Since all non-Abrahamic traditions have been relegated to pagan status, I get this question quite often about the Ifa tradition. Many people assume that we are devil-worshipping, sadistic heathens for the most part. And this could be further from the truth. Ifa devotees absolutely believe in God, or what many refer to as the Creator Being, Supreme Creator, Almighty, etc. In fact, the modern-day concept of god in Abrahamic religions was derived from African traditional beliefs.
As such, Ifa traditionalists have shared a long history of the belief in a Sovereign Creator. However, we likewise believe in and reverence other spiritual forces created by the Supreme Being. And herein lies most of the confusion. Much of our visible worship or veneration practices are devoted to deities or Orishas, spirits, and ancestors. This is seen in our sacrifices, offerings, and ritual work.
Contrarily, the same type of homage is not paid to Olodomare, the Creator God of the Ifa tradition. Though, this spirit is duly honored and reverenced in all we do. And we believe that this force made all other living beings.
Definition of God
Before we can truly qualify the notion of god according to the Ifa belief, we must first understand what “god” means. The definition of God is a complex concept that has been debated and discussed by many cultures throughout history. While there is no universal definition of God, most definitions focus on the idea of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving being that created the universe.
In religious contexts, God often has additional attributes such as omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Many also believe that God is a personal being who interacts with humanity in some way. And many of these attributes apply to the nature and character of Olodumare or the Almighty in the Ifa tradition.
The God of Ifa Tradition
Olodumare is an ancient Yoruba deity believed to be the Supreme God and Creator of the universe. Olodumare is responsible for bringing order and balance to the world, as well as providing guidance and protection to its people. This Energy is the source and force of all that exists on Earth.
Originally, this entity was thought to be genderless, and in some instances, it was considered feminine. However, due to Christian and patriarchal corruptions, Olodumare is often assigned masculine attributes. For the sake of argument, I refer to this Being as a genderless entity. However, I believe that this deity embodies both masculine and feminine traits.
Olodumare is often referred to as “The All Sufficient” due to its role as the highest power in the Yoruba religion. In addition, it is said that Olodumare has a special connection with humanity, offering us divine wisdom and understanding.
However, Olodumare is not thought to be interactive in our day-to-day lives as our personal deities. Instead, this Supreme Power is effectively present in every aspect of the spiritual and physical worlds. And this Power has given dominion to other spiritual forces to protect and guard the Earth and the astral realm.
The Trinity Manifestation
It can be said that Olodumare shares a trinity manifestation similar to the Supreme Being in other African religions. Likewise, we see this notion in contemporary Christian belief systems. Though this Energy is one force, it manifests in three forms – Olodumare, Olorun, and Olofi.
Olodumare is the Creator of all existence, Olorun is the ruler of the heavens, and Olofi acts as a conduit between Orún (Heaven) and Ayé (Earth). Together, these three forms represent a powerful and complex pantheon with an ancient history rooted in culture and tradition. Though in many instances, Ifa devotees commonly refer to this Spirit as Olodumare.
Worshipping the Supreme Creator
In contrast to the Orishas, Olodumare is primarily worshipped through thanks and praise. There are no dedicated shrines or places of worship for this force. Nor do we give sacrifices and offerings to Olodumare as this Spirit is the Creator of All.
Some feel that Olodumare is not concerned with the daily affairs of man. So, these individuals primarily focus on the Orishas and ancestral spirits. However, others pay direct homage to Oludumare and commonly reference this Spirit in prayers and incantations. In either case, Ifa devotees acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Force that created all.