In the spiritual tradition of Ifa, the calendar year is usually associated with an Orisa that would take the focus or priority for the year’s happenings from our human perspectives. In practical terms from the Orisa perspective, no Orisa takes priority over another. Yemonja would never be more or less important than Obatala. Each Orisa has his or her job to do in the natural environment and the absence of one would be a serious detriment to the whole.
But it is human nature to setup hierarchy and priority in order to satisfy our human need for some type of order. In order to help us establish our relationship with nature, we will be given various priorities for nature using Orisa. This is truly an oversimplification for the definition of this relationship between humanity and nature. An entire volume can be written to help define this phenomenon. This definition, although true, barely scratches the surface of the complexities of this relationship.
According to the year’s reading given to me by Baba Orunmila, 2008 is the year of Olodumare, for all practical purposes, the Supreme Being in Ifa spirituality. Olodumare, the Supreme Being, is not an Orisa. He is not one of the more common manifestation of nature, but the founder and top manager of these manifestations at this level of existence throughout the universe. So in essence, 2008 is the year humanity should be focused on its relationship with the Supreme Being. We have caught his attention and he is now taking notice.
When I first heard this bit of news, my heart skipped a beat. I kind of felt like one of the guy who works down in the mailroom of a world wide conglomerate and word gets out that the chief executive officer in another city is now paying attention to what’s happening in our mailroom. What in the world would draw his or her attention here? Certainly the CEO’s time would be much better spent studying other aspects of the business. What in the world could be happening that would draw top management’s attention? Suddenly, I would be much more self conscious about the way we went about our business. The only problem is that nobody else in the mailroom is listening or believes the news. So it is business as usual.
A few days ago, I asked Baba Orunmila about Olodumare’s year. I told Baba that I expected this year to be a time of significant impact to humanity. Orunmila laughed and asked if I had not been paying attention. Orunmila knows I’m not the deepest oar in the ocean. My paddle barely reaches the water from the row boat. So he didn’t wait very long to break it down for me.
One thing we must remember about Olodumare is that he doesn’t move like he is the Supreme Being. He doesn’t have to. It is human nature to expect the person in charge to manifest a personality that can command attention at the drop of a dime. The CEO of a multinational can walk in the room and people will notice a change in the air. Everyone in the room will turn and face him or her. People will drop their conversations to hear what he or she has to say.
But the realm of Orisa doesn’t operate on such superficial principles. While some Orisas have a very commanding presence, the ladies man Baba Sango quickly comes to mind, other Orisas are more comfortable with the attention being elsewhere, like Baba Osanyin. But, everybody has their job to do. Regardless of his size or his ability to command attention, Olodumare is Olodumare. Everybody knows who he is without him having to throw weight. More importantly Olodumare knows who he is without having to command submissiveness or subservience from the Orisas.
Olodumare doesn’t do things in a big kind of way. He is very subtle. He doesn’t beg for attention. This year has seen more pressure for change than I give it credit for. Throughout the Midwest and southwest portion of the nation tornadoes have been scouring the landscape almost on a daily basis. The tornadoes started early and have come often. Entire towns have been changed. The winds of Oya have been extremely busy. The rains of Yemonja have deluged other parts of the nation that were already trying to cope with extraordinary snowfall. Parts of the northwest were inundated with ten inches of snow in the first week of May. This was on top of a particularly snowy winter. Fires have returned to the west. And there was a good sized earthquake of a magnitude 5.2 on the Richter scale in Illinois along what used to be considered a stable fault line. And there have been subsequent earthquakes in Missouri along the New Madrid fault line where the big one, a magnitude seven plus, could come any day now.
On the global perspective, Marynmar has been hit with a cyclone that was initially estimated to have killed four thousand. However the latest estimate now says that more than a hundred thousand people have perished. The government of Marynmar has been slow to respond to the crisis and it is just a matter of time before Babalu Aye, the orisa of health, lets loose with a barrage of diseases on the devastated population. And this morning, China was hit with a massive earthquake estimated on the Richter scale to have a magnitude 7.8. The initial death toll in China was estimated to be about four thousand. But if Marynmar is any indication that death toll will rise high very quickly. lt has already been adjusted to upwards of twelve thousand.
And how do we respond as a people to these incidents? The price of fuel has skyrocketed. A relatively small pool of people have actually benefited from the inflation of petroleum. The vast majority of people have been forced to deal with lining the pockets of people already wealthy. The extra cost of fuel has rippled through the economy driving up the price of food. People already trying to cope with budgets devastated by housing costs are now dealing with the elevated costs of everything else. Like most things in life, there is an opportunity for somebody to make a profit and the opportunity to make money has a knock too strong for most people to ignore. It is business as usual for most people.
We are barely into the second trimester of the year. We have a long way to go to get to December. And there will be far more subtle changes in weather and the rest of nature to come our way that will have a significant impact to humanity and challenge our ability to cope. We can take all the changes coming our way and dismiss them as little more than the cost of doing life on this planet. Natural disasters are natural after all. Tornadoes will spin. Rain will fall. Droughts will be where the rain refuses to fall. Forest will burn. Earthquakes will rumble. Mountains will slide. Some of us are bound to suffer extraordinarily. But some of us will figure out a way to take advantage and profit handsomely. There is nothing wrong with our collective sense of socialism. And what’s the harm of a little profit between friends?
We should be more aware of what is going on in the environment. We should be practicing a much more socially oriented consciousness. But that would be business unusual for a world so focused on the global economy. Like the pharaoh of Egypt that famously refused to exercise some kind of social responsibility and let go of his preconceived notions of irresponsible entitlement, we won’t have a change of heart until the disasters have us all on our knees. We won’t ever change our attitude until we all lose big.