This essay is focused on the belief of Africans in the existence of spiriticism and the world of the ideal. In order to be able to properly explore this belief we shall be evaluating the concept of Ifa as an agent of mediator between man and the superior being.
This essay concluded that the Africans recognise the duality of the world and that the world of ideal interact with the world of form.
THE QUESTION OF YORUBA BELIEF SYSTEM ABOUT IFA AND SPIRITISM
In every human society across the globe, the continuity between the human and superhuman, the natural and the supernatural, the visible and invisible, the real and the fantastic, the Spirit and the body, permeate cultures and traditions.
What is Ifa?. The word Ifa refers to the mystical figure (Ifa Asoro dayo) or Orunmila, regarded by the Yoruba as the deity of wisdom and intellectual development. Ifa is polytheistic (contrary to the believe of the Abrahamic religion that is monotheistic), but its supreme creative figure, Olodumare, shares power with numbers of subsidiary deities. Each represents particular elements of life or nature –life, Death, reincarnation, water, fire, rebirth, agriculture, the arts and serves as an intercessor between humans and the creator (Elerin pin).
Ifá is a Yoruba religion and system of divination. Its literary corpus is the Odu Ifá. There are sixteen major Odu (‘books’) in the Odù Ifá literary corpus. When combined there are total of 256 Odu to solve all problems, situations, puzzling circumstances, actions and consequences in life based on the uncountable ese ifa (poetic recitations) attached to the 256 Odu coding. These form the basis of Ifa traditional spiritual knowledge and are the foundation of all Yoruba divination systems.
Ifa is euhemeristicaly, because he once lived as an individual and he is married to “Odu”. Ifa “Olokun Asoro darayo Elerin pin, Atori alai sun o se”. Ifa can also be refereed to as Orunmila. We have quite numbers of ways of consulting ifa. But for the sake of this research work we shall be limited to four. 1. Ikin (the head of ifa). 2. Iyere. 3. Opele (slave to ifa) and Olokun (the wife to Orunmila). Orunmila is ubiquitous in nature.
How many years will it take to learn and master ifa and what is the need assessment before learning it?
Firstly, the learner must enter “igbodu” this igbodu is where the learner will be taught basic things about ifa, the dos and don’ts, and some rites will be performed on the intended learner. The igbodu is like an enrollment or matriculation.
Basically, someone needs at least six to nine years to learn the corpus in the Odu Ifá. If the person is learning Iyere ifa after each divination the learner will be asked to drink the Iyere that is poured inside water which means the learner will be knowing it inside. Also, the person will be given àdó ìmò (gourd of knowledge) to swallow and some other things to swallow.
The babalawo recites a series of poems with proverbs and stories from the Ifa poetry that go with that choice.
Ori Yeye ni mogun….,
Ise oro lo po libe,
Aise lo po libe,
Adi a fun Ogun da,
To pa eran to f’eje re riru sun lenu,
Ifa ni ama rogun elenini,
Ifa ni ama rogun alakoba,
Ki won maa ba koba wa.
The Ifa citation is intended to provide a moral story or tell story of what has happened in time past. The citation often uses animals, human beings or inanimate objects as the main characters.
They are presented with anthropomorphic characteristics, such as the ability to speak and to reason. The herbalist tends to use an unpleasant voice in recitation so as to defamiliarise and divest the audience or the consultant.
The final interpretation is made by the person seeking guidance, who decides how the verses that the babalawo has recited should be applied to the problem at hand. IFA has 16 basic chapters which are;
Otura Meji, we
For example if someone comes for consultation and osa meji appears, it shows that the person is having issues with people of the under world (witches and wizards). If someone comes for a divination and ogunda appears. It shows the person is a thief or the person’s house will soon be invaded by thieves. Ogundabeje during the ancient time was a notorious armed robber who was also powerful.
What is the benefit of the Ado ìmò (gourd of wisdom) taking by the initiate
Ado ìmò functions in two capacities. Firstly, it helps to understand everything being taught during the course of the ifa training. Secondly, it helps to communicate to the supernatural being when making a divinition. It controls the herbalist when doing any consultation. That is the reason why the native doctor will say ” eyin lawo , awon lawo emi l’ ogberi” ogberi is someone doesn’t know anything about the Intiates. So the native doctor is an “ogberi” until when the Ado ìmò (gourd of wisdom) talks to the herbalist or inform the herbalist on what to do.
What is the difference between herbalist and witch doctor?
Herbalist is someone who treats different diseases and sickness with herbs and they are also called herb doctors. While witch doctor is someone who believe in providing solutions to human problem through sacrifices, herbs and magical power. This means that anybody can be an herbalist but not anybody can be a witch doctor. Herbalism and spiriticism are courses studying during the course of learning ifa. Spiriticism this practically deals with the world of ideal. Spiriticism postulate that some humans can be essentially immortal spirits that temporarily inhabit physical bodies, and may have influence on the physical world. This has to do with reincarnation and interchange of thoughts and ideas to the unseen Spirit.
Divination tray and ikin (Opon ifa ati ikin)
Sacriﬁce/Ebo guarantees success
The Yoruba believe in one supreme God called Olodumare. Olodumare is very remote to the Yoruba by virtue of the duality that exists with Olodumare. In other words God created both the”good” and “evil” (this is also applicable to the Greek cosmology that say that God created the knowledge of the tree of good and evil) forces at play in the universe and he gave Ase (power) to both sides. “When you speak about ‘good’, you have already presupposed ‘evil’.”One cannot exist without the other. There are two sides to every story or problem. Within Olodumare lays both sides to one story, so directing energy to olodumare directly can be vain. Within Ifa the cosmos is divided into two halves. The right side is in habited by the benevolent supernatural powers and the left side is inhabited by the malevolent supernatural powers.
The benevolent powers are the Orisa and their helpful associations with humans.The malevolent powers are evil and destructive energies like Iku (death), Arun (sickness), Ofo (loss), Epe (curse) and so on. There is no peaceful.
What are the taboo an herbalist must not do?
It is forbidden for a witch doctor to marry another witch doctor’s wife either dead or alive. Even if a witch doctor wife sit on a seat and she stands up. Another herbalist or witch doctor cannot sit on the same stool.
Also, herbalist/witch doctor do not have any prerogative to use leaf to clean his buttocks after dedication. It is also prohibited for an herbalist to defecate in a flowing River or on the mountain.
Lastly, if is very injurious for a witch doctor or herbalist to appeal to another herbalist on a particular issue and he declined. “Awo ni gbo awo nigbo wo, to awo o ba gbe awon ni gbowo aso Aya awo ate” it is a very strong taboo for a witch doctor to use the child(Ren) of another herbalist for ritual or sacrifices. “A ki n fi omo ore bo ore”