In the tradition of Ifa/Orisha the traditional practice of the Yoruba People of South Western Nigeria sacrifice is important, it is the most important of this tradition. The Yoruba’s believes that with sacrifice all problems can be solved and it is through the consultation with Ifa that the solution is meted out. Babalawos with whom I have spoken to in Nigeria have all told me the same thing, that sacrifice is the most important and that it must be performed immediately after divination is completed. Sacrifice is an offering made for a higher purpose. These offerings could be anything ranging from objects, food or the life/blood of an animal (s).
OUR TRADITION DOES NOT,( IFA/ORISHA), INDULGE IN HUMAN SACRIFICE, NOR DOES ANY OTHER PRACTICE WHICH I HAVE BEEN PRIVY TO SEE HERE IN AFRICA!!!
In the Ifa/Orisha traditional practice, when Ifa is consulted and Odu, which is one of the 256 possibilities of the binary coded language of the universe, comes down, verses of the holy Odu which has appeared are chanted by the Babalawo’s and his students (Awo’s in training) who are in attendance of this very important meet. An Odu is live energy, and before it can come down or appear, the Babalawo, will invoke it through his Oracle which is prayed upon by the person seeking consultation in the case of the Opele or if ikin are being used, the seeds are held in the hands of the Babalawo while he prays invoking Ifa , and when the Oracle opens up, the Holy Odu appears which the Babalawo will mark in a series of strokes resulting in eight strokes having being marked from right to left.
The Odu is interpreted through a range of ese Ifa (stories/proverbs) belonging to that particular Odu and the Babalawo after he has established the Orientation of the Odu, whether it came with Ire (positive) or Ibi (negative ) for the client, he now have to ask through said Oracle what is the sacrifice needed to bring about balance/harmony to this persons life. All Odu’s requires sacrifice, regardless if they come Ire (positive) or Ibi (negative). Some Babalawos will not even invoke/consult Ifa, open their oracle, if the client seeking this service is not willing to perform the sacrifices right away. The thought within the tradition is that there is solution to all problems, it is only if God says no, when the solution does not show within the Oracle, there Orunmila will communicate with the Babalawo that it is time for that person to leave this world, for them there is no solution.
Recently Ifa was divined for someone, the Odu which came down was Eji Ogbe, (Eji-ugg-beh, the word Eji is a derivative of Meji which means two, while Ogbe means light, broken down it literally means Two Lights), this Odu, (Odu is often times referred to as Ifa (ee-fah), is the oldest Odu of the 256 Odu’s. When this was divined for the person, it came down Ibi (negative) and the person was warned by the Babalawo not have unprotected sex as some terrible sexual transmitted disease was on its way to meet that person. Ifa prescribed that he should perform sacrifice right away as to remove the threat of this possibly incurable disease which could bring about his demise, and Ifa also told him that there were people monitoring him to point him out so that he may be killed, but if the sacrifice were to be performed, all these would by pass him. He heard and the sacrifices were performed and accepted.
When I did my initiation to Ifa (Itefa), I was told that my father would die, this was many years ago, this came out on the seventh day of my initiation which is called Ije, this is when all the Babalawos gather around and each of them tell you something from the Odu, your destiny, which comes out for you during initiation, I was told that in order for the death to be removed from my father, a female Goat had to be given as sacrifice to Orunmila otherwise known as Ifa. It was given and accepted. The life of the Goat was given instead of the life of my father. I would say that was a fair exchange.
In his book Ifa a complete divination, author Ayo Salami wrote of Sacrifice;. From religious perspective, the world can be said to be divided into physical (visible), and the metaphysical (or the spiritual) levels. Both realms have binding and interactive forces exchanging between them for them to function harmoniously. When the life of man functions in such a way that spells success, it termed to have good understanding and backing of his God or his metaphysical. Otherwise, there is a discordant tune somewhere along the line. Bringing the misfortune back to the line of success requires an effort recognized not only in the physical world but also in the spirit realm; a norm or effort shouldered on Orunmila, and referred to as sacrifice.
