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Wednesday, 28 March 2018


Yoruba religion
The Yoruba religion, comprising the traditional
religious concepts and practices of the Yoruba
people , is found primarily in southwestern
Nigeria and the adjoining parts of Benin , and
Togo , commonly known as Yorubaland . Yoruba
religion is ancestral to the American religions
Santería , Umbanda, and Candomblé .[1] Yoruba
religious beliefs are part of itan , the complex
cultural concepts which make up the Yoruba
society. [1][2][3]
Voodoo guardians of the peace under
Yoruba religious belief. Zangbeto
traditionally served as an informal police
service to enforce the peace in rural
According to Kola Abimbola, the Yoruba have
evolved a robust cosmology. [1] In brief, it holds
that all human beings possess what is known as
"Ayanmo" [4] (destiny, fate) and are expected to
eventually become one in spirit with Olodumare
( Olorun, the divine creator and source of all

 Furthermore, the thoughts and actions
of each person in Ayé (the physical realm/Life)
interact with all other living things, including the
Earth itself. [2]
Each person attempts to achieve transcendence
and find their destiny in Orun-Rere (the spiritual
realm of those who do good and beneficial
things). One's ori-inu (spiritual consciousness in
the physical realm) must grow in order to
consummate union with one's "Iponri" (Ori Orun,
spiritual self). [4]
Those who stop growing spiritually, in any of
their given lives, are destined for "Orun-
Apadi" (the invisible realm of potsherds). Life
and death are said to be cycles of existence in a
series of physical bodies while one's spirit
evolves toward transcendence. This evolution is
said to be most evident amongst the Orishas, the
divine viziers of Olorun.
Iwapẹlẹ (or well-balanced) meditative recitation
and sincere veneration is sufficient to
strengthen the ori-inu of most people. [2][4]
Well-balanced people, it is believed, are able to
make positive use of the simplest form of
connection between their Oris and the
omnipotent Olu-Orun: an adura (petition or
prayer) for divine support.
Prayer to one's Ori Orun produces an immediate
sensation of joy. Elegbara (Eshu, not the divine
messenger but accuser of the righteous)
initiates contact with spiritual realm on behalf of
the petitioner, and transmits the prayer to Ayé;
the deliverer of ase or the spark of life. He
transmits this prayer without distorting it in any
way. Thereafter, the petitioner may be satisfied
with a personal answer. In the event that he or
she is not, the Ifá oracle of the Orisha Orunmila
may also be consulted. All communication with
Orun, whether simplistic in the form of a
personal prayer or complicated in the form of
that done by an initiated Babalawo (priest of
divination), however, is energized by invoking

In the Yoruba belief system, Olodumare has ase
over all that is, and hence Is considered
supreme. [2]
Main article: Olodumare
Olodumare is the most important "state of
existence". [5] Regarded as being all-
encompassing, no gender can therefore be
assigned. Hence, it is common to hear
references to "it" or "they" (although this is
meant to address a somewhat singularity) in
usual speech. "They" are the owner of all heads,
for during human creation, Olodumare gave
"emi" (the breath of life) to humankind. In this,
Olodumare is Supreme. [5]
Perhaps one of the most important human
endeavors extolled within the Yoruba literary
corpus is the quest to better one's
"Iwa" (character, behaviour). In this way the
teachings transcends religious doctrine, advising
as it does that a person must also better his
civic, social and intellectual spheres of being;
every stanza of the sacred Ifá oracular poetry
( Odu Ifa) has a portion covering the importance
of "Iwa". Central to this is the theme of
righteousness, both individual and collective. [6]
The Yoruba regard Olodumare as the principal
agent of creation.
According to a Yoruba account of creation,
during a certain stage in this process, the "truth"
was sent to confirm the habitability of the newly
formed planets. The earth being one of these
was visited but deemed too wet for conventional
After a successful period of time, a number of
divinities led by Obatala were sent to accomplish
the task of helping earth develop its crust. On
one of their visits to the realm, the arch-divinity
Obatala took to the stage equipped with a
mollusk that concealed some form of soil ;
winged beasts and some cloth like material. The
contents was emptied onto what soon became a
large mound on the surface of the water and
soon after, the winged-beasts began to scatter
this around until the point where it gradually
made into a large patch of dry land; the various
indentations they created eventually becoming
hills and valleys. [5]
Obatala leaped onto a high-ground and named
the place Ife . The land became fertile and plant
life began to flourish. From handfuls of earth he
began to mold figurines. Meanwhile, as this was
happening on earth, Olodumare gathered the
gasses from the far reaches of space and
sparked an explosion that shaped into a fireball.
