Odu Ifa


There are sixteen major books in Odu Ifa literary corpus. When combined there are total of 256 Odu (a collection of sixteen, each of which has sixteen alternatives ⇔ 16^2, or 4^4) believed to reference all situations, circumstances, actions and consequences in life based on the uncountable ese (poetic tutorials) relative to the 256 Odu coding. These form the basis of traditional Yoruba spiritual knowledge and are the foundation of all Yoruba divination systems.

Where I is an odd count or a "heads" result, and II is an even count or a "tails" result, the sixteen basic patterns and their Yoruba names are set forth in the sidebar (please note this is only one way of ordering them, this changes depending on area within Nigeria, or the diaspora. An alternative order used in Ibadan, and Cuba is: Ejiogbe, Oyekun meji, Iwori Meji, Idi Meji, Irosun Meji, Oworin Meji, Obara Meji, Okanran Meji, Ogunda Meji, Osa Meji, Ika Meji, Oturupon Meji, Otura Meji, Irete Meji, Oshe Meji, Ofun Meji. Heepa Odu! This is important to note as it changes the outcomes of certain parts of the reading).

Initiation into Ifa requires rigorous study. A Babalawo must learn and understand each of the 256 chapters (Odu) of Ifa. The minimum of four verses will of necessity include ebos and ooguns (medicine) that are embedded and relevant to each of the verses, plus other issues that complement divination. An accomplished Babalawo must know about ten verses of each of the 256 chapters of Ifa (256 Odu Ifa). Regardless of gender, whoever aspires to practice Ifa must have this qualification. In essence,

Ifa practice does not preclude a woman provided such woman acquires the required qualification. Odu—a special Orisa—can only be received by a Babalawo who decides to perform the special initiation that will allow him access to Odu. In essence, initiation into Ifa is the first step towards initiation into Odu. A woman cannot be initiated into Odu. This is because since she already has a womb, she has no need to receive Odu. It can be said to be redundant. Character Traits of a Awo: Orunmila demands humility from his priests and priestesses, therefore, a Babalawo should be an embodiment of patience, good character, honesty, and humility.

Performing Ifa divination is called Ifa dida or idafa (or dida owo and ounte ale). Ifa dida / Idafa is performed by a Babalawo or Iyalawo or iyanifa (an initiated priest or priestess). Babalawo can be translated as "father of the secrets" while "Iyalawo" {mother of secret} or sometimes "Iyanifa" means "mother that has Ifa(i.e. its blessing)".

The babalawo or iyanifa provides insights about the current circumstances impacting the life of a person requesting this information and provides any necessary information to aid the individual. Awo is a reference for devotees in Orisa worship. It includes Babalawos, Iyalawo,Iyanifas, Babalorishas, Iyalorishas and even uninitiated devotees

The babalawo recites a series of poems with proverbs and stories from the Ifa poetry that go with that choice. The final interpretation is made by the person seeking guidance, who decides how the verses that the babalawo has recited should be applied to the problem at hand. (This may be one style, however other schools of thought with Ifa have the Diviner interpreting what Ifa says and not simply chanting and leaving it to the client)

Though the number of symbols is different, the Chinese I Ching divination system also bears some resemblance to Ifa divination. Like the I Ching, Ifa combines a large body of wisdom literature with a system for selecting the appropriate passages from it. Unlike the I Ching, however, Ifa poetry is not written down but passed down orally from one babalawo to another. Today, there are many texts that are designed to help Babalawos to learn and retain the huge corpus of knowledge.



Sixteen Principal  Odu Ifa                                    





Eji-Ogbe

I
1
1
1
I
1
1
1





Ọyeku-Meji

II
11
11
11
II
11
11
11



Iwori-Meji

II
1
1
11
I1
1
1
11



Edi-Meji

I
11
11
1
I
11
11
1



Ọbara-Meji    




Ọkanran-Meji




Irosun-Meji


1
11
11
11

11
11
11
1

1
1
11
11


1
11
11
11

11
11
11
1

1
1
11
11



Ọwanrin-Meji

II
11
1
1

II
11
1
1












Ogunda-MejiI
1
1
11
I
1
1
11



Ọsa-Meji




Irete-Maji




Etura-Meji




Oturupon-Meji



II
1
1
1

1
1
11
1

1
11
1
1

11
11
1
11
I1
1
1
1

1
1
11
1

1
11
1
1

11
11
1
11


Ika-MejiI1
1
11
11
I1
1
11
11






Ọse-Meji

I
11
1
11
I
11
1
11



Ofun mejiII
1
11
1

I1
1
11
1



 

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