It's about our community and our spirituality!

The Orisa Of The River

I am too embarrassed. I like to consider myself a conscious student of Ifa. I like to consider myself in tuned with nature and less likely to take nature for granted. I have been watching the happenings of flooding along the Mississippi river practically right in the back of my own neighborhood. The level of the river water has risen significantly. I have seen the Mississippi flood, but I cannot remember the last time I have seen the river so swollen.

Last night I drove across the big 270 highway bridge just north of St. Louis, Missouri to check up on some property I have in a storage locker just across the river. The river looked like a lake. The little road that runs along the river on the Missouri side was a lot closer to the water than it should be. As I drove into Illinois there were soggy puddles of standing water in the fields just on the other side of the river levee. I marveled at all the water. The Chain of Rocks canal that runs parallel to the larger river is no longer visibly separate from the river adding to the lake affect. It was another impressive manifestation of nature.

My property was safe by the way. Now that the family has a minivan, I parked my blue 1992 Honda Accord wagon in covered storage with some other items that are hard to keep when a family is trying to stay in a large one bedroom apartment. In order to keep the car in good shape, I start her up once a week and let her run for a few minutes. The river will crest in the next day or so and it looks like the levees will hold easily. I was prepared to move my things. I was even prepared to lose a few items. But it looks like the wagon and the other items will be safe.

However, it wasn’t until this morning that I realized that had not acknowledged the Orisa Osun at anytime during this ordeal. When I saw the storms traveling through the upper Midwest, my mind automatically went to the Orisas Oya, Yemonja, and Sango. I saw the winds blow and the tornadoes spin and I would give praise to Oya! I saw the rain fall and I would give praise to Yemonja! I saw the lightening strikes and I would praise Sango! I saw the rivers swell and I said wow. I have been severely lacking in my appreciation of Osun. I would like to take a second and correct that mistake.

Osun, the Orisa of the river, plays a seriously important role for humanity. The river has done so much for humanity. We have used for travel. We use it as a source of drinking water. We have disrespectfully used the river as an open toilet for our waste products. The river water has quenched the thirst of our crops. We have used the power of the river to light our houses. Man is so smug to think that we can build river damns strong enough to hold the river at bay. We think we can build levees that will keep the river confined to a small channel of water that is guaranteed to hold the water for five hundred years!

The river must be the Rodney Dangerfield of nature. It gets no respect.

Orisa are interdependent. In nature, it is rare for one Orisa to manifest change alone. They work together. Oya, Yemonja, and Sango have created conditions that have made the normally docile Osun an assertive, uncooperative, force of water, one of the most forceful elements of nature. While high velocity winds, raging fires, and movements of earth are destructive forces in their own right, the river Orisa can effectively turn our world upside down with a burst through a barrier with so much energy that a wall of water will destroy anything in its path for miles and disappear as quickly as she came. Or, Osun can creep quietly and glide slowly but relentlessly, without exhaustion, until she has literally consumed our entire world. She will stay for days, and then quietly slink away just as slowly, leaving considerable damage in her wake to everything made by the hand of humans.

As humans we have done a lot to try and redefine the relationship between the land and the river. The natural occasion of water exceeding the river banks was part of nature’s cycle. To live next to the river was to live with the fact that it is only temporary and when the river wanted to exceed the banks it was time for those living next to her to leave. It was natural. Water pouring over the land helped replenish water tables. Even the sediment and sludge that traveled with the water would carry nutrients to help keep land fertile. All of this is nature keeping maintenance of its self.

But we have engineered levees and water management systems that are intended to make the cycle of water exceeding the river banks a once in a five hundred year event. We’ve built concrete canal systems that are intended to keep the rainwater from being absorbed into the soil and instead, moving it back to the river so it can be swept out of our vicinity, back to the river, to be whisked away to some other location. And when nature responds with even greater river swells, man responds with stronger levees, damns, dykes and locks until mutually assured destruction is inevitable. The mutually assured destruction is not shared between humans and the river but among all the people who dare become so comfy that underestimate the danger of the situation we create for ourselves.