He subsequently sent it to Ife, where it dried
much of the land and simultaneously began to
bake the motionless figurines. It was at this
point that Olodumare released the "breath of life"
to blow across the land, and the figurines slowly
came into "being" as the first people of Ife. [5]
For this reason, Ife is locally referred to as "Ife
Oodaye" - "cradle of existence". [5][7]
Main article: Orisha
An Orisha (spelled Òrìṣa) is an entity that
possesses the capability of reflecting some of
the manifestations of Olodumare. Yoruba
Orishas (commonly translated "unique/special/
selected heads") are often described as
intermediaries between humankind and the
supernatural. The term is also translated as
"Deities" or "Divinities" or "Gods". [8]
Orisha(s) are revered for having control over
specific elements by nature, thus being better
referred to as the divinities or Imole . Even so,
there are those of their number that are more
akin to ancient heroes and/or sages. [3] These
are best addressed as Dema Deities. Even
though the term Orisha is often used to describe
both classes of divine entities , it is properly
reserved for the former one. [3]
Orishas Attributes
Orunmila /
The Yoruba Grand Priest and
custodian of the Ifa Oracle, source
of knowledge who is believed to
oversee the knowledge of the
Human Form , Purity, the Cures of
illnesses and deformities.
Babalawos are Orumila's
suburdinate as priests and
Eshu / Èṣù
Often ill-translated as "The Devil"
or "The Evil Being", Eshu is in truth
neither of these. Best referred to
as "The Trickster", he deals a
hand of misfortune to those that do
not offer tribute or are deemed to
be spiritual novices. Also regarded
as the "divine messenger", a
prime negotiator between negative
and positive forces in the body
and an enforcer of the "law of
being". He is said to assist in
enhancing the power derived from
herbal medicines and other forms
of esoteric technology.
Eshu is the Orisha of chance,
accident and unpredictability.
Because he is Olorun's linguist
and the master of languages, Eshu
is responsible for carrying
messages and sacrifices from
humans to the Sky God. Also
known for his phallic powers and
exploits. Eshu is said to lurk at
gateways, on the highways and at
the crossroads, where he
introduces chance and accident
into the lives of humans. Known by
a variety of names, including
Elegbara. [9]
Ogoun /
Ògún Orisha of iron and metallurgy.
Yemoja /
Mother of Waters, Nurturer of
Water Resources. According to
Olorishas, she is the amniotic fluid
in the womb of the pregnant
woman, as well as the breasts
which nurture. She is considered
the protective energy of the
feminine force.
Oshun /
A second wife of the former Oba of
Oyo called Shango (another
Yoruba Orisha, see below), she is
said to have entered into a river at
Osogbo. The Yoruba clerics
ascribed to her Sensuality, Beauty
and Gracefulness, symbolizing
both their people's search for
clarity and a flowing motion. She is
associated with several powers,
including abilities to heal with cool
water, induction of fertility and the
control of the feminine essence.
Women appeal to her for child-
bearing and for the alleviation of
female disorders. The Yoruba
traditions describe her as being
fond of babies and her intervention
is sought if a baby becomes ill.
Oshun is also known for her love
of honey.
Shango /
Associated with Virility,
Masculinity, Fire, Lightning,
Stones, Oyo Warriors and
Magnetism. He is said to have the
abilities to transform base
substances into those that are
pure and valuable. He was the Oba
of Oyo at some point in its history.
He derived his nickname Oba Koso
from the tales of his immortality.
Shango is the Orisha of the
thunderbolt, said to have ruled in
ancient times over the kingdom of
Oyo. Also known as Jakuta (Stone
Thrower) and as Oba Koso (The
King Does Not Hang).
