Thursday 17 June 2021

Ifá as a Divinatory System

Africa as a continent of 54 independent countries, and with many divinatory systems to which clear understandings are being gotten to hidden facts, phenomenons, and situations; Ifá Divinatory System is very distinguished and unique.

Through this process of divination, past events will be interpreted to explain and deal with the current situations, and also to predict or explain the future events. And as far as Ifá divination is concerned, the basis is purely to seek for knowledge and wisdom through spirituality.

What is divination?     

Divination is from Latin word “divinare” meaning, to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy'. It’s related to divinus, 'divine'. In other word, it refers to an  attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of a spirituality. Further more, these refers to as the systematic ways of getting wisdom, knowledge, and facts to an hidden phenomenon, concept, problem, and idea through spiritual means by a spiritualist or diviner. Also, it refers to as the practice of attempting to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge by occult or supernatural means according to ”Advanced dictionary“.

The concept of who are diviners can’t be left untouched, because it is like a car without driver or a palace without king.

Who is a Diviner?

A diviner is the one who interprets the basic facts , phenomenons, principles, knowledge, and wisdoms that are esoteric or supernatural to the client in such away that he/she can understand the concepts in physical realms. Also, someone who claims to be able to say what is going to happen in the future using special powers or abilities.

Divinations are important because;

(1) It helps in predicting the future. 

(2) It helps in the interpretation of present conditions. 

(3) It helps to provide explanations to concepts, phenomenons, and hidden facts in spiritual realm to physical realm.

Comprehensively, Ifá is a very polysemous word or term simply because, it has many different meanings.


Ifá as a Religion or Belief System. 

Ifá as a Divinity (Messenger of Elédùmarè). 

Ifá as an Esoteric language or words of Elédùmarè for the guidance of humankind. 

Ifá as a Divinatory System.

As far as this paper-work is concerned, these studies will be restricted to Ifá as a Divinatory System alone. And to avoid tautology, the above analysis should serve as a prerequisite knowledge to what Ifá means.

In Africa and Yorùbáland as a case study, we have different divination objects such as;

-The sixteen cowries (Ẹrìndínlógún):

-Awere, Erufo or Atona (this icon is in form of mat, and usually used by the hunters when they were in the bush and they find it difficult to know the direction to follow. This Mat will point to them the right way to go.

-Water as a System of Divination.

-Palm Reading.

-Back of Tree Reading: it is used to improvise Kola nuts, and it is a practice associated with  Ògún Priests (Hunters, to be specific)

-Cola-Nuts (Cola-nut is widely used for divination, each of the lobes has meaning and the priest/priestess will interpret what it means and the messages it is trying to pass across to the divinee).

-Agbigba: it's very similar to Ọ̀pẹ̀lẹ̀ but not as ọ̀pẹ̀lẹ̀, and the way by which the priest use to control this object is very differ to that of ọ̀pẹ̀lẹ̀. This tool is commonly used in Yorùbáland, and Ketu (Benin Republic).

-Ọ̀ṣanyìn: in this regard, talking Ọ̀ṣanyìn is involved, he sees clearly and he will tell the hidden facts but talks in parable and the diviner will be the one who will interpret to the divinee.

-Ifá (Ikin-Ifá and Ọ̀pẹ̀lẹ̀-Ifá): this is what this article is all about in particular.

Ifá divination.

Ifá divination methodology encompasses two parameters;

~ the casting of Ikin-Ifá  

~ the playing of Ọ̀pẹ̀lẹ̀ Ifá

(A). The casting of Ikin-Ifá:

This method involves the random selection of sixteen Ikins, which were subdivided into five categories, ranges from Àrún-ọsìn (first 5-Ikins), Àrún-ọrà  (The second 5-Ikins), Ẹ̀ta-Ògúndá (3-Ikins), Èjì-Ìrẹtẹ̀ (2-Ikins) and Ọ̀kanṣoṣo-òfídan (only 1-Ikin). When they were summed up, the total number will be 16.

Ìyẹ̀ròsùn (the specialy produced powder from Ìròsùn wood) would be applied on divinatory board (Ọpọ́n-Ifá), and the powder will be evenly spread round the surface of the board.

Dogmatically, the diviner will have all the Ikins in his hand and continue casting (Dá Ifá).

And these processes were based on three principles;

I. If two Ikins were left in his palm, then he will make one mark on the divination board (Tí’fá bá hù méjì, ma te ìkan) with his middle finger.

II. While, if it is one Ikin that's left in his palm, the sign to make will be two (Tí’fá bá hù ìkan ma tẹ méjì) on the ọpọ́n-Ifá with his middle and next finger to it.

