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Ifa-Orisha, the traditional practice of the Yoruba people of Southwestern Nigeria and now in the diaspora, is a tradition of sacrifice. Often times people who have an obscure belief of any traditional practice, will immediately shrink away from hearing the word “sacrifice” and liken it to something evil.

But do we actually know what it is?

According to Oxford Dictionary, Sacrifice is defined as:

An act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to a deity.

Sounds terrible when put like that. However… there is another definition. It is for the same word, but more everyday language rather than something spiritual:

An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy

Now, let’s start with ‘everyday sacrifice’, meaning having nothing to do with religion or spiritual practice. For all carnivores (meat lovers), animals are sacrificed daily for your sustenance. Of course, if it says Halal it just means it has been prayed over instead of slaughtered horribly.

For vegetarians or vegans, the plants you eat also had a life force within.

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All of this is sacrifice for the sustenance of mankind. Something must be given in order for something to be gained.

That is the natural laws of the land. If we must take the bus, we must sacrifice the money we have in order to do so. If a woman wants to have a child, she must sacrifice her body, her health, and even her life in order to bring forth another life.

Sacrifice is basically our entire existence, as well as rituals. Ritualistically we wake up and bathe and brush our teeth (at least some of us), go about our day and go back to bed at night. We all collectively do this.

We must know that everything that is done physically, is also done spiritually. The spiritual world is like a mirror.

Now, let me explain sacrifice in spirituality…

When an oracle speaks on the behalf of the seeker and tells what lies ahead of the person or what his destiny book has revealed about his journey, the solution should be offered. Sometimes, and always in Ifa-Orisha tradition, sacrifice is the solution.

There are times when sacrifice is accompanied by spiritual medicines (but we’ll get into this another time). Before the human decides to take his journey to Earth, he or she must write his own life from the beginning to his end when he returns “home”. In his book will be good things and also bad things, and each phase of his life that has either good or bad, there must be written a sacrifice to bring the positive and to remove the negative.

Sacrifice gives him the ability to rewrite his destiny.

It is now for the oracle or the person performing the divination to source the problem and to prescribe a solution for it.

For example:

Some years ago my father became ill with his stomach. An evil sister who I had never met (his first born child from another woman) had come visiting us from Jamaica. But she had come loaded with grievance against my dad. She had brought with her obeah in the form of what Jamaicans call Bush Tea. Unfortunately my dad drank the tea.

After this, my dad became gravely ill. Excruciating pain rocked his whole body. He was seriously poisoned by what this woman gave him spiritually. A week earlier I had chased her from my house, so when my mom called, I immediately knew what happened. That same night we rushed to my Padrino’s house.

(By the way, my dad is a huge doubtful Thomas and not at all a believer in “these things”. So you should know how sick he was if he actually agreed to see a spiritualist).

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When we got to Padrino’s apartment, he divined for my father. He told him that he had been spiritually poisoned, and that he could die from this. Sacrifice had to be immediately performed to save his life. The prescribed sacrifice was to a deity called O̩balúayé to the Yorubas, (or Babalú-Ayé to the Cubans), the God of Sickeness and Diseases. (I have a very special love for this deity. He saved the life of my newborn baby when I was under spiritual attack during my pregnancy).

And of course Eshu had to get his own sacrifice as he is always fed first. That day we watched Padrino perform a ceremonial sacrifice to Esu and Obaluaye. The details, I can not explain, but when he finished, the animal that was used to remove the death from my dad was wrapped in a particular cloth. It was then given to my father to take to a hospital and dump it outside in their garbage bin. My father, who could have barely stood on his own, was now strong enough to walk without assistance after we left.

He went to the hospital and did what he was told. Since then, my father, a strict non-believer in spirituality, became an admirer of my Padrino and still speaks of him to this day for saving his life.

Now I want to explain to you exactly how sacrifice works. But first I must tell you: Because that particular sacrifice was to remove death, the animal could not be eaten. But most often when sacrifices are done with an animal, it is shared and consumed by the community afterwards.

