WHAT IS ÌṢẸ̀ṢE? – OLÚWO IFÁÒLEÈPIN
The word or term “Ìṣẹ̀ṣe” is the natural name of the Yorùbá Indigenous Religion (YIR), and anchored on Ifá – an esoteric language or words of Olódùmarè and Divine message of life brought to practices by Ọ̀rúnmìlà Baraà mi Àgbọnnìrègún; the Divinity (Irúnmọlẹ̀/Òrìṣà).
Ìṣẹ̀ṣe simply means “one’s source or root or cradle or fountain or beginning”, and symbolised or represented by one’s biological Father, Mother, Orí (Destiny), and Ikin (Ifá), according to Odù Ifá: Ògúndá Ọ̀wọ́rín (Ògún-Dẹ́rìnín).
Ògúndá Ọ̀wọ́rín (Ògún-Dẹ́rìnín):
Òkun ṣú nàre nàre
Ọ̀ṣà ṣú lẹ̀gbẹ lẹ̀gbẹ
Alásán níí rasán
Níí ṣe Olúwo Ìṣàn nílé ayé
Alásàn níí ràsàn
Níí ṣe Olúwo Ìṣàn lóde ọ̀run
Àwọn àgbà ìmọ̀le ni wọ́n wò ìgbẹ̀yìn
Wọ́n ri pé ò ṣuwọ̀n
Wọ́n fi irungbọ̀n díyà
Wọ́n fi irun dímú pin pin pin
A dífá fún Ìṣẹ̀ṣe tíí ṣe olórí orò láyé
A bù fún Ìṣẹ̀ṣe tíí ṣe olórí orò ní ìwàrun
Ìṣẹ̀ṣe mọ̀mọ̀ làá bọ
Kí á tó bọ Òrìṣà
Interpretation of Ògúndá Ọ̀wọ́rín (Ògún-Dẹ́rìnín):
The ocean in great expanse
The lagoon also in great expanse
Alásán níí rasán
The Babaláwo of Ìṣàn on earth
Alásàn níí ràsàn
The Babaláwo of Ìṣàn in heaven
The Islamic leaders foresaw the terminal end
They reasoned it is not good enough
They substituted their beards for the repose of punishment
They grew heavy beards blocking their mouths
Ifá divination was performed for Ìṣẹ̀ṣe
Our root and the leader of all rituals on earth
Also cast Ifá divination for Ìṣẹ̀ṣe
Our root and the leader of all rituals in heaven
Is one’s Ìṣẹ̀ṣe
Is one’s Ìṣẹ̀ṣe
Is one’s Ìṣẹ̀ṣe
Is one’s Ìṣẹ̀ṣe
It’s the Ìṣẹ̀ṣe one would first sacrifice to
Before sacrificing to Òrìṣà
The English word religion has been in use since the thirteenth century, loaned from Anglo – French religiun (eleventh century), ultimately from the Latin religio, ” reverence for God or the gods, careful pondering of divine things, piety, the res divinae.”
The ultimate origins of Latin religio are obscure, though a historically popular derivation suggests that the term emerged from ligare “bind, connect”; likely from a prefixed re – ligare, l. e. re (again) + ligare or “to reconnect.”
Definition of Religion
According to the online Merriam – Webster dictionary
: the belief in a god or in a group of gods
: an organised system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods.
Definition of Spirituality
According to the same online Merriam – Webster dictionary
: the quality or state of being “concerned” with religion or religious matters
: the quality or state of being spiritual
Example : the “Archbishop” was opposed to the marriage, and the King needed the support of the “Spirituality” if his rule was to be considered legitimate.
According to Wikipedia, the meaning of “Spirituality” as a philosophical/theological term has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other.
Traditionally, Spirituality reffered to a religious process of re – formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man”, oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. The term was used within early Christianity to refer to a life oriented toward the Holy Spirit and broadened during late medieval times to include mental aspects of life.
In modern times, the term both spread to other religious traditions and broadened to refer to a wide range of experience, including a range of esoteric traditions and religious traditions.
Modern usage tend to refer to a subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the “deepest values and meanings by which people live”, often in a context separate from organised religious institutions, such as belief in a personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one’s “inner dimension”.
Etymology of Spirituality
The term spirit means “animating or vital principle in man and animals”. It is derived from the Latin word spiritus (soul, courage, vigour, breath) and is related to spirare (to breathe).
The term “Spiritual”, matters “concerning the spirit” is derived from Old French spirituel (12c.), which is derived from Latin spiritualis, which comes from spiritus or “spirit”.
