My Evolution Towards Iyanifa

You may or may not remember me telling you I had gone to see a babalawo in February. That caused a bit of drama with a ‘friend’ apparently. He’s still not talking to me because I went without discussing it with him, seeking his express approval and worse, choosing an African babalawo rather than his Santeria padrino and even worse, choosing to follow the guidance of someone he expressly dislikes, and worse yet… having and knowing my own mind. Ai ya… Oludumare save me from other people’s insecurities!

To continue: the babalawo divined to Ifa for me then told me not to worry so much. That my efforts were geared for success. :sigh: This is all I am holding onto right now.

Last week I went and made ibori…. this is a cleansing of the head, an appeasement of one’s destiny.

This is the Ori I am speaking about, the most personal and most important Orisa.

Ori” first, because “Ori” is our main support while here in Aye. Even the Irunmole and Orisa depended on their Ori to accomplish their tasks and assignments.
 
Ori is our main support and guide while here in Aye/the world and Ori is not an Orisa; Ori is its’ own entity which is comprised of your own Destiny and Character/It’s your spirit, your own head (physical and spiritual). It is that which allows us to make choices through our own free will. Ori is also connected/combined with our spiritual double known as “Enikeji”. Our Enikeji is that part of us that remains in Iwonron to remind us of our chosen destiny and what we should and shoudn’t be doing while here in Aye. It’s that little voice in our head telling us what’s best for us.
 
Ori should be worshipped first before any Irunmole and Orisa because all thoughts start within our own minds/heads and if are heads our focused, then so will our lives. The Irunmole and Orisa are there for the times our heads become detached (Modakeke). Basically, when we’re not thinking correctly. Therefore, before seeking the assistance of any of the Irunmole or Orisa use your own head first to solve your problems (Use your Ori).
 
Song taught to me by Chief Solagbade Popoola about Ori:
 
Ori eni la wure eni O
Ori eni la wure eni
moji lowuro mufi owo muri
Ori eni la wure eni
 
Translation:
 
Ones’ Ori is ones’ charm for all sucesses
Ones’ Ori is ones’ charm for all sucesses
I wake up in the morning and I hold my head
Ones’ Ori is ones’ charm for all sucesses
 
Important note: Traditionally there is no concept of having a guardian Orisa or being a child of this or that Orisa. As taught to me by my elders, Ori is ones’ guardian in life and all the Irunmole/Orisa support us/support our Ori depending on what’s happening in our lives at the time. In other words, we are supported by all the Irunmole/Orisa and not just one or two. I felt this was important to state because traditionally if you are born into a household/lineage that worships Ogun for example, it is expected that you will be initiated into Ogun as well. There is no such thing as doing a guardian Orisa reading first to see who owns your head because traditionally it is believed that you are the owner of your own head/Ori is you and you are it. The head controls the body. The body does not control the head. Traditionally you simply follow in the footsteps of your lineage and become a priest of whatever Orisa that your lineage worships.

FROM: The Irunmole and Orisha with a short description of Ori

I have been reading about Orunmila, Ifa, getting involved in things, reaching inside to define myself. To start I have been asking my Ancestors for help. I’ve now been asking my Ori to help open the way for me. I have one more ritual to perform, and hopefully this will be accepted and I can proceed further down the road.

This morning, in my half wake/half sleep state, I pleaded with the good Spirits around me and my own Ori to help me in this time. I pushed as many mental images of comfort and growth, after a night of dreams where the men I have had feelings for in the past came to me one by one, and talked with me, helped me before being replaced by each other (weird).

I also dreamt of evacuating my family from a crumbling world, and stopping to grab important things.

I am tired, but it is my heart’s desire to overcome my current difficulties and all my prayer is focussed on that.

I have over the last few months, been trying to combat my fear. I realise I about to leap forward, but the leap is scary. What I mean is, that in terms of what I’ve been through so far. This is mostly in terms of what divination has revealed to me so far.

Not divination in terms of my own. I try not to probe too much myself. I still think I need training to be proficient. I’ve learnt my lesson I think, and I am afraid of the foolishness one is tempted by when one divines for oneself.

No, I mean in readings other people have done for me. Astra (both times), the first ever divination that was done for me, also during my One Hand of Ifa ceremony, and recently during this most recent divination with a Nigerian babalawo who is visiting London.

I am a daughter of Orunmilla. This is the third time that it has been divined. What is unclear is whether Osun or Yemoja is my mother. We are sure I am a water baby, just not whose.

I choose not to worry too much; I have my suspicions. I have had recent dreams about Yemoja that were powerful. I am digressing though.

Back in 2003, during my One Hand of Ifa ceremony, it was declared that Orunmilla was my Orisha, but the babalawo who attended, said that he didn’t like to tell a woman that Orumilla was their Orisha, so he said it was Osun, and that I was now apetebii.

Except, what that was wasn’t really explained to me at all. In the two years since then, I’ve done a great deal of research, a lot of reading, asking questions of people who are supposed to know. Posed this to practitioners of Ifa-derived systems in the ‘New World’: Santeria/Lukumi, Candomble and actual Nigerian practitioners.

I’ve read the one and only book available on the subject of apetebii, “Apetebii: The Wife Of Orunmilla” by Chief Priest Ifayemi Elebuibon The Awise of Oshogbo; I’ve posted in forums, many heavy Santeria/Lukumi influenced boards and discussion groups, and gleaned as much of an understanding of “what exactly is going on, mate?”

After three years of avid study and interest, here’s what I understand about my own personal spiritual developmental path.