Sacrifice works this way…

During the divination when the problem is revealed, it will be indicated of the deity who will assist the person in removing a problem or bringing forth positivity. So what happens is this:

  1. Something is prescribed to the deity
  2. The deity will accept what is given and will now face the problem for the person.
  3. While the deity faces the problem, the problem has been now removed, erased, scrubbed away, from the person’s life spiritually and therefore physically.

If the sacrifice is given to bring something positive (maybe someone wants a child, a job, marriage, or whatever else), then whatever is prescribed is given to the specific deity and that deity (which is energy itself) will now go forth to source what the seeker wants and bring it forth.

Always remember things must manifest itself in the spiritual realm before the physical can have access to it! What does this mean? Since this Earth Plane is only an illusion, things as we know it do not actually exist. So if you want a job or a house or money, it must be created first in “reality” or the Spiritual Realms, before it can manifest in our illusion.

What happens with sacrifice and why it is important…

First, Sacrifice is not always blood. It can be anything, i.e. water, gin or rum, fruits, food, flowers, jewelry, cloth, or even you staying home for a few days etc. It is just an act that saves.

When the oracle calls for a sacrifice as the solution, often a sacrifice is symbolic of what we want to achieve.

For example: If the deity wants to conquer an enemy, a sacrifice might call for a cane, a bottle, a knife, etc. Those tools are used for what? War. In order for the deity to fight, it needs weapons. Of course, the deity is not human like us, but since we use those tools for war, it is the symbology that allows the deity to perform the task. As said before, the spiritual world mirrors the physical world.

If you’re wondering, no, deities do not actually “eat” sacrifices. However, if a person cooks in a kitchen what is perceived first is the smell. So a person becomes energized by the sweet scent, that essence creates a feeling within the perceiver.

So where the deities are concerned, there are many factors into how they receive the sacrifice:

  1. The fact that you agreed to do the sacrifice is a sacrifice unto itself. – This shows faith which assists in your work. To bring forth whatever it is we are trying to achieve with this sacrifice, both you and the deity work together to make it happen, all of this is through energy. It is balance between the physical and the spiritual. You contribute your energy through faith and through physical sacrifice (i.e. payment). They contribute by using your contributed energy to assist in assisting you. Your energy is like fuel to allow them to work.

Why do we do Blood Sacrifices?

Blood = Life. As I mentioned above, before anything can manifest in the physical, it must first be created in the spiritual. However, in order to move something from one place to another, it needs “fuel”. Fuel, in the spiritual sense, is energy. When something takes blood sacrifice, then whatever needs to be brought into the physical world will need a fair amount of “fuel” to do so. Since blood = life, blood is extremely powerful in it’s energy, can achieve a result faster, and has the power to give life to anything.

In short, the blood energizes the deity to perform the task quickly. The blood is the moving force of everything.

When the animal is eaten after sacrifice, the deity receives more light in the spiritual realms for allowing a community to eat.

When a deity asks for a 4 legged animal as the solution, you know the situation is very big. Because the 4 legged animal represents the human being himself (symbology). The two front legs, represent human arms, and the two back legs represent human legs. 4 legged animals are often taken in removing death from a person, because when the death comes in search of the person, it will find the person’s representative: the 4 legged animal.

Also (at least in the Ifa-Orisha tradition), sacrifices are most often performed by more than one persons. Each person involved also lend their Ase to what is being done. However, where something is given, something gained. So while they lend their Ase to assist a sacrifice, they, too, gain more power from the invisible world for their participation in the upliftment of another through sacrifice.

Ultimately, what it all boils down to is a domino effect. Everyone involved, including the deities, receive some amount of Light. The person the sacrifice is for, the person performing the sacrifice, and those who choose to help. The deities are intermediaries, and it is their duty to assist Man in his evolution, as assisting us, also assists them.