If somehow Osun burst through the levee that kept my property across the river safe it would be no one’s fault but my own. I made the choice to put my property within her reach. I know the river is swelling and yet I leave my property there instead of moving it safely out of the way. Just like the river helps to take excesses away from the land it would take my excess stuff away from me.

For now, it looks like Osun will let us keep our excesses. Regardless, she deserves an ebo. Tonight, I plan to go to the grocery store and buy a melon, apples, oranges, and etcetera. I will make a big basket of fruit. I will take it to the old Chain of Rocks Bridge that crosses the Mississippi that is now reserved for pedestrian and bicycle traffic across the river just south of the 270 interstate highway bridge. I’ll go out there to the middle of the river and toss the fruit in. I’ll watch the water rage below me. I’ll feel my heart pound in my chest with adrenaline as common sense heightened by a sense of self preservation tries to convince me not to take such an unnecessary risk with the river so swollen. Hopefully, the experience will instill with me such respect for the river that I will never take Osun for granted again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 - Posted by | Divination, Faith, Global Warming, God, Ifa, Life, Orisa, Philosophy, Religion, Spirituality, Thoughts, Weather | ,


  1. Perhaps because I know so many omo Oshuns (given the Ile I go to), I’ve thought about Her constantly.

    We use the water of the river (and lakes) constantly without thinking where it comes from. Without thinking about how it became clean (or stayed clean). Without acknowledging that we’re lucky to have water, when lack of sanitary or sufficient water plagues so much of the world.

    Part of our odu for the year was to thank Oshun with the first drink of water every day for 101 days. As one priest said, “do you think we should stop on day 102?”

    Of course not.

    Comment by Deirdre Saoirse Moen | Tuesday, June 24, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the feedback Deirdre Saoirse Moen,

    Now I’m really feeling bad! I really should have known better. Thankfully, Osun, like all Orisas, is far more gracious than I could ever hope for. She knows that we are just human. But in the year of Olodumare, Osun must to her part to bring the change that is to come.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, June 24, 2008 | Reply

  3. Osun(my mama), should never be taken for granted.Their is a story or Pataki, in which Osun was the only orisha strong enough to venture to the house of Olodumare and save humankind from turmoil. She started her journey as a peackock , On the way she was burnt by the sun and turned into a vulture(Osun Ibu Ikole).Osun is a an orisha,of grace, elegance,healing,and beauty.However,her wrath should be feared as she can be a force to be reckoned with.
    Mojuba Awo Osun Iya Mi~
    Yeye Moro!
    Ore Yeye O!
    Mbe Mbe Ma Yeye O!

    Comment by Oludare Akinola | Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | Reply

  4. Thanks for the feedback Oludare Akinola,

    My apologies but is there any Orisa we can take for granted? Is there any Orisa that should not be respected? Well over four hundred exist in olorun. But how many do we know?


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | Reply

  5. To my recollection,I never said that Osun is the only Orisa that should not be taken for granted.I singled out Osun because she is the deity being spoken of within the article and also because my mother is commonly taken for granted.people take her for granted because many peole view her as a sweet, generous,loving deity.Osun is not normally docile as you said,she has the habit of appearing docile but she has more than one side to her.To elaborate on my point I tell the story of Philomena or Philo as we called her. In the early nineties in Trinidad when I was born,Osun came down and gave her daughter,Philomena,the right to be my godmother.Philo had tapped into the darker side of Osun(Prostitutuion),as I like to call it.As a resultof her profession Philomena was constantly getting pregnant.Every time she became pregnant she would abort the child.She even became pregnant with a set of twins(very lucky in Yoruba culture)at one time.Once she even asked my mother to help her flush the baby down the toilet.Osun became unhappy about philo`s decisions. She even came down crying to my mother about Philo.Still, Philomena was relentless she continued and eventually (excuse my language),OSUN CALLED HER ASS BACK TO ORUN!!
    One of osun`s praisenames is Agegun Soro,meaning”she who smiles during battle”.See, Oshun is a fierce feminine energy,even though she doesn`t choose to openly display,it like Oya Iyansan.
    Much Respect,
    Oludare Akinola

