ORISA OBATALA THE FATHER OF ALL
THE STORY OF OBATALA
No living creature, they are dead or alive is able to tell us the exact origin of the chief divinity ORISAALA or OBATALA. There are several conflicting stories surrounding the mystery of this divinity. GOD created the positive and dynamic powers of the heavens, known as IRUNMOLES (the great and extremely positive divinities or cosmic forces ) led by the personality of OBATALA.
These divinities include IFA ORUNMILA BABA AGBONMIREGUN, OGUN, SANGO, ESU, ORO, YEMOWO and many others. In the same fashion OLODUMARE formed in the beginning of creation (IWASE) the alternatives of the positive and dynamic powers – negative spiritual vibrations called AJOGUN ORUN – THE PUNITIVE KNIGHTS OF HEAVEN.
The divinities are entities created by OLODUMARE : ( GOD) to justify his own glory, nature and his phenomenal status in creation. Divinities are creatures that never saw the beginning of days nor will they see the end of life – they are immortal and permanent. They share the same original characteristics of GOD which signifies that they cannot change or be tarnished by error or age like men – they share the infinite divine quality, completeness and wholeness of OLODUMARE
The name OBATALA is derived from the words: OBA TI O NI ALA, meaning THE KING IN THE WHITE APPAREL, THE LORD OF THE WHITE CLOTH, THE KING THAT BROUGHT HUMANS INTO BEING or THE KING WITH DISTINCTIVE BOUNDARY He is also known as ORISAALA or ORISANLA, which means the great divinity, or ‘the one of most grandeur’. Divinities however should not be viewed as a women or men, because their statutes or image could not be defined in terms of natural physical structures like men or women. Since OLODUMARE could not be seen as either a man nor a woman, hence divinities takes after him as an embodiment of this perpetual glory and reveals themselves in whatever form they see fit. The woman/man relationship of OBATALA depends on the odu in question - or the tradition employed by the writer.
In one stanza of Ogunda Meji it is stated that Obatala is a woman and further down in the stanza it is said that Obatala is an ageless divinity that came into iwarun – together with a host of other potent divinities. Ogunda meji claimed that ORISAALA had no father and that she was the mother of all creatures in creation, while OGUN was the father of all creatures. In other words, they both were considered to be directly created by OLODUMARE. This was the main reason for why ORISANLA was viewed as the mother goddess of IWARUN - the physical existence – and why OGUN was named ONIWARUN, ONIRE OKO EYO, meaning THE LORD OF IWARU, THE LEADER OF IRE HUSBAND OF EYO
Traditions reveals that it was ORISAALA who was the mother of Obanla and Obalufon, both of them were men. ORISAALA had other children, amongst them Yemoja. Yemoja gave birth to Osun - the grand-daughter of ORISAALA.Orisanla or Orisa ala had another daughter called EFUNSEEKE. Efunseeke came of age and married. One day Ogun was celebrating one of his annual festivals in which he was drunk and as a consequence of a joke wine and alcohol entered the eyes of EFUNSEEKE and she became blind. Orisaala went to consult IFA to know why such a horrific event happened to her daughter. Orunmila made the divination and the odu OGUNDA IGARA appeared. Orunmila bowed down and knocked his head on the ground three times for IFA saying ABORU ABOYE meaning, ‘obeisance to you oh divinity’- and while his devotees who were with him responded ‘a agbo a a to’ meaning: “we will live long , with wisdom and understanding”.
Orunmila asked Orisaala: IRU IGARA WO LO FE DA ALANIYAN YI OO, meaning: ‘what kind of challenges is facing the owner of this odu? ORISAALA replied and told IFA how OGUN poured gin in the eyes of her daughter EFUNSEEKE and how Eefunseeke went blind. This was the challenges they were facing right now.
Without mincing words, ORUNMILA replied that: BI AWO BA KI FUN NI, AA KI FAWO NI, TITI DI ONI OLONI, meaning: IF THE INITIATED ONE BLESSED ANOTHER INITIATED THE BLESSED ONE WILL RETURN THE BLESSING UNTILL THIS DAY (THAT IS , IF ONE IFA DEVOTEE GREETS OTHER IFA DEVOTEE, THE GREETED ONE, MUST RETURN THE GREETING)
Orunmila instructed Orisaala according to the odu to bring five snails as a sacrifice. The blood water from the snail would be used to cure the blindness of Eefunseeke. (Water from the snail is called OMI- ERO). Orunmila instructed Obatala to drop little by little OMI ERO into the eyes of her daughter until she would regain her sight. OBATALA (Orisaala) did all what was expected of him and followed the advice of IFA and indeed Eefuseeke regained her sight.
From that moment, gin or alcohol became a taboo for all the worshippers of ORISAALA, OGUN and IFA to ensure a sound mental state, a good spiritual state and physical fitness during worship and day to day activities. OBATALA, IFA and OGUN worshippers should refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking, behaving contrary to what is godly. They should also be moderate with consuming salt, sugar and oil - if not completely abstain from it – at least keep it to a minimum. In the case of salt, sugar and oil - they are taboo to all worshippers of OBATALA.
After the incident of blindness, and how she regained her sight, Eefuseeke got pregnant - but it was a complicated pregnancy. Orisaala went to the same Ifa priest, ORUNMILA, to know the cause for all the pains of this pregnancy. Orunmila threw the Opele again and the odu that came out was Ofun meji. Orunmila instructed Orisaala to prepare 6 snails, 16 obi, 16 orogbo, 16 yams, 16 eko (corn flour stew) as an offering to divinity. Orisaala performed the rituals as directed and the water from the snails was to be drunk by Eefunseeke. Again it was OMI ERO that stopped the tumultuous state of her pregnancy and she got healed from her pains. Eefuseeke gave birth to a child in the 16thmonth of her pregnancy and the baby was albino. Indeed, it was because of this that albinos were called OMO-ORISA or ORISA ADARA (the children of deity or good deity)
It was believed from that day on that albinos intuitively know the secret behind 16 cowries. They are seen as natural diviners of 16 cowries called Erindinlogun. IFA says that all albinos must practice a spiritual trade as their chosen profession and study the art of divination according to the odu ogbe irosun, that tell us: Ogbe Irosun TAWO LEPO TO OGBERI LEJE LO DIFA FUN OBATALA TI O MA SE EBO, OMO RE TAN LORUN IFA SO WIPE IRE AJE, IRE TILE, IRE ISEGUN IFA NI KI A RUBO, AIKU, NITORI OMO AWON NKAN TI EJE RE TI GBE NI OHUN EBO OPA EKU, OPA EJA, EPO, OBI, OROGBO OMI, IGBIN, EYELE, ADIYE, KI BABALAWO FI JERU KI WON MA PA OHUN ELEJE YEN OBATALA GBO, O RUBO AIKU, NITORI AWON OMO RE OBIRIN ATI AWON OMO RE OKUNRIN IGBA YI NI IKU KO PA WON MO TI ARUN KO SE WON OMO RE TAN LORUN TAWO LEPO TOGBERI LEJE IFA SEBO OMO RE TAN LORUN IFA SEBO OMO RE TAN LORUN TAWO LEPO, TOGBERI LEJE TAWO LEPO, TOGBERI LEJE
TRANSLATION: The initiated ones have palm oil The uninitiated ones have blood This the IFA oracle divined for OBATALA That decides to offer sacrifice to his heavenly children IFA says, the blessing of prosperity, the blessing of manifold success, the blessing of victory IFA directs him to offer sacrifice of longevity for his children The sacrifice of dry materials that include dried rats, dried fish, obi, orogbo, water, snail, pigeon, ori,
OBATALA heard and offered a sacrifice of long life, because his male and female children, that was how they got victory over death and sickness Hence, the heavenly children of OBATALA were blessed and so the chant goes initiated ones have abundant oil initiated ones have abundant oil while uninitiated ones have abundant blood while uninitiated ones have abundant blood
Albinos are natural prophets from GOD, sent here to direct our spiritual steps. The second school of thought believed that OBATALA was a male deity, one of the greatest powers – a leading figure who led other divinities from the heaven above to the physical plain of existence. It was believed that ORISALA was the only divinity given a place at the right hand side of OLODUMARE in his majestic kingdom - ENI OTUN ELEDUA.
Because of his greatness, praise names were given to him from town to town, from village to village among his followers. In all Yoruba towns and cities worshippers see Obatala as their king, leader and their protective divinity of immense importance. Obatala according to the tradition is called ALABAA LASE meaning the giver of authority or the holder of absolute authority.
The vibration or odu that created Obatala according to tradition was EJIOGBE that states:
Gbogbo ola omi ti nbe laye Kole to ti olokun Gbogbo iyi odo kole to ti olosa Lodifa fun obatala oseere igbo Lojo ti yio je alabaalase Ti gbogbo irunmole nleri pe Awon yoo gba okan ninu oriki re Orunmila agboniregun yehun E su lalu elegbara ogo yera kosi ifa ti ni yi koja ejiogbe alase ni a fi ase fun gbogbo odo keekee kee ti oba so pe ti olokun ko si laye gbogbo won nii gbe lau-lau bi papa bajo, eruku asoloju won mo toro ola lowo olosa ibikeji odo mo rije bee ni mo yo rara tani ko mope ola OLORUN nikan loto ni ije dojo iku eni
Translation: Of all the honor of the earthly water None can match the honor of OLOKUN (the goddess of ocean) All the glory of the river, none can match the goddess of sea This was divined for OBATALA OSEREMAGBO the day he was crowned the head of all divinities All the divinities were jealous and promised That they will take one of his numerous honor and glory Orunmila Agbonniregun did not utter any word Esu lalu elegbara stayed away None of the odu has honour comparable to ejiogbe Honour is given to whom it’s due Ejiogbe, you are the greatest of them all if the little river wants to claim superiority over the ocean it will dry to its source if the bush is burning, those who need to go into hiding must do that l ask for prosperity from the goddess of the sea, the second in command to the ocean l am full with blessing , Everybody knows that the blessing of GOD is sufficient for us Till the end,
This odu ifa under Ejiogbe make it clear that it is from heaven above OLODUMARE chose to make ORISAALA the leader of all divinities. It was noted that he was full of meekness, calmness, patience and gentleness – and this became the traits of his character - which must be imbibed by all his followers. Obeisance must always be given to him in quietness and meekness, as a sign of perfect communication with GOD. Animals without bones are his preferable sacrificial animals, like the snail, shows that Obatala does not like to hurt nor animal or human. He loves to maintain the sanctity of life and to ensure their preservation in the universe. Based on this Obatala was saluted in the following way:
OBATALA O KU OOO ORISA FUNFUN AJIMAJE NNKAN TO LEEGUN APA IGBIN JE LEHIN IKAARAHUN
TRANSLATION: OBATALA LONG LIFE, TO YOU OH DIVINITY DEITY IN WHITE APPAREL THAT WAKES UP WITHOUT EATING BUT A BONELESS ANIMAL THAT EATS SNAIL AFTER REMOVING HIS SHELL We use the following items when performing rituals and making ebó for Obatala: IGBIN (SNAIL) AKE EWURE (GOAT PLACENTA) OBI (KOLANUTS) ATAARE (ALLIGATOR PEPPER) OROGBO (BITTER KOLA) OMI (WATER)
The hierarchy amongst his followers is as follows Males: Aboosa, Tabi aaje Females: Elegun White cloths are the symbol of his presence and should be worn frequently by his worshippers.
