Disclosure: What follows is my own highly opinionated, intensely felt, not necessarily correct, and perhaps at times alienating view of Odu, and what they mean.
The northern quadrant, the Ori-Opon, represents the Heavens – the home of the Ancestors and Orisa. This is the spirit world and is represented by the air element. It is from the Ori Opon that the blessings of the Orisas, and Ancestors stream forth.
This quadrant marks the spiritual genesis of any physical or spiritual manifestation. This is the realm of potential energy waiting to spring into action. It is the world of infinite possibility. In terms of the human anatomy the Ori-Opon represents the head and the faculties of the mind. The sacred Odu Iwori represents the Ori-Opon.
As I suggested in the article about Ese-Opon Odus, we each have certain Odus with which we are particularly attuned. Anyone who denies that this is the case is not being honest.
If we were all in such perfect balance that we related equally well to every quadrant grouping of Odus in the Opon, we would have no reason to be on Earth. We are here because we have work to do, and the work, as suggested by Ifa as well as most other esoteric systems, is to get ourselves into balance.
Of the quadrant grouping of Odus which I am particularly attuned, the Ori-Opon Odu comes second, which may seem downright perverse. The Ori-Opon Odu are very difficult Odus.
This is a not a quadrant of the Opon where people have a good time. However; we learn some of our most valuable lessons through our pain; comfort carries a tendency towards inertia. Most of us committed to personal growth are in sympathy with these Odus even if we don’t like it very much.The Ori-Opon Odu, which deals with the intellect and determination, is the Opon quadrant of the truth seeker. These are the Oju Odu of awareness and understanding. T.S. Elliot writes, “We had the experience, but we missed the meaning.” Here in the Ori-Opon quadrant, we are going, by gum or by golly, to get the meaning.
These Odus represent the willingness to experience whatever it is we need to experience to get to the truth. And the truth, rumor has it, can hurt. However; the truth will set you free, but as Werner Erhardt adds, “First it will piss you off.” Some of us will pursue the truth irrespective of pain, regardless of cost, submitting to confusion and despair, on only a promise of clearer understanding. Conversely, if we are drowning in pain and are thrown a rope, we will not catch hold of it if we know the rope to be a lie.
Because the truth can hurt, in the Odus of the Ori-Opon we are also dealing with courage. It takes enormous valor to go through the pain that is depicted in these Odus. As each quadrant of Odus in the Opon-Ifa has its way to spirit, the way of the Ori-Opon Odus is not only the way of intellect, the search for objective truth and clarity. It is also the way of courage.
The Odus of the Ori-Opon is additionally important for people who are interested in Ifa, because no matter how bright we are, no matter how intuitive we are, how perceptive and deeply feeling, if we haven’t got the commitment to look at our own life intrepidly, we will never learn anything from the Odus. It’s amazing to me how many people come for a reading after driving long distances just to find me. They put in a lot of energy and happily pay my fee, but really don’t want to “know.” They think they want to know, but they really don’t. What they truly want is to be supported in a belief system that is not serving them well.
The Odus of the Ori-Opon then, are beloved to lovers of truth, to those of us who are ruthless with ourselves in the pursuit of truth. It is just because the truth can hurt that the best graphical representation for these Odu is a double-edge sword. It can as easily lacerate the wielder as the object of attack.
Iwori Meji calls for introspection, the necessity to go within in order to maintain balance. For those of us who live in a culture whose primary orientation rests in the external, Iwori illustrates the benefits of quiet contemplation.
The seed is being fertilized in preparation for its birth. Iwori signals the ability to view things in their true light. This Odu marks a purposeful endeavor. It reminds one that understanding will be gleaned from struggle.
Even in a state of “Ire”, the productive expression of an Odu’s energy that brings blessings, conflict may be indicated but the presence of this conflict brings important lessons to those with the eyes to perceive them. Framed by two closed segments, Iwori brings protection through the act of enclosing.
Alternately, the womb-like protection of this Odu can quickly become a tomb when Iwori come in “Ibi”. The walls that once protected you now suffocates you. Introspection deteriorates into a condition wherein too much energy has been focused on thinking. One must step out of this cycle and move forward in order to regain balance. The clear perception of Ire is no longer and this lack of awareness may lead you into a trap – either literally or figuratively speaking.
Obara is an Odu that walks with prosperity. A refreshing energy that promises abundance, Obara marks a period when previously chaotic energies dissipate. In order to stay in good fortune, one’s input and output must remain balanced.
Obara draws one’s attention to the needs of the world around us, both micro and macro-cosmically. The needs of the “whole” require attention at this time. It is a generous sign and speaks of giving in order to find good fortune.
Obara, when in a state of “Ibi”, speaks of someone that has lost sight of the larger picture, and is blind to the entirety of the experience. The absence of awareness may lead to a lack of grounding that results in a state of indiscriminate wandering. There are no goals in this situation.
The person is unable to make a decision. The will of the ego and the will of the spirit are in a state of discord. Nothing will be accomplished without restoring a state of alignment. Be careful of giving too much to an unworthy recipient. Putting the self over the “whole” has created problems. In extreme state of “Ibi”, one may even become delusional.
Ika is an Odu that offers the individual a new start and represents optimum conditions that are fertile for new opportunity. This Odu is teeming with the energies of literal and figurative conception. One is advised to sustain those sources that offer personal and familial defense.
Ika guarantees continuity of the person and the community. This Odu advises one to use the power of spirit over the power of the body. Actions or occurrences that strive to disturb balance can be abated through Ika. You should stay alert and be on guard, as there are forces at play that may soon reveal their underhanded nature.
When Ika is received in a state of “Ibi” it may herald sudden surprises previously unseen by you. Danger may be just around the corner and may even be disguised as something beneficial to you. Infections are also possible. This marks a state of affliction that may contaminate you or your situation in many levels, not simply the physical organism alone.
Experiencing this Odu’s contrary nature will likely put you in a state of constant apprehension leading to gross imbalance. You may either commit or be the victim of betrayal, hypocrisy and other dishonorable acts. Ika communicates the possible risks involved in any endeavor.
Ose is an Odu that shares some commonalities with Osa. It is another sign of change, perhaps less sudden than Osa, but no less dramatic.
Ose governs the process of decay, a productive dissolution that nurtures the fertilization of new life. Ose is analogous to the Phoenix, the fiery bird that burns itself to death only to rise from its own ashes in a renewed state of strength and vitality.
Ose deals with the concrete changing of forms; physicality shifts and takes on new dimensions of being. These changes bring blessings when this Odu come n “Ire”. An new precedent must be established in order to find good fortune. Once this has been accomplished Ose, like the energy of Osun herself, brings the sweetest things life has to offer, but these things must be appreciated lest they be taken away.
In “Ibi”, Ose marks disruptive changes that leave one feeling anxious and vulnerable. One is in a precarious position wherein the decay fails to produce superior forms and a restless condition is aggravated by this Odu’s unstable nature. One may be resisting the process of necessary decay in order to be fully reborn. This struggle will only cause problems and create obstacles on one’s path to goodness. Ose may also indicate unrealistic demands that are creating problems for you.
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