    Comment by oludare Akinola(Osun`s Baby) | Tuesday, July 1, 2008 | Reply

  6. To my recollection, I never said that you said that Osun is the only Orisa that should be taken for granted. And as far as Osun being docile, I wouldn’t know. I do know that the manifestation of the Orisa of the river is usually docile enough for people to believe that they can invest huge sums of money in the construction of houses and businesses right on the river bank. Nobody builds property next to rivers that rage. It is the docile river that invites people to live on its banks. You said your self that “she has the habit of appearing docile”. Whether it is a habit of appearing docile or whether it is a true docile nature the manifestation is still the same, docile behavior.

    But I must ask because this is the second time you have referenced the warrior aspect of an Orisa. Who do the Orisas go to war against?


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, July 1, 2008 | Reply

  7. Hmm, thats not a very easy question to answer.Well, I have some theories ,though I really couldn`t say for sure. One theory is that the Orisa wage war against negative energies.Also when I think of the Warrior aspects of Orisa, I think of them fighting against negative influences in my life.I also believe the warrior aspect of an orisa is a demonstration of the Orisa`s role as protector or protectress of Mankind.
    Much Respect,
    Oludare Akinola

    Comment by Oludare Akinola | Tuesday, July 1, 2008 | Reply

  8. Thanks for the feedback Oludare Akinola,

    But this is more evidence of humans trying to apply our experiences to Orisas. We learn that various Orisas are warriors. But when we truly stop and think about what we are actually learning or saying it is rather difficult to apply our concepts practically. You honestly believe that Orisas are here to wage war against negative energies? What do you mean by negative energies? Are negative energies the consequences of choices that we make for ourselves on our own volition? Are Orisas here to save us from the negativity that we bring to ourselves because of our poor choices? Who or what are the Orisas protecting mankind from? When Osun swells the river over its banks and drenches the home that the homeowner decided to build in land known to be a flood plain is that a negative influence?


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, July 1, 2008 | Reply

  9. if the orisa are not here to protect and guide us then what is the function of orisa
    much respect,Oludare Akinola

    Comment by oludare Akinola | Wednesday, July 2, 2008 | Reply

  10. oludare Akinola,

    I am taking an opportunity to do some learning here. As a student of Ifa I have always said that we should always take advantage of opportunities to learn. You said that the Orisas are here to wage war against negative energies on our behalf. In essence, you are trying to tell me that the Orisas who have been here for millennia have been waiting patiently for humans to arrive to defend us. Where are they guiding us to? Please, explain what are the negative energies that the Orisas are warring against on our behalf.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, July 2, 2008 | Reply

  11. Once Again, I`m not sure what the negative energies re in which orisa protect us from.I would say the negative energies are life`s adversities, or maybe the Ajogun,who are spirits that create obstacles for humanity.The head of the Ajogun is Baba Esu Elegbara.I do not beleive that the Orisa were sitting around waiting for us for milllions of years.To demonstrate what i believe I bring up the subject of human parents. Our parents were not sent to earth solely for the purpose of having us. Before they had children our parents lived their own lives. However,somewhere down the path of their destinies they were supposed to have children.When Osun swells the river she usually does so because it is a natural occurence.The Orisa guide us along the paths or destinies of which we chose in front of Olodumare himself prior to being born.the orisa instruct us on how to live our lives.The Orisa show us how to achieve “Agbo Ato”, Long Life.they also discipline us when we have strayed from our paths.
    Much respect,
    Oludare Akinola

    Comment by Oludare Akinola | Monday, July 7, 2008 | Reply

  12. Thanks for the feedback Oludare Akinola,

    Human parents are more closely associated with other primates than with Orisa. The whole point of members of the animal kingdom is to be fruitful and multiply. In essence, it actually is your parents’ purpose to have children. The fact that our parents take their sweet time getting around to being parents does not mean their purpose is to take their sweet time getting around to being parents.

