is the knowledge of man and mankind, of human pre-destiny, of human character, and its place in the universe.
It is a philosophy of life, an ancient psychology that understands the integrity of the human being. Everything in life is spiritual and man is above all a spiritual being. Ifa philosophy understands his mental processes, emotions, physical existence. It also understands the purpose of his existence in the visible – material world, as it understands the influences of parallel, invisible processes like the world of ancestors, transitions … There is nothing considered irrelevant or negated, taboos do not exist. Through its mythology Ifa touches on all aspects and every possible situation that man has ever faced or will face in the future. Ifa is the philosophy of human individuality and diversity, of all expressions of life and existence.
Ifa was preserved in its original form as an oral tradition in the African People of Yoruba. Yoruba people live in Nigeria, Congo and Benin. It is a living tradition that is maintained in the daily lifestyle of many people in Africa. Ifa-divination and mythology have been recognized by UNESCO and protected as a world oral heritage.
Mythological stories have been passed unchanged with great discipline from generation to generation thanks to the way of passing on and the ability of African man to remember. Thousands of years of oral tradition are the basis for the preservation of this treasure.
In so-called Black Africa, people traditionally honour the nature, ancestors, they believe in the existence of the soul and the spiritual part of man, as well as incarnation.
At this point in time, the recording of this oral culture has gradually begun because of the fact that we are the witnesses of the last generation of bearers of this extensive knowledge. With the death of a Babalawo who, in his memory, holds several thousand mythological stories with understanding of human destiny, the entire library dies. Knowledge holders have recognized the moment in which the transfer of knowledge is needed in a “modern” way. In Slovenia or in the area of our continent there has been a group of spiritual researchers since 2003, to whom the mythology has been intensively conveyed, which is supported and built by knowledge through the study of Ifa, through initiations. It is the only group outside of Africa that teaches Ifa in a “traditional” way with the “contemporary addiction” of writing and recording knowledge. To understand Ifa philosophy, it is necessary to understand the synchronicity of the theory of energy transmission. Wisdom is not a concept of mental, theoretical understanding, but it touches all that is soul, the spiritual essence and that is the core of learning. At the same time, it requires a continuous synchronization of the mind, emotion, soul and action, placed in the space, time and social environment of man.
Ifa refers to energy, philosophy, and spiritual practice.
Ifa as energy is the energy of wisdom that has access to the human, individual spiritual essence – Ori. That essence is the carrier of human destiny. Ifa as energy, god of wisdom, (in Yoruba they call the enrgy of nature Orisa) (orisa, some also call it the entity of wisdom) approaches, discovers and interprets the spiritual essence of an individual. We perceive our own life through the archetype of wisdom – in Yoruba the word for wisdom is ifa. Depending on the level of wisdom, a person is able to awaken their mind to understand their way, mission, individuality, purpose, talent and challenges.
Ifa is the energy, knowledge and tool that exists in order to/so that:
– ALL THE ANSWERS ON LIFE WOULD BE GIVEN TO PEOPLE,
– HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THEIR DESTINY, THEIR LIFE PATH, DIRECTIONS, CYCLES AND CHALLENGES,
– PEOPLE WOULD GET DIRECTIONS FOR MANAGING THEIR LIFE
When the mind and spiritual being origine (Ori) are synchronized and harmonized, we speak of wisdom. With Ifa energy, on the one hand we awaken our minds and introduce more essence of wisdom into our lives, and on the other hand, we use it as a practice so that people can find their own answers through divination and rituals from their own spiritual source – Ori.
Because of its comprehensiveness, knowledge of all possible situations of human existence, the mythological basis that gives the possibility of multidimensional research, understanding of a large number of possible interpretations, it also represents a philosophy, psychology and inexhaustible source of reflection and perception of life.
Ifa is one of the archetypal energies of this universe.
IN Ifa philosophy everything is considered to have a spiritual essence in a visible world, in nature, in the universe; through the archetypal energy, it studies everything that exists in life. The archetypes of nature or energy of nature in Yoruba tradition are called Orisas. The archetypes of energy manifest themselves:
– as spiritual energy,
– as a physical manifestation in nature,
– and as a valuable system through behaviour, human character, the roles that man has in life.
Ifa is one of the archetypal energies of which our universe is composed.
Mythology says that the supreme god Eledunmare first created the first basic energies: the energy of Ifa (wisdom), the energy of Esu (communication, universal order and organization), the energy of Obatala (creation, this energy created the physical form of human beings) and Ogun (archetype of civilization). Note, water had already been there.
