This essay is mostly a compilation of information of already published info. Obviously, as a man, my knowledge is limited. Ase O! Iyaami or Iyami have been characterized as a negative force in the universe frequently associated with "witchcraft" and the use of female power to harm others. However, this particular belief is ill informed and is in contradiction to both Ifa scripture and Ifa ritual practice.
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This essay is mostly a compilation of information of already published info. Obviously, as a man, my knowledge is limited. Ase O! Iyaami or Iyami have been characterized as a negative force in the universe frequently associated with "witchcraft" and the use of female power to harm others. However, this particular belief is ill informed and is in contradiction to both Ifa scripture and Ifa ritual practice. For one, offerings to Iyami are a component of nearly all offerings made as a result of consultation with Ifa divination.
In addition, the use of the symbolic representation of birds Eleye on the crown of the king Oba suggests that the blessing of Iyami is an essential element in the sanctification of the monarchy. As a divine ruler, Oba William Adetona Ayeni in the northeastern Yoruba kingdom of Ila-Orangun, while referring to the cluster of birds birds represent the power of the mothers on his great crown, is reported to have said, Without the mothers, I could not rule J.
Pemberton in Drewal et al. They go by the name Aje or Iyaami. These three Iyaami not only guide Olodumare, but they empower the Aje on the earth. They are the ones that originally sent the Aje to the World. The three Iyaami have supreme power over Aje on earth and they are the ones who initiated and spread Aje throughout the World.
The Aje on earth fall into two categories, Oso, which are male Aje and the Eleiye which are female Aje. Esu has ability to enter among both Oso and Eleiye. No one can say they have initiated to Iyaami or say they can initiate you. No one can have or give a shrine to the Iyaami or Aje. If someone claims to have an Iyaami shrine, can give a shrine, to have been initiated to Iyaami or wants to initiate you, they are speaking falsely.
It is impossible to truthfully make these claims. There is no specific shrine to Aje. To feed the Aje one must either feed them through Esu, Orita meta 3 road junction or the Iroko tree.
No one knows the actual Aje shrine, however according to Elders and what Ifa says, we know that the name of their house is called Ota and the name of their shrine is called Idi. No one knows the actual place of the Idi and if they do they can NEVER say" According to Ifa, the difference between men and women is that women are born with ofo ase or the power of the word.
This power is called aje and is rooted in the concept of ge or female ase. Ase is a component of the life force breathed into each human being by Olodumare; it is spiritual power; it is the power to create. Ase is given by Olodumare to everything Gods, ancestors, spirits, humans, animals, plants, rocks, rivers and voiced words such as songs, prayers, praises, curses, or even everyday conversation.
Existence, according to Yoruba thought, is dependent upon it; it is the power to make things happen and change. The power of the word is an important part of harnessing ase Pemberton.
Without Ohun voice , neither Epe curse, the malevolent use of ase , nor Ase can act to fulfill its mission. The reason women have ofo ase is because the voice of the mother is the voice that guides the development of children.
Women are born with ofo ase, while it must be developed in men through initiation. This is why men are presented to odu and women are not. Odu means womb; women are born with a womb. Men experience what it means to have a womb by being presented to odu. The idea that women cannot see odu igbadu because they are somehow inferior to men is a gross distortion developed in a patriarchal west. In Yoruba theology, like most other theologies, exists the concept of extensionism; a connection from the human to God.
In Ifa, this extension is called Ela. It is through Ela that one connects to God Olodumare and receives ase. Ela speaks through Owe ofo ase - proverbs, Odu, oriki, chants, etc. Womens ways of knowing is tied to metaphor of voice owe. In women, the development of sense of voice, mind and self are intricately intertwined, and are the foundation for the egbe known as Iyaami Osoranga from the elision iya a mi oso ran ga meaning, my mothers bring me the power of astral travel What this means is that the power of the word is the power to enter the astral plane and from that plane use the power of the word to change life on earth.
In traditional Ifa, Iyaami Osoronga is the foundation of everything Fatunmbi. Yoruba cosmology is heavy in dualities and polarities that are constantly seeking balance in unity.
Just as there exists the polarity of male-female energy, within female energy itself exists a polarity that is create and destroy. Many focus on the destructive power of the mothers, giving the impression that they are destructive. However, they are also needed for all creative pursuits. A central figure that embodies the dual nature of the mothers, and arguably the most powerful Orisa, is Osun leader of the Iyami cult.
Knowing that she was the source of all good things as stated in the Ifa literary corpus, Osun never needs to vie for position among her fellow Orsa. Compared with the other Orsa, Osun represents a higher and more inclusive religio-aesthetic concept immediately relevant to the solution of human problems, regardless of their origin, nature, or severity.
Her presence and that of our mothers must be acknowledged at all major events, festivals, and celebrations of new seasons and the new year. Virtually all greetings on these occasions end with the prayer Odun a yabo which is a wish for a feminine, productive, harmonious, and successful year, season, or celebration.
This verbal invocation not only acknowledges the spiritual attributes and ase of womanhood which is epitomized in Osun, but is also a practical acceptance of the superior power of our mothers in helping the community to cope with all the challenges of a new season, year, or millennium Abiodun In Yoruba tradition, women are thought to be as indispensable to men as Osun was to the sixteen male orsa or odu at the time of creation. However, men have an ambivalent attitude toward women.
It is felt that women of any age are potential aje who possess eiye the bird power. The symbolism of the bird is ubiquitous in Yoruba ritual and art. The crown of the Oba is adorned with birds, the staff of Osanyin as well as babalawo, and the calabash which holds the bird and other magickal ingredients Odu pot, or igbadu has birds carved on the surface. The mothers, also known as Eleiye, owners of bird, are said to send out there birds or turn into birds themselves at night.
This is a reference to the ability of the Iyami to astral travel. It is during astral travel that they come silently to eat your intestines. The fear of this extraordinary power has caused men to appease women as they do our mothers awon ya wa. Consequently, in many social, religious, and political gatherings, men endeavor to placate our mothers and to pray to them to use their powers for the good of society.
Even though much of the traditional political power in Yorubaland today seems to be located in the domain of men, Yoruba oral traditions and visual art show that this hasnt always been the case.
The power of women is most represented in Osun, who as the leader of the Iyami cult exhibits the multifarious dimensions of feminine power and whose presence continues to reverberate in Yoruba culture and society Abiodun Before contact, the womens society, the Iyaami, had the authority to bestow kingship. It was the Iyