Traditional Ifa Divination

Diversity is at the core of the name of our creator – Olodumare; which means Rainbow. Consider this for a few minutes; all those beautiful and visible colors of the spectrum represent us all, and those colors which our eyes cannot see represent the spirit world.

Without this diversity of cultures and traditions; our forefathers would have had little chance of preserving what little information each was able to bring to the “New World”. It is therefore, important to understand that Ifa plays a significant role in the lives of Orisa priests and devotees no matter where they come from or the color of their skin. We have all been created by Olodumare, and Ifa is our means of knowing the will and advice of our creator.

It is important for Awo (Ifa priest in training) and Babalawo (Ifa priests) to know a great deal about the work of Awoloorisa (Orisa priests), especially Owo Merindilogun. And it is imperative for Awoloorisa to become educated in the tasks and deliberations of the Ifa priesthood, especially Ifa Divination. A degree of mutual awareness, knowledge, and understanding is absolutely critical to the development and progression of Yoruba Traditional Culture in this and future Centuries.


African Traditional Religions (ATRs) are regaining their lost prominence by providing much-needed counsel, direction, and magical intervention to improve the lives of twenty-first-century men and women. Many persons of various ethnicities, nationalities, cultures, professions, religious affiliations, and interests routinely consult professional diviners to discover their fate, avoid calamities, prevent illnesses, cure debilitating diseases, increase wealth, cure infertility, restore virility, and communicate with ancestors.

There are a number of important occasions where divination can provide us with critical information about our lives. In West Africa, diviners and mystics called bokono or Babalawo perform sacred divination rituals to determine an individual’s genetic composition and correlated biological and metaphysical traits. The primary system of divination in West Africa is called Ifa.

Ifa divination is a complex and elaborate system, usually considered by many academic scholars, anthropologists, and metaphysicians to be one of the oldest and most accurate divination systems in the world. Ifa divination is performed exclusively by Ifa priests called Awo Elegan, Babalawo, Olodu, and/or Oluwo.

The sacred, oral divinatory text of Ifa is memorized and recited exclusively by experienced and highly educated Ifa priests. These esoteric texts called the “Ifa literary corpus,” “Oracle of Ifa,” or “Odu Ifa” are comprised of literally thousands of poetic utterances, chants, incantations, and rituals that provide an Ifa diviner with lessons and tools to educate, heal, and uplift humanity.

The following excerpted text is transliterated from the ljebu Yoruba dialect and exists as a prime example of one of literally hundreds of Ifa’s oracular passages teaching us the need for divination in the search or quest for healing, wisdom, and spiritual advancement:

…If you are very, very poor,
Then you must seek much more wisdom.
If you are ailing with disease and your bones break easily,
Then you must seek more wisdom.
If your family life is unhappy,
Then you must seek more wisdom.
Ifa is the teacher of Wisdom.
Wisdom will show you how to gain more money.
Wisdom will teach you how to cure disease.
Wisdom will make you more capable to solve your family problems.
If you already have plenty Wisdom,
Then you should go and get more wisdom;
‘Cause with Wisdom you can always make life even better.
To acquire wisdom, you must come and seek divination with Ifa.
When you listen to the advice of Ifa,
Your backbone becomes sturdy-stronger than iron;
Your hands become large-filled with many possessions;
Your name grows like a vine in the mouths of many people-people wish you well;
Your house increases in size and value-filled with many, many happy children.
Sit patiently with the words of Ifa and,
Ifa will make your darkest day bright,
And your brightest day brighter.
Then and only then will you be at ease inside and out…

The West African divinity of wisdom, divination, and herbal medicine is commonly referred to as Ifa, ‘Fa, Afa, or Orunmila.

Ifa plays important roles in our lives. Firstly, Ifa exists as a system of holistic medicine, whereas, persons afflicted with various physical, psychological, social, and spiritual illnesses seek help from Ifa priests who use Ifa divination and Ifa medicine’s complex pharmacology of herbs, roots, and barks to diagnose, treat, and cure disease. Secondly, Ifa is a system of preventive medicine employing medicinal, dietary, and magical means to strengthen, cleanse, and rejuvenate bodily systems. Thirdly, Ifa is a social system of ethics, moral teachings, psychology, metaphysics, prophetic revelations, and personalized spiritual training.

