When Should You Receive an Ifa or Orisa Name?

When Should You Receive an Ifa or Orisa Name

An Ifa or Orisa name is a spiritual name given to a person in the Yoruba traditional religion of Ifa. It is used to identify a person’s connection to Ifa or a specific Orisa. Every name given in the Ifa tradition has a specific meaning. And it is directly related to the individual’s destiny or path. That’s why it is important to understand when you should receive your Ifa name.

An Ifa name is based on an individual’s connection to Orunmila, the oracle of Ifa. Conversely, an Orisa name directly correlates to the individual’s affiliation with a specific Orisa. As such, an individual will likely receive multiple Orisa names throughout their journey into Ifa.  

Ifa and Orisa names aren’t randomly selected or chosen. Instead, they are determined through the process of Ifa divination. This form of divination involves the use of the Opun and Opele to present specific codes related to the Holy Odu

The Blessings of Receiving an Ifa or Orisa Name

An Ifa name is not just a title, but rather, it is an identity that reflects the individual’s unique spiritual journey and connection with the divine. As with any other name, an Ifa or Orisa name holds power. Every time someone references you by your name, they call forth the energy of that name. As such, over time, the power of your name manifests itself in your life.

Again, this applies to any name, which is why it is vital to choose names wisely. In many traditional cultures, naming is a sacred process for this very reason. Oftentimes children don’t receive names until their seventh day of life in indigenous cultures similar to that of the Yoruba people. 

Names are chosen through divination, generational traditions, or other sacred processes in these cultures. This is in contrast to popular Western methods of selecting names from books or other non-traditional methods. By invoking the power of an individual’s name, one can receive blessings connected to it. If a name has positive connotations, the individual can expect to enjoy a powerful, prosperous life. As such, naming should not be taken lightly. 

The African Diaspora

Ifa and Orisa names are particularly beneficial for individuals throughout the African diaspora. These names give us a connection to our roots and a way to shed our colonial identity. In some instances, individuals choose to officially or unofficially use their Ifa name in their everyday lives. In such instances, Ifa traditional names can also serve as a powerful force for liberation. 

When Should You Receive An Ifa Name?

Ifa and Orisa names are given at different intervals of an individual’s spiritual journey through this tradition. In Nigeria, it’s common for children to receive their Ifa name shortly after birth. Usually, they receive it during their naming ceremony as part of their birth rites. Though they receive Orisa names later in life, usually during their childhood and adolescence years.

This process is a bit different for individuals in the diaspora who embrace the tradition later in life. According to traditional Yoruba culture, these individuals often receive their Ifa name during their Isefa (Hand of Ifa) ceremony. Likewise, they receive Orisa names each time they receive an Orisa pot. 

In certain instances, an individual may receive an Orisa pot before the Hand of Ifa. In this case, they would get their Orisa name before their Ifa name. Likewise, an individual may receive their Ifa or Orisa name during initiation. That is if they choose or are chosen for this path without receiving spirit pots beforehand.

Keep in mind that the information in this post is based on traditional Yoruba culture. In diaspora traditions derived from the Ifa tradition, sometimes naming processes are a bit different. In certain instances, individuals only receive Ifa or Orisa names during initiation. 

Using Your Ifa or Orisa Name

Receiving an Ifa name is one of the most important events in a person’s spiritual journey. It marks the beginning of their new path and solidifies their connection to the deities of Ifa. Such names can also be sources of strength and guidance when used appropriately.


In traditional Yoruba culture, individuals regularly use their Ifa or Orisa names in their daily lives. They are called by such names in their households and public spaces. In essence, it is an ordinary everyday part of life for them.


Contrarily, individuals throughout the diaspora may only use their Ifa or Orisa names at certain times. Oftentimes, these individuals go by their birth or government names in public spaces, especially when traversing Western cultures. As such, they may only use their Ifa or Orisa names during traditional ceremonies or when working with their Orisas.


Receiving an Ifa name is a very sacred process that is a time-honored tradition within the Yoruba culture. This process can look different from one temple to the next. Either way, there isn’t a right or wrong way to use an Ifa or Orisa name in most instances. It’s ultimately up to the Ifa devotee’s preference. Regularly using the name can bring many blessings into one’s life, as outlined above. However, an individual can experience the same benefits by living an upright life devoted to practicing the tradition.

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