Taboos for Obatala: None of his followers should drink strong wine or alcohol Oil and salt must not be used to prepare food during his rituals and initiation; Melon soup (obe egusi) is forbidden during OBATALA ceremony and Corn should not cooked during the week of rituals for Obatala (a ko gbo do se ase ti o ni agbado lojo ose obatala). OBATALA was the first divinity and he chose the first day of the week as his own day of worship. He is believed to be the real image of GOD and true representative of GOD in the world.
It was believed that those who are looking for the fruit of the womb must offer prayer, sacrifice and indulge into regular fasting to Obatala. The barren must give daily obeisance to Obatala for the gift of children from GOD. GOD has given Obatala the authority to put smiles on the face women that are in dare need of children, hence all barren women should give obeisance in the following way:
ORISA ADATAN APAPA LAELAE ALAGBO OFE A BI IWOMO WERE
TRANSLATION: THE DIVINITY OF ADATAN WITH INFINITE LOVING HAND THE OWNER OF THE COMPOUND FULL OF BLESSED CHILDREN WHO IS GIVING CHILREN OUT TO ALL THE PEOPLE THAT ARE IN NEED
Indeed, in the odu Ogbedi FA says that Obatala and Orunmila were chosen to receive the absolute authority to bless all barren women in the universe and bring to them the gift of children
Ogbedi: BI OJO IKU ABARAMEJI BA DARA LAYE EHIN IWA WON KII SAN LORUN LO DIFA FUN EJIOGBE ATI OBATALA LOJO TI WON YOO NA ADO OMO BIBI TI AWON ELEGUN WON YIO FI JEUN OGBEDI NI GBOGBO ERAN ENI TI E BAJE OTOTO ENIYAN NI YOO MAA DA AWON LA FI TETE OHUN KI A TO TORO OHUN LOWO ENI A KII FI TULASI GBA NNKAN APO ENI WARA- WARA LODIFA FUN OBATALA OSERE LASO (OSEERE MAGBO) NIGBATI TI EDA YOO MAA RAWO – RASE KI WON TO TORO OMO LOWO RE AWON EDE NI EETISE ORUNMILA NI A SE EYIN KO MO PE OBATALA KII TA OMO RE LOPO
TRANSLATION: IF THE DEATH OF PEOPLE WITH TWO PERSONALITY IS GOOD IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD LIFE AFTER DEATH WILL BE WORSE IN THE HEAVEN THIS THE IFA ORACLE DIVINED FOR EJIOGBE AND OBATALA WHEN THEY WERE PLANNING TO HAVE A CHILD WHEN THEIR FOLLOWERS WERE SEEKING FOR FOOD OGBE-DI SAYS, ALL THE MEAT WE SHALL EAT WILL BE GIVEN TO US BY DIFFERENT PEOPLE THIS IS POWER OF WORD BEFORE ASKING ANYTHING FROM OTHERS NOBODY MUST USE FORCE TO TAKE WHAT DO NOT BELONG TO HIM THIS ALSO DIVINE IFA FOR OBATALA OSEERE IGBO WHEN THE PEOPLE ARE BEGGING HIM FOR THE BLESSING OF THE WOMB PEOPLE ARE ASKING WHAT CAUSE THE DELAY ORUNMILA ANSWERED THEM DID YOU NOT KNOW THAT OBATALA WILL NOT GIVE OUT HIS CHILDREN WITHOUT A COST?
