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| | |-+  Feminine Empowerment in Orisa'Ifa
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Author Topic: Feminine Empowerment in Orisa'Ifa  (Read 16922 times)
Junior Member
Posts: 118

Orisa Priest in Training

« on: June 27, 2004, 04:55:00 AM »

For the Anago Ifa'Orisha devotee, everything that we are, were, and will be is enshrined in the holy Oracle of Ifa. Our doubts, questions, and unsureties are clarified by the sacred Odu (oracular scriptures) which constitute the foundation of Ifa. And so, we strive to search through the dibris of our ancestral memories embedded and buried deep in the subconsciousness our past. While in the dream state, we are told that during the primal period of our cultural development, ancient African elders carefully monitored and developed the indigenous system of Ifa ethics and paid close attention to every major activity and social behavior in their world. From this analogy a sophisticated, foolproof, pragmatic framework was developed from which their descendants could live and use as a basis to create wonderful, 'civilized' societies and maintain peaceful existence within the communicty, should they choose. To date, Ifa is one of the few classic religions retentions of our ancient past and is preserved as a viable cornerstone of continental African ethics. Its holy scriptures have survived as the most "in tact", despite the cultural genocide that has either destroyed, devastated or contaminated most other African traditional indigenous systems.

In societies where the patriarchial nature of western ethics predominate, the issue of femininity empowerment and the role of women are constantly being discussed and 'fussed' over. The importance of women in western societies is often underestimated, legally restrained and socially controlled to their detriment. However, the ancient Yoruba although gender specific in their cultural format, were extremely considerate of women and their welcomed importance as mothers to the 'balance' of society.

In this article, we shall reveal the traditional Ifa perspective of how ancient Africa speaks with regards to the issue of femininity and offer it as an optional position that African people can ressurect as we approach the 21st century. We shall use data presented in the Odu's Osa Megi and Oshe'Tura to support our position on the issue of femininity. Let us then observe what Ifa says about one of the most controversial issues of the nineties.

The Orisha who is the embodiment of femininity from the Anago perspective is Oshun. Ancient Babalawos whisper even in today's Orisha temples, that Orisha Oshun continues to have a prominant position of enormous wealth and honor among the Irunmale. But when we study. . . the Oracle also tells us in Oshe'Tura, that in primordial times, it did not start out that way. Quite the contrary, the Irunamle did not welcome the participation of Oshun in the creation of the world, nor did They respect Her special 'gifts'. Ifa teaches that in the beginning of the creation of the world, when the first 'team' of Irunmale were sent to design and prepare the world for habitation, Oshun was commissioned to walk with equal standing among the Irunmale. The aura of the sacred Orisha was so infused with Iwa Pele caused Olodumare to be especially pleased with her that she was given the 'beaded crown' which entitled Her as an honored Elder among them. Indeed, our blessed mother was further provided with the enterage necessary to complete Her court and compliment Her ashe. But, after the Irunmale had given salutations to Ifa, Orunmila noticed that They shunned and ignored Oshun. He asked why none of Them wanted to deal with Oshun, and They replied, "It is because She is female". Orunmila then warned them, "Don't even go there, unless you want your very words (ashe) to perish!" He further told them....if they judge Her feminine nature as a weakness, or strange, or something to avoid and ignore, She is extremely powerful and has a devoted enterage of powerful Irunmale followers who answer only to Her! Once this was revealed, the Irunmale thanked Orunmila and started to consult with Oshun. It was at this point, that Their work made progress!

The Oracle Osa Meji is one of the senior Odu Ifa that dictates the correct protocol that all must use when approaching totality of femininity. Ashe is an African (Yoruba) expression that has a number of generic uses, but its fundamental meaning is, the ability to make something happen, i.e., Power! More specifically, Ashe is that expressed ability when executed, causes a significant, noticeable, and changeable impact upon its subject or the object of its direction. The concept of gender, being the second law of the universe, exists for the purpose of seriality, i.e., order. It is the other part of the 'formula' needed for appropriate maintaining of energy balance. This is the reason why the African ethics are gender specific and world is always considered according to two primary genders; female and male. These two genders must ideally operate at certain frequencies with each other in order for the operations of world order. According to tradition, everything has a predetermined social hierarchy in Africa and is arranged in a strata according to their chronological coming into existence. And a human being is defined according his level of behavioral attributes, i.e., Iwa Pele.

The mandated law that was given to Iya Mi Aje Oshoronga by Olodumare, Supreme Controller of the Universe, in the beginning of creation is enshrined in the sacred Odu, Osa Meji which says,
"Your Ashe (AH-SHEY) shall be to sustain the world...
That Ashe shall be a bird contained in a covered calabash.
Exercise your Ashe with caution!

According to the Oracle of Ifa, Iya Mi Aje Oshoronga is the one of the sacred names of the mysterious and divine entity that we know as feminine power, i.e., the gender identified as femaleness, that which entails all the characteristics of femininity! African women exhibit the unique characteristics on a human level that exist in the divine "IyaMi." Iyami Aje's ritual calabash/urn symbolizes the womb, i.e., intrauterine life in all its expressions, while Her icon of divinity is tangibly viewed in the magnificent Oshonga, (Egret), an exotic African bird whose enchanting voice emits screams in the dead of the night! IyaMi Aje contain, maintain and treasure the secret of life, and can shift the scales of world order and balance. She is the miracle which brings forth humanity and is also the force that removes or constrains it. Iya Mi Aje is loosely translated as "Our Mother Who Eats". Very few people understand or accept that Her empowerment emanates from Olodumare, the Supreme Being as confirmed in the Oracle of Ifa, Odu Osa Meji.

