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Sixteen Principal Odu
Name 1 2 3 4
Ogbe I I I I
Iwori II I I II
Irosun I I II II
Iwọnrin II II I I
Ọbara I II II II
Ọkanran II II II I
Ogunda I I I II
Ọsa II I I I
Oturupọn II II I II
Otura I II I I
Irẹtẹ I I II I
Ofun II I II I

Sixteen Principal Afa-du
(Yeveh Vodou)
Name 1 2 3 4
Eji-Ogbe I I I I
Ọyeku-Meji II II II II
Iwori-Meji II I I II
Odi-Meji I II II I
Irosun-Meji I II II II
Ọwanrin-Meji II II II I
Ọbara-Meji I I II II
Ọkanran-Meji II II I I
Ogunda-Meji I I I II
Ọsa-Meji II I I I
Ika-Meji I I II I
Oturupon-Meji I II I I
Otura-Meji II II I II
Irete-Maji II I II II
Ọse-Meji I II I II
Ofu meji II I II I

Ifá is a religion and system of divination and refers to the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odù Ifá. Orunmila is identified as the Grand Priest, as he is who revealed divinity and prophecy to the world.

Ifá is practiced throughout the Americas, West Africa, and Southern Europe in the form of a complex religious system, and plays a critical role in the traditions of Santería, Candomblé, Palo, Umbanda, Vodou, and other similar faiths.

Yoruba canon[edit]

In Yorubaland, divination gives priests unreserved access to the teachings of Orunmila. Eshu, is seen as being in charge of justice and order and the transportation of ebo. Eshu is the one said to lend ashe to the oracle during provision of direction and or clarification of counsel. Eshu is also the one that holds the keys to ones ire, thus acts as Oluwinni (ones Creditor), he can grant ire or remove it.[1] Ifá divination rites provide an avenue of communication to the spiritual realm and the intent of ones destiny.

Ewe canon[edit]

In Togoland, Ifá is known as Afá, where the Vodun spirits come through and speak. In many of their Egbes, it is Alaundje who is honored as the first Bokono to have been taught how to divine the destiny of humans using the holy system of Afá. Both male and female are initiated as bokono, and the Amengansi are the living oracles who are higher than a bokono, and the Amengansi are traditionally female. A priest (male or female) who is not a bokono is known as hounan. Also there is a ritual for those who are to be a medium for the spirits.

International recognition[edit]

The Ifa Divination system was added in 2005 by UNESCO to its list of the "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity".

Tray and palm nuts

Odù Ifá[edit]

There are sixteen major books in Odu Ifa[2] literary corpus. When combined there are total of 256 Odu (a collection of sixteen, each of which has sixteen alternatives ⇔ 16^2, or 4^4) believed to reference all situations, circumstances, actions and consequences in life based on the uncountable ese (poetic tutorials) relative to the 256 Odu coding. These form the basis of traditional Yoruba spiritual knowledge and are the foundation of all Yoruba divination systems. Ifá proverbs, stories, and poetry are not written down but passed down orally from one babalawo to another.


Believers deem Ifá to be the "truth" and the way of their ancestors; functioning to the devoted as not only a system of guidance, but one that fuses a way of living with the psychological, providing them with a legitimate course of action that is genuine and unequivocal.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]