    As humans we have complicated life so much that we actually think our purpose in life is to be doctors and lawyers and other professions. We have a tendency to judge each other based on what we do instead of who we are. We have developed complex economic systems to accumulate wealth and maximum profit and more materialism than the average person has any right to in order to develop a comfortable life. I think of how our African ancestors and our Native American ancestors lived simply off the land without the accumulation of such excesses and I wish we could go back to a style of living where it is all for one and one for all.

    We now live in a culture where it’s every man for him self. And everybody has to work their hardest in this rat race. Other primates don’t enslave themselves to economics like we do. No other animal chooses to live its life so removed from nature. Generally speaking it is only the human species that have evolved so distant from its true roots. Because we have voluntarily brought so much osogbo into our lives, so much negativity, many of us look to our beliefs for relief. We think the solution to our problems lies in the supernatural realm instead of in our own hands.

    But it is not the Orisas’ purpose to guide us through self inflicted trouble. When it comes to the relationship between the Orisas and humans, all we can expect is the guidance to develop our spirituality. As our spirituality matures we realize the materialism and the wealth and the other distractions that we think are important really don’t rate that high at all. When we develop our spirituality, we learn to keep perspective on the problems we normally think are so overwhelming.

    All Orisas are here to help us in this endeavor of spirituality, especially Baba Esu. Esu opens the door that leads to the path of spiritual development. With so many people needing so much help getting their spirituality in order Esu has his work cut out for him trying to get all of us to go through that door. But instead of us acknowledging his contribution to our development, we blame Baba for our own bad choices. What incentive would Esu have to help us when we malign him so?

    If Esu had the human taints many of us put on him we’d all be in trouble. Thankfully, Baba Esu, like all Orisas, is above the human weaknesses we constantly like to saddle them with. We say Orisas are great. We say that we appreciate their guidance. But then we say that the Orisa Esu cannot be trusted and that he spends his time luring us off of our path.

    It doesn’t take an Orisa to distract humans. For the vast majority of us, all it takes is a shiny bauble or trinket to get us to lose sight of our true goals. All too often human spirituality is fragile and we our always looking for some type of prestige or status that we can hold over others to win their admiration. If this was Esu’s purpose he wouldn’t have to work very hard at all.

    More people need to spend more time developing their own personal relationship with Orisa instead of relying on the tales and stories that traditional Ifa has passed down from generation to generation. We rely on conjecture and hearsay from our elders and other humans that we trust to know what they’re telling us. But when we take a moment to examine what they’re really saying it doesn’t take much to see that we are being sold tainted goods.

    The only negative energies that impact our lives are the negative energies we as a community allow to impact our lives. As a collective, we can do so much better than this. We make the choice to take our spirituality for granted and allow our understanding of Orisa to be based on what others choose to believe about our spiritual guides. Until we learn to take better control of our spiritual development we will continue to be manipulated and we will continue to suffer negative energies as a result.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Monday, July 7, 2008 | Reply

