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Chapter 2 – What Did Our Ancestors Believe?


Photography: Will Coleman, Ph.D.

This is a partial view of agere Ifa (divination container).  It is the” house” of various implements used for divinatory purposes.  There is mystery in the eyes of its beholder.


Among the various west and central west African spiritual tradition, what did our ancestors believe?  Were they brought from there “tabula rasa” (as “clean slates”), as many European usurpers, enslavers and colonizers believed the latter were.  On the contrary, many captured African brought their spirituality with them as they were packed into ships.  This inner, specialized knowledge was hidden in the bodies, souls and spirits.



Photography: Will Coleman, Ph.D.

This is a statue of Orunmila, the messenger of the mysteries of Ifa.  According to mythic-history, he was the pre-existent witness to creation who has incarnated several times (and will return) and who is the dispenser of the knowledge that is essential for cultivating “iwa pele” ( good character).


Ifaiyable is a creed that affirms the fundamental beliefs of the Ifa religion.

Affirmation of Belief

Mo gba Edumare gba, eni oni eni ana eni titi lailai, eniti gbogbo Irunmole ati Igbamole.

I believe in the creator, the Owner of Today and The Owner of Yesterday, the Owner of All Days to Come.

Nwari fun ti won si npa ase re mo, Olupilese ati eleda ohun gbogbo ti a nri, ati eyi ti a ko ri.

He to whom all the Immortals pay homage, and for whom they exist to know his laws and commands, Originator and Creator of all things discovered and yet to be discovered.

See also  Chapter 9 – The Holy Odus: 256 Sacred Parables, Proverbs and Prescriptions

Mo gba Orunmila barapetu Elerin Ipin, Ibikeji Olodumare Alafogun Ajejogun.

I believe in the Spirit of Destiny, the Great Witness to Creation, second to the Creator, and owner of medicine that is more powerful than medicine.

Obiriti ap – ojo Iku da, Odudu ti ndu ori emere, Agiri Ile Ilogbon, Oluwa mi ato ba j’aiye gbo.

The Immense Orbit that fought the day of Death, the One who regenerates youth and creatures of Bad Luck, He who is perfect in the House of Wisdom, the All Powerful who saves.

Mo gba awon ojise gbo, mo gba Ela mimo gbo bi, Iko ti Odumare nran’se.

I believe in the messengers, I believe in the Holy Spirit of Manifestation, who is the Messenger sent by the Creator.

Mo gbagbo pe iranse ni Esu nse mo gbagbo pe imisi Oba t’aiyese ni nso ni di ojise.

I believe that the inspiritation of the most Purative and Corrective Chief proceeds from the Messengers.

Mo gba Akoda ati Aseda gbo bi, emi imo ai ogbon aiyeraiye.

I believe in Akoda and Aseda, the Soul and Spirit of Knowledge and Wisdom since the beginning of Time.

Mo gbagbo pe ilana ti awon ojise fi lele nipase imisi emi Oba t’aiyese yio ran ni lowo lati ri ona iye.

I believe that through the teachings of the Messengers the inspiritation Spirit of the most Putative and Corrective Chief of the world descends and ignites and spreads from his hand in order to light the way of life.

Mo gbagbo pe agbafa ti o ti inu agbara wa mbe lara awon yami.

I believe that this power within power exists within the society of wise women.

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Mo gbagbo pe etutu ni a fi ntun aiye se.

I believe that it is by propitiation and atonement that the world is made.

Mo gba ijoriwo awo agbaiye gbo.

I believe in Ijoriwo awo Agbaiye awo of the Universe.

Mo gba ilana iweri awo bi apere atunbi.

I believe in the teachings of Iwere awo as the guide to regeneration and renewal.

Mo gbagba pe igbala wa mbe ninu ninu iwa rere.

I believe that salvation exists in the exaltation of good character.

Mo gbagbo pe emi enia ki nku.

I believe that the soul of humans does not die.

Mo gba atunbi gbo.

I believe in regeneration and reincarnation.

Mo gba ilana iwosan gbo.

I believe in the Holy Principles of healing.

Mo gbagbo pe jije onje imule yio mu ni po si ninu Ife ara.

I believe that the cleansing foods of the covenant are plentiful among the kindred of Ife.

Mo gba ilana igbeyawo gbo ati pe o to o si ye ki t’oko t’aya.

I believe in the sacredness of the principles of marriage and that it is honorable for men and women to always be in sober conduct.

Wa ni airekoja nigbagbogbo ki Edumare fi ese mi mule ninu igbagbo yi. Ase.

At the feet of the creator I drink Earth and make Covenant in this faith. May it be so.



Photography: Will Coleman, Ph.D.

Here are several iroke or rokofa.  During invocations they are used to summon the spirit of Orunmila/Ifa as the power of interpretation and discernment comes upon the Babalawo.  In ritual time and space, the correlation between the archetypal realm and present situation of the person consulting divination are synchronized with the aide of a steady rhythm and chant.

See also  How to Consult Ifa Oracle Babalawo in US / Ifa Orisha Divination with Ifa Babalawo

When our West African ancestors were forcibly brought to what would be called the Americas, they brought their culture and spirituality along with them.  These included Mkisi (Kongo), Isese/Ifa (Yoruba) and Vodun (Dahomey). This power and knowledge resided within their bodies and minds.  It was transmuted and unpacked throughout the various colonies of the Americas and configured into modifications of the core spiritualities.  It became Candomble, Macumba, Quimbanda (Brazil), Santeria, Palo (Puerto Rico), Lucumi (Cuba), Vodou (Haiti), Obeah, Myal (Jamaica),Vodou, Hoodoo (United States), etc.  These offspring spiritualities thrived both within and alongside the Catholicism and Protestantism of their European captors.

Attribution – jbdodane

Attribution – Eric Gaba CC BY-SA 2.5

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