Oya / Ọya
The third wife of the former Oba of
Oyo called Shango (another
Yoruba Orisha, see above), she is
said to have entered into the River
Niger . She is often described as
the Tempest, Guardian of the
Cemetery, Winds of Change,
Storms and Progression. Due to
her personal power, she is usually
depicted as being in the company
of her husband Shango. Orisha of
Irunmole are entities sent by Olorun to complete
given tasks, often acting as liaisons between
Orun (the invisible realm) and Aiye (the physical
realm). [3] Irunmole(s) can best be described as
ranking divinities; whereby such divinities are
regarded as the principal Orishas. Irunmole,
from "Erinrun" - 400, "Imole" - Divinites or
Divine Spirits
An Egungun masquerade dance garment
in the permanent collection of The
Childrens Museum of Indianapolis
The Yoruba believe in Atunwa, reincarnation
within the family. The names Babatunde (father
returns), Yetunde (Mother returns), Babatunji
(Father wakes once again) and Sotunde (The
wise man returns) all offer vivid evidence of the
Ifa concept of familial or lineal rebirth. There is
no simple guarantee that your grandfather or
great uncle will "come back" in the birth of your
child, however.
Whenever the time arrives for a spirit to return to
Earth (otherwise known as The Marketplace)
through the conception of a new life in the direct
bloodline of the family, one of the component
entities of a person's being returns, while the
other remains in Heaven (Ikole Orun). The spirit
that returns does so in the form of a Guardian
Ori. One's Guardian Ori, which is represented
and contained in the crown of the head,
represents not only the spirit and energy of
one's previous blood relative, but the
accumulated wisdom he or she has acquired
through myriad lifetimes. This is not to be
confused with ones spiritual Ori, which contains
personal destiny, but instead refers to the
coming back to The Marketplace of one's
personal blood Ori through one's new life and
experiences. [10] The Primary Ancestor (which
should be identified in your Itefa) becomes  if
you are aware and work with that specific
energy  a guide for the individual throughout
their lifetime. At the end of that life they return to
their identical spirit self and merge into one,
taking the additional knowledge gained from their
experience with the individual as a form of
payment .
Yoruba religion around
the world
Main article: Yoruba history
According to Professor S. A. Akintoye, the
Yoruba were exquisite statesmen who spread
across the globe in an unprecedented fashion;
[11] the reach of their culture is largely due to
migrationthe most recent migration occurred
with the Atlantic slave trade . During this period,
many Yoruba were captured and sold into the
slave trade and transported to Argentina, Brazil,
Cuba , Colombia , Dominican Republic, Puerto
Rico, Trinidad and Tobago , Uruguay, Venezuela,
and other parts of the Americas. With them, they
carried their religious beliefs. The school-of-
thought integrated into what now constitutes the
core of the "New World lineages": [11][12][13]
Candomblé (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay )
Santería ( Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican
Republic )
Trinidad Orisha (Trinidad and Tobago )
Umbanda (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay )
Relationship with Voodoo
The Vodun faith, which originated amongst a
different ethnic group (the Gbe speaking peoples
of present-day Benin , Togo , and Ghana), shares
some similarities with the Yoruba faith, and may
even be taken to be theologically related on
some levels. [15]
See also
Iya Nla
1. ^ a b c Abimbola, Kola (2005). Yoruba Culture:
A Philosophical Account (Paperback ed.). Iroko
Academics Publishers. ISBN 1-905388-00-4 .
2. ^ a b c d Ọlabimtan, Afọlabi (1991). Yoruba
Religion and Medicine in Ibadan . Translated by
George E. Simpson. Ibadan University Press.
ISBN 978-121-068-0 . OCLC 33249752 .
3. ^ a b c d J. Olumide Lucas, The Religion of
the Yorubas , Athelia Henrietta PR, 1996. ISBN
4. ^ a b c Ọlabimtan, Afọlabi (1973). Àyànmọ.
Lagos, Nigeria: Macmillan. OCLC 33249752 .
5. ^ a b c d e Bolaji Idowu (1982). Olódùmarè:
God in Yoruba Belief . Ikeja, Nigeria: Longman.
ISBN 0-582-60803-1 .
6. ^ Ifaloju (February 2011). "Odù-Ifá Iwòrì Méjì;
Ifá speaks on Righteousness" . Ifa Speaks.. .
