"According to Orisa Lifestyle, mental health is determined three ways: ‘Amutorunwa’, that which accompanies you from heaven, ‘Iran’ that which you inherit and ‘Afise’ that which is caused by affliction. When mental health is compromised, people traditionally seek the services of an Onisegun (herbalist) or a Babalawo (diviner). Logically, treatment is determined by the agreed upon cause or causes of mental illness. Here, I want to emphasise the fact that, while certain types of mental illnesses can be treated with incantations, rituals and medicines, they can only be healed through a holistic adjustment to your lifestyle. Such mental illnesses include those that have been inherited. This is extremely important to people of African descent, who have been subjected to hundreds of years of colonial and imperialist 'afise' (affliction). The untreated traumas caused by the imposition of European educational, religious, political and economic systems has resulted in many forms of cultural pathology. In other words, after generations of coping with oppression, trauma has actually become a feature of global African consciousness and culture. Let us consider bleaching, for example. It is a notable symptom of mental illness, self hatred, more specifically.
Onisegun and Babalawo agree that mental illnesses caused by natural, mystical or supernatural, and preternatural forces can all be healed. Herbalists usually administer herbal medicines and psychotherapy to cure naturally caused mental illnesses. On the other hand, Babalawo usually treat the supernaturally and preternaturally caused mental illnesses. There is general consensus among the priests themselves, as to who should handle each case. Each of us knows our limits in the treatment of mental illness and there is no question of rank or supremacy. As the elders say, 'If you do it the way it should be done it will be how it should be'.
And while the connection between the ailment and the therapy sometimes remains mysterious to the novice, the ritual specialists are fully aware of how mental health is restored. Incantation, for example, is an aspect of psychological treatment. It helps to organize the patient's mind and thoughts. Through incantation, the gap between the self and the body is bridged and the personality brought back into focus. As a result of having regained stable consciousness, the patient is now in a position to respond positively to ritual treatment. Once the appropriate rituals are performed the patient should maintain stable mental health. However, the symptoms will resurface if the patient violates taboos or deviates from the life plan assigned by the Babalawo. Thus the importance of ritual cycles, like Ose Ifa, which maintains alignment with the deities and ancestors. This indicates that, remaining steadily healthy after the treatment for mental illness, one is perpetually tied to the apron of the orisa.
In this way, Orisa Lifestyle becomes synonymous with long term mental health. It acts as a form of inoculation against mental disturbances, even those passed down from one generation to the next. In fact, when you become acutely aware of your family's Ancestral Promise and you devote your life to delivering on that promise, you are, in fact, living the medicine that will heal your life and the lives of your extended family as well. Learn more at the Orisa Lifestyle & Mental Health Retreat."
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | www.ObafemiO.com
*The Notion of ‘Were’ in Yoruba Conception. Jedede, Ayodele.
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.