Rites Of Passage

At Ile Ifa we have adopted a way of bringing people who wish to practice Ifa back into the tradition. Members of the Egbe (Extended Family) wishing to grow within Ifa must go through several rites of passage. These passages are as follows:

  1. Setting up your Iku Joko/Egun shrine and learning basic divination using cowrie shells and/or obi abata.
  2. The receiving of your Ilekes/Necklaces. One receives Obatala, Osun, Sango, and Yemoja. The purpose of the Ilekes is to bring knowledge and understanding of what the Orisa Obatala, Osun, Sango, and Yemoja represent and how their examples of character can protect you and guide you during your life.
  3. The receiving of Esu, Ogun, Osoosi, and Osu/The warriors. Along with the warriors one receives the Ileke of Esu and Ogun. The purpose of the warriors is to once again bring you knowledge and understanding of what these Orisa represent and how they can protect you through implementing their positive attributes into your life. The Osun that is given is representative of your Ori.

Note: The Osun you receive with your warriors is not the same Osun that is received when becoming an Awo.

  • The receiving of the Owofakan/One hand of Ifa (Isefa) an Ide, and an Ileke for Orunmila. The purpose of receiving the Owofakan is to be able to communicate with Orunmila every 5 days. This communication with Orunmila every 5 days is called Ifa Day or Ose Ifa.
  • Initiation into Ifa (Itefa or Itelodu), Initiation into Orisa, Initiation into Egungun, etc… These steps are taken according to the person’s destiny and lineage. It is ones’ destiny and lineage which dictates what is necessary for the person to do in their life. Initiation into Orisa, Egungun, etc… may or may not be necessary. This information can only be revealed through a competent Awo who of course works with Orunmila who is the only Irunmole who knows the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things and of course the only Irunmole which knows everyone’s destiny.

*Important Note: The above-mentioned rites of passage are not the way things are done traditionally (In Nigeria) but in order for people who were not born into and raised in the tradition, it was felt the above rites would assist in the development of understanding Ifa and the lifestyle that goes with it.

Traditionally, one first goes through Ikosedaye or Esentaye which allows the mother and father to take a peek at the child’s destiny. This is done either 3 or 6 days after birth. It is best to do Ikosedaye or Esentaye early because “The Naming Ceremony” which is the second step, is usually done on either the 7th day after birth for girls or the 9th day after birth for boys. It is best to take a peek into the child’s destiny before the naming ceremony because it will give the parents a guide of what to do or not do before the ceremony and what possible names the child should be given.

Note: Some regions in Nigeria perform a ceremony called Kosetaye which is done while the woman is pregnant while other regions perform regular dafa throughout pregnancy until birth.

There is also a process known as Imori. This is where one finds out if the baby’s spirit comes from the mother or father’s side of the family and also determines the Orisa lineage of the child depending on the parent’s lineage from which the baby is from. As earlier mentioned there is no such thing in existence in Nigeria as an Orisa being the owner of one’s head. What it means is that the child comes from that lineage, is a child of that Orisa, but not that the Orisa is the owner of its head. It’s really about maintaining the worship of that Orisa within the family lineage and recognizing how that Orisa influences the person because its attributes are important to achieving destiny. During Imori, the Awo can also find out how the person died previously, was it a natural death, if they were a man, women, or other creature in their past life, how their character was before, if this is the person’s first time here in the world, etc..

After the above process comes Isefa, which is when the child receives their Owofakan and becomes an Ifa worshiper, as well as a worshiper of the deities, worshiped in their family lineage.

Note: Imori is a ceremony that has almost completely died out in Yorubaland, and the places who don’t perform it, usually find out Orisa lineage, where the babies spirit comes from, etc.. during Ikosedaye, Esentaye, or Isefa.

Sometime after Isefa, Initiation into Ifa is then performed which reveals the child’s complete destiny. The best age to initiate someone into Ifa is between the ages of 7 to 11.

Side Note: The only time a child would be initiated earlier is if Ifa predicts death or serious sickness for the child if they are not initiated early.

Once a person is initiated into Ifa, they have the choice to become a Babalawo or Iyanifa. (A practicing Priest). These are titles that must be earned and Ifa initiation itself does not make one a Babalawo or Iyanifa.

There are some instances however where Ifa will tell the person they must become a practicing priest or their life will not go well. A person who undergoes Itefa or Itelodu and who does not study practice, take on an apprenticeship with a knowledgeable Awo, and work with the community is not considered a Babalawo or Iyanifa. They are considered Ifa Worshipers only. One must do the work to earn the titles of Babalawo and Iyanifa. (Which is quite different as known in the Diaspora, where some believe that Ifa Initiation alone automatically makes you a Babalawo or Iyanifa). In Nigeria many people get initiated into Ifa to simply receive their full destinies and after initiation continues to work as Orisa priests, Egungun priests, etc… These folks are not considered Ifa priests, and Ifa initiation does not stop them in any way from continuing their practice as Orisa priests, Egungun priests, etc…


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9 Comments

  1. Aboru, Aboye Baba:

    Are you familiar with any case in which the is ‘born initiated into IFA by GOD???’ And, if so, what is the process then — regular study, practice, apprenticeship, and work with the community?

    Modupe and Odabo!

    1. Alaafia;

      No. Remember, communal transference of ase via initiation followed by disciplined study of ese ifa, and related sciences makes a Babalawo. A person may be born with being a Babalawo the purpose of their incarnation, but all rituals and training must be adhered to.

      If your life depended on a surgical procedure, would you have the educated, trained, and practiced surgeon performed the surgery or the person or the person who was borne to be a surgeon, yet lacked the proper education, training, and practice?

      Ogbó àtó Asure Ìwòrìwòfún.

      O dábò!
      Chief Awodele Ifayemi
      Atunwase Awo of Ilobuland
      Follow Me on:
      Blog: https://ileifa.org
      Twitter: https://twitter.com/IfaBabalawo
      Facebook: https://ileifa.org/facebookfanpage

  2. Aboru, aboye baba, I am really interested in knowing about myself ( Ori ) I am reading articles online on IFA just to gain more knowledge and I came across yours. I really like your post and comments and I hope you continue in this manner, I have something bothering me which I will like you to look into, I just want to know the Ifa verses of Ogbe Ofun, prayer of Ifa odu Ogbe ofun, the taboos of Ogbe ofun and the rules and regulations of Ogbe ofun if there is any. I hope this wont take lot of your time but I will be glad to receive all this from you. thanks alot!
    Ifa agbe wa oo

    1. Alaafia;

      Thank you for your visit. Hope you got the info you requested.

      Ogbó àtó Asure Ìwòrìwòfún.

      O dábò!
      Chief Awodele Ifayemi
      Atunwase Awo of Ilobuland

  3. Hi, please tell me how to proceed on the road to becoming an egungun priest. I am priest of Oya and initiated in a variety of systems. Thank you.

    1. Alaafia Judith;

      My apologies for the tardy reply.

      Please email me via the site contact form, and I will send you instructions.

      Ogbó àtó Asure Ìwòrìwòfún.

      O dábò!
      Chief Awodele Ifayemi
      Atunwase Awo of Ilobuland

  4. Aboru aboye, I am really interested on knowing more about ifa, I have been initiated, and see odu already but I. Don’t know what next and how to utilize all this. Please assist and my birth odu is OSE meji.

    Thanks in anticipation

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