↑ Return to About

What is Ifa?

What is Ifa

“Yoruba People The Yoruba religion originated at lle-ife, a holy city that is regarded as the cradle of civilization for the Yoruba of southwestern Nigeria. Although the Yoruba religion was tribal in origin, it has, over the years, taken on the characteristics of a world religion. It is not only practiced by the Yoruba speaking people in West Africa, but also by people of Yoruba descent living in many countries worldwide. Worship in the Yoruba religion is based on the belief in the supreme being, Olodumare, the creator of Heaven (Orun) and earth (aye); the belief in a multitude of deities (Òrisà) and the belief in the ancestors (Egungun) Ancestor reverence is an important aspect of the Yoruba religion. It is believed that there is a spiritual bond between the ancestors who are regarded as the ―living dead and the rest of the family who are still living on earth. Ori (the head) plays a vital role in the belief of the Yoruba. It is the Ori that controls a person’s destiny. Just as the Yoruba are conscious of the fact that there is no beginning without an end, or no end without a beginning, so is their strong belief in the concept of reincarnation. One of the main purposes of the Yoruba religion is to ascertain the ―will of the deities through divination. In this way one is able to attain the favor of the Òrisà and the ancestors. This is accomplished in a religious ceremony during which the candidate is initiated to the appropriate Òrisà. In the practice of Yoruba religion there are many rituals involving sacrifice, offerings and taboos which require the services of a competent, well-trained priest or priestess for their performance. The priest or priestess who may also be a diviner plays an essential role in the social and religious life of the Yoruba people. The Yoruba religion calls for living in harmony with one’s neighbors, the environment and one self; honor and respect for the ancestors, and a constant striving to cultivate and maintain good character.”

Dr. Afoloabi Epega, President Imole Oluwa Instittue Lagos, Nigeria Taken from ―The Yoruba Religion Introduction to Its Practice‖ by Conrad E. Mauge` Ph.D

“Ifa is a nature religion. (Note: The term religion is used here for educational purposes. Personally, when I’m referring to Ifa, I call it a spiritual system). When we use the term Òrisàs we are speaking about the forces of nature. When one works with Òrisà, he or she is working with the forces of nature. It was through the observation of nature that the religion of Ifa came into existence. The word religion comes from the Latin word religare, which means re (back) ligare (to bind). So the word religion means ―to bind back to God‖ or the Creator (Olodumare). The Òrisàs are intermediaries between you and Olodumare. So it is through the forces of nature that one ―binds back to or ―becomes one with‖ her/his Creator. How do we do that? We start by aligning ourselves with nature.

It is through nature that the Òrisàs speak to us. One way to start realigning ourselves with nature is through observing and participating in the cycles of nature. It was through observation of the cycles of nature that the calendar came into existence. Through the observation of the moon the ancients learned about Universal Laws. In antiquity our ancestors discovered through observation that there were continuous cycles. Out of these observations evolved what we call today the Science of Astrology and, as I stated earlier, the calendar. Through these observations our ancestors developed the Stellar, Lunar, and the Solar calendars. They studied the planetary bodies, their locations in the heavens, as well as how they moved and the way human behavior was affected. In Ifa, the discipline of studying the cosmological forces and its influences is called gede (ge – female ase dide – to stand up). Gede is not Astrology of personal fortune. Gede is the Astrology of planetary energetic patterns of manifestation.”

Awo Sangodare Fagbemi