Ifa, the energy that carries all the answers, had mythologically existed before human beings started seeking answers. So, there are answers before questions.
Ifa or Orisha philosophy knows many archetypes of energy. According to one mythology there are 201 of them, another one says there are 401, and the third one – over 1200. The literary body of Ifa (Oduyas) covers all those archetypes.
Destiny / Predestiny through the concept of Ifa philosophy
Ifa understands that a man as a spiritual being was already born with his predestiny, which carries a life plan, a way of life.
Ifa talks about predestiny, not about destiny. Destiny is often perceived as something unchangeable, something predetermined, stipulated, the word predestiny as a word means that a man has free will. With the free will of a man and his action or passivity, good things are realized or not, can be damaged or improved; bad things (e.g. destructive life aspirations such as premature death, illness, confusion, failure) can be achieved or changed, that is improved. It implies man’s self-responsibility, continuous recourse, correction, effort to preserve his/her well-being and action, investing his/her own effort to spiritually materialize, and live in a real life. That life becomes a dynamic process, puts man into the role of an actor rather than a passive observer of his life.
Manipulation of human destiny / predestiny
The word manipulation often provokes the thought of a negative effect. However, manipulation is part of human existence. Every type of management, handling something is manipulation. It can be constructive, creative, supportive or destructive. For example, an article in the newspaper that negatively criticizes someone or the other, praises him, activates the opinion of a large number of people, and manipulates the view of that man. It can ruin someone or raise him in the public eye to honour a valuable place. And we always manipulate each other’s relationships with words, behaviour, even clothes. Parents who address the children with a comment: “You are incapable, you will never be anything” will unconsciously curse the future of their children, which is an extremely negative manipulation of the predestiny. Man possesses great power and depending on his wisdom, character, ethics and devotion, strength is used for construction or destruction. Neutrality is considered destruction. One of the worst forms of destruction is self-destruction.
When we talk about the manipulation of predestiny in the context of Ifa, we are talking about the principle of wisdom based on understanding of destiny, and about help tools. But, the energy is always neutral and it depends on the one that uses energy how they will use it.
To be a good man requires wisdom. To be a good father, mother, neighbour, a good resident of this universe … for all this we need wisdom. And especially to be good to ourselves we need wisdom. We need to understand who we are, where we go, why we are here. Only by searching and following all this, a person can be good toward themselves and their spiritual being, which is the core and the purpose of their existence. Therefore, Ifa as the concept of wisdom is needed and harmonized with all who seek their own way and self-realization.
Within Ifa there is an energy intervention: it is manipulation of the energy in which we perform divination or rituals for cleansing, invocation, protection. We manipulate Ifa when we invoke the wisdom of understanding in our lives. The greatest contribution of the individual to the manipulation of one’s own life is to seek understanding and direction, as well as the effort to follow that direction. This additional part is more important than the ritual itself because it does the intervention in energy of a person.
For example, just as in modern medicine when we have a diagnosis of a disease, medicines and the intervention of medicine are on the one hand, and on the other there is a person who needs to change habits that have led to illness, e.g. stress, unhealthy diet, bad habits. Without the discipline of such a type medical intervention cannot have a long-term positive effect. That is why at Ifa there is an important awareness of how we are the ones who lead in any intervention.
When we can say that something has improved or weakened in destiny
Ifa reveals the good / or bad attempts of man’s individual existence. It provides an interpretation so that person can understand the situation in which they are and the orientation. It also reveals the necessary spiritual intervention (ifa divination, rituals) to purify, add (activate) protection, i.e. how to help a person in their decision about the direction in which they want to build their future.
People are born with lots of talents. The passivity and the undiscovered talents, the fear of being different from the accepted social norms, from the collective understanding of “normality”, which is based on the values of the present time (we could say the modes), then the genetic “material” of his ancestors, which carries many things e.g. unrealized individual predestinies of the ancestors, the upbringing and learning process, from the inside out, which denies the existence of individual spiritual component of the predestined lifecycle, and many other life situations, can prevent the realization of that talent.
If we compare other elements of the nature, let’s say plants that are not free will holders, their Ase (essence, talent, blessings, what they add to the overall life image) does not miss their self-realization. A tree grows into a tree when it has favourable conditions (seed falls into fertile ground and nature gives it all that it needs, water, soil, space …), thus realizing its mission.