Before Orunmila left to earth from heaven GOD gave ORUNMILA the authority of teaching IFA to mankind while the ability to look patiently towards GOD for blessings of all kinds were given to OBATAALA. Both Orunmila and Obatala performed rituals to attract multitudes of followers that would spread their names throughout the universe. According to odu ogbe ka:
OGBEKA it was like this:
Aki I yo eyin adie ninu omi Lati owuro ki dale ko to gbe Bi omunu ogede ba pe ninu omi Kio gbe boro boro A fo aso tan ninu eji Eji ko da , a ko ri oorun saa Lo difa fun akoka Ti nko gbogb aye ni ifa Lo difa fun aseda Ti nko gbogbo agba ni imoran Won ni awon mejeeji rubo ajalu Ki won ma baa j anile aye Ki oruko won ma baa si parun Mo juba akoda mo juba ase da Gbogbo omo awo ni kii o maa juba yi Iba ni a a ju fun oniba Omo awo ti ko ba juba akoda Bi o ba difa , ifa re ko le se Omo awo ti ko ba juba aseda Bi o rubo, ebo re ko le da Iba ni a a ju fun oniba Mo ji mo juba akoda Mo ji mo juba aseda Gbogbo ohun ti mo ba wi ni ki o se Ase
Translation: No one removes the eggs of the hen from the water From morning till dawn without being dry up Whenever a banana plantain is put inside water It will not ripe in time We wash the cloth in the rain The rain does not stop While the sun does not appear to dry up the cloth This IFA divined for AKOKA (teacher) That teaches Ifa’s oracle to the whole world It equally divines ifa oracle to aseda – the creator That teaches wisdom to the sages and initiates The two eminent divinities were advised to offer ritual against disagreement So that they will not disagree when they reach the physical world To avoid a situation where their names would not be blot out From the book of life I give obeisance to the first creature My obeisance to the creator All the initiates give their obeisance Obeisance to those that deserves obeisance Whoever among the initiates that do not give obeisance to the first creatures Whenever he consults ifa divination, it will end up in total fiasco Who among the initiate that do not give obeisance to creator Whenever he offer sacrifice, such sacrifice will not be accepted by the divinities Obeisance must be given to those that deserve obeisance I wake up in the morning to give my obeisance to the first creature I wake up in the morning to give my obeisance to the creator All my steps and plan should witness the support of creator Ase!
AGBALAGBA ORISA TI GUN SILE AYE A GREAT DIVINITY THAT DWELLS IN THE PHYSICAL STATE OF EXISTENCE ONILE OJU POPO O JI REBI THE OWNER OF THE HOUSE ON THE WIDE ROAD THAT WAKES UP TO DETER EVIL AGBALAGBA BI O BA JI IRE ABUSE-ABUSE THE GREAT DIVINITY THAT WAKES UP WITH IMMENSE RESPONSIBILITIES AND BENEFITS ONIPOPO OMO AROOGBEE THE LORD OF POPO, THE CHILD OF AROOGBEE IWIN SO NGADA MERI APA THE MYSTERIOUS PHENOMENON TIED FOUR TO ARM IWIN OLUOGAN KO DADE THE MYSTERIOUS OWNER OF THE JUNGLE WITHOUT CROWN IWIN ODE NII TA IRINWO EFON THE MYSTERIOUS HUNTER THAT SELLS FOUR HUNDRED BUFFALO IWIN ODIDE YOMI YOWU OGBONNA SONU THE MYSTERIOUS WEAVER THAT REMOVES THE WOOL AND THROUGH IT AWAY IWIN ODE NII TA IRIN O EFON THE MYSTERIOUS HUNTER THAT SELLS FOUR HUNDRED BUFFALO IWIN A MAA TA META AJAGBO THE MYSTERY THAT SELLS THREE OF THE JUNGLE WILD DOGS O MAA TA LEKA ORUN HE WHO IS OF IMMENSE IMPORTANCE IN THE HEAVEN KI O LE BA A DUNNI JANJAN BI ABAJO THAT WILL BE OF IMMENSE PAIN LIKE AS IF ENI TI KO DURO GBO EJO WHO DOES NOT CARE TO LISTEN TO ANY COMPLAIN OR TO HEAR ANY LAWSUIT ENITI KO DURO DE ONILU RE HE WHO DOES NOT WAIT FOR HIS OWN DRUMMER TI O FI DE EJIGBO AKIRE UNTIL HE REACHES THE CITY OF EJIGBE AKIRO KO DURO GBEJO TO FI DE EJIGBO KORO HE DID NOT LISTEN TO THE COMPLAIN UNTIL HE REACHES THE CITY OF EJIOGBO KORO ONIPOPO OMO AROOGBEE THE LORD OF POPO, THE SON OF AROOGBEE IWIN SONGADA MERI APA THE MYSTERIOUS BEING THAT TIED FOUR TO HIS HAND IWIN OLUOGAN KO DADE THE MYSTERIOUS LORD OF OGAN WITHOUT CROWN MAJE KI A TA OFA NI LE YI NEVER ALLOW THE EVIL ONES SEND EVIL VIBRATION TO THIS LAND EMO IYAN NI O JE KI A TA SENU (UNSMOOTH) POUNDED YAM WILL NO GO TO THE MOUTH AGBALAGBA ORISA NILE EKEETA A GREAT SAGE AND DIVINITY IN THE THIRD HOUSE NIGBA TI O SOLESAYE TAN AFTER HE HAD DESCENDED IN THE PHYSICAL STATE OF EXISTENCE AYEWA DI GBARUGBADA THE WORLD BECOME SETTLED AND PEACEFUL MAJE KI A TA OFA NI LEYI NEVER ALLOW THE EVIL ONES SEND EVIL VIBRATION TO THIS LAND EMO IYAN NI KI O JE KI A TA SENU A BAD POUNDED YAM WILL NOT BE TAKEN TO THE MOUTH OLE ONISO ESE WO DO MOJA APA HE PURSUED THE EVIL ONE TO THE RIVER WITH HIS FIST
ORIN (Songs) AGBALAGBA ORISA OOO THE GREAT DIVINITY OOO OUN LO LAYE OOO YOU ARE THE LORD OF THE UNIVERSE IDA ILE OGUN BI ORI BA A NI THE MARCHET OF THE HOUSE OF OGUN LOOK LIKE THE STRUCTURE OF THE HEAD ASE