  13. Mr.brotherpeacemaker,
    Having children is not the main purpose of human parents. Ifa has said that one day I will become a Babalawo.This being said i assume my purpose is to share the wisdom of Ifa.However, one day I wish to be a father.If I become a father my purpose in life would still be to share the wisdom of ifa, i would just have to also take care of my children. You say that many of the behaviors we attribute to Orisa are human behaviors. However, In reality Orisa and Natural Spirits taught us how to be human.We wouldn`t even have food if the Orisa hadn`t taught us how to farm.Furthermore,Everyone in this religion acknowledges Baba Esu Elegbara for his contribution to our spiritual development.Before any Yoruba religious celebration or ceremony is performed Baba Esu Elegbara is saluted.i do not atribute everything that happens to humans to Baba.however, He does occasionally place obstacles in our paths. He does not do this because he is angry with us as that would be a human instinct.He does it to teach us morals,lessons,and values.Yes,we have voluntarily brought Osogbo into our lives.One of the functions of Orisa is to aid us in shedding this Osogbo from our lives.In your quest to find a new way of thinking of the Ifa-Orisa tradition,I feel as if you have lost the beauty of this religion.I can readily identify some of your statements with Atheism rather than the Ifa-Orisa tradition.Elders hold a very high rank in this Religion.The best wisdom one can receive is that spoken from the mouths of Elders.As for going back to the lifestyles of our Native American and African Ancestors, I say Hell Naw!!The Orisa knew that humanity could not exist in that manner forever.We simply were not destined to.Unfortunately, I for one have gotten too accustomed to my cellphone,christian dior designer frames,and Comcast cable television.
    Much Respect,
    Oludare Akinola

    Comment by Oludare Akinola | Thursday, July 10, 2008 | Reply

  14. Thanks for the feedback Oludare Akinola,

    Okay I guess it is the destiny of the majority of humans to become a babalawo or some kind of Ifa priest. Obviously that must be the purpose of humanity. If this is the traditional way of thinking about this beautiful tradition, I am more than happy to leave it behind. Just about everybody I knew who got a reading back at my ile was told that they were destined to become a babalawo. Hell! I can tell everybody I meet on the street that they’re destined to become a babalawo.

    But you, like a lot of people, think that your future profession, being a babalawo, will be more important than raising children. Like I said before, Esu doesn’t have to distract us off of our path. All we have to do is follow our love of baubles and trinkets like cellphones and Christian Dior designer frames and Comcast cable television and we’ll be off our path quicker than a kid whose father thinks his purpose in life is to become a babalawo and continue the spread the propaganda that natural spirits taught humanity how to farm.

    I think it is cool that you want to become a babalawo. But you shouldn’t become a babalawo if the only reason you do it is that someone told you that was your destiny in a reading. Orunmila does not interfere with people’s right to choose who or what they want to be. No one ever comes out of a reading saying Orunmila said I’m going to be a lawyer or a doctor or a firefighter or an engineer. It’s always something to do with gaining a title in the tradition.

    If you are “destined” to learn the ways of Ifa, whether it is based on a real understanding or one based on orthodox traditions, I strongly suggest that you learn to establish your own connection with spiritual entities. You will gain an appreciation for elders and Orisa and ancestors and Olodumare that are far superior than the rote concepts which most students of Ifa learn from their supposed spiritual elders. While the experience of those who have gone before us must be respected, the best spirituality is not based on the experience of others. The best wisdom comes from having a true, personal relationship with Orisa and ancestors.

    I almost forgot! You said that Orisa taught humans how to farm. I’m assuming this is because if we did not farm we would not be able to survive. But how come every other animal on the planet can exist as a species without farming and survive? What gifts of knowledge has “natural spirits” given other species to enable them their survival mechanisms without farming?

    Good luck in your future endeavors!


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, July 10, 2008 | Reply

  15. Personally I think I may have spent enough on this particular topic and would like to move on. When some people are convinced that their rhetoric is right even though it is full of holes and logically doesn’t make sense, further conversation is truly pointless. But it appears that “natural spirits” would like to weigh in on this topic as well. Overnight, Orunmila made an observation that should be shared.

    Ifa in its purest form, before our African ancestors were introduced to concepts of money and economy, and especially before there were cellphones and Christian Dior, has absolutely nothing to do with materialism. For thousands of years Ifa existed for the sole purpose of guiding Africans in their spiritual development.