Ayo Salami continues to say in his book; One can imagine the mouths of everybody in a community praying for singular person to achieve a certain goal. Definitely, God would hear such majority cry. Hence sacrifices offered brings blessing from God, and therefore elucidating faith and continuity in the tradition.
Sacrifice in the life and journey of the human being is necessary. It plays out in all aspects of our lives, it is the general rule of life along with rituals, which we do everyday. In order for us human beings to survive on this earth sacrifices has to be made. Something has to be given over in order for something to be gained. Without food, we are not able to live, and so animals are killed every day to feed the citizens of the world, at least to those who eat it. Same can be said for non meat eating people, whatever they consume had a life force within it at some point and time. When sacrifice is being done to propitiate a divinity, it is done in the most humane way, and if it were to be witnessed by those who oppose it or have no knowledge of it, they would be amazed at how the animal willingly go quietly and without fight.
Ritualistic prayers are offered and the earth is also appeased and fed, prepared if you will, to accept the offering of blood which will be spilled upon it while being given to the divinity it was prescribed for. When the sacrifice is given, the Oracle Obi Kola is cast before the divinity to see if the sacrifice is accepted, according to what it states as read by the Babalawo or Oloorisha, other items may be added or not, owing to the demand of the divinity who will speak through the oracle. The flesh is then cooked and consumed by the entire community. With all sacrifices which are prescribed through consultation, Esu the Yoruba divinity of Justice and God’s messenger must be propitiated first. His role as God’s messenger is crucial to the survival of all human beings and also the divinities, as he is the one to keeps us humans on our toes so to speak. And also the Orishas depend on him to be fed. For Instance, If someone is out of line, or not in harmony, not in alignment with their destiny, it is Esu’s responsibility to create a situation in that persons life, which often times bring some type of disturbance/chaos, urging the person to seek counselling or physician so to speak. Through this action that person, whose life is now disturbed, possibly jobless, homeless or about to be, sickness, or facing imprisonment or worse erectile dysfunction, whatever the case maybe, will find out the source of their problem and the solution, which always entails sacrifice, again not in all cases the sacrifice prescribed is blood as stated within the first paragraph of this post, but worth reiterating, sacrifice can be an object, food, or blood, among other things.
Water, hot drink (Gin) and palm oil or Shea butter and even salt are a normal part of the make up when sacrifices are being made, not all Orishas however accept the same things.
Orunmila – Owner of the sacred Ifa Oracle and head of all Babalawo’s, loves Pig, Elede (eh-le-deh) of all things this is his favorite, he also will accept kola nut, woman fowl, palm oil, salt, big rat, and other things.
Obatala– Youruba divinity of Peace and wisdom, loves Shea butter and he loves Snails Igbin (Ig-bin), he is a cool and peaceful Orisha, no matter how hot the temperature is the water the snail carries around inside his shell remains cool, when snails are given to Obatala, the shell is broken and the cool and sweet water, (yes I have drank it, taste almost like sweet coconut water, and snails are delicious) pours out and we all rush to get some and touch our heads with it and our stomach, the rest of the water goes to Obatala. When we do this we are not only sharing, eating with him, but we are asking by this action for all things for us to be calm and cool, no trouble or worries, in this Obatala, the calm cool, kind and peaceful father, Baba Lurugbo (elderly father) will grant our wish, how can this be a bad thing, Orunmila is wonderful!. The snail is then cooked and all in attendance will eat from it.
Esu’s– Yoruba divinity of Justice, favorite sacrifice is a Male Goat, Obuko (Oh-bu-ko) along with palm oil, water and kola nut and salt.
Ogun– Yoruba Divinity of Iron and of War, loves Dog, Ajaa (ah-jaah) and also we give him palm wine to drink, roasted yams and pop corn, salt, kola nut are some of the things he loves, Ogun Yay!!
Sango– Yoruba divinity of Lighting and Thunder loves Ram Agbo (aag-bo), Sango does not accept Kola nut, only Bitter Kola, called orogbo in Yoruba.