Ifa says that the first devotee of Obatala was ONIYAGBE who lived in a town called DOROMI - AWISE and was married to a woman named OMOJINKUN. Tradition impart to us that this couple farmed and planted corn in proportion to the land given to them by their ancestors. Omojinkun, the wife of ONIYAGBE was barren and they tried all possible means to have a child but to no avail. One day ONIYAGBE took his wife to consult IFA with a reputable IFA priest in the land. It was there ODU IRETE AAYA or IRETE MEJI appeared and in this odu we read the following:
Ogbori ngbiri, a tehin dopo Ona taa ba to ri Nii se ni siba sibo Ohun rere ni yowo obi ninu aso Ohun buburu ni yowo ofa ninu apo Lodifa fun ako aaya Lodifa fun abo aaya Lojo, ti won lo oko iwaje Ako aaya ni Koloko o ma kuu Ki igi ogunbere ma faya Ti o ba di iwoyi amodun Ki a ribi jo Gbantete, gbantete Abo aaya ni boloko le ku ko ku Bi igi ogunbere le yak o ya Bi o ba di iwoyi amodun A o ri ibomiran jo Gbantete, gbatete
Translation: The heavenly destiny could bring surplus and prosperity Unknown path never walked before Could bring confusion Mentally, physically and spiritually Good words bring good things from the pocket, that is good word bring harmony, luck Peace and serenity Evil utterance attract evil manifestation This divine IFA –oracle for the male ape This divine IFA –oracle for the female ape When they were going to the forest of plantation and harvest The male monkey says ‘’the owner of the farm should not die And the tree of ogunbere should not fall So that by this time of next year I shall be able to dance Gbantete, Gbantete’’ While the female monkey offered contrary opinion ‘’ If the owner of the farm could die Let him die And the tree of ogunbere (leucaena leucocephala) should fall Let it fall So that by this time of next year We shall look for another farm to eat and harvest We shall also seek another tree to pluck its fruit”
After the IFA priest had chanted the IFA verse he instructed ONIYAGBE that on getting to his farm the day after he should hide himself to witness a strange phenomenon at his farm. Whatever happened he was told to inform the Ifa priest of so he could be able to prescribe the necessary sacrifice to overcome the evil establishment.
What he saw that night was two apes who liked to eat the corn in ONIYAGBE’s farm. Very early in the morning ONIYAGBE went to his farm and he saw the two apes, a male and a female. Upon seeing them he hid to witness the mystical phenomenon. The male ape started first to pluck the corn, using both hands to pluck, like he used to do in past while he jumped from tree to tree saying
KI OLOKO MA KUU OOO KI IGI OGUNBERE MA FAYA BI O BA DI IWOYI AMODUN KI A RI IBI JO GBANTETE – GBANTETE*
Meaning The owner of the farm should not die And the tree of OGUNBERE should not fall By this time of next year I shall be able to dance Gbantete gbantete (the rhythmic sound of the drum) The owner of the farm, ONIYAGBE, was overwhelmed with happiness on hearing the strong words of the male monkey. After this the female monkey followed suit, plucked the corn with the left and right hand and ate all what she needed and jumped from tree to tree saying
BI OLOKO LE KU KO KU BI IGI OGUNBERE LE YA KO YA BI O BA DI IWOYI AMODUN A O RI IBOMIRAN JO GBANTETE – GBANTETE
Meaning If the owner of the farm could die Let him die If the tree of OGUNBERE (leucaena leu cocephala) could fall Let it be By this time of next year We shall look for another farm to eat and harvest We shall also seek another tree to stand on Gbantete, gbantete
When the owner of the farm heard this he got furious. He pulled out his gun and shot the female ape and killed her. ONIYAGBE later opened the bowel of the female monkey and removed the placenta in her womb. He encountered another phenomenon in her womb called SESEFUN. He took the SESEFUN to the IFA priest. On getting to the house of the priest, there was another round of divination in which he was told that his prayer had been answered and his wife would conceive and he would need to do another set of sacrifices.
ONIYAGBE was asked to bring a plain white cloth to be tied to PEREGUN TREE (DRACAENA FRANGRANS OR DRACAENA ARBOREA).
He should place a pot under this tree and always pour water on the tree and the water would be dropped into the pot.The chief priest told the wife that the water in the pot should be the water to be taken every morning (both for drinking and for bathing) and the SESEFUN the husband found in the womb of the female ape must be kept inside the pot with the water. The wife of Oniyagbe did all the rituals according to the instruction of the Babalawo and in a short time she conceived and gave birth to a beautiful child.
She bathed the baby with the spiritual water in the pot as instructed by the IFA priest while the cloth wrapped on the PEREGUN tree was the only clothing used by the baby. In reality, when a child use such spiritual water and divine cloth, the child will be called the child of OBATALA because the materials are the emblem of ORISAALA ALASO FUNFUN - white cloth, SESEFUN - these children are given names like ABIAPE, that is , they have come with divine names which is derived from divinity and thus informs their destiny.
The above IFA myth teaches us two important things. The first important thing is the importance of learning to speak good about one self and also about others. One should avoid speaking evil, no matter how grave our challenges or evil circumstances might be .
So that we will not be attracted to greater evils and thus bring into motion greater calamities from our utterances and from our mind. IFA says that good words and good minds draw spiritual and physical sympathy and love while a strong word or evil utterance are like weapons. Good and kind words according to IFA can serve as a mechanism for progress, long life, and happiness, whereas, a mean word or evil utterance can attract strong negative consequences.
The second important lesson is the act of conforming to spiritual guidance, to be able to achieve certain physical, mental and spiritual objectives, that is, one should adhere to spiritual instructions to fulfill one`s destiny .
SECOND STORY :Irete meji speaks of ILE (the mother earth) as the element of worship in the cult of OGBONI and ILE is seen as the most important and dominant force in creation. She secures all the living and the non living creatures of the OMNIPOTENT GOD – OLODUMARE.
ILE according to IRETE MEJI encompasses rivers, lakes, seas, hills and mountains - which are the spiritual personification of the mother – goddess of fertility to whom regular worship was made and unto whose bowel man finally returns at the end of his life The below IFA verse from IRETE MEJI summarizes the importance of ILE (IRETE MEJI VII- ESE IFA KEJO)
Iyan bemu – bemu nii kun inu igba Oro bemu- bemu ko kun ikun agbalagba A difa fun ILE To ni oun loun o kere gbogbo aye je Ko I pe Ko I jina Ki ire gbogbo Ka I ba wa ni jebute ire
Translation: Food (pounded yam) may fill a dish until it can take no more words No matter how secret, the secret will ever remain safe In the repository of an elderly people Declared the oracle of IFA to earth Who craved universal worship Let all prosperity meet us at our domain See how blessing follows sacrifice
IFA tells us that ILE (earth) consulted the oracle of IFA asking how she would profit from men’s undertakings and blessings in life. IFA instructed ILE to offer a sacrifice of 16 OBI, 16 OROGBO, 16 ATARE, 16 RATS, 16 PIGEONS, and 16 GUINE FOWLS AND 16 BAGS OF COWRIES.
ILE agreed and offered the sacrifice as directed by IFA. Indeed the work and the profit of all living being returned to ILE with profit. We build and all our undertakings and investment, our achievements and children is made possible because of ILE – and to Her we return - to the bosom of earth - after our earthly journey. We grow, we struggle, we become poor or rich on earth and later we are all swallowed up by the same ILE. Men ‘s profit and poverty in life will in death end up in the belly of the earth – AGBALAGBA - another name for OGBONI in the context of earth worship and propitiation .Irete meji says the Ogboni Society was founded to secure the worship of mother – earth. This forms the central part of all the ceremonies of the society.
The proper time for propitiating the earth and ensuring its fertility is after all the necessary ceremonies were done and all rituals are carried out.Another myth tell us that all divinities, including ILE –the mother earth, joined forces to dethrone OBATALA OSEMARAGBO (the ancient of days) and take for them his creative powers. Bitter rivalry emerged amongst the divinities and deities who wanted to share the glory of OBATALA. ORUNMILA was invited to join in the conspiracy but refused. ESU was invited into the evil plot against the ancient of the days OBATALA, but ESU refused.
In the end the divinities lost the fight to take the glory of OBATALA. Consequently a universal glory was conceded to him forever according to the IFA stanza below. However, the refusal of ORUNMILA BABA AGBONNIREGUN and ESU LALU OGIRI OKO, to join in the conspiracy against, the illuminated one –OBATALA –was with great benefit and enormous advantages. ORUNMILA and ESU were both promoted to co –exist as equals with OBATALA in the trinity of divinities
Irete Meji says the following: Igangan IFE Orunmila wo suu , o ko won E e ri i Awon ojise aye Awon igangan ife Awon ni Orunmila maa Nranse si ELEDUA
Translation: Envoy from earth Town –crier of IFE Were suddenly seized and slashed by Orunmila You see The messenger The town crier Are the emissary Orunmila always send to GOD the omnipotent The emissary from the earth and the town crier of IFE were ORUNMILA`S regular messengers to ELEDUMARE, the omnipotent. The message to the omnipotent was: “such being the state of things in IFE today, what sacrifice should I appoint as remedy?”
The reply would come ‘’offer a bush rat’’. Acting on this recommendation ORUNMILA would receive good auspices for the city and all would turn out well, but as time went on things changed. When the Omnipotent indicated the sacrifice of a goat, these messengers reported to ORUNMILA that a Lamb should be offered. The sacrifice would result in failure. What could be responsible for this turn of events wondered Orunmila. Eventually the truth came out but ORUNMILA said nothing, he merely stopped the messengers from bearing further request to the OMNIPOTENT.
