Obi Divination

Using Coconut or Cowrie Shells

Its History and Purpose in Divination

300px-ObiCowries2The concept of communication with the Spirits and Guardian Angels in the African Diaspora religions is an intricate part of the spiritual development of the practitioners, whether initiate or life long spiritual head of an ile (or “house of worship”).

Obi divination is the methodology of obtaining an answer as guidance for movement in a situation or the outcome of current events.

Questions posed before Obi must be in a way to elect an affirmative or negative (“Yes” or “No”) answer, each answer will give clarity like a map, which way to turn and which option to take. Depending on the answer, various rituals as sprinkling water on the Obi or even taking the coconut out of the home when an extremely negative answer is given.

The Yoruba based religions have many branches with variations in their ways of worship but the religions and belief systems that have crossed the Atlantic Ocean with the Diaspora to the New World have given blessing for the opportunity and the permission to use Obi as a method of divination in the New World. From the highest ranks of the religions, the Babalawo (High Priest), to the Babalorisha (male priests or Santeros), Iyalorishas (female priestesses or Santeras) and Aborisha (those not fully initiated into the religion), Obi is available for all to use

The traditional method of divination with Obi instructs us to take a fresh coconut and split it into four equal parts by using a small mallet on the coconut while on a counter or tabletop. We are not to open the coconut by throwing the coconut against the floor, which is an insult to Obi. Obi is a basic tool of divination for any believer of Orisha-based religions and in Spanish it is called “dar el coco”.

When using Obi for divination, most of the time the Orisha Ellegua (Elegua,Legba) will be consulted, as he sees what is down the “road” or “path” for you as Ellegua, guardian of the crossroads. Sometimes, the situation necessitates calling on any of other Orishas; the nature based gods and Goddesses of the religions. In lieu of fresh coconut, sometimes cowrie shells are used for divination.

Obi is used to ask “Yes” or “No” questions of the Orishas, the ancestors of the family of the querent or their Ori (Soul). Obi is also used to determine whether an offering to the Orishas to change or propiate the Spirit is needed or is an offering is sufficient and acceptable to the Orisha.

Are You Wondering What Kind Of Questions You Can Ask?


Following is a sampling of questions you can ask:

  • Am I in alignment with my Destiny?
  • Am I in the right field of work?
  • Am I ready for a mate?
  • Is now a good time for having children?
  • Is there something I can do to prevent loss in an upcoming legal dispute?
  • Should I take a stand on this political issue?
  • Do the Ancestors approve of my political views?
  • Do the Ancestors approve of my lifestyle choices?
  • Would I learn something positive from making friends with so-and-so?
  • Can so-and-so be trusted with my secrets at this time?
  • Can you help me identify spiritual exercises that will help me be more disciplined?
  • Am I in any immediate danger from others?
  • Is this a good time to find a home I can afford and buy it?
  • Is this home that I have picked out free of unseen dangers?
  • Is so-and-so lying to me?
  • Am I prepared for my upcoming exams?
  • Should I share the results of this reading with anyone other than my spiritual adviser?


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