Ifa Spirituality Or Ifa Superstition
“The Orisa pot is ‘birthed’ with the Ase’Nature power’ of that particular Orisa. The mechanics of Orisa worship has been formulated so that Orisa pots are necessary as they are part of an empowered shrine this doesn’t negate the need to go into nature but having this shrine w/ the pot has allowed us to encapsulate the Nature energy.You must admit that your opinion of how this works is based on the Western mind’s process of how things fit together.This Western thinking cannot fully appreciate or understand the spiritual science of Orisa. If you understood the socio-spiritual dynamics of Yoruba religion Orisa religion you’d never suggest that people share their pots for others who don’t have one. There are community shrines and personal shrines.Please don’t take offense but based on your explanation I’m confident to say you are not Yoruba born and bred within the Orisa belief system. You cannot take apart and define that which you are still trying to understand.” – Omi
People who claim to practice traditional Ifa believe that anything that runs contrary to the spiritual practices developed by our African ancestors thousands of years ago is based on western thinking that couldn’t possibly understand the mechanics of Orisa worship. Orisa worship isn’t really hard at all. It goes something like this, “Oh mighty Orisa you are so great and you are so wonderful. You are so powerful and everyone loves you so. You bring the sun up in the morning and you lay the sun to rest at nigh. We are nothing compared to you. Oh mighty Orisa. How can you stand to look upon us who are so unworthy and blah, blah, blah.” I believe you get the point.
Orisa worship requires nothing sincere. Orisa worship can consist of nothing but a bunch of flowery words and the memorization of rote prayers and songs and learning traditional African dance and buying spiritual trinkets so that we look more spiritual to our peers. When someone develops a different understanding of the socio-spiritual dynamics, traditional Orisa worshipers will automatically dismiss the non-traditional thinking as wrong and unworthy of the spiritual science, an oxymoron that ranks right up there with peacekeeper missiles and friendly nuclear bombs. Traditionally, the word “science” implies a process or methodology that can be qualified and measured with somewhat predictable outcomes or theories based on sound, observable results. And if spirituality is a science then where does the word “belief” come into play? Ifa, like most spiritual belief systems, is supposed to be a matter of faith.
Because Ifa is based on a tradition that started thousands of years ago, many people who practice this belief perceive any changes to the understanding of the traditional way this belief system operates is invalid. People want to lead others to believe that the traditional way is the only way. However, if we were to live by tradition, black people will still be considered white people’s property. The established thinking in America’s early days was that black people were not human and were less than white people. We have managed to change that traditional form of thinking that blacks are only three fifths human. And while we have not fully succeeded in reversing this line of thought, a lot of people are continuing to work to change the tradition that considers black people as less than. Traditional thinking is not automatically the correct or the best way of thinking.
People need to learn to keep tradtitional Orisa worship practices in their proper perspective. For example, an Orisa pot is not a vessel where the Orisa or the Orisa’s energy or nature’s energy resides. If by some unforeseen circumstance an Orisa pot is lost or destroyed, the energy of that vessel isn’t doomed to obscurity like the unfortunate ark in an Indiana Jones movie. An Orisa pot is a symbolic vessel. It is not “birthed”. Orisa worshippers buy their pot and trust that the person selling the pot has the moral and spiritual integrity to help you develop a spiritual relationship with the Orisa the pot represents. And there is no law other than tradition that says the pot cannot be shared with others. In reality, the symbolism of the Orisa can be shared with others without any detrimental affects to the pot, the pots owner, or the others. For anyone to claim otherwise means that they have developed a rather limited understanding of spirituality not at all the encompassing social spiritual dynamic many people claim but a strictly limited personal belief constant.
Nature’s energy cannot be encompassed by any man made pot. To even say that this is possible is to manifest an understanding of spiritual concepts that are more superstitious than anything else. Some might say that there is no difference between superstitions and spirituality. While it is true that they both are based on a belief in the supernatural, superstitions come with an entire series of baseless laws, rules, mandates, procedures, science and who knows what other tomfoolery to influence the behavior of others while spirituality doesn’t try to control others with such manipulation. The fact that Ifa priest and teachers who perpetuate the myth that pots can’t be shared stand to make money from people buying their mandated, nature encompassing, personal pots is purely coincidental I’m sure.
Spirituality doesn’t confine Orisa energy to an individual pot that cannot be shared with others in order to get as many people as possible to buy more pots. Such a superstitious perception of Orisa can be very lucrative to the pot seller. With very few exceptions the pot seller will be someone who claims the traditional way is the only way to develop your spirituality. Anything else is a taint of western culture.
But in all honesty, spirituality isn’t limited to any culture. It isn’t western or non-western. It isn’t African or non-African. It isn’t traditional or non-traditional. Spirituality isn’t about following mandates and rules established by other people millennia ago in a far away land. What is generally believed to have worked for them then is not necessarily what will work for us now. Spirituality is about establishing a personal relationship in your belief system that works for you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to follow certain processes and procedures in order to become spiritual. That only leads to superstition. Spirituality is totally different. It is liberating and not confining. I would be suspect of anyone who describes spirituality otherwise.