Saturday 2 April 2022

Owonrinsogbe and Otura-meji and other matters of great interest: An informative and thought provoking lesson

[Four responses to four questions of interest and importance.]

Oluawo Ifanla we truly welcome you to our platform I have a question from a few silent learners on the group. The questions are as follows: 1. If one does not have obi abata or orogbo because of geographic location to appease Ifá, Esu etc. what could be used in place of it? 2. What is the function of korikoto? 3. How did opele come about being a tool of ifa? 4. Could  ese(verses) be added to odu for example iwori meji may have 8000 ese [verses] could more be added to that odu iwori meji and if so, how? We await your response.

Response and answer to question 1.

Divination is about getting the concave and convex which can be interprreted as front and back.

We all know we must divide obi (kola-nut) and orogbo (bitter-kola) to give us front and back. 

No one uses undivided lobes of kola nut for readings, consulting or feeding orisa.

Until we divide kola nut and bitter kola is when we can have the front and back.

Having known this if one fails to get any of the divination materials or tools such as kola nut, bitter kola, cowry shells etc. then one can substitute it with a coconut shell or remove the shell of coconut and use the coconut when it comes to feeding of Orisa because the orisa may give out the divination materials tools to be eaten like in case of kola nut, where kola nut are given to people to eat after feeding the orisa. Using coconut shell may not work for this aspect but one must use the coconut to substitute kola nut or bitter kola if one fails to get the necessary materials-tools.

Response and answer to question 2.

Korikoto is similar to an orisa, and orisa that has to do and is associated with caring for children and for serving as a intermediary for heavenly spiritual children. Korikoto is different because Korikoto can't be fed or isn’t fed like other orisas. Korikoto is usually displayed as energy vibration of egbe or an icon of egbe that can be displayed for people to see. Korikoto’s function is to serve as mediator of invocation of the heavenly spiritual children which mostly connected to the river. In some cases, people do take korikoto to river to feed Osun.

Response and answer to question 3:

Their is a popular myth about Opele as a human being, Opele was  said to be one of the servants and messengers of Òrúnmìlà. It is believed and accepted that Opele received training under Òrúnmìlà. One of his functions is to help or assist Òrúnmìlà in times of giving information about divination and other things. 

Òrúnmìlà didn’t use opele as adivination tools because it was Òrúnmìlà that gave ikin to the people to represent and speak for him.

Further writings say that Opele betrayed Òrúnmìlà therefore as a punishment his bones got broken and divided into four in each part, left and right, making eight in total. There are other spiritual myths about Opele.

I believed before the use of the oracular instrument opele that cowry shells were more in use and more prominent during Òrúnmìlà’s lifetime. Òrúnmìlà taught Olokun the mysteries and the methodology of the cowry shell oracle. Òrúnmìlà ordered her to bring out her cowries and then he taught her how to use it. Òrúnmìlà also gave her the authority of using it in his absence whenever he went on IFÁ tour.

Today Opele has gone beyond the same materials to produce it or common identity, different materials were been use such as igba [calabash], ESO Opele which some call ESE aguntan.

Opele has a different look today due to different materials used.

I believe that Orunmila didn't first use the Opele we are using today. When Opele betrayed Òrúnmìlà, then Opele become a divination tool.

It is my conclusion that Orunmila found the casting of Opele very easy and as result decided to use Opele as an additional accessory to his divination tools before he left.

Sacred history proves that it that Òrúnmìlà who cursed Opele and caused Opele to be transformed into an instrument that would be used for divination, choosing the materials for sacrifice (ebo) and will never eat from it.

I have opined before that may be the stress of using ikin for divination must have made  Babalawos to developed or adopted Opele as one of the major divination tools.

Response and answer to question 4.

It is easy and very possible to add to IFÁ verses simply because most IFA verses are a combination of stories and events that has happened in the past.

