Divination is at the core of the Religion. Virtually everything we do in the Religion revolves around some form of divination. It is through divination that we find out if you should receive an initiation, or whether a cleansing or offering to the Egguns or an Orisha is what a person needs. We regularly use divination in our day to day lives to receive guidance and advice from IFA and the Orishas. In this way we live in alignment with the power of the Orishas, of Olodumare (God) and with our own Orí (Destiny).
One of the highest form of divination in the Religion is IFA, which is the exclusive domain of Orunmila and his specially trained priests known as Babalawos or ‘Fathers of the Secrets.’ who are the high priests in our Religion. Orunmila or Orula for short is the Orisha of wisdom and knowledge
The Purpose of Ifa Consultations
The purpose of IFA divination is to help the person align themselves with their destiny (Orí) and with the will of the Orishas. It should be noted that divination in this Religion is not ‘fortune-telling’. The consultations will often delve into a person’s past, present and future, and many questions regarding the person’s life will be answered. Even more importantly, when a person comes to be seen with IFA, they are learning how they can bring their lives into harmony with themselves as well as with the forces of the world that surrounds them. It is IFA and the Orishas who speak and advise as to what is the best path for the visitor to follow in order to better their lives. This can only be accomplished by properly trained Babalawos and gives the whole event a very different meaning and depth.
What Happens During a ‘Consulta’?
First, the babalawo will be saying a number of prayers to Olodumare, to the Eggun and to the Orishas asking their permission to do the work and asking them to speak about the situations affecting the life of the person coming to be seen.
Then the ecuele will be cast in order to get the essential Odu or ‘sign’ that accompanies that person. This Odu speaks of the person’s life, the road they are on, how they came to be on that road, and where the path leads. But first we will need to find out the particular path of this sign to further pinpoint the person’s situation.
Several questions are asked starting with whether the Odu comes with Iré (blessings) or with osogbo (some form of negativity). During this time various items called Ibo will be given to the person. The person is asked to shake and separate the items, one in each hand. The signs that come up tell us which hand to ask for. This is done so that the person’s personal ashé or spiritual energy is brought into the equation. In this way we ascertain what kind of blessing or negativity is accompanying the person and where it comes from, etc. At this point we begin to tell the person what advice Ifa has for them. Finally, we find out the ceremonies or work that is needed in order to ensure the Iré (blessings) or to defend the person from any negativity or Osogbo that might be putting the person out of harmony.
How Long Does This Take?
Well, that depends. As priests, we are the servants of Olodumare and the Orishas and the course of the consultation is in their hands. This means we cannot close the consultation until Orunmila is satisfied that all that needs to be said and all that needs to be done has been brought out to this person. This can take forty minutes or two hours, as it is up to the Orishas and not up to us.
We consult people who are not in the area and where they are unable to access a Babalawo. There are limitations, since certain types of work, such as sarayeyeo, rogaciones, paraldos cannot be done from a distance. And initiations cannot be done without the person present.
Of course, if you are in the Miami, Homestead or Hialeah area, or are planning a visit here, you can receive a consultation in person.