yoruba spirituality

“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.

A closer look at the Creation myth gives us clues for dating Yoruba culture and gives us a glimpse of the sacred secret that has caused so much deception in the chronicles of Western historians. The word Obatala is an elision of the phrase Oba ta ala meaning King of White Light. Translating the phrase as an expression of natural phenomena the name King of the White Light can be understood as a symbolic reference to the Source of White Light. The word Oba is typically translated to mean King but it is actually an elision of o meaning spirit and ba meaning male energy or in metaphysical terms expansive energy. Ancient Africans as well as modern scientist both recognize the relationship between sunlight and matter. First generation stars are essentially hydrogen furnaces. At some point in the life of every star the supply of hydrogen diminishes to the point where the star collapses in on itself. The implosion causes a fusion reaction creation a supernova sending second-generation elements across huge distances of empty space. When forces of gravity trap these elements they form a sphere. The sphere may become either a second-generation star or a planet. This is a re-occurring phenomena based on universal principles carried by sub-atomic particles that create light. Ifa refers to this invisible organizing principles as Ori and teaches that everything in Nature has Ori.
A literal translation of Ori is head, but the inference of the word is consciousness, suggesting everything in Nature has some form of awareness. The entire science of quantum physics is based on the same belief. Observation of sub-atomic particles indicates they do not behave in a mechanistic manner. Instead they respond to stimuli along a range of reactions that science refers to as a probability curve. The unspoken inference of the existence of a probability curve is that sub-atomic particles are capable of making choices, which is reflected in their range of response. The ability to make choices is the classic definition of consciousness using the scientific model.

To say Obatala spread sand on the surface of the earth is to describe the cooling process of light particles formed into a sphere by gravity. The cooling of particles fused together during the explosion of a super-nova creates what we call the “material” world or “aye” in Yoruba. The earth is not a rare isolated phenomenon; planets are the result of the inherent potential found in light throughout the universe. Obatala as a Spiritual Force in Nature casts sands upon the water in every corner of every galaxy in the material world. This cooling process is called ori tutu in Yoruba and is a fundamental concept in Ifa cosmology.

Placing a hen on the earth to spread land is a symbolic reference to the spiritual power (ase) of Osun. The hen used in the Creation Myth has five toes; five is the sacred number of Osun the Yoruba Goddess of love, fertility and abundance. In the early stages of evolution diversity is created on the surface of the earth through the interaction, combination and re-creation of the basic elements. This diversity is an expression of the fertility and abundance manifested through the power of Osun. In primal terms Osun is the allure of the erotic, which can be understood as the power of attraction leading to procreation, a power that exists in both organic and inorganic matter. Without this component life becomes stagnant leading to quick extinction.

Planting a tree is a reference to the emergence of the cycle of life, death, transformation and rebirth that comes into being with the Creation of time and space. The eternal essence of Creation is called Odu in Yoruba and Odu exists outside the boundaries of time and space. In Western science the concept expressed by the word Odu is called zero point energy. If you look at a chart showing wave and frequency used to measure sound and light, the zero point represents the absence of both wave and frequency. There is an asterisk on these charts with a footnote indicating the mathematics associated with zero point energy is classified by the United States Government for purposes of national security. Accessing the zero point or accessing Odu is the ability to access raw energy (ase) as it passes from the invisible to the visible realm of Creation. Anyone who has this ability can shape physical reality. In Africa Odu is invoked every ninety-one days to insure fertility and abundance, or in simply terms to shape physical reality. The ability to shape physical reality on the planet is the great African spiritual secret (awo) suppressed by Western academia. (In the next installment of this series I will trace the history of the suppression of the technical data associated with this secret.)

The image of Obatala bringing form and substance to the earth is an expression of the Ifa concept of the descent of ase through Odu where it becomes manifest in multiple arenas of Creation. In sampler terms the structure of light has an eternal foundation referred to as Odu Iwori. The manifestation of Iwori from Odu leaves the eternal realm (Orun) and enters the temporal realm (aye) where it expresses itself as sunlight, the fire at the core of the earth, lightning, fire in the stove, and the fire of passion in the heart of a person pushing them towards internal transformation. This is one phenomenon from one source expressing itself in different dimensions of Creation. The ability to invoke Odu is the ability to bring the power of a particular force in Nature to play in the resolution of a particular problem. This ability is not encouraged in any political system that depends on manipulation and control to support the privilege of the few over the many.