Ifa has innumerable “praise names” that accurately and succinctly describe Ifa’s efficacy and magnitude.

Many of these praise names are used during magical incantations and chants during divination ceremonies, they include the following:

  • Agboniregun (Hunter/Gatherer of Medicine);
  • Lolotunla-pelue (Foreseer of the day after tomorrow); and
  • Ajejuoogun (Stronger than Black Magic)

Agboniregun alludes to Ifa’s capacity to bring “Good Fortune” into our lives by treating and curing illnesses by magical and naturopathic means. Lolotunla-pelue underscores the fact that Ifa can see the realities of the present and potentialities of the future that escapes the shortsighted vision of modern man. Ajejuoogun confirms Ifa’s mastery over malevolent witchcraft. It also validates the parables declaring Ifa’s ability to solve any malady including aggressive envy, malevolent witchcraft, psychic negativity, et, al.

Ifa – both the divination system and divinity – teaches us important life lessons and problem-solving skills by chronicling the collective experiences of the Yoruba Orisa (deities) and Eegun (ancestor spirits) within an oracular, poetic or proverbic form.

Ifa diviners perform divination rituals that reveal an individual’s past lives, life purposes, strengths, and vulnerabilities. The sacred materials of Ifa divination simultaneously acts as the apparatus or tools of divination and the emblems and symbols of the divinity. In this vein, Ifa is called oke ipori, which means figuratively “the blueprint of destiny” or “the knowledge of life.”

Essentially, many West African divination rituals inform participants with pertinent information about their familial lineage and fate. This information plays an important role in forming solutions to present-day and future dilemmas. Ifa divination plays a significant role in the lives of many persons who want to lead lives free of the disillusionment, confusion, anxiety, and schizophrenia that is particularly apparent in modern life.

People seek the services of professional Ifa diviners to eliminate obstacles by opening the path to success in all types of endeavors.

Entrepreneurs use Ifa divination to lay a solid foundation in the launch of a new business. Prospective homebuyers employ Ifa divination to provide critical information to help them choose a financial plan, neighborhood, realtor, mortgage broker, and home.

There are a number of specific divination ceremonies that are used by Ifa diviners to provide a successful foundation for communal, familial, and personal enterprises. Two of the most prominent divination rituals related to an individual’s material and spiritual advancement are called Esen’taye (or lkose W’aye) and Imori (or Igbori). Esen’taye and Imori are prime illustrations of the value and necessity of Ifa divination.

Ifa divination provides one with a blueprint for living a prosperous and harmonious life on earth

In conclusion, in a modern world often consumed by lawlessness, chaos, confusion, family instability, violence, indifference, and disillusionment, Ifa communicates with one’s soul and most innermost intuitive consciousness to reveal a successful path for us to trod based entirely on our own personal histories, realities, capacities, and best interests.

Ifa is best known as the revealer of fates, a supporter of the weak, and confidant to all. Ifa explains ways that we can maximize opportunities for prosperity and longevity while mitigating and eventually overcoming our flaws and delusions. Ifa divination with a competent and experienced Ifa diviner teaches us the intellectual, instinctual, and intuitive capacity necessary for everlasting material success and long life.

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  1. Abo ru, abo ye, abo sise Baba,

    Divination is at the core of any Orisa tradition. We are called into our titles , we do not self proclaim. Prior to making our journey to this world, while in heaven, we selected the spiritual and mundane tasks we would seek to accomplish while incarnated in any of our given lives. Orunmila, in his/it’s agency of Eleri Ipin was witness to the Orisa/Orisa’s we choose to accompany our Ori as well the destiny we selected. We choose this destiny while at the feet of Olodumare, the supreme manifestation, the most balanced energy.

    It is through Ifa, that we can in turn begin to understand our purpose on earth.

    1. Alaafia Roy;

      Thank you for your visit, and comment. Congratulation on your initiation. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have regarding Ifa/Orisa.

      Ogbó àtó Asure Ìwòrìwòfún.

      O dábò!
      Chief Awodele Ifayemi
      Atunwase Awo of Ilobuland

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