One day ORUNMILA seized the messengers and killed them. The people of IFE wondered how ORUNMILA could do such an evil thing, killing his messengers who were always bringing good tidings to the people of IFE. The answer given to them by ORUNMILA was not satisfying, and the people decided to attack ORUNMILA, and without mincing words ORUNMILA hid himself from the anger of the people. They beat one of the disciples of ORUNMILA called IMULEGBE and AKALE – ORUNMILA`s guest was not spared.
ORUNMILA could not hide his emotions and he came out from his hiding and challenged the people. Orunmila left the city in annoyance, IMULEGBE and AKALE went with him. ORUNMILA warned the entire council of IFA priests to stop divining for the people of IFE, so that they may know the implication of their habit and actions
Orunmila later travelled to the forest with his friends until they got to a place called ‘’THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE’’ and here they built three hut’s, one for AKALE – ESU, one for IMULEGBE – OBATALA, and one for ORUNMILA. Soon, there was a report from IFE that the city was under heavy plague and many problems. Fishes were dying in the river, sickness and illness became the order of the day. The pregnant women would no longer find it easy to have their children, men became infertile and the barren could not conceive. There was total chaos and pandemonium and nobody in the city was able to find a solution to the problem. The chiefs of IFE went out of their domain to seek solution but all to no avail.
One day they met a diviner named CRAB THAT CRAWLS IN HOLES IN THE MARSH AWAY FROM WATER HABITANTS, but he declined to divine for them because of what ORUNMILA the chief diviner had said. He then instructed the people of IFE to look for ORUNMILA so that they might find solutions to their problems. They replied that ORUNMILA could not be found, and he said they should look for an antelope and bring him the animal so that he would help them look for another diviner. They brought the animal and were led to another diviner called GOLDEN –HUED LIKE FRESH PALM OIL who was expected to take them to where ORUNMILA resided.
The diviner then asked the people of IFE to look for an antelope for sacrifice like was given to the first diviner. This request was more laborious than that of the first diviner, but since they did not have alternatives, they prepared to go into the deep bush and look for an antelope. They found an antelope which they pursued up hill and chased the animal into the forest until the people of IFE found themselves in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Here, suddenly the antelope disappeared and they continued searching for the disappeared antelope until they found the three huts built for ORUNMILA, AKALE and IMULEGBE (ORUNMILA, ESU AND OBATALA).
The people of IFE could not believe that a sane man could live in this remote area, but to confirm their doubt and curiosity, they threw a stone at one of the huts and immediately ESU – AKALE, came out in annoyance asking them who threw the stone. They actually saw that it was ESU, and ESU asked them what was the problem with them and why they needed to find them here in the deep forest. They pleaded with ESU and told him the predicaments that were currently haunting them at IFE. ESU listened to them and asked them to go and look for some sacrificial materials if they wanted any solution to their problems. The materials they needed to get was 2 BUSH –RATS, 2 DRIED FISH, 2 OBI, 2 OROGBO, 2 ATARE and several other things in pairs.
They returned to IFE in order to secure the materials. They told about their experiences to the king and the king advised them to take all the materials and that they should try to find ORUNMILA himself. Immediately after they left ESU reported how the citizen of IFE came and stoned his hut to ORUNMILA and how he came out to question them and how he instructed them to look for some sacrificial materials so that their predicaments could be solved. Then ESU asked ORUNMILA how he could help them if they returned. ORUNMILA told ESU to go to the hut of OBATALA to report the case to him exactly as he had told to ORUNMILA.
ORUNMILA pleaded to OBATALA – IMULEGBE that OBAORISA would listen to ESU – AKALE and the story of the disasters in IFE. If nothing was done there could be even more severe situations unfolding. OBATALA, in the first instance did not comply with ORUNMILA`s plea and despite numerous attempts, OBATALA did not give in to their plea. Then ORUNMILA chose and used stronger, wise and mystic language before ORISAALA heeded to the plea, and what was this language?
Obatala, you must return to your work The blacksmith moulds iron over and over again Until, it is straight and perfect The barber has not finished his work Until backs and sides are well trimmed You must return to your unfinished work Generations of kings have reigned on earth Yet have I not seen one to rival this one To rival Obatala, king of all divinities Royal artificer of perfection Who came from above but place His earthly home in the city of IRANJE He alone has power to lock the rain –gates He alone created the white dome of the sky He created the species of RAT to last forever He created the species of the FISH to last forever He created the species of the bird to last forever He created the species of the beast to last forever And ordained that the species of man be never destroyed
With these mystical words, OBATALA replied “you are blessed, you ORUNMILA have the unique wisdom to recollect all these mysteries, I will heed to your plea.” When the people of IFE returned with the sacrificial materials, ORUNMILA forgave them, ORISAALA forgave them and ESU also forgave them. With the materials a sacrifice of atonement was performed and the three divinities and the people of IFE returned to the city of IFE with dance and song, rejoicing that their city and the people had been saved from calamity. From that time on the city of IFE spread in all directions until it touched every corner of the world.
