ifa religion

“Yemoja”, illustrated by Mikael Quites

ARTIST COMMENTARY: Yemoja, one of the main orishas of the [Ifa] religion, and afro-brazilian mysticism. I wanted to show a different version of her, inspired by the shapes and powers of the sea. I did this image for the wonderful “Contos de Orun Àiyé”, a comic book project by Hugo Canuto.

anonymous asked:

Is it disrespectful to honor Orisha like you would honor Aphrodite or Isis? I know that in Ifa religions there's a very organized tradition a very specific way to worship. I'm asking as an African American non-Wiccan pagan. I feel such a pull to them and a closeness, like a relief from isolation. Like diaspora is significantly less stifling when I read about them, but I also dont want to be gross and appropriatve

For you it isn’t disrespectful. There’s obviously something pulling you. I’d advise you to keep reading about the Orisha, read their Pataki’s (their stories), and pay attention to which Orisha you feel the closest to. Then read up on that 1. Look at videos. Find out what they like and dislike. Talk to them out loud. If you are really confused on which is calling to you, keep asking, eventually they will come to you and show themselves to you.

Another thing I want to add is don’t get caught up in those who say you have to do one thing or another when it comes to Ifa. A lot of people spend an abundance of money to be initiated, then turn around and police those who don’t. Try to not pay them any mind. Although they should be very proud that they got to be initiated, Ifa is not about initiation (or money you spent to get there). Its about the relationship you have with the Orisha and your ancestors and allowing them to help go along your path on this earth. So, start off slow, keep reading up, and listen to your gut. Eventually you’ll know what to do 😊

“Yemoja”, illustrated by Mikael Quites"

ARTIST COMMENTARY: Yemoja, one of the main orishas of the Ifa religion, and Afro-Brazilian mysticism. I wanted to show a different version of her, inspired by the shapes and powers of the sea. I did this image for the wonderful “Contos de Orun Àiyé”, a comic book project by Hugo Canuto.

to Black folk who are not worshippers of the traditional/indigenous gods...

i think everyone should choose the religion/spirituality that works for them; that they connect with. but as Black people, i think all of us - Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.- owe it to our ancestors to know the basics of their beliefs and at the very least, put some fuckin respect on their names and their memory. 

we owe it to the ancestors who had their gods and rituals beaten out of them. we owe it to the ones who had to swallow their talismans and sacred objects or hide them in the orifices of their bodies. we owe it to the Africans who were forced to syncretize their spirituality with Catholicism; who were intelligent and creative enough to maintain these gods in secrecy. we owe it to the ancestors who were so traumatized by colonialism and slavery that they forgot the names of the gods and forgot the rituals. we owe it to the those who did remember the names of the gods and the rituals, but were violently forced to forgot. 

follow whatever religion/spirituality/lack thereof you want to follow, but at the least learn some West African gods and understand that your ancestors’ relationship with those gods is the only reason we’re alive today. 

Osanyin is the orisha of herbal medicine. This is one of the most neglected orisha in all of the world’s indigenous systems. As a result, the Europeans’ most powerful weapon against melanin-rich people has been the usurpation of their healthcare. There is no greater power. The control of the FDA and health insurance companies have made it so that it is difficult to escape his authority over your health. If there is only one goal that we have in the liberation of our people, it is the reclamation of our control over our own healthcare. Even in the so-called orisha worshipping community many of you are bedazzled by babalawo who travelled to Nigeria. They know countless rituals and love nothing more than to “consult Ifa for you” for a nominal fee. However, if you ask them about their knowledge of herbs they will focus on the chanting of words of power and more mysticism. They generally have done little worshipping of Osanyin. While there are various specialties for all babalawo today, in the Pre-Maafa Yorubaland, you could not call yourself a babalawo without extensive knowledge of effective herbal medicinal practices. The babalawo, or Father of Secrets, first role was not a diviner, but a healer!

Concerning the use of Catholic imagery in African religions.

I’ll preface this post with the following statement: I have nothing but the utmost respect, support, and intrigue when it comes to the religions of Vodou, Santeria, Candomblé, and other “New World” religions with African origin and their followers. That being said, with the growing popularity of the various African Diasporic Religions in the United States over the past few years, I fear that a mass distortion is happening amongst the general population who may identify themselves as “spiritual”. The African slaves that were taken to the continents of North and South America brought with them their indigenous religions, however with their Christian owners forbidding them from participating in such rituals came the need to develop a sophisticated way of hiding their true beliefs. One such way was to mask their gods behind the images of Catholic saints. By using the aspects within the saint’s imagery along with the story of the saint’s life, a skillful system was organized to identify a particular saint along with a spirit that shared similar qualities. This system of syncretizing other gods with those of Catholic saints is nothing new and was used quite extensively in a newly converted Europe and to this day many local saints still carry certain attributes of their predecessors. However, this concept is relatively new to many modern Americans and with it comes the widespread misappropriation of images by those who don’t understand the original purpose behind the practice and thus many other traditions begin to suffer. It’s imperative that we not forget who exactly these images represent and the original saints behind them, for they are distinct, powerful in their own right and possess their own unique personalities. They lived in their own times with their own stories, admirable figures deserving of honor and yet much of this is being forgotten because of syncretism. Those of us belonging to traditions who do indeed work with the original saints behind the image are becoming eclipsed and misunderstood by the ignorance of those who fail to familiarize themselves with the character of the person behind the picture. One such instance of this misunderstanding that is becoming particularly prevalent concerns the image of the Mater Dolorosa from the side altar in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem as a syncretic image of the Vodou Lwa, Erzulie Freda. Pictured below, this image has almost exclusively become associated with Freda in the minds of many without ever having given thought of the suffering Madonna that lies behind. The story and pain behind this image and behind every ex voto left at her altar by the many faithful who have pleaded to her for aid is becoming all but forgotten, or perhaps worse, not even cared about-often, quite ironically, by those who are the first to scream “appropriation!”. Both personally and traditionally the image of the Mater Dolorosa, Sorrowful Mother, is an incredibly important one but here in America where many of my people reside, she is becoming misunderstood and misrepresented by the ignorance of some. This then becomes a personal issue for those of us who have grown up with and have long held a devotion to the original figure. As we all wish to be understood and acknowledged for who we are, so do spirits, and while I have no issue with the traditional use of these images by the followers of the African religions, it’s important that we give honor to the spirit being represented and invoked. If you see a person giving homage to a saint respect their devotion to that spirit without trying to replace them in your mind, the reverse is true as well. No one likes to be forgotten, in this world or another.
Once again this message is not one of hostility towards the practice of the African Traditional Religions, merely a public service announcement not to brush aside the saints in the image and to forget that these spirits are unique and have personalities of their own, while also not assuming the intentions of those who own such images.


Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts
by Baba Ifa Karade

“In this introductory volume, Baba Ifa Karade provides an easily understandable overview of the Yoruba religion. He describes 16 orisha and shows us how to work with divination, to use the chakras to internalize the teachings of Yoruba, and describes howto create a sacred place of worship. Includes prayers, dances, songs, offerings, and sacrifices to honor the orisha and egun. Illustrations, charts, glossary, bibliography, and index.”