thingummies and paraphernalia.


Herbs AKA “ewe”

March 23, 2013 by · Comments Off on Herbs AKA “ewe”
Filed under: Rituals and practice 

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Some herbs (ewe) and other ingredients that are used in Ifa-Orisha practice. It’s a growing list, and at some appropriate moment I will also add alternatives that are, although not traditional, quite effective.

Amunimuye: Senecio Abessynicus (leaves)
Asunwon: Senna Alata (leaves)
Ata Iyere: Piper Guineense (seed)
Atori: Glyphaea Brevis
Daji: Gongronema Latifolium (leaves)
Ela: Epyphytic Orchidaceae (leaves)
Epo Agbon: Coco Nucifera (bark)
Esin: Blighia sapida (ripe fruit flesh)
Ewe Iyeye: Spondias Mombin (leaves)
Idi igi Orosun: Baphia Nitida (root)
Itala: Socoglottis Gabinensis (bark)
Iteji: Gongronema Latifolium (leaves)
Ojiji: Dalbergia Lacteal (leaves)
Odundun: Kalanchoe Crenata
Olode: Markamia Tomementosa (bark)
Pepereku(n): Alternanthera Sessilis (leaves)
Peregun: Peperomia Pellucida
Rekureku: Alternanthera Sessilis (leaves)
Rinrin: Peperoma pellucida (leaves)
Tete: Amaranthus viridis, Amaranthus Spinosus


Letter to a Lukumi

March 23, 2013 by · Comments Off on Letter to a Lukumi
Filed under: Finding your way in Ifa-Orisha 

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By Brenda Beek, November 4, 2012

This article is a summary of a long answer I wrote to a woman who is connected to Lukumi. Jaap and I regularly get private messages of people who have their doubts and issues with Lukumi ways. They ask for advise, or simply want things to get of their chest and simply don’t have the guts to turn to anybody else. Sometimes we are even considered a last resort, because they can’t find themselves in Lukumi any longer. This lady had turned to us about the refusal of several Babalawos in following Ifa’s instructions as they came up in divinations for her. How they make it impossible for her to follow her best destiny and how she feels she is stuck in her life now. Another issue was the insistence of her needing to make ebo after ebo to make things work in her life. She has trouble paying for them, since she has to chose wether to pay for rent, or ebo… Not really a nice choice there. Later on in our conversation it appeared that she was very happy to find out that the blood shedding for every major or minor issue in her life wasn’t actually necessary.

“You speak about initiations, without realizing that these can be harmful. They are not always innocent at all. Also I’m not sure whether your label ‘African’ Religion is right… Lukumi in my eyes is much more a Catholic Spanish religion with African elements, it breaths a very Southern European air. (Members: click to read on)


Matter doesn’t matter

March 4, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Ifalution: the larger picture 

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This is (among many others) the kind of thing that our Ifalution section will be about. Like “matter doesn’t matter”… it is Consciousness (call it “Ori” if you like!) that makes and is whatever is… including you!


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