The story shows this trinity in the primordial order. ESU represents the junior divinity in this hierarchy and his role is to receive and forward sacrificial offerings, he is morally neutral, he represents chance, the unpredictable component of life, The rating between ORUNMILA and OBATALA is extremely difficult to analyze, but since the junior should first seek the favor of the senior and in the beginning of the myth we see that OBATALA was the senior, being sought after by ORUNMILA. But if we go by the power of words, and the significance of what words and its beauty could do, one would wonder that a good word could give us a leadership role.
The power of forgiveness too should not be seen as an ordinary power - it is one of the strongest vibratory power in the universe and if we go by the last phrase of the concluding part of ORUNMILA`S pleading statement, it shows that ORUNMILA forgave them, OBATALA forgave them and ESU forgave them.
The above story shows the position of Obatala as a leading figure in the primordial order, and those searching for blessings in any form must not hesitate to pray to OBATALA
Obatala is next to GOD in order of importance. He takes precedence over all divinities. GOD endowed Obatala with the responsibilities of creating all creatures. He made the head, nose, eyes, mouth, skull, while OLODUMARE placed within man the breath of life which is the spirit and the soul that make man a living being. He is the maker of the image of man from clay and place man in the uterus of a woman.
Woman seeking the blessing of children must constantly give obeisance to OBATALA for a sound, perfect and whole child free of deformities and any blemish whatsoever. Deformed and blemished children like albinos are dedicated to him and takes a special prominence in relation to Obatala.
Obatala is also regarded as the sole protector of the town or city gates. He enjoys the uniformity of color among his devotees. His preferable color is white, that is, he enjoys using white in all his activities. White clothes, white food, abstaining from red meat, using white kola nuts and bitter kola instead of normal red kola nuts are some of his sacrificial material. The worshippers tend to use snail instead of animals when performing rituals to his honour. They go without food for a day or two while they pray and sing of praises to him. They abstain from sex and food during rituals to Obatala
Prayers for the gift of womb (child bearing) are offered to him by women finding conception difficult. He serves as arbiter of disputes among initiates all over the world. OBATALA is a divinity of purity. He represents highest moral and physical discipline among his devotees. The initiates are to ensure humility, purity, peace, calmness and patience in dealing in any matter concerning spiritual steps, mental activities and physical interaction with others. Obatala is known as the lord of vision and the lord of whiteness.
Some of his names are 1) Orisa elemi: divinity that brought all being into existence 2) Alaba lase: proposer and disposer of great authority 3) Baba – baba , iya- iya: is the father before fathers, and mother before mothers.
Both feminine and masculine attributes are exhibited in the traditional ad historical attributes of OBATALA
Tradition makes it clear that OBATALA was the chief male divinity in creation just like ODUDUWA was once the greatest female divinity in the world. The union between the two (OBATALA and ODUDUWA) resulted into the spread of humanity on the surface of the universe
Tradition also reveals for us that ODUDUWA was the first wife of OBATALA and their union being symbolized by the union between earth and the sky, which makes part of the mysteries of the Cult of OGBONI. The union is made manifest by the two parts of a white calabash joined together meaning what GOD has join, let no one tear asunder. This is also replicated in the traditional position of husband and wife when they take hold of the palace of love-making when they generate life in accordance with
Ojo nla ta di sasa A difa fun won ni di okunrin A bu fun won ni di obirin Nijo ti won nmekun oju se rahun omo laye Idi ni a apa asa Igba ti idi ba di meji Ngba ye la dolomo Obatala , oseremagbo Majeki gbogbo olusin re yagan Ase
Translation: Success depends on perseverance; see how rain drops in time wear out granite Thus declare the oracle of IFA to the husband The same was declare to the wife when they sorrowed daily For lack of children Commence your effort From bottom upwards For when two ends meet A child is born OBATALA OSEREMAGBO Never allow all your devotes witness barrenness in the world and the world to come Ase
ODUDUWA is known as IYA AGBE, ‘the mother of the gourd’ or ‘mother of calabash’. She is represented by a woman nursing a child in a sitting position. Going by name ODUDU WA that is ODU TO DA IWA, which means the vibration that creates IWA. IWA according to Yoruba is ‘character’, ‘being’, ‘life’, ‘destiny’, and ‘heaven’ (like in the phrase ‘o losi iwa ORISA’ meaning; he has departed to the land of ancestors or divinities). Iwa here becomes a word on which the word ODUDUWA is patterned upon.
Consequently He or She may be the father or the mother of all beings, but those who see ODUDUWA as the wife of Obatala did not miss the way – actually they reinforced the position of ODUDUWA as a divinity or deity of immense importance in creation.
Hence Obatala, the divinity of union, whiteness and purity join with ODUDUWA, the divinity of conception and from this comes all living beings. The union between the two gave birth to Aginju, Okanbi and many other illustrious children, deities and kings
We should not forget that the original IGBA IWA, The Calabash of Character, was given to OBATALA. Orunmila helped him to carry IGBA IWA from IWARUN to the ISALU AYE where the IGBA IWA was snatched from him by ORO and retrieved by ESU and returned to Obatala through patience and extreme spiritual wisdom.
This was all OBATALA needed to endure and pass through challenges that transformed him into the greatest divinity of all.
GOD gave to OBATALA the secret to attract the blessing of wealth, prosperity, long life, happiness and strength – which he gave to his followers and other faithful followers of OLODUM