Osun– Yoruba divinity of fertility, love, beauty, loves Woman fowl and something made in Yoruba land called acara, which is a fritter made from Black eyed peas, she accepts Kola among other things, she does not take palm oil
Oya – Yoruba divinity of the wind and storms and hurricane and of change, Sango’s wife, loves Female Goat, Ewure (Eh- wu-rae)
Obaluaye –Yoruba divinity of diseases (small pox) loves Pig and also Goat
These are just a few items of what each divinity may ask for when questioned on what the sacrifice should be. It is important that the sacrifice be given on time, as a matter of fact immediately, as it is prescribed. Ifa says, “there is no difference between the person that refuses to offer sacrifice on time and the one that did not offer at all”
I visited Jamaica once and went with some church people to a gathering at a place called Wah Town in Saint Ann (not sure of the spelling), on the ride coming back I sat beside the driver while the other people in the back were singing and beating their drums. It was night and we had reached Trelawny, still driving on our way to our destination, we were in a van. The road ahead was pitch black, there were no street lights and where we were there was bushes on both side of us, other than the noise of the not too good singers in the back and the drums the street was lonely and dead. We drove on. Suddenly a big black Dog stepped out of the bush a little ways up from our on coming vehicle. I saw him step out and stop. He seemed to be waiting for the van to come and hit him, which by the time a shocked me alerted the driver, we heard the muffled sound of the dog dying under our wheels and the bump of the four tires going over him. I had no time for regret of him dying, as the wheels on the passenger side both flew off and we went down hill and came to a screeching halt, all and sundry were ok. Looking back now, I know that Ogun, the great warlord, Divinity of Iron whose favorite food is Dog saved our lives. The Dog was the sacrifice!… Den pastor how is dat ah bad thing?? The noble dog gave his life for our own. Without murmur he stopped in front of the on coming vehicle and went willingly to his death. Here I am to tell the tale. Ogun Yay!!!!!
Again, as I always tell you all, I worried to write this very touchy subject. Religion has driven fear into so many and as damned us, traditional people, with a resume of helping so many people through out the world with all their problems, Cleric, Imams, and others have damned us all to a mythical hell, O Ma Se O!. I have seen Obeah man in Jamaica give sacrifice, but to whom it is given to I have no idea, as no name is called and there were no ritual to support the sacrifice, of this I am wary and worried and sad, because there are so many spirits who are around, unclear to the unseen eyes but nevertheless they exist. To spill blood to unknown entities can be very harmful and it can release some very destructive spirits who will create disturbances into the lives of many, innocent as can be. A car accident, stray bullets, fights, murders, pedophilia and other atrocities occurs when forces are unleashed upon the earth by these novices who cannot, because of lack of knowledge send back into time and space beings which they have invoked and cannot be attend to properly much less send back to time and space, and so they linger on and create havoc in our realm.
The practice of the Haitians I agree with as they give to a particular deity and the seals, the insignia, called a veve (a religious symbol used by the Haitians in they ceremonial practice) of that deity is drawn to let the deity know that they know him or her and all their powers and have respectfully called them from within time and space to come and fellowship with them, they are invited to this particular party or setting.It is crucial when a spirit or divinity is invoked and after all is done with it, it is thanked, honored and release to go back within time and space, until it is called again. To leave it unattended after it has been invoked can lead to much problems. Novices who take the work up with no knowledge can cut their lives short by doing these things, if it were them alone to go, that would be a good thing, I have no patience for them, but what of innocent people?. We thank Orunmila and Orisha for all the teachings and training! Aseeeee
I am a Spiritualist/Traditionalist, this is my work and I am proud, of this work I will pass to my children for them to pass to theirs, as I aim never to come back to this place, this realm again. Of who I am, I am Glad, Of what I know I thank God, were it to be that I would come again after I have left which will not be for now, I would live this life again!!
Ìṣubú ẹni kì í ṣe òpin ayé ẹni. /
The fall of a man is not the end of his life.
[Failure is not a permanent position but a temporary set-back; it may well be a stepping stone]
All religions are valid as long as it teaches peace and love…Obara Meji