III. If three Ikins were left on the palm during casting, there is no representation for such, meaning that, no mark to make (Ẹ̀ta kò suwòn; Agbọ́n tẹ̀ẹ́, ojúu rẹ̀ ẹ́ fọ́ - even, an ant that tried to give such false representation to this got blind).

Kindly note that, the signs will be inscribed eight times; four by the right side and other four by the left side, which the one in right would be arranged vertically to one another, likewise to those on the left side. And it will form an Odù-Ifá this way.

B. The using of Ọ̀pẹ̀lẹ̀:

Ọ̀pẹ̀lẹ̀ (the divination chain); this saves time in comparison to that of Ikin-Ifá. The ọ̀pẹ̀lẹ̀ will be only thrown up once, and when lands on the mat, the Odù Ifá will be revealed. The revealed Odù Ifá will be interpreted by the diviner to divinee for his or her good and clear understanding.

Comparatively, both the  Ikin-Ifá and Ọ̀pẹ̀lẹ̀-Ifá are both genuine, natural, and always speak facts and give accurate informations or messages.

 The only fundamental difference is that Ọ̀pẹ̀lẹ̀-Ifá save much time, stress, and energy in comparison  to Ikin-Ifà that used to demand much time, energy, stress, and it is easier to manipulate, while Ọ̀pẹ̀lẹ̀ can not be manipulated in any way by any unscrupulous Diviner. And the most important thing about Ikin is that, the prescribed "ẹbọ" (sacrifice) must be performed either on the day of the divination or between that day and seven days. And this is done by only Bàbàláwo and or Ìyáláwo.

During the process of the divination, the client(s) to divine for may be available or absent, the divination will be performed, and what is important is that the name of the client(s) is necessary because, this will serve as his/her appellate towards the collation of the results before it will be interpreted by the Priest (Babaláwo) or Priestess (Ìyáláwo) and explained in simple language, so that the client(s) can understand the messages, clearly.

Monetary impact in Ifá Divination: What is important and that everyone (divinee) must understand is that, Ifá divination can not be carried out free of charge, one have to pay for the divination, either of token or much (Orí owó ẹni làá gùn ṣe agbára). The  payments (consultation fee) is expected before the divination exercise, simply because, it is the money that the diviner will use to wipe off the "negativity" part of the revealed Odù-Ifá, and alter it to become "positivity" for the diviner and the divinee - meaning that, this is beneficial to both the client and the Priest. But, there is no price tag for divination fees, But Ọ̀rúnmìlà Baraà mi Àgbọnnìrègún brought it to our understanding that the client needs to to pay for divination and that there is variation in the method of payments, as far as divination is concerned. It is the diviner that will determine what to pay after putting certain things into consideration. And ordinarily, the price should not be much and should be affordable for the client(s) because, it’s a taboo for client(s) to bargain or haggle on the divination fee.

Conclusively, Ifá as a divinatory system has some significances over other means of divinations. The significances includes;

I). Authenticity: It is a well known fact that, several means of seeking knowledge and wisdom about the hidden facts, concepts, and phenomenons are in existence, and despite this fact,  Ifá divination system is regarded as the most authentic and reliable, because the Odù-Ifá is real and genuine; not copied or falsified, and it used to be truthful and accurate.

II). Reliability: the quality of being trustworthy or of performing consistently is what makes Ifá divination system to be far unique to other means of divination. whenever Ifá predicted, foreseen, forecasted, told anyone about the past, present, and future, the messages and predictions will surely come to pass, and that is why Ifá divination system is said to be the most reliable one.

III). Validity. Validity is the most important characteristic of any forms of divinatory systems. And unless a divination is valid, it serves no useful function. Obviously, no purpose can be fulfilled, even partially, if the divinatory system do not have a sufficiently high degree of validity. Validity means truth-fullness of a concept .It means to what extent the concept measures that, what the divination maker intends to measure.

And as the name implies, “Ifá olóòótọ́ ayé", meaning, Ifá, the only truthful one in the world, it very safe to say that, Ifá divination system used to be valid, and always measure, accurately, what it is designated to be measured.

IV). Objectivity. Objectivity means a lack of bias, judgment, or prejudice. And maintaining one's objectivity is the most important job of a Judge. Ifá divination system don’t tell lies and nor been biased, Ifa will always say exactly, how thing was, “Ifá kìí parọ́, Ifá kìí ṣe èké, o n tó bá ṣẹlẹ̀ ni Ifá yóò wí”.

Written : I Ifakunmi Ifadayo

Copyright: © Ajiboro Ifakunle

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...