    But now, Ifa as practiced by many who call themselves experts on the topic, is little more than the memorization of concepts that have no foundation or practical application in spiritual development. No one thinks about the fact there are babalawos who place so much emphasis on the procurement of some white man’s designer frames. How does the accumulation of wealth contributes to spirituality?


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, July 11, 2008 | Reply

  16. Oludare Akinola,

    You claim I tried to make this personal and followed through with some personal attacks on my character in your last comment which I have rejected. Really, I couldn’t expect anything less from a future babalawo who thinks it’s acceptable to love Christian Dior sunglasses. You are the epitome of the traditional Yoruba teachings that does little to uplift people in the African Diaspora and a lot to promote materialistic consumption.

    As far as you calling me a fat ass goes…please! Really, if that’s the best you can do then you really need to quit being so sensitive. It must be all of those “negative energies” of yours driving you to love Christian Dior which makes you act like such a little bitch. There are a lot of people who visit this blog that can teach you a thing or two about slinging unfounded insults. If you think me calling myself stout gives you a reason to call me a fat ass then I guess you admitting that you love designer frames gives me a reason to call you a cross dressing transvestite who loves to wear your mother’s clothes and stiletto heels at night.

    You and your comments are no longer welcome here. Good luck with becoming the babalawo of designer frames.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Monday, July 14, 2008 | Reply

  17. BrotherP,

    I always love to hear that some fellow Ifa practitioner is slinging the mud. Because how else would you get those negative spirits in your life if you didn’t have the insulting “so called” babalawo’s to haunt you as if they have nothing better to do.

    Maybe instead of slinging mud Mr. Christian Dior loving babalawo wannabe should be doing a little research into what our ancestors were worshiping instead of Christian Dior. I know that these days a lot and I mean a lot of our fellow Ifa people are too busy worshiping cars, clothes and of course Christian Dior to worship actual Orisha and ancestors.

    Maybe you should cut our babalawo in the making some slack since Christian Dior could be one of his ancestors. And then we could all understand this ancestor worship. But if not then maybe he can explain why he pays more respect to Christian than to the Orisha he aims to serve through becoming a babalawo.

    Good luck babalawo Dior I hope that you realize those designer frames and cell phones were never included in any pataki’s nor have I ever heard Olodumare or Orunmila reference either of those.


    Comment by theblacksentinel | Monday, July 14, 2008 | Reply

  18. theblacksentinel,

    You are absolutely right! Christian Dior must have been his ancestor in order for this future babalawo to confess his love of designer frames. And Verizon Wireless must have been another ancestor. I can imagine his ancestors at night saying, can you hear me now? Of course the answer would be a resounding no.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Monday, July 14, 2008 | Reply

  19. To: BAbas Brotherpeacemaker,Oludure Akinola,Theblacksentinel
    I AM Akinwole, student and follower (from within the confinds of my understanding)of Ifa.
    I just finished the reading your comments on brotherpeacemaker site. I must say that the spanking that you got Baba Akinola was quite deserved. I hope that you received it in a better spirit than it evolved into.Let us remember the pataki of white face black face when intering future DISCUSSIONS rather than debates. I admire you for your desire to SHARE the wisdom of Ifa. Take care that you not become a proselytist. Ifa forbids such.
    Baba Theblacksentinel, This brother did not diserve your ridicule and zealous asult.
    The three of you brothers have warrior spirits that I encourage because it is needed, let it not cause us to become separate from each other. I thank you for your
    leadership, the world is better because of it.
    I look forward to more of your DISCUSSION.

    May the Wisdom of Obatala guide your thoughts, acts and SPEAKING.
    I AM Akinwole, @

    Comment by Akinwole | Thursday, August 14, 2008 | Reply

  20. Brotherpeacemaker,
    May Blessing of Peace,Joy,Bless,Happiness,Harmony,Perfect Health,The Beauty of the Universes and Prosperity ALWAYS Be around.
    I am very thankful that you care and give so much.

    I AM Akinwole

    Comment by Akinwole | Thursday, August 14, 2008 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: