EBO via the Ifa lens
Ẹbọ, sacrifice, is routinely associated with life force offerings, but this is a
very limited perception of what it entails. In fact, Ifá is quite adamant that
effective ẹbọ starts with a change in attitude, a realization of the necessity of
change and of holding realistic expectations. Ẹbọ is performed in order to
improve something that is already promising, to bring about new opportunities,
or to diminish the effects of negative currents.
Sacrifice can be made in order to bring good fortune to a journey or a
business venture, or in the search for a good spouse, or for general well being;
but it always comes with the direction to the client to pay attention to the signs.
In other words, Èṣù is always present in the design.
Being so many things, Èṣù is the divine tongue, the seed of passion and
desire that communicates with the world and between the worlds so we can
accumulate wisdom. Wisdom, like sacrifice, is accumulated, like a divine sap
which we allow to flow and that fills us with life and yearning.
Sacrifice starts with giving verbal form to what rests in our orí. The mouth
represents the portal, the door to our orì. It is through this door that we express
our wishes, because words are expressions of our desires and thus are a
vehicle for manifestation. On this basis Ifá initiates are advised to bless
everyone, to always speak good things and to refrain from gossip and negative
speech in general. This is tied in to the moral dimensions of Ifá, which are
concerned with the importance of always being truthful and stating the facts.
Lies, deceit and gossip are considered the beginnings of misfortune because
what we give shape to in our words naturally seeks manifestation.
In this form of ẹbọ, the ìrúbo, we make sacrifice to fortify good fortune.
These forms of sacrifice can be as simple as a change of attitude and the
offering of prayers and song to a given spiritual force, in which the tongue is
directly fed with materials that sweeten our words or give them strength. This
form of sacrifice is a constant theme in Ifá with its emphasis on prayers, songs
and enchantments. All successful sacrifice starts with a clear verbal
There is a great difference between thoughts and words. Our
thoughts are mere potentiality until they are given a voice and a name, and in
this they hatch out into energies and forces that make them grow towards
strength and materialization. This form of ẹbọ is done by the awo every day
when he or she gets up in the morning and gives praise to the orí. The awo
begins every day with verbal affirmations of his or her blessed state, because
by doing so he or she can be a source for blessings and good fortune to others.
Ètùtù is the sacrifice for turning a wicked situation into a positive one. It can
be performed for an individual or on behalf of a community. At times this
transformation can involve complex passages and steps. This form of ẹbọ is
often given to malevolent spirits or to òrìṣà who have expressed their negative
rays, and it serves to appease them.
Ẹbọ is the common sacrificial rite that involves adimu, food offerings, and
life force offerings to òrìṣà, and is the form of sacrifice usually associated
with the word ẹbọ.