IyaMi Aje Oshoronga also punishes those who violate the laws of the universe. She stalks and keeps constant watch on the powers that be on every level of society who pollute the waters, streams, oceans, forests, atsmophere and indeed the earth Herself! The ancients, especially of West & Central Africa consider women to possess a certain kind of power that is extraordinary, mysterious, phenomenal, and as such are revered in African societies throughout the continent. Women and all female species are the "chosen" of Iyami and therefore carry the essence of Iyami, more or less, within their being and that degree of Iyami is what defines the feminine nature of women. Iyami brings peace, health, well being, and fertility to all. As the ultimate in reciprocity, the power of Iyami may also bring drought, sterility, war, and illness, when the laws of Olodumare are disobeyed! And so, African people have an intensified FEAR and respect of Iyami Aje Oshoronga! Be that as it may, Iyami continues to have exclusive possession of the sustaining powers of life; She monitors the cosmos on behalf of the well being of the world! People of African descent all over the world would do well to pay honor and ritual tribute to the mystical power of IyaMi Aje. Transformation, patience, indulgence, calmness, composure, "A cool Head", strength, flexibility, wisdom, motherwit, clairvoyance, secrecy, enigmatic, impregnability and obsabstinence these are only some of the virtues of femininity that African social strata seeks to develop, and refine on the highest level within African womanhood via the secret societies. African women portray themselves in a cool 'controlled' serious manner, through their dress codes, hair styles and body language. Nothing is left 'loose'...the hair is carefully held together, pants are avoided in public and the iro, bubba, iburun, and gelede preferred as the symbol of a cultured woman worthy of respect by the world!

The physiological makeup of the female species has certain dimensions which govern her feminine nature. The female genitals represent the opening from the surface that permit access into the depths of our mysterious physical origins, and as such symbolize the unknown. The character of this most sacred part of feminine physiology is designed to be pleasurable, absorbing to the male counterpart to encourage and accommodate the procreative process. The inner womb symbolizes the universe in micro; containing moisture, nourishment center of life, and ever changing. The uterus symbolizes fertility, progressive development, and secrecy. The breast are the ultimate symbol of nourishment and a food source once the infant is delivered into the world, for future generations. The feminine physique is special and sacred causing African ethics and custom to insist that the integrity of the female anatomy by properly clothed! Even our Orisha icons are shielded in cloth accordingly! As such, the ancient Yoruba created the ideal dress code of bubba, iro, iburun, and gelede, which when worn by the African woman, symbolizes virtues of a queen.

There are also things physically present in the world that belong to Iyami Aje; the earth is a symbol of stability because our skin, hair, etc. all come from her, and will return to her upon our departure from the physical state; water is a symbol of fluidity because she conforms to the confines of discipline, is changeable, but cannot be mastered; the shadow is of symbol of comprehension because she cannot be touched, and the void is the symbol of mystery because she can only be appropriated by being filled! One might say that when the female's male counterpart merges with her, he is seeking to fill the void of his own imperfection! Iyami Aje Oshoronga is therefore Sorceress Supreme. Her taboos are isolation from society, and destruction of nature on any level. Any society that does not involve and have a high regard for the integrity of the feminine psyche is heading for its own destruction!

The ancient Yoruba had a special understanding of the power of femininity and even though they took a uniquely patrilineal view, they deliberately assigned certain duties in society strictly to women, like the control of the money, via the markets! Osa Meji advises us to "take low", use caution when in the presence of the elder feminine powers, i.e., an old woman. As African women we have a sacred responsibility to guard our bodies, minds and spirits and remember the source and guardian of our femininity. We cannot afford to involve our African selves in the various vices of the western world, by participating in human behavior on any level that interferes with our African femininity and places it at 'risk'. African women cannot afford to share in some of the behavioral leisure of other races and cultures. For example, for an African woman to participate in any kind of sexual activity with anyone other than a male counterpart would be hazardous to her well being and offensive to Iyami Aje to whom all African women belong. Promiscuity is shunned and unacceptable by African society. Men, boys (or anyone) who rape, beat, sodomize, and otherwise abuse "any women, anywhere of any age", will ultimately be disciplined by IyaMi Aje. Motherhood is the supreme expression of femininity and should be the objective of every African woman. African women are the sustainers of African cultural and religion and must always carry themselves in public as well as private, in dress, manner, and thought as such. The area surrounding the womb should ALWAYS be covered, the body should be bathed from head to toe daily, the hair should be styled in a "controlled" manner. Public expression should be subdued, and words chosen with caution and careful thought. Reserve your disagreements with your mate for private moments, where you may freely express yourself. Systematically teach and monitor your children yourself with culture of Africa and behavior manner that is conducive to a child. Advocate that the world give you your elevated position by behaving and dressing and speaking in a highly elevated manner.

African women have been free and in complete control of their social, spiritual and physical life long before the western feminist movement came to fruition. Once an African woman relearns her ancient culture and ethics system, she has thus become aligned with all the ancient mothers who have come before her, and who will ressurect her knowledge of herself within her! All of the female Orishas are joined together in IyaMi Aje. Oshun, Oya, Yemonja, Oba, Onile, Aje, Odu, Nana Buruku, Olokun and all the ancestral mothers are enshrined as the generic 'one' in IyaMi Aje. This is the foundation of African womanhood that makes us so strong!


When we have the determination to restrain our lower desires, the door is opened for us to fulfill our highest aspirations.
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