It cannot fail to become a tree with all the characteristics of a tree, whereas a person with their complex abilities, talents he possesses, can experience failure; miss the realization of their potential. In fact, there are few who fully realize all their potentials, all their Ases. Potentials are given to everyone, but a lot of understanding, courage, action and awareness are needed to realize them. The concept of self-responsibility, action for realization and materialization to such an extent is more often a rarity than a rule; from this we can conclude that much good that is determined by the abilities of an individual in predestiny, does not accomplish, does not realize, that is, the good predestiny is spoilt.
We can freely say that awareness of the spiritual being of a man and his predecessor in the contemporary culture of the West is not present, it is not collectively conscious. Of course, this awareness exists in many individuals, but not collectively.
Unfortunately, the process of learning and upbringing from the very beginning of the child’s birth, apart from rare exceptions, denies the child’s spiritual source and essence, and is considered to be a blank paper to be filled out, from the outside to the inside, by knowledge and upbringing. In this way, the mind, from the beginning, learns to separate from its spiritual being, there is no communication with its spiritual being. This type of disconnection is the cause of mass and collective inertia, loss of consciousness of life as a spiritual experience, which results in passivity, emptiness and difficulties at all levels, not only in spiritual, but mental, emotional and ultimately physical as the materialization of the imbalance.
As a representative of modern Western civilization, I dare to argue and write about how the unrealization of predestiny (the constructive part in it), that is, the good in it, is spoilt by the whole system of collectively adopted “normality”, and that is the general degeneration of civilization, with rare exceptions.
Transferring responsibility to the society in Ifa is considered as a passive search for the culprit and inactivity of an individual, who is, in spite of everything, fully responsible for his life and his predestiny. A critical view of the environment and the society is only interesting if a person searches for a way to build and realize their individuality in accordance with their spiritual source. And when the collective pressures against it are strong, one way is to look for ways of resistance, and on the other, to develop the ability to belong to a living society, here and now, to ensure socialization. Because only through relationships with people and life can a man realize himself.
In cultures where the individual’s spiritual essence is respected, parents ask themselves for a newborn child: “who was born to us,” with the intention of upholding him in his individuality. In all such cultures, they have been using divination processes since ancient times, so they got answers from the spiritual source of Ori of that person and thus followed his individual path, his self-realization from the beginning. Each child is already born with his Ori and soul. And in this concept the child may be older than his biological parents.
Divination processes differ by methods, but their purpose is the same. Since ancient time prophets, shamans, Babalawoi, and Iyanife, serve the tools of divination and wisdom to communicate with the spiritual essence of man.
Ori – our inner individual deity
In Ifa, the spiritual being is called Ori. Ori, the spiritual source, is also apart of the man which is responsible for coming to the visible world (born with intent). It has been denied by modern access and the communication is interrupted.
The concept of understanding life in Ifa is the concept of responsibility for one’s life, responsibility that is not transferred to a god who is outside of man. Because Ori is his inner, personal deity, and man is, above all, a divine one, the expression of God who is in everything that exists. Ori takes the first place in an individual’s life. Everything in a person’s life depends on Ori. Reactions, degree of resistance, attraction to good things, relationships. That is why in Ifa the centre of spiritual work is Ori. How to recognize what Ori carries, how to help him be strong, active, present, how to awaken his life vision, resilience …
Still, it would be incorrect to say that in life all depends on us. The sun does not shine because someone has decided it should shine that day. Autumn does not come because someone has decided to quit summer. But an individual reaction is the way we will use that sun, if we know how to use it for our own support, if we know how to get away from too much heat so it will not burn us.
Under the individual ability to manage his own life in Ifa is considered the ability to adapt to the unchangeable, as well as the release of energy and time to make the necessary changes in our life.
People can spend their entire lives accusing someone or something, or listen to infinite excuses for their inactivity and bad feelings (e.g. weather conditions, politics, parents, …).
