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Ifa Religion’ The Ancient African Oracle, Mystery & Divination System

Story Highlights

  • African Oracle: Babalawo’s’ The Mystery Custodians
  • African Oracle: Odu Ifa

Through Ifa is revealed the Great Mysteries of life, The basis for understanding the beginning and end of all things, The Ifa Religion is an Ancient African Oracle, Mystery & Tech System used by  ancient africans for divination, to communicate with the spiritual world.

Ifa Religion' The Ancient African Oracle, Mystery & Divination System

Ifa oracle is the Divine Message of Olodumare (God)  to mankind and for all those who seek to receive it. The traditional  Ancient Ifa Religion is also the study and veneration of nature as pure energy. What I mean by “pure energy” is that every leaf, every stem, every flower, trees etc all have a particular animistic energy that allows it to work for human beings and the earth. These energies are all of Light.

No energy that comes up on our Earth Plane is ever dark. They are all Light. When that energy gets ready to play a “negative” role in our lives, that energy now manifests itself as dark. Malevolent beings are seen as dark beings, but they are actually Light beings that take on the “role” of dark when something needs to happen (i.e. car crash, natural disasters, etc.) in order for something to change.

The Ifa Religion or Ifa Oracle  is also a divinatory system centered on the intersection between aspects of the self, free will and destiny. it can inspire explorations of the nature of the self, and of relationships between human will and the factors that shape the course of human life.

Ifa Religion' The Ancient African Oracle, Mystery & Divination System

As a mathematical system the Ifa Religion can be adapted to the use of mathematics as a means of mapping ideas and phenomena, even up to scales as broad and as elaborate as the cosmos, one view represented for me by Babalawo-Adept of the esoteric knowledge of Ifa.

As a literary system the Ifa Religion can motivate literary study, and inspire the reworking of its literature to create new, hybrid forms or the development of entirely new forms. As a system making unusual claims about the nature of phenomena, it can act as an inspiration for  examining the question of the mode of existence of non- material forms, such as  mathematical structures and other ideas.

Ifa The Ancient African Oracle, Mystery, Tech & Divination System

The Ifa Religion belongs to all of us. Hail to the Cubans who have been great custodians of it (Lucumi), and to the Brazilians (Condomble) also. Iba Orunmila, Iba all Orishas!

Ifa Religion: Babalawo’s’ The Mystery Custodians

Ifa Religion or Ifa oracle divination is both a body of knowledge and a system of social, emotional, pathological control, employing relevant historical and mythological precedents contained in the special divinatory verses to be recited, chanted or song by the babalawo. 

Ifa Religion' The Ancient African Oracle, Mystery & Divination SystemIfa Religion' The Ancient African Oracle, Mystery & Divination System

Babalawo is a trained dedicated Ifa priests and diviners in the Ifa Religion. There are two major categories of babalawo in Yorubaland: the- Awo Qlodu and the Awo Elegan.   The Awo Olodu  (the devoted Ifa diviners) are the most recognised and the most knowledgeable class of babalawo in the Yoruba society of Nigeria.

They are only the diviners but also the worshippers of Orunmila, the god of divination and wisdom. The Awo Elegan  on the other hand, are those babalawo who are not fully engaged in Ifa divination.

Ifa Religion' The Ancient African Oracle, Mystery & Divination SystemIfa Religion' The Ancient African Oracle, Mystery & Divination System

These consist of the Agbamole and Sawosesegun. The Agbamole are the set of babalawo who either inherited the divining chain or partially trained in .the art of Ifa divination but uninitiated into Ifa cult.

When this class of babalawo feel like doing so, they can divide for themselves or. any member of their family, but never an outsider. The area of specialisation attached to Ifa Religion which includes the Ifa divination art, healing and chanting of Iyere (the ifa songs).

No energy that comes up on our Earth Plane is ever dark. They are all Light.

Babalawo, before becoming independent and working as a Babalawo for the community, must go through extensive training. Within the training, they will learn many things. Not only how to understand the use of the oracles and the verses attached to each odu, but also how to use nature for medicines (spiritually) or for work to aid humankind.

Now, the master of the Awo in training also had a master, and so did the master before him and before him etc. So in Ifa Religion, everything is handed down orally.


Everything in life is spiritual, whether you know it or not. Nothing is ever mechanical.Anonymous

What is not realized by some is that those old masters are the ones who now sit beside the Awos in their non-physical form and continues to teach in spirit.

A newly trained Awo can cast Ifa, but it also depends on how open his spirit is to receive the information from generations of non-physical, well-trained masters.

These non-physical masters will not only teach him while he works or studies, but also while he sleeps.

So some Babalawos will know extensive knowledge about odus which is part of the Ifa Religion without ever having been taught by their physical master. It would be a “knowing” that they develop, and this “knowing” is what is given to them by non-physical teachers.

Everything in life is spiritual, whether you know it or not. Nothing is ever mechanical.

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African Oracle: Odu Ifa

Ifa Religion or Ifa Oracle is operated by means of the configuration called Odu. In the Ifa oracle corpus are as many as 256 possibilities (16 principal and 240 minor Odueach containing mythological stories which the babalawo narrates in the process of divination.