I hope this post has enlightened you and has helped you release your fears or reservations.

Obara Meji

He who flees at the right time can fight again. 

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[…] WHAT IS SACRIFICE? AND HOW DOES IT WORK? – Embracing Spirituality […]

3 years ago

I love this post and all of your teachings you share! You have a multi level of brilliance! Thank you.

Dennis David
Dennis David
5 years ago

How can I handle someone who is trying to rob me money

5 years ago

Hi Obara,
Can you do an article on how to protect ourselves when sacrifice is used for evil? I know of a woman who is associated with the spiritual baptist religion and actually did a blood sacrifice by cutting chickens to kill the unborn child her man fathered with another woman during their relationship.

Cynthia Jay
Cynthia Jay
5 years ago

Thank you madam Obara! Another great post! Very enlightening as I myself had questions about the practice. I’m grateful for the availability of your posts as an important resource to my spiritual growth and development. Thank you

5 years ago

I burn money as sacrifice as the Chinese do for their ancestors as experiment. Amazingly it works very fast. You all can try it if its not a felony in your country to destroy your hard earn money…considering how much time and energy invested in making money.

5 years ago
Reply to  Ivory

What does that do? If you don’t mind my asking.

Ms. Can
5 years ago

I believe it’s such a taboo issue becuz when some houses ( correct me if I am wrong using my terms Ms. Obara thought yesterday) do it nothing is wrong but it’s evil when some do it. The Hindus and Chinese ppl I notice their altar in there business place and home but there isn’t a arise in the comment to say it’s evil or what not but once the black community do it is evil, obeah etc. I am so glad I’m open and I’m expose to this forum of knowledge. Glad the day my curiosity led me on… Read more »

5 years ago

Thank you Obara for the clear explanation. Even though you’ve explained sacrifice before I feel like I have a deeper understanding.

5 years ago

I’ve been wanting to do a reading for a while now but the sacrifice part has always scared me because the negative connotionas surrounding the word especially in a spiritual sense still sticks with me. All I think of is blood and gore when I hear sacrifice not even realizing that daily in almost everything I do I make sacrifices. Thank you for making this post as I feel much better now about doing a reading and sacrifices in general. You always break down everything in such a way that makes it very easy to understand. I’m no longer reluctant… Read more »

5 years ago
Reply to  Sinda

“Me fearing to make a sacrifice is very unfair of me. Almost like I want someone to work for me and not pay them.“

Really great point. I love your honesty. Your comment actually adds to the post and even clarifies things further.

5 years ago
Reply to  Obara Meji

Our fear of our BLACK traditions and ancestors stems 100% from the white oppressors. As Ms.Can posted we see Indians, Chinese, Asians even Europeans praise their ancestors and traditions and there is NO negative connotation to it. It is sad but that’s why BLACK suffer so much because we have been separated from our traditions unlike others.
I Pray for the day when the knowledge is brought forward by people like you to the masses. That’s why we need to spread the word and clear the path to our GREATNESS!

5 years ago
Reply to  Obara Meji

Hi Obara, I’ve wondered about this since i was a small child! The first time I heard the word sacrifice was in bible stories either cutting a child in half or sending people to kill their child as a sacrifice to see if they’d obey. I remember commenting to my grandmother after parochial school one Friday that the white man’s god sure seems vengeful. She was not impressed and I put down the religion at age 5 but have found spirituality has been chasing me ever since. A few weeks after this my great grandmother and an older cousin revealed… Read more »

5 years ago
Reply to  Obara Meji

I still have a lot of mental reprogramming to do but what I happy with is that I recognize it and I’m starting to see the beauty of African spirituality more and more but there is just that tiny annoying part that still looks at it negatively sometimes but I do try to block it out cus I do understand it’s because of how I was grown. I love that fact that I’m not ashamed to speak about my ancestors and share about African spirituality so I’m definitely growing. This wouldn’t have been possible without you and this beautiful forum… Read more »

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