How to Practice Ifa Religion

Afoxés meeting through the streets of Recife Antigo

You may be aware that I am now offering Ifa divination services on ACS. I provide these services through a Nigerian-based Babalawo, with whom I closely work. This service was added by popular demand. Many people come to me seeking out reputable priests and priestesses within African traditional systems. There are many available, but I know they can be difficult to find. That’s why I now provide reputable Ifa readings through my website.

Since I started offering these services, a few of my clients have asked me to explain more about the beliefs and tenets of Ifa. So, I decided to cover this topic in more depth over 16 days. Since I don’t focus on Ifa as much on the African Spirit podcast or in my blogs, I will address many Ifa topics in succession over the next couple of weeks. As time permits, I will continue to address various aspects of Ifa in future blog posts. So, stay tuned if you want to know more about this sacred tradition.

It is important to note that Ifa is not a proselytizing religion. People do not actively seek to convert followers to Ifa. Instead, they focus on living their lives in accordance with Ifa principles. Therefore, it is unlikely that you will see signs and billboards pointing you to an Ifa temple or have random people approaching you with pamphlets about the religion. 

Instead, you will have to search out Ifa resources on your own. It is a growing community, but it is not as easily visible as other religions. This is why this series and additional information about this system are crucial to new devotees.

ORISHAS OF THE IFA RELIGION

If you are new to Ifa, you should know a few things before you begin practicing the religion. First, it is vital to understand that Ifa is a monotheistic religion though devotees serve many deities. Some view the Ifa religion as polytheistic, meaning many Orishas or deities are worshiped. 

However, the true essence of Ifa is monotheistic. Ifa devotees believe in a Supreme Creator referred to as Oludumare. Though, the Orishas and other forces created by Oludumare have a significant impact on our day-to-day lives. Therefore, they are reverenced or honored through offerings and sacrifices.

Some of the more well-known Orisha include the following. But, there are many more Orishas that you will come in contact with as you develop your practice. 

ORUNMILA

Orunmila (also known as Orula or Orunla) is associated with divination, wisdom, and prophecy and is often invoked for guidance and protection. Orunmila is one of the essential Orishas in the Yoruba religion and is widely revered among followers of other Orisha traditions in the Caribbean Islands and South America.

ESHU

Eshu or Esu is considered the Orisha of mischief and change. Eshu is typically depicted as a man with two faces, one black, and one red. These colors represent change and opposition. Eshu is often described as a trickster god, as he is known for playing tricks on people. He is also known for being very helpful as he is the god of crossroads, capable of opening doors of opportunity.

OBATALA

Obatala is the Orisha of peace, purity, and creativity. Obatala is typically depicted in all white, which represents purity.

OSHUN

Oshun is the Orisha of love, beauty, and fertility. Oshun is typically depicted as a beautiful woman with yellow or gold clothing, which symbolize beauty and happiness.

OGUN

Ogun is the Orisha of war and strength. Ogun is typically depicted as a man dressed in all black, carrying weapons. He is also associated with the colors green and black in Yoruba, which represent the forest or clearing a path. In diasporic traditions, he is most commonly associated with the color red, which embodies the energy of passion, power, and war.

SANGO

Sango is the Orisha of thunder and lightning. Sango is said to be a very powerful Orisha and is often considered to be the king of the Orishas in Yoruba. Sango is also said to be very passionate and can be both good and bad-tempered. Sango is usually depicted as a man carrying a double-headed ax and is often associated with the color red. Sango is also the patron of the Orisha of the Yoruba people.

OYA

Oya is a very important figure in the Ifa religion. She is the wife of Ogun, the god of war, and is also the goddess of the wind and storms. Oya is a powerful warrior goddess and is often depicted carrying a sword or spear. She is also associated with crows and birds of prey. Oya is a fierce and protective goddess and is sometimes invoked during times of trouble or conflict. She is also the patroness of women who experience difficult times, such as childbirth or menopause. Oya is a popular goddess, and her shrines can be found throughout Nigeria and other parts of West Africa.

These are just some of the few Orishas that you should be aware of as you start connecting with Ifa. Some of them will be more prominent in your journey than others. However, all Orishas play a role in each of our lives in some way or another.