The Odu Ifa are spirits who represent all possibilities of existence, from the concrete to the abstract, from the temporal to the situational. One way of adapting this idea is that of correlating the Odu with forms one understands as the primary categories of existence.

The sixteen principal Odu (plus the signs) in order of seniority are listed below (for easy reference).

The first Odu of the Ifa Religion is Eji Ogbe is correlative with the mind, because consciousness may be seen as the fundamental quality necessary for perceiving existence. Without consciousness, the cosmos would exist but no entity would register that existence. The fact of the existence of the cosmos or of any phenomena would be unknown.

The second Odu,  Oyeku Meji is linked with matter, because existence, as currently accessible in an uncontroversial sense  by human beings,  is dependent on matter, be it matter known to be living,  this being humans, animals and plants, or matter not conventionally understood as living, such as rocks and air.

The third Odu of the Ifa Religion, Iwori Meji is identified with space because matter necessarily implies space since matter occupies space. Space is also central to cognition because the human being, composed of mind operating in terms of matter, uses space in orienting itself. The human form is structured in terms of spatial orientation towards the front, two sides- left and right, and the back, this being primary templates for the description of space in terms of east, west, north and south.

Ifa Religion' The Ancient African Oracle, Mystery & Divination System

The fourth Odu of the Ifa Religion is Odi Meji is depicted in terms of time, since movement in space implies motion in time. The ultimate markers of time, the revolutions of the celestial bodies, demonstrate spatial motion at the largest scales. Other primary markers of time, such as the developmental cycles of terrestrial forms, of which the human body and mind are central but which also includes animals,  plants and geological forms, are not dependent on motion in space, but may be described metaphorically in terms of motion purely in time.

The remaining twelve of the foundation-set of sixteen Odu ifa of the Ifa Religion  are then described as derivatives of mind, matter, space and time, demonstrating specificities of these four primal units.

Perhaps the model  would be more comprehensive if forms of matter are also explicitly included in the subdivisions, but I am reflecting on that for a possible future development of the model including the subdivisions of matter would be vital because Ifa operates in terms of a cosmology grounded in an understanding of Ashe, a cosmic force that enables existence and change, being and becoming, as pervading all forms of existence, and enabling mutuality of existence between various forms of being, this mutuality being meditated through, or understood in terms of, the Orisha Eshu, whose face is an invariable feature of every Opon Ifa.

Ifa Religion & Traditional Medicinal Plants

A leaf burnt to make a medicine instantly becomes a spirit. How is this done in the Ifa Religion? Because there was a spirit attached to this leaf before it was used for this preparation. This is why every tree and every leaf has a name in the Ifa Religion, just like every human being has a name. So, if I wanted John to go to the shop for me, I would call him by his name and send him on errand.

Ifa Religion' The Ancient African Oracle, Mystery & Divination System

Just like calling John, the Awo has to use incantation to “wake up” the medicine in order for it to now become “alive” and go out to work for the human it will be given to. By “alive” I mean that the medicine has now become a messenger.

Now, when I send John to the shop, John needs a mode of transportation. When the Awo makes the medicine, it will now use the breeze to carry it through. If the medicine was for prosperity, it will use the breeze to search for avenues to bring prosperity. Because the breeze is an element of nature and a force within itself, it will now become activated by this medicine, and the two work together for the benefit of the human.


Ifa Religion or Ifa oracle operates in terms of a cosmology grounded in an understanding of Ashe, a cosmic force that enables existence and change.Anonymous

How is this knowledge of the Ifa Religion given so that it can be passed along through generations?

All of this knowledge is not only passed down through training, but also through non-physicals (a spirit still alive and conscious). The more a non-physical assists the human in evolution and growth is the more that non-physical elevates into Light Continuum.

The spirituality behind tradition & Ifa Religion is the activation of non-physical beings who must also be propitiated always. Therefore, the reverence and sacrifice to the ancestors and your Ori are important. It is the non-physicals or those from the ancestral world that will lead someone from Iceland or Greenland all the way to tradition without them ever having heard of it before. They, the spirits, are like salt, which without it, the food can never be good. They act as an activation for everything spiritual that needs to be done or learned.

The Ifa Religion or Ifa oracle explains the reasons for the existence of life, living, death, sickness, success, failure, poverty, wealth, life before birth and life after death. Only Ifa reveals the spiritual basis for reincarnation experience; why no living thing, having sucked from the, breasts of mother Nature, will fail to taste the bitter truth of death.

Ifa Religion' The Ancient African Oracle, Mystery & Divination System

Only the Ifa Religion or  Ifa oracle tells it exactly as it is. In short, only Ifa guides the life of man from cradle to grave! Although, as a result of close association through the several millennia, Orunmila has been regarded as being synonymous with Ifa (the two names are actually frequently interchanged in the Sacred Verses).

Ifa as the embodiment of Olodumare is the ultimate level of esoteric consciousness, a level attained only by Orunmila. Presumably anyone can reach that level, but so far, it is not achievable by mere mortals.

There are so many things to know in understanding Ifa-Orisha divination from a metaphysical point of view. There is much to learn because most of us on the other side of the world were not born within the tradition.

Ifa is the voice of Olodumare

Photos Credit: Yagbe Onilu


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