Before I incarnated in this body, I asked God for a particular destiny. This was part of my Ori. I asked to come back as a child of Orunmilla, and as a woman, because from my investigations and messages delivered through seers, I believe I was a high priest before. I haven’t probed this reason, but from what I know of karma, it was probably for the experience of it. By that I mean, for the experience of being a woman and a priest.

Apetebii, is the first rung on a ladder of initiation towards Iyanifa. Some women become apetebii, and do not progress further. Apetebii, I understand is also not limited to daughters of Osun and Ifa. Apetebii, also does not divine for petitioners.

In my case though, I’ve been expressly told I have to learn to divine, and at least once that I must initiate to Ifa.

This is a road not without real problems. This is because the high priesthood of Ifa often tends to be male. In the Cuban Lukumi system, there is a strong established prohibition of women intiated to Ifa. In fact, in the Cuban system, Apetebii is as far as it goes for women and Ifa. Some have attributed this to a Judeo/Christian machismo acquired in captivity.

And here is the crux of the thing. Women are initiated to Ifa in parts of what was ancient Yorubaland; and still are for that matter. The highest level that a woman can achieve in the Ifa high priesthood is that of “Iyaonifa” or “Iyanifa”, which literally translates to “Mother of Ifa”. A male high priest is a “babalawo”, a “father of the secrets”.

Divination is the real bone of contention for the Cuban practitioners in opposition, because for them, a woman cannot divine with opuele, the diviner’s chain that babalawo’s use. However, even the Iya of the shrine I was in before I left Trinidad, used an opuele, and she is Osun/Obatala. No doubt, she uses the chain with some controversy as many practitioners in Trinidad are made in New York and Cuba and obviously and inevitably inherit some of prejudices of that system.

There has been other controversies as well, including the “female babalawo” (this article disassembles the ritual stages the woman is said to have achieved), an American Jewish woman who claims to have been initiated to Ifa and been present when Odu was revealed. Now, according to many Orisa devotees, the Ifa corpus prevents women from receiving Odu in this way. Being present when odu is revealed is at the core of the difference between the initiation ceremonies for men and women to Ifa.

There aren’t even many male priests who are present when Odu is revealed and receive it. In fact, in the article linked to above, it is clearly stated: “On October 6 (2002) in the town of Ilobu, Osun State, the Orisa-Odu is carried out by Chief Babalola Ifatogun. After the necessary divination, according to D’Haifa, Chief Ifatogun pronounces categorically that there is no Odu-Ifa that ever prohibited women from receiving Orisa-Odu, nor to initiate another person into Ifa.”

I must report that this woman has been largely vilified and heavily criticised by the greater Orisha community, including other Iyanifa’s. I have also read stories that the people who initiated her, later disowned her. So you know, whether or not she actually achieved what she said she has, is still being debated.

Anyway, this is not to debate the legitimacy of this woman’s claims. I am in absolutely no position to comment on this, so consider what I have written thus far to mere reportage and nothing more.

My concern is my own road, I will trust the Orisas and the messages and instructions received in divination, rather than be guided solely by what is ‘accepted’. To be honest, I have real problems with some of the things in the Cuban system and not the least of which is the matter of ‘Iyanifa’. I am not criticising the Cuban traditions, it’s just that if it means that I must limit myself in order to fit in with it, then I choose not to limit myself. If it means that Cuban practitioners will not recognise me, the so be it.

I will not be limited by anyone. I chose my own destiny, and I will try in all ways to allow my Ori to guide me to the place I need to be in order to function at my highest level as an individual both spiritually and temporally.

So for me, if Orunmilla has claimed me as His child and identified me as material worthy of his priesthood, then how am I going to choose to placate people who have refused to recognise change and evolution.

I think it is no accident that I was born an Aries. To follow this path has required fighting and battles, and an Aries is capable, a warrior to reckon with.

It has already begun, because my mother (naturally) does not approve, and she has been very derisive of my faith on more than one occasion. Discussions on the matter always seem to end in a fight of some sort. I have also chosen not talk to my grandmother about it either, because of her devout Catholicism.

In any case, I have decided that I am not going to follow the Cuban system. It would limit me in a way I think would be bad for me. There are very stern warnings regarding the crowning of the wrong Orisha.

This however doesn’t mean I am in a rush to take up sacredotal duties. In fact, I feel quite truculent. I am actually quite unnerved by the responsibility that the role requires, the kind of discipline demanded and you know, the way my life will change fundamentally. I am also wary of fanaticism on any level, so for me to submerge myself so completely into a religious life is quite frightening. I don’t know if I want to change that much.

Will I still be able to listen to Missy Elliot, Jodeci and Outkast with the same kind of enjoyment? What will I have to give up? I suppose these are questions, anyone contemplating this type of life change asks oneself, and you know, I’m right to ask.

When the time comes, I may willingly surrender a great many things about my life, and I sense this is coming, but on a level friends, I would like it not to hurry.

It will bring great personal change, and new battles to fight, and you know… I’d like a nice long period of recovery from the dramas behind me before I start another major hike, ya feel me?

In any case, I am learning to work with my Ori. I feel this is the key to managing the changes around me, to my life and to myself. I am glad I made ibori. I am hoping to learn how to appease and work with my ori to achieve my highest potential. Truly, it’s the only way to proceed. So you know, small moves… small moves.

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sungoddess

mermaid, dayo's mama, water priestess, writer, web developer, omo yemoja, dos aguas, obsessive reader, sci-fi fan, trini-bajan, combermerian, second life, music, music, music!