Ileke beads, sometimes referred to as Ifa or Orisha beads, are a type of beaded jewelry that can be found in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. The word ileke means “bead” in the Yoruba language. Seeds, beans, and stones are kneaded together to form these elaborate fetishes. The beadwork is created by stringing together ornate objects of various shapes and sizes to form patterns.
These totems are used by some people as a form of currency, while others use them for religious or spiritual purposes. Notably, ileke beads are an important part of the Ifa religion and other African traditional religions. They are used in many ceremonies and rituals similar to rosary beads in other religions like Islam, Catholicism, Buddhism, etc.
In the Ifa religion, these amulets are a type of prayer totem. They are dedicated to specific Orishas or spirits. They are a way for the wearer to communicate with their deities. These beads can be found in different colors, shapes, and sizes and formed into either necklaces or bracelets. Though specific types of beads are used to make traditional ilekes, these totems can be made from modern-style jewelry as well.
Color Meanings and Orishas
Ileke beads come in a variety of colors and styles. However, the most common color is white, as it can be used for various deities or Orishas. However, they can also be found in a mixture of black, green, red, and other colors that symbolize different Orishas.
Here are some examples below:
- White for Aje
- Yellow for Oshun
- White for Obatala
- Red and black for Eshu
- Green and black for Ogun
- Green and yellow for Orunmilia
Note that the color of the beads associated with each Orisha can vary by house and tradition. For instance, Ogun is often represented by the color red in diasporic traditions like Lucumi and Santeria, etc. So, you may find discrepancies in the colors as outlined above.
The Purpose of These Totems
The ultimate purpose of ileke beads is for spiritual protection. They ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. The Yoruba people believe that they have spiritual power. They are a symbol of wisdom and knowledge and are used in many ceremonies and rituals. These spiritual totems are also said to be blessed by the gods, which makes them even more special.
An Ifa devotee should always wear ileke beads on the wrist or around the neck. These blessed adornments can protect the wearer from the conspiracy of enemies and onlookers. They can also keep death at bay and sickness away.
Ileke beads should be consecrated by an Ifa priest or priestess in order to serve their primary function. They can be bought from spiritual suppliers and practitioners. However, they won’t possess the essence of an Orisha or spirit unless they are consecrated or blessed.
Where to Find Ileke Beads
If you want to wear ileke beads, it is best to consult with an Ifa priest or priestess to see if they are appropriate for you. They can be worn by anyone, but it is important to ensure that they are consecrated when using them for spiritual purposes. Also, you should be aware of any taboos associated with wearing these totems before purchasing them.
If you are interested in learning more about ileke beads and the Ifa religion, you can purchase them in our online store. You can also visit a local Ifa temple or shrine to see ileke beads in person.
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