One of the basic approaches to life in Ifa is to celebrate the energy of Esu in whose concept we find suru; the philosophy behind the word suru means that we do not waste time and energy unnecessarily on what we cannot or will not change. Many things need to be tolerated or accepted. For example, searching for an “scapegoat in politics” becomes interesting only when a man is ready to build himself in that direction and becomes an active political player to influence changes within that environment. Passive focus on things that we will not be actively involved in is the loss of time and energy. Time is our life and we need to spend it on what we can and should change, on what we are individually capable of. A critical review of something is welcome when it is part of an active change strategy, which includes action and struggle for transformation. The very fact of birth, through genetics, DNA and with a healthy critical view of the previous generations, puts us humans in a position where we can see the positive and negative things that our ancestors lived and possessed (by our individual assessment and compliance with us). The biological DNA-based process of building human beings provides us with knowledge about the transfer of good and “less interesting materials” to us. They are built into our existence. We got them with or without wanting it. Theoretically a complete pre-selection is impossible from the spiritual level of our existence. For example, even when we knowingly choose a partner, a school, a job, we choose some things and some of them we get in the package (someone chooses a school, the kind of education they want, but it does not entirely depend on the individual, those who will attend the school, professors with their emotional stability or instability that is reflected in the rapport with students …). But, again, I emphasize, the reaction to what we inherited, what we get in the package depends on us. If we look for ways to filter, recycle inherited material that will be more consistent with us, we will be able to get out of the past we are caught into. One who was in childhood under constant criticism of the close ones which destroyed his individuality and self-confidence, will he know how to not adopt the emotional worms of some teachers, environments, how to not allow individuals to stop him on the road to achieve his main goals? Achieving this is self-responsibility, continuous self-examination and development. This is the basis of Ifa concept.
According to that, the one whose predestiny has potentials of success, but has stopped and turned in the way, because the obstacle seemed insurmountable, is considered as a spoilt predestiny. In the concept of destiny (predestination), success would have come about independently of an individual’s action, effort, or individual’s ability to face challenges.
That is why we are talking about the concept of predestiny instead of destiny. Predestiny indicates the responsibility of an individual for his own life and does not allow him to convey responsibility to destiny or god. In this way it puts man in the position of freedom, free choice and the right to choose, individuality. That is how man is the creator of his future through freedom of choice in access to life. When he leaves the responsibility for his life to others he chooses passive access to life, and when he holds an uninterrupted focus on managing his life, then he has an active approach and he is the pilot of his own life.
IFA knowledge of predestiny, as the energy of wisdom, serves a person in discovering and understanding their own predestiny. Whether there is something good there and how to do it well, if there is something like a warning and does not belong to a perspective of good life, something that would be good to prevent. Ifa is also available for intervention through its destiny work tools. It empowers or protects good tendencies or reduces, removes, cleanses, negative tendencies. Ifa divination is a practical tool through which we can get a response about the program, or the predestiny that Ori carries. A person is directed through thinking and acting in pursuit of their goals.
Ifa, as energy, can be used to wake the mind, to understand our individual, spiritual being. We use energy as spiritual vitamin for activating consciousness and communication with the spiritual part of ourselves, Ori and our soul.
Ifa divination is based on the 256. code – oduyas
Divination is performed by invoking the energy of Ifa, Ori of the individual and other necessary energies. It is expressed through energy codes – the odus behind which are mythological stories, and they are the basis to a divinator for the interpretation of the answer. In Ifa divination system, we know 256 (16 x 16 main odus) energy codes – odus. There are several types of tools that a divinator can use to get odu. In Ifa the following are well known: opeles, divination with Ikins ..
Ifa philosophy knows other ways of divination, for example, divination with 16 (kauri) shells, which is considered a “shortened” version of Ifa divination. (The mythological story behind it: Orunmila taught his wife Osun to divinate with 16 shells so that she could help people while he was away).
In her practice, Akengen performs Ifa divination with opele and divination of 16 shells. She has been developing her Ifa knowledge and preparation since 2003. She is a member of the pioneering group that has come to Ifa wisdom, and has begun building it and transferring it to our continent. She is active in a group that writes Ifa mythology and she practices it for therapeutic purposes. As a spiritual orientator and as a researcher of life, she constantly upgrades her knowledge.
1 Predestiny means the potentials of a man before he starts to realize a “destiny” that does not necessarily have to be the realization of his potential. The word predestiny was deliberately chosen because it was more than a predestination. It is in some way a set of energies with which a man comes, they belong to him, and whether he will follow that gauge, build his activity depends on knowledge, understanding, consciousness.
2 (Note: good / bad is certainly too black-and-white to look at life but we use it for the sole purpose of a simpler understanding. For example, a disease or suffering would be labeled as something that a man usually wants to fight and is labeled as bad even though in the concept of growth it can be a motive for a man to change, and thus falls as a positive element that, which because of intolerance to suffering and pain, motivates a man to search deeper why there was an imbalance. That leads him to an attempt to manipulate or eliminate the disease and its consequences. Therefore he manipulates his destiny by seeking understanding and using intervention to improve.)