ANCESTOR VENERATION

It is also important to begin an ancestor veneration practice before starting any African spiritual system. This will not only help you connect to your African roots but also to the spirit world, as your ancestors will guide you on your spiritual journey.

This should be your first step before embarking on an Ifa spiritual journey. Your ancestors can help you find the right resources and connect with the right people along your path. But it may be necessary to do ancestor elevation work before you begin veneration them. There are many ways to accomplish this goal.

Learn more about ancestor elevation in this episode of the African Spirit Reintegrated + Reimagined:

STUDYING IFA

If you are interested in practicing Ifa, start by doing some research to learn more about the belief systems and the Orishas. Once you have a general understanding of the religion, begin incorporating Orisha worship into your own life in subtle ways. And finally, seek out an Ifa community that you can connect with and learn from.

To practice Ifa, followers must first learn about the Orishas that they may be working with. This can be done by reading religious texts, attending ceremonies, or speaking with a priest or priestess of the system. Once you have a general understanding of the system, you can begin to incorporate the principles and Orishas into your own life in healthy and productive ways.

By connecting with the system in this way, you can begin to live your life in accordance with Ifa principles. This includes living in harmony with nature, respecting your elders, and working hard to better yourself and your community.

It is important to connect with an Ifa community at the beginning of your journey. This can provide you with support and guidance as you learn more about the religion. There are Ifa temples in many parts of the world, so finding one near you should not be difficult. You can also find many resources online, such as books, articles, and websites dedicated to Ifa.

UNDERSTANDING IFA GUIDELINES

It is very important to understand Ifa guidelines before fully embracing the system. There is a strict set of rules and regulations that should be followed in order to avoid any negative consequences. Some of these guidelines include:

  • Do not engage in any activities that could result in spiritual or physical harm or abuse.
  • Do not use drugs or alcohol while participating in Ifa ceremonies or rituals.
  • Do not violate individual and community taboos.

There are many other guidelines that you will become aware of as you continue your practice. But, do understand that Ifa is a tradition based on standards of moral conduct. Adherents are expected to live a life of good character to achieve success in life.

IFA RELIGION DIVINATION

Get as much information as you can about Ifa divination before you get a reading. Doing so will help you understand if your reading is legitimate or not. It will also help you understand what to expect during the process. If you have any questions about Ifa, be sure to ask a knowledgeable priest, priestess, devotee, or mentor for guidance.

When you are ready to get your first Ifa reading, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, it is important to find a reputable diviner who has been trained in the Ifa tradition. Second, you should be prepared to pay for the reading, as spiritual services are fee-based.

Finally, you should come with an open mind and be willing to accept whatever advice the diviner has to offer. By following these steps, you can ensure that you have a positive and productive experience with Ifa divination.

Once you feel ready, you should get your first Ifa reading. This will help you understand your personal relationship with the Orishas, your destiny, as well as what steps you need to take to lead a successful life. After your first reading, be sure to live your life in accordance with Ifa principles so that you can achieve success in all areas of your life.

CHOOSING A PRIEST OR PRIESTESS

Don’t be too hasty to commit to a Babalawo (Ifa priest) or Iyanifa (Ifa priestess) at first. Take your time, as this is a very important relationship. There are many Ifa priests and priestesses out there. Some are better than others. You want to find someone you can connect with personally and who you feel comfortable working with.

When you have found the right Babalawo or Iyanifa, it is important to build a relationship of trust with them. This means being honest about your goals and intentions, as well as being open to their guidance. It is also important to be respectful of their time and energy, as they are offering you a valuable service.

Once you have established a good relationship, you can begin receiving Ifa readings and working towards your spiritual and life goals. By following these steps, you can begin practicing Ifa safely and effectively. Remember to respect the Orisha, live in accordance with Ifa principles, honor your taboos, and be open to different interpretations of the religion. By doing so, you will be well on your way to a successful Ifa practice.

Finally, continue to study and research as you practice Ifa. The more you know about Ifa, the easier it will be to follow its teachings and achieve success in all areas of your life.