The reason that many people think that Ifa has many gods is because of the Orisa. Unlike many shamanic systems, we do not treat the forces of nature as gods. They are energies, created by the one Source. We are able to connect with these energies in order to bring ourselves into a closer relationship with them, and what they represent.
It is traditionally said that there are 401 Orisa. In practice, we work with far fewer. These are the primary Orisa, click on the Orisa name for a guided Visualization explaining that Orisa.
- Orunmila (wisdom and knowledge)
- Ela (wisdom in action).
- Obatala (Clarity)
- Oko (Organization)
- Yemonja/Olokun (The surface and depths of the Ocean. Stern Nurturing)
- Ogun (Focus)
- Ochosi (Communication)
- Onile (The Biosphere)
- Oya (Sudden Change)
- Sango (Strategy, Fire)
- Osun (Joy, Fresh Water)
- Osain (Healing, Plants)
- Esu (Gate Keeper, Opportunity, Possibility
- Sigidi (Protection)
As you can see each Orisa has its own qualities. Each also has a day of the week on which it is traditionally connected with. There are many more qualities associated with each Orisa and traditional stories that illuminate the pros, and cons, of each energy.
Working With the Orisa
In Ifa we actively work with the Orisa energies to bring balance to our lives. For instance, if you wanted to bring more joy into your life you would likely work with the energy known as Osun. Osun is the energy of rivers and all fresh water. The energy is most often depicted as female and referred to as she. But, it is important to remember that all of the Orisa are perfectly balanced containing both masculine and feminine, light and dark, expressions within themselves. Osun also represents flow, joy, curiosity, exploration, and love. Simply connecting with this energy, in its purest form. will bring you more joy.
Offerings can also be given to create a more specific kind of connection. If the joy you’re looking for is most like to come from more sweetness you might offer honey. For more excitement, you might choose something hot like chilies. For more flow, you might offer oil to smooth your path.
It is important to remember that we are not worshipping Osun when we make offerings. We are simply making an energetic connection that will positively impact our own state.