Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ori – The Divine Calabash of Destiny, Character & Potential, Seed of the Creator

This is by no means a full comprehensive work, but merely a glimpse into the position of authority Ifa places on Ori, the divine spark of Olodumare within our lives.

If one wanted to define ones Ori, it could be said to mean ones destiny, morality or character, it may be the potential in ones life or the potential to change ones situation in life, Ori could also be said to be ones personal god and the spark of Olodumare that resides within each of us. Ori can be said to be the Divinity that makes us Divine, if we conduct ourselves in such a way that is befitting of such grandeur.
So Ori can be defined as all of the above and then more, Ori truly is multifarious in essence and by nature. Just as one cannot easily define or even comprehend Olodumare, it is equally difficult to understand the complex ideology of what is ones Ori.

Let us try to shed some light on this topic, I will use certain stanzas of Ifa for better understanding and clarity on the subject, as required.
Ori is the believed to be the most important Orisa of all, since Ori alone is responsible for changing / shaping the life of the person. Every person has a piece of the Divine Essence given to us by Olodumare, this piece is called Ori.
Obatala is said to form the human skeleton with his tools and the help of Ogun, Olodumare gives us his Divine daughter Emi (breath), then as said in Ifa-OgbeYonu the person goes to the home of Ajala (a certain place in heaven) to select their Ori. It is Ajala that forms the inner head (Ori-Inu), which can be formed very good or not, depends on the level of patience that will determine which head will be selected, to repair a badly damaged inner head this will require many sacrifices, ritual and appeasement.
The only Divinity that can repair a damaged Ori is Orunmila, namely during the process and messages of Esentaye, Isefa and Itefa. In Ifa-Ogunda Meji Ifa teaches us that the only Orisa that can follow its devotee all the days until death is ones Ori, no other can do this (we share all the other Orisa), it is Ori that can bless a person quickly. Ori is your dynamic force or potential, natural qualities and strength of your character which can impact public image and boost popularity plus many other important human endeavours. Ori is the Divinity of full possibilty and the other Orisa only help bring this potential into fruition.
This is where the Ifa concepts of Ayanmo, Akunleyan & Akunlegba come into play within ones life potential and what we regard as ones destiny. I will try to briefly explain all three:
Ayanmo: is aspects of self that are fixed, don’t change and remain so until death, they are gender, race, family and natural roles we must do as that person in physical manifestation etc
Akunleyan: is essentially virtues and values, chosen by person in heaven, they form likes and dislikes, taboos & similar
Akunlegba: is the additives to ones chosen virtues, which are given by various Irunmole in the inner realm of heaven called Onibode and happen during the mid-later stages of pregnancy. This is where ones complementing Orisa are assigned to assist one in completing ones task here on earth
Upon coming to earth (birthing) most if not all of this recorded information is forgotten or unlearned while growing infant is getting corrupted with “outside” ideas based on ignorance. This is were the position of Ifa comes into play, and states the importance of Awo performing esentaye (first rites for newborns, done very early in life), receiving Isefa (one hand of Ifa) and divination from time to time (using Ikin, Opele or Cowrie shells) to know the message of Ifa (word from Olodumare) redirecting the person towards pre-selected destiny, in order to stay on course or come out better by avoidance of pitfalls. This is where our system called Ifa prevails by giving both the compass and the map.

By performing the esentaye and Isefa rites, we are helping the parents to mould and shape the life of the child to attain, repair and in certain cases outperform potential in life by guiding using a pro-active approach of specific advice, clear directives, ideal environment and anticipated outcome.
In fact I suggest both young and mature to receive, worship & appease ones Ori container, called Ile Ori in Yoruba land and Igba Ori in Brazil. Where the important tradition of receiving ones Ori is still very prevalent for all, regardless of call to the Orisa Priest hood or not, all worshippers of this tradition must receive. In Cuba, which has shaped much of the religious basis worldwide, does not make the need to receive Ori for all followers as important as both Yoruba land and Brazil.
However many Cuban Babalawo have the icon of Ori which they appease at special times and many of the very old Babalawo in Cuba will tell you it is a must within the system of Ifa practiced in Cuba and will attest to the potency of its spiritual works (this is where a women can appease Oko-Orun their heavenly husband), within the circles of Orisa Priest/tess in Cuba it is not a divinity they receive and often for the few that know that such a Divinity can be received they will tell you it is an Orisa of a Babalawo only, and within the context of Ifa worship. However on occasion and namely during major rituals the Orisa Priest/tess and Ifa Priest alike will perform Ibori ceremony (rogations as called in Cuba) to both initiates and non-initiates.

Ori is for everyone, and a major Orisa we all ought to appease and venerate often, in fact it is our Ori we should be going to first, before any Orisa this is what Ifa teaches us. When we consult with Awo-Ifa it is Orunmila who advises us of the true intent of ones Ori, that is why Orunmila has a more in depth connection with the person coming for divination and will reveal all clearly. Ifa consults the Ipin-Ori or Iponri of the person (since only Orunmila is Elerii-Ipin witness of creation/destiny) who resides in heaven and known as the Enikeji (counterpart) of its double on earth which is our Ori-Inu which resides within us.

I will conclude by addressing the concern many who worship this tradition sometimes face, it is the matter of why they have done so many rituals, so many sacrifices and gone through many rites, yet their problem or concern may persist & reappear, this is once again due to the lack of dealing with the various aspects of ones Ori, I will site several examples below from Ifa stanzas that speak about this matter;


Gentle character it is which enables the rope of life
To remain undamaged in ones hand
These were the Babalawo that cast Ifa for Orunmila
Who by means of his gentle character
Was going to win the rope of life from the other 400+1 Orisa

Crazy gave birth to craziness, it is a maddening circle
Leave them alone, let them run round and round like craziness
Until they exhaust and reflect on their error
Don’t you see it is their bad character that chases them round crazy
These four Awo were the ones who cast this Ifa for Aniwonikun
Who is fearful of what is to come because of what has just happened, again
They said;
Will you please practice gentle character
Will you but practice sound character
Will you please practice good morality
And stop running about chasing yourself

Getting mad amounts to nothing good
Patience is the Father of good gentle character
The elder that has patience
has all the good life can offer
divined Ifa for Orunmila
when seeking opulence & abundant success in life
he was told the only way was to make ebo and marry Iwa (character) as wife
he did so and became very successful
then produced many children all taking a piece of Iwa and showing others to do the same (produced plenty of people to multiply doing good on earth)

in another from Ogbeyonu, the same diviners said:

Getting mad amounts to nothing good
Patience is the Father of good gentle character
The elder that has patience
has all the good life can offer
divined Ifa for Orunmila
when seeking after the very thing called a “good life”
the Awo told him;
Character is all that is required
Character is all that is required
There is no destiny to be called unhappy in ancient Ife
Character is all that is required

Ela moyin ‘Boru, Ela moyin ‘Boye Ela moyin ‘Bosise

Awoyinfa Ifaloju
Mar, 2007

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