Òsun & Awon Iyami Osoronga
There was no compound in Ilé Ifè that was free of problems. Some were suffering from economic problems, while others were besieged by the deaths of their children. At this time, Òsun had been a tireless advocate for women's rights. She was working constantly on behalf of children and youth as well. Somehow, her efforts were considered offensive to several influential men and women of Ifè. Eventually, they decided to confront Òsun.
They accused her of being the cause for the troubles in the kingdom. They even took up the issue with Òrúnmìlà. When Òrúnmìlà suggested that they should be patient and conduct a proper investigation, the people concluded that he was part of the problem and determined that both he and his wife should be banished from the kingdom at once.
Òrúnmìlà and Òsun decided to go consulta Ifa. The babalawo told them that they should offer sacrifice so that Òsun would be cleared of all charges and the true culprit would be exposed, shamed and dealt with. As soon as the sacrifice was made, Èsù went to work! He went to the head of the Iyami Osoroga and told her that he would like to join them in making life difficult for Òsun and Òrúnmìlà.
She invited Èsù to the meeting of Iyami, where he claimed to hate Òsun because of her arrogance. He promised to support any efforts to destroy her. It was then that the Iyami began to rant about how much they detested Òsun. Whenever they tied anyone down she would untie them, especially children and youth. And because the Iyami prefer the blood of children, they felt Òsun had absolutely no right to deny them that delicacy. She must be punished!
The following day, Èsù launched the next phase of his strategem. He returned to the head of the Iyami society and asked about how the spoils of war would be divided. That is, he wanted to know how are the blood and body parts shared. She explained to Èsù that, as the leader, she takes the victim's head and 1/10 of the blood. Èsù wanted to know who gets the internal organs. The head of the Iyami responded that her deputies take the organs for themselves.
Èsù pretended to be outraged. "That is disrespect! The organs and intestines are the most valuable parts. Why should you be cheated this way??? You deserve better. You must confront this injustice and take your share as the leader. Call an emergency conference and tell your deputies that this must change. I'll support you 100%. The leader of Iyami went into a fit of rage. Anything and everything enraged her! Then, Èsù went to the deputies of Iyami. There, he emboldened them to rebuff any and all insults from their leader. He invoked the idea that she was too self-centered and abusive. He told them that any of them had the capacity to be the head, given the present leader's lack of administrative skills. Demand your respect without compromise. I'll support you 100%.
The conference was called and the leader of the Iyami lunged into a verbal attack of her deputies. On their part, the members of the Iyami society returned harsh words and eventually pandemonium broke out. It was then that they began to expose one another. They shouted about whose crops they had destroyed, whose children they had killed, who they had afflicted with disease and whose fortunes they had destroyed.
Meanwhile, Èsù quietly went and called the people of Ifè to listen to the all out battle taking place. As the people listened with amazement and pain, Èsù demanded, "Why are you keeping quiet?" The people rounded up the Iyami and dealt with them accordingly.
Eyele pooyi ranyin lojude Apon
Cast Ifa for Òrúnmìlà
When Ìyàmi were fighting agsinst him
And they were accusing Iyewa
He was advised to offer sacrifice
Behold, Òsun Iyewa Otooro Efon
Will never fight against anyone
To the extent of harming his children
- Holy Odù IreteMeji*
Popoola, Solagbade. Ifa Dida v 1. Page 1004
Tako, tabo, ejiwapo is a proverb that tells us, 'Maleness and femaleness, together, in twoness." The efficacy of this combination is exemplified through the institutionalization of the unique relationship between babalawo and apetebii. That is, there is an interdependence between the Ifa priest and his wife, who is known as apetebii. Stated differently, the babalawo's function is only made whole by his relationship to his wife, the apetebii. In this instance, as she carries out her duties in service to her husband's Ifa, the apetebii protects him and brings numerous blessings into his family. Ifa is replete with examples wherein apetebii has saved Orunmila's live, helped him solve impossible dilemmas and restored balance to an otherwise destructive situation. Likewise, there are a variety of reasons why a woman's spiritual mission can only be completed through marriage to a babalawo. Sometimes, it is for her health. Other times, it is because of spiritual protection. Still other times, her ability to give birth can only be realized through her relationship with a babalawo. Ultimately, Orisa Lifestyle strongly reinforces the inescapable need for reciprocal energy, which is perfectly expressed in the saying, tako, tabo, ejiwapo.
Adesina, Babalawo Lukumi
Adesina's legacy lives on. It was my esteemed honor to confer with the man affectionately known is Pancho OkanranOfun. He is an elder babalawo of the Pogolotti area in Havana. As some of you already know, this is an area rich in Yoruba tradition. Mariwo entrances, abamoda on porches and orisa altars dominating doorways all reveal the extent to which Yoruba heritage thrives amongst many Cuban families. One of the resident elders of the orisa community in Pogolotti is babalawo Pancho OkanranOfun. He is an easygoing man who is both accepting and confident. My fondest memory of our conversations centered around a particular charm I had in my possession. We had just performed a simple ritual, during which it was necessary for me to make use of the charm in question. In the spirit of sharing, I volunteered to tell him and the other awos present what it was and how I use it. I handed it to him and almost instantly he remembered having seen his father use this type of charm. "My father used to have this. Every morning, very early he would touch it to his head like you did. Then he would pray. He was the last person I ever saw with this." We shared a smile and chatted a bit more but with a sense of shared identity and understanding. As a fourth generation babalawo and direct descendant of Adesina's Ifa lineage, Pancho is steeped in "Ifa criollo" and knows its validity as a spiritual discipline. At the same time, our little exchange over a very simple charm also reaffirmed the close bonds between West African Ifa and its New World manifestations. Ours is a brotherhood that respects the unique contributions of every productive member. This is what enables us to live the medicine and empower others to do the same. As Ifa says, the right hand washes the left and together they wash the face.
Who Do You Serve?
"Agara kì í dá oníṣẹ́ Ọlọ́run." God's messenger never grows weary. What we do for one another is ultimately in service to Olodumare. To heal the sick, tend to the unfortunate and sustain the natural world are all ways through which we help bring about the Good Condition.
Live the Medicine
Obafemi Origunwa, MA
Thought leader, Ifa priest and author of four definitive books, Obafemi Origunwa inspires metamorphosis through living the medicine that will heal your life and heal the lives of the people you're destined to serve.