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Orunmila (known as Orúnmila, Orunmilá, Orúnla, or Orúla in Nigeria and Latin America) is an Orisha. He is the Orisha of wisdom, knowledge, and divination. This source of knowledge is believed to have a keen understanding of the human form and of purity, praised as being often more effective than other remedies. Orunmila is recognized as a primordial Irunmole that was present both at the beginning of Creation and then again amongst humanity as a priest that taught an advanced form of spiritual knowledge and ethics, during visits to earth in physical form or through his disciples. Orunmila is the spirit of wisdom among the Irunmole and the divinity of destiny and prophecy. He is "Ibikeji Olodumare" (second in command to Olodumare) and "eleri ipin" (witness of fate). It was also Orunmila who carried Ifá (the wisdom of Olodumare) to Earth. Priests of Ifá are known as babalawos and Priestesses of Ifá are known as Iyanifas.

Orunmila is considered a sage, recognizing that Olodumare placed Ori (intuitive knowledge) as prime Orisha. It is Ori who can intercede and affect the reality of a person much closer than any Orisha.

Priesthood and initiation[edit]

Awo in every tradition study the 256 Odu; each Odu is traditionally considered to include stories and prayers that have been passed down from the time that Orunmila walked the Earth as a prophet.

Some initiatory lineages have only male priests of Orunmila, while other lineages include female priestesses. The term "Awo" is a gender-neutral title for an initiated priest of Orunmila. The debate surrounding gender is a result of diversity in the history of Ifá in various locations. In Latin America and some areas of West Africa, only men may become full priests of Orunmila, while in other regions of West Africa the priesthood is open to women. Ifá practitioners believe in the duality in life: males exist because of the female essence and females exist because of the male essence, so every major rite or ceremony includes both genders.

Every Ifá stanza has one portion dedicated to the issue of teaching the Iwa that Ifá supports. This Iwa, which Ifá teaches transcend religious doctrine is central to every human being, and imparts communal, social and civic responsibility that Olodumare supports. Central to this is the theme of righteousness[1] and practicing good moral behavior.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ifaloju , Iwòrì Méjì: Ifá speaks on Righteousness, (an extract from S.S. Popoola, Ifa Dida, Library, INC) 2011