To say Obatala got drunk during the unfolding of Creation is to acknowledge the existence of chaos as a component of every eco-system. Nothing in the material world exists in a state of perfection. Every physical structure on earth carries the seeds of its own self-destruction. These seeds often sprout in seemingly random and unexpected ways. Mutation and extinction forever remains an inherent ingredient in the life cycle of all things.

The appearance of Oduwa refers to the existence of form in the universe. The word Oduwa is from the elision Odu iwa that literally means womb of Creation I greet or I arrive. In better English Oduwa means the arrival of form and structure. The appearance of Oduwa in the story is an affirmation of the idea that form sustains itself throughout Creation. From a metaphysical point of view form is feminine or contractive power. In very simple terms an elephant never gives birth to a rat. Oduwa is a primal expression of the structures of the Laws of Nature as they manifests on earth.

Obatala is described as molding life from clay. Lab tests have proven that when lightning gets certain types of soil it can stimulate the growth of bacteria leading to the development of more evolved life forms. The oral teachings of Ifa include the belief that primal forms of bacteria arrived on earth buried in the core of meteors. Throughout Africa meteors are considered sacred symbols of the seed of life. In Egypt these stones were called benben stones and were traditional placed on the top of large obelisks as a shrine to the Mother of human life. One of the largest of these benben stones was used as an ancestor shrine for cross-cultural groups who traded throughout the Fertile Crescent. Following the creation of Islam the stone was appropriated by Muslims who use it as a temple for the Goddess Allat located at the Mosque in Mecca. Ifa scripture says that when Islam desecrated the ancestral shrine in Mecca only the symbols of Ifa were allowed to remain on the altar. The altar to Ogun at the Oba’s palace in Ile Ife appeared to me to be classic examples of a benben stone that have a pyramidal shape due to the burning that occurs when the stone falls through the earth’s atmosphere. In South Africa the largest cultural group is the Kwa Zulu. The words Kwa Zulu means we come from Mars. This suggests to me a possible reference to the life supporting essence of the benben stone.

To say Olodumare breathed the breath of life into the living world is to say the reasons for the miraculous appearance of life remains a mystery known only to the Creator.

—  excerpt from part 1 of Odu and the Ifa Concept of History by Awo Falokun

Ifa is a divination; the art that seeks to foresee future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers. Ifa is based on interpreting sixteen numerical figures and its multiples. Ifa ordained over by Orunmila, the Orisa of wisdom, knowledge, and divination. Orunmila helps interpret the wishes, messages of Olodumare (the Supreme being) through Ifa. Ifa priests, called babalawo, holds 16 palm nuts (ikin) in his left hand, with he grasps the nut and if one is left, he puts two marks on the dignity tray (Opon Ifa) containing a sacred powder (Iye- irosun). This process is repeated 4 times to give one of the 16 combinations; repeating the process 8 times gives one of the 256 derivative figures, called Odu. Based on the configuration of the marks the babalawo recites one or many of the 256 memorized ancient Ifa scriptures, created by Olodumare, designed to give guidance and direction.
The right sculpture was carved by Olowe of Ise, 1910 to c. 1938. The sculpture portrays a kneeling woman holding a divination bowl. The kneeling pose in Yoruba art communicates respect and is often referred to as Olumeye, “One-Who-Knows-Honor.” Bowls such as this were used to hold the 16 sacred palm nuts used in Ifa divination. Kola nuts, also held in offering bowls such as this, were given as a sign of peace and welcome to visiting guests. This female image is carved and decorated with a tall tapering crested hairstyle called agogo, expressive features; facial scars (ila) in sets of threes on each cheek, body scarification, carved bracelets, carved triangular protective amulet and painted with a brown patina.


Here is a poem from poet, activist and ancestral warrior Sunni Patterson. This is for us. This is for the Ancestors. Enjoy it. Feel it.

“We have not always found comfort in killers.
We have not always found solace being rocked
in the bosoms of those who silently pray
and openly destroy.
No, not always have we mistaken mimicry for mastery
or pretending for knowing
or enslavement for freedom.

But across my memory —-
across my memory marches millions -—
bold, regal, resilient, confident —-
unshackled feet stumping up spirits
to guide us through this fickle material world.
We like sun and moon folk,
universal souls praying our prayers,
singing our songs:
Eshu, Ogoun, Shango, Yemaja, Oshun, Obatala, Oya,
Damballah, Ayida Wedo, Loa, Nkongo, Olodumare and Yami.
We know all of you by name.

We are people of beginnings, of culture, of strength.
Not always have we given into the empty threats
and scare tactics of the powerless ones.
Not always have we allowed the blood of our sons and daughters
to color the streets while we’re walking asleep,
marching to the beat of that siren song.
They’re still wearing their sheets,
with nooses in reach,
showing their teeth and smiling, it seems.
But I hear in the breeze
in the rustle of the trees
and the dangling of the feet,
they say, please, don’t let them ever forget.

