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  • Writer's pictureAwo Ifasola Sangobolade

Animal sacrifice and IFA.

Updated: Dec 27, 2019

Animal sacrifice has been apart of IFA and Orisa tradition since its inception thousands of years ago. It is also a topic that more often than not is a touchy subject for many . For animal sacrifice at least in the west. Makes some people feel uncomfortable for different reasons. And it actually might be the biggest reason many. Shy away form the tradition in general . Specially as more people are choosing to becoming vegan.

So meat for them is a no go , talk less of “sacrificing animals”. Now for the meat eaters of the world . I find it interesting that they could eat any animal meat. And yet still have some sort of issue to sacrifice the very same animals they already eat . Animal's which were offered in a ritualist and ceremonial way. 200 million land animals are “killed” for food consumption every single day. That adds up to in and around a staggering 72, BILLION! Land animals killed within a year around the globe.

The point iam trying to make here is . That atleast for the meat eaters of the world . That still , seem to have an issue with animal sacrifice . I find it funny that they are “ A OK’ !. With millions of animals being killed in horrific and inhumane ways in slaughter houses . But be willing to eat a burger or a plate of chicken wings with no issues what so ever .

But when it comes to IFA ,It becomes an issue all of a sudden!

With this being said I am of the mindset that the olorisa or babalawo or priest. Should always find the way to sacrifice as less animals as possible . And of course let IFA be the one to guide you . On what or what not to sacrifice. Animal sacrifice should be seen as something sacred. And to be used sparingly. I also strongly believe that IFA. Is headed in the direction of no animal sacrifice . Not in my lifetime maybe not within the next couple of decades. BUT! I do believe it is headed in that direction . Eventually even if it takes the next 100 years to see it come to pass. As we expand and grow and change as a collective so to shall IFA in the way it operates .

As we humans begin to expand in our consciousness and the collective as begins to understand life and themselves much better.Strongly believe we will see a very BIG! decrease in the amount of animal sacrifices within IFA. I believe the west will lead the way in that arena . Keep in mind that everything in this tradition isn’t or should be handled with blood.

We are not! a bunch of savages like many would like to see us as. Fact is animal sacrifice is something every major religion has within it. It might not be as frequent as it is done within IFA. But never the less it is there within there sacred scriptures of all major religions. Below I will put a write up by an esteemed , BABA which I feel very much in agreement with in what he says . I will also leave you with a wonderful quote that I love an use often. Before you go and kill the chicken on the outside . Go and kill the chicken on the inside . Meaning change your self internally before you go a sacrifice to any orisa.


The question “Do I have to sacrifice animals to practice Orisha traditions?” is a pretty sore spot when it comes to discussing our religion with “outsiders” Time upon time again we have to defend our position on this subject, for yes: although probably not absolutely necessary, you’ll hardly find an Ifa-Orisha, Santeria or Lukumi House that does not sacrifice animals, either frequently or not so frequently.

My own experience is that ritually snuffing the odd chicken or such raises an enormous amount of Ashe, that would be rather difficult to raise otherwise. Yet I don’t do it very often, for the simple reason that, when I divine on the subject, my Orishas hardly ever ask for blood sacrifice. Their tastes seem to change, or rather adapt to the culture and circumstances one lives in.

Especially in rural parts of Africa it was, and to a large extend still is, customary to slaughter ones own food, and the blood and some parts were more or less automatically offered to the Orishas. That means meals for humans and for Orishas were kind of “integrated”: when the humans ate, the Orishas ate too. In the West this has been turned inside out: an animal is sacrificed to the Orishas, and almost as a second thought the meat is eaten by the human family. In Africa on the other hand, an Orisha asking for a blood offering was part of normal kitchen procedure: the family had to eat anyway, and if there was any good reason to slaughter an animal and eat meat, this was reason for enjoyment and for stuffing ones face with relatively rare delicacies.

We, in the West, don’t eat that way. Slaughtering an animal is out of place here, instead of the “normal” thing to do. Which might indicate that making a blood offering too has ceased to be the “normal” thing. There’s another side to this issue as well. Until not so long ago, at least deep into the nineteenth century and quite likely even into the twentieth, human sacrifice was not unheard of in the religion, and earlier it was even fairly common – in the mid-nineteenth human sacrifices were still often made in the Yoruba Ifa-Orisha tradition.

However, this changed somewhere in time.

There are many texts in the Ifa Corpus that say: “And from that moment on no humans were sacrificed anymore to Orisha So-and-so, but only sheep. Or goats. Or whatever”. So human sacrifice, once considered an indispensable part of our religion, kinda went out of fashion when public opinion began to frown upon it on account of cultural ideas and customs changing. I have the feeling that something similar may eventually happen to animal sacrifice.

It seems quite possible that divination will increasingly indicate that animal sacrifices are no longer required, on account of ritual slaughter being so much out of place in our cultures that it has become a very artificial act and even “unnatural”. Orishas are not fond of “unnatural” things. They disposed of human sacrifice, and every worshiper goes happily along with that. The time may come when they dispose of animal sacrifice too. I dunno; I’m not an Orisha.

Right now I would say that many ritual sacrifices need not to be done, but I won’t go as far as to say that NONE of them should be done. In other words: when the Orishas tell me that they accept something else, I’m not going to snuff a rooster just because that would be the “traditional thing”. But when in exceptional circumstances they insist on having a rooster or so, I’ll snuff the beast without any qualms.

My personal perception is that animal sacrifice is kind of on the wane, and mainly propagandized by those who haven’t yet found out that there are changes all around us. I for one wouldn’t be unhappy to see it go completely in any culture where one wouldn’t normally slaughter ones own food anyway. But I guess it’s up to the Orishas to decide.


I will also state that baba jaap lives in a country in Europe were like many countries out of Nigeria animal sacrifice is basically outlawed . Or for some it is so extremely difficult to preform that it is best you just don't do it period. I know some awos who live in Australia and sacrificing a 4 legged animal there is impossible to do because of how the country laws prohibit such things to be even possible. So there many factors in why things are changed and will continue to change . I guess that life ! And yet IFA makes a way and room for all challenges we all face and have no control over .

As for where I live in south Florida. Legal battles have been fought over the right to sacrifice animals . And it went all the way to the supreme court of the United States. And they won! This is why it is much easier for south Floridians to practice African based faiths and carry out animal sacrifices. But if anyone faces any challenges in this area with law enforcement they need to site the following court case that took place here in Miami so many years ago.

Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah (1993) ... City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993), the Supreme Court affirmed the principle that laws targeting specific religions violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

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