S.S. Popoola, Ifa Dida, Library, INC. Retrieved 8
April 2012.
7. ^ Leeming & Leeming 2009  entry
"Yoruba" . Retrieved 2010-04-30.
8. ^ Cf.The Concept of God: The People of
Yoruba for the acceptability of the translation
9. ^ Courlander, Harold (March 1973). Tales of
Yoruba Gods and Heroes . Crown Pub.
ISBN 978-0517500637 .
10. ^ Neimark, Philip John (28 May 1993). The
Way of the Orisa (1st ed.). HarperOne.
ISBN 978-0-06-250557-6 . Retrieved
11. ^ a b Akintoye, Prof S. A. (2010). A history of
the Yoruba people . Amalion Publishing.
ISBN 2-35926-005-7 . ASIN 2359260057 .
12. ^ Brown (Ph.D.), David H. (2003). Santería
Enthroned: Innovation in an Afro-Cuban Religion .
University of Chicago Press.
ISBN 0-226-07610-5 .
13. ^ Oditous (2010). "Anthropology:
[Yoruba]" . Anthrocivitas Online. Retrieved
14. ^ Karade, Baba Ifa (1994). The Handbook of
Yoruba Religious Concepts . York Beach, New
York: Weiser Books. ISBN 0-87728-789-9 .
15. ^ Fandrich, Ina J. (2007). "Yorùbá Influences
on Haitian Vodou and New Orleans Voodoo".
Journal of Black Studies 37 (5 (May)): 775791.
doi :10.1177/0021934705280410 .
JSTOR 40034365 .
Further reading
Fayemi fatunde Fakayode, "Iwure, Efficacious
Prayer to Olodumare, the Supreme Force" ISBN
Chief S. Solagbade Popoola & Fakunle
Oyesanya, Ikunle Abiyamo: The ASE of
Motherhood 2007. ISBN 978-0-9810013-0-2
Chief S. Solagbade Popoola Library, INC Ifa
Dida Volume One (EjiOgbe - Orangun Meji)
ISBN 978-0-9810013-1-9
Chief S. Solagbade Popoola Library, INC Ifa
Dida Volume Two (OgbeYeku - OgbeFun)
ISBN 978-1-926538-12-9
Chief S. Solagbade Popoola Library, INC Ifa
Dida Volume Three (OyekuOgbe - OyekuFun)
ISBN 978-1-926538-24-2
The Way of the Orisha by Philip John
Neimark: Publisher HarperOne; 1st edition (May
28, 1993) ISBN 978-0-06-250557-6
Olódùmarè : God in Yoruba Belief by Bolaji
Idowu, Ikeja : Longman Nigeria (1982) ISBN
Dr. Jonathan Olumide Lucas, "The Religion of
the Yorubas", Lagos 1948, C. M. S. Bookshop.
Leeming, David Adams; Leeming, Margaret
Adams (2009). A Dictionary of Creation Myths
(Oxford Reference Online ed.). Oxford University
Morales, Ed (2003). The Latin Beat . Da Capo
Press. ISBN 0-306-81018-2 ., pg. 177
Miguel A. De La Torre , Santería: The Beliefs
and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America,
2004, ISBN 0-8028-4973-3 .
Miguel R. Bances  Baba Eshu Onare, Tratado
Enciclopedico de Ifa . Los 16 Meyis y sus
Omoluos u Odus o Signos de Ifa.
Ológundúdú, Dayọ̀ ; foreword by Akinṣọla
Akiwọwọ (2008). The cradle of Yoruba culture
(Rev. ed.). Institute of Yoráubâa Culture ; Center
for Spoken Words. ISBN 978-0-615-22063-5 .
External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Yoruba religion .
Yoruban cosmology and mythology
Ifa Books/The 16 Mayis and Omoluos
Traditional Yorùbá site dedicated to
Ifa Studies Podcast hosted by Awoyinfa Ifaloju
on iTunes
West African Orisa Tradition of Nigeria
Yoruba Movies & Films Yoruba Theatre is
the origin of Nigeria's Nollywood,the equivalent
of America's Hollywood.
{{Navbox | name = Orisa-Ifá | title = Yoruba
religion (Orisa-Ifá)

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