You see, not always have we suffered from amnesia.
Not always have we forgotten how to conjure up spirits,
ancestor wisdom,
fix up a mixture,
spiritual elixir,
ancient traditions.
We, like magicians,
god-like vision, we -—
we are people of sight.

So, no, not always have we fallen
for this okie doke
or inhaled the hazardous smoke of the manipulators
or been satisfied with crumbs for meals
our hands have prepared.
Hughes said life for us ain’t been no crystal stair,
but at least the steps are there
to push us up higher,
teach us how to go beyond the destroyer’s disguises,
look them in the eyes and be able to see.
Because what’s surprising when you know the nature of a beast
and especially when they’ve shown the same face for centuries?

So you tell me,
what’s the difference between two sisters in New Orleans
shot point-blank in the back of the head,
and two women bound in their car in Baghdad?
Or government-sanctioned killings in Kenya,
and a sister held hostage in a house in Virginia?
Or poverty in Haiti, poverty in Jamaica,
rape in Rwanda or rape in Somalia?
A sweatshop in China or one in Guatemala?
Or small pox and blankets, syphilis and Tuskegee,
formaldehyde and FEMA, ethnic cleansing and Katrina?

I recall within a speech Dr. King made us aware,
he said injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.
So they can spare us their drama, huh?
We got the heart of them field working mamas.
We carry the torch of that ancestor fire.
So with every fiber that flutters in our being,
with every find that comes from our seeking,
with every hearing that comes from our listening,
and every sight that comes from our seeing,
we must be faithful, strategic, victorious and free.”


Santería: Religion, Food & Community

The people of Yoruba (originally from Nigeria) brought their mythology and traditions to New World during the slave trade. As slaves, they were forced to believe in Christianity, however rather than dismissing their own beliefs, they merged the two. With this combination, Santería was born.

This video is a very fascinating look into the religion of Santería. The religion is often met with shock due to its animal sacrifices. As a result, Santeras choose to stay quiet about their beliefs and practices. From what I’ve gathered, it seems that the secretive lifestyle has led to stronger relationships with the Orishas. Rather than telling everyone else about their religion, more time is spent on the actual spiritual growth, making it very personal journey.

[via Munchies]

Be a light. mx

epperanalchemist  asked:

Hey, I was wondering if you had good primary sources for Yoruba mythology or other African mythological traditions/religions?

Yoruba and other African Mythology/Traditions/Religions

All that comes to mind is Vodun/Voodoo at the moment. Voudun can be practiced differently in different areas, like west Africa, Haiti and Suriname. Vodun is a religion which has been slandered and demonized throughout the world. Even the well known icon of the voodoo doll wasn’t originally a part of the religion and added in because they were used in witchcraft. This is always why Vodun is confused a lot for witchcraft. 

There are some links you could use from the internet like Wikipedia, but you should always make sure when doing research you back your information up with at least two or more different and reliable sources. 

You can use that link as a starting point for you research, not as a source. 

More Online Sources

Book Sources

 ~Mod Alice and Colette

Divine Moon’s Spiritual Services

Just a Reminder of The Divine Moon’s Spiritual Services :

The Divine Moon offers readings by phone, these are Tarot Readings that will last anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on the questions the Seeker may have and what Spirit wants them to know about what is going on .. The Readings are done by phone, for more information or to make an appointment:

Email me: ladychleos@gmail.com

Send Me a Message Through Tumblr: http://divinemoon.tumblr.com/ask

Apart from our Readings, We Also Offer Spiritual Workings such as Honey Jars, Setting Lights(Or Oil Lamps for a specific cause: Money, Love, Health, etc.)..


The Divine Moon

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.”

Vodou and Dreams

Many people often ask whether or not dreams mean anything in Vodou and the answer is yes, yes, yes! Dreams are very important in the Vodou tradition. Healthy dreaming is important and if someone does not dream or does not dream often there is usually something spiritually unbalanced in the person.
Many times our Lwa or ancestors will send us important messages, guidance, and warnings in our dreams. The Lwa may also tell you something or teach you how to do something. Dreams will sometimes come to reassure someone that the Lwa will bring results.

Certain things are also considered important or ominous when they show up in dreams. A Lwa may even tell someone to kanzo during sleep time. People have also been known to receive winning lotto numbers from the spirits in dreams. I am not saying this happens all the time, however.