Although I don't believe it should be done but the whole situation became even more confusing and at times contradictory when babalawo from different locations, from different Ifá traditions and schools of thought differ from each other in regard to the verses and their contents from one another. Some will say they learned the IFÁ system of Ile-Ife, some will say they learned the IFÁ system of Oyo, while some will say they learned IFÁ system of Ijebu, and others will say that they learned the IFÁ system of Oshogbo. Quite often we see that each practitioner from the various systems tries to prove and/or demonstrate that their arrangement and methodology is the correct one or the best one.

Let's take Odu Osetura for example, Ile-Ife has their own version, Oshogbo has their own version, while Ijebu has their own version too.

I was in a place where a babalawo gave a verse of Owonrinsogbe that says IFÁ divination was performed for Sarara who will go to study overseas! I was shocked because going to overseas to study is something modern and recent and not something done or thought about in ancient times. I don't expect to find such verses in any of the Odu of IFÁ.

So someone can give some to someone some rubbish, made-up and fabricated verses and the people due to ignorance or gullibility may not challenge him based on his age or position, instead what what these unfortunate people will think or reason is that perhaps they don’t know those verses because they never learned IFÁ to that extent or stage!

What they will do is to copying the rubbish, made-up and fabricated verses and started spreading it! Sooner or later if these spurious interpolations are not caught they will be included into IFÁ verses and accepted as authentic verses even though they are not once the majority of people engage in chanting it.

I'm glad to be discussing about the issue of adding spurious and inauthentic verses to the true Ifá corpus. They have gone so far in this process of interpolation and fabrication that verses have been added to speak Christianity (Jesus as Jewesun) in Owonrinsogbe and Islam in Otura-Meji. Some have tried to link to Odu Ifá to these other religions. I have condemned this two spurious and fake insertions that sole have wanted to introduce into Odu Owonrinsogbe and Otura-Meji previously in one of my articles. Ifá predates both religions of Christianity and Islam. If we all believe IFA existed before these two religious systems then it is clear that these spurious and invented verses cannot be accepted.

We know and have it documented in history when Christianity and Islam first became introduced to Nigeria. How can recent history be added to ancient history? How can modern practices be recast and forced into the ancient verses and narratives?

It is my conclusions that some people sat down to include all this into the verses of IFÁ verses to lend support to Christianity and Islam and/or to try to create a connecting bridge of tolerance, mutual respect and understanding between the traditionalist follower of isese and the followers of Christianity and Islam.

The question to ask them and the point to make is that before Christianity or Islam came to Nigeria, whenever Otura Meji comes out what is the message that was given? Why are they giving message of unseen, unknown and until then inexistent religion? The Islam they never saw or heard about, and the same thing to Owonrinsogbe which already existed with its own unique and original message before the formation of Christianity. When Owonrinsogbe appears do they know the original and pure message as given by Òrúnmìlà? Why are they linking it to an unseen religion they never seen or hear about. There are some that have gone so far as to equate or try to equate Èlà with Jesus [which some call Jewesun] and some have tried equated or tried to equate Esu with the satan of christian theology!

This shows that many have lost sight of the beauty, depth and excellence of Ifá and Yoruba spirituality as originally brought to humanity by Òrúnmìlà and the irunmole-orisa. When people lose touch with their own roots and they stop taking an interest in studying what they were given and entrusted with they begin to look elsewhere.

Before you look to find out what is in another persons home and what they have to offer, shouldn’t you first look, find out and understand what is in your own home and what you have to offer? Will you neglect and ignore the great treasure and riches that are with you in your own home to look for treasures elsewhere as if you did not have any of your own? Only an ignorant and foolish person will confuse a diamond for a pebble! Will you ignore, undervalue and throw away the priceless diamond in your own home and possession to seek treasures elsewhere or to seek pebbles? It is a sad thing to say but it is true, many see the beauty, goodness and uniqueness of the traditions of others but they fail to see the beauty, attractiveness, goodness and virtue of their own tradition. This is why Ifá says that a river that has no respect, appreciation and love for the ocean that it originates in, that sustains it and that it emerges from will soon dry up.

By Olu-Awo Ifanla-Ogbeate Temple

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