The term “Spirituality” is derived from Middle French Spiritualite, from late Latin “spiritualitatem” (nominative spiritualitas), which is also derived from Latin spiritualis.
And there is no single, widely agreed up definition of Spirituality. Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a brand range of definitions with limited overlap.
Modern notions of Spirituality developed throughout the 19th and 20th century, mixing Christian ideas with Western esoteric traditions and elements of Asian, especially Indian religion. Spirituality became increasingly disconnected from traditional religious organisations and institutions.
It is sometimes associated today with philosophical, social, or political movements such liberalism, feminist theology, and green politics.
Those who speak of Spirituality outside religion often define themselves as spiritual but not religious and generally believe in the existence of different “spiritual paths,” emphasising the importance of finding one’s own individual path to spirituality.
Definition of Tradition
The word or term is a polysemous one; it has a lot of meanings and or connotations.
I. Tradition means a part of culture that is passed from person to person or generation to generation, possibly differing in detail from family to family, such as the way to celebrate holidays or festivals.
II. The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.
III. A commonly held system.
IV. A long-existing custom or belief.
In Christian Theology, Tradition simply means “a doctrine believed to have authority though not in the scriptures”.
Invariably, the so called Yoruba Spirituality, Traditional Religion, and or Ifá Òrìṣà Tradition is actually Ìṣẹ̀ṣe – Yorùbá Indigenous Religion (YIR) (meaning the root/ source/cradle/origin) is the popular and ancient Yoruba “religious system” based on the teachings of Ifá – an esoteric language or words of God, which is a divination system and an indigenous way of life to the Yorùbás, but including a pantheon of Irúnmọlẹ̀s and Òrìṣàs along with divinations and magic (Thaumaturgy).
It encompasses the religious doctrine of animism, philosophy, and culture of the Yoruba people. Ìṣẹ̀ṣe as a Religion involves the totality of life. And one can not completely separate religion from politics which involves day to day living.
This religion is expressed in symbolic forms and designs which reflects the ideas, concepts, and philosophies of the Yorùbás as an indigenous people.
Olódùmarè (God) rules through the Irúnmọlẹ̀s/Òrìṣàs and spirits who live on earth and who have their own priests and priestesses and symbols. These symbols are used by the priests and priestesses to demonstrate their identity, power, and Authority over their devotees.
The Oníṣẹ̀ṣes (Ìṣẹ̀ṣe Practitioners or Devotees) also have Ancestral figures carved and stored in family shrines. They are carved on the death of old members of the family. Sacrificial items like foods, drinks, animals, prayers are offered to the Ancestors during various ceremonies of worship. The Ancestral spirit also interacts with the living through Egúngún (Masquerade). Masquerades are used in the rituals of communicating with their departed Ancestors.
And Ifá is to Ìṣẹ̀ṣe, what Torah, Bible, and Al Quran is to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam respectively. And while Christianity preaches Salvation through the Christ, Islam preaches Total Submission to the Allah; Ìṣẹ̀ṣe preaches and or teaches Complete Morality.
Ìṣẹ̀ṣe plays emphasis on the three major creeds of periodic performance of divinations, performing sacrifices and rituals, and making offerings to Orí and Irúnmọlẹ̀s/Òrìṣàs.
The basis of the religion is Morality, the way is Spirituality, and the goal is Godliness.
And while far from monolithic in practice and having no Central Authority or binding dogma, Ìṣẹ̀ṣe has remained strongly united around several religious principles, the most important of which is the belief in a single, omniscient, and transcendent Olódùmarè that created the cosmos.
Conclusively, and theologically, anyone or whoever is practising Ìṣẹ̀ṣe – Yorùbá Indigenous Religion (YIR) or Belief System is an Oníṣẹ̀ṣe!Written by Adérẹ̀mí Ifákòleèpin Adérẹ̀mí
Founder and Chief Coordinating Officer
Society for the Ifá Practice in Nigeria (SIPIN)
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My Woven Words Wishes all practitioners of Yorùbá Traditional Religion throughout the world Happy 2021 Ìṣẹ̀ṣe Day. May Olódùmarè grant you all the grace to witness many happy returns of the year in sound health with blessings of all natures. Àṣẹ
May the ire and àṣe of Ẹ̀là Omo Osin Asiwaju, Obatala Oseremagbo Alabalaase and Ogun the royal seer, divine architect, warrior-sage, the possessor of the secret of strength, power and endurance, the creative genius, the guardian of truth and vanquisher of sorcerers and witches be with you. Àṣẹ.
May Baba Orunmila Akerefinusogbon guide, illuminate, and defend you always. Àṣẹ.