Not all dreams are ominous either. Not every dream you may have will be significant, thus many people have a Houngan or Mambo to consult with as to whether or not a dream is truly important. Not everyone agrees on what the meaning of everything is either. The context of the situations are also usually taken into consideration.

Then there are times when a dream is all muddled up and incomprehensible. Usually when you dream with the spirits things pretty much go in a row – in a normal sequence, but not always. Usually, muddled up dreams are not important.

It is important to start remembering your dreams. Usually this is the real problem with people and their dreams. They may know they dreamt, but not remember the dream. The best way to start remembering them is by writing them down as soon as you wake up. Don’t talk to anyone until you are finished writing. Then put it away until the end of the day and then reread. Usually you will have more clarity at this time.

Remember to keep paper and pen by your bed. If you wake up during the night and remember dreams, write them down right then because you won’t remember them in the morning. A glass (yes it must be glass) of cool water, that has been blessed, by the head of your bed assists in dreaming. Also write down your feelings at the time, if you have any.

Credits: EziliKonnen


1.Collected mid 20th century.
2. Dated to the 19th century

In Yoruba culture (West Africa), the calabash is considered a container for items, both sacred and profane, but importantly is a symbol used when explaining the universe, which is considered to be a calabash (again, science concurs that the universe as we understand it is in essence an expanding sphere). In that role, the universe is cut in half with the upper half representing Orun (heaven) and the lower half representing earth or the “known” universe (aiye). This plays directly into our diagram of circle with two intersecting lines, the horizontal representing the differentiation between heaven and earth and subsequently life and death.

A few highlights from Afrolatino Travel’s Tambor-Rumba Community Day we had on December 30th. We are having another one on Thursday, March 17th, 2016 and Friday, May 27, 2016. We also take participants to Matanzas to learn about the history and contemporary manifestations of Ñañiguismo aka Abakua, an AfroCuban male “secret” society. 

Our local guide is a practitioner of Yoruba and Abakua as well as a “son of Añá,” what Yoruba religion drummers are sworn as. We had an amazing fellowship! Our madrina, Franci, opened her home to us and the tamboreros even helped in prepared our amazing meal! Ashe! Co-edited by Nehad Khader and Rashid Zakat, Shot by Rashid Zakat

Get in touch with us at AfroLatinoTravel@gmail.com

Understanding our African Heritage and culture, means we must learn about ancient folklore and spirituality. The story Shangó comes from the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria, he is the God of Fire and Lightning and Third King of the Oyo Empire. Shango is best known for being a King and God at the same time. He ruled for seven years and was best known for carrying two double bladed axes to battle and is rumored to be the source of his powers. Shangó out of all the Orishas is very popular among people in the West Indies and South American countries. The reason why is because of slavery! When Europeans enslaved us, they scattered Yoruba people across the West Indies and South America. The Yoruba took with their Spirituality with them and secretly practiced it during slavery. In Brazil, Shango is celebrated among the people.

Post made by: @Oba_Tayo
#obatayo #nigeria #Shango #africa


Soulful spirituals.

“As active agents in this history and religious culture, African American Yoruba since 1959 have chosen to pray to the ‘gods of Africa’ - not African gods left behind in a perpetual ancient stasis, but transportable African gods who could be summoned to help navigate the 'complex ambiguity of the Atlantic World’. in many ways Yoruba religion has become a metacultural phenomenon and 'can no longer be conceptualized as confined to a provincial ethnic tradition’. …

They became not simply practitioners of a fixed historic Yoruba but major players in a dynamic contemporary global reorientation of orisa religious traditions. …

what distinguishes African Americans in the Yoruba tradition is their ability to approach the gods of Africa through their 'lived experience of blackness’ in America. African Americans are living examples of Baba IfaTunji’s idea that 'Ifa is not a fixed story’ but that like the sacred odu, its power and meaning are newly manifested with each recasting and interpretation”

-excerpt from Yoruba Traditions & African American Religious Nationalism by Tracey Hucks 

the book does a fantastic job of discussing and analyzing why there existed a rift between Cuban Santeros and the early African Americans who started practicing the spirituality via Cubans and Cuba. Adefunmi (founder of the Oyotunji African Village) was one of the first African Americans to be initiated in Cuba, and brought it to the US, but stripped it of Catholic syncretism and infused it with Black nationalism - which created tensions between African Americans that took that route and Cuban American Santeros (to the point at which he had a few attempts on his life). the whole situation is quite fascinating…the ways in which the diaspora has taken the spirituality and shaped and molded and added to it - in our different ways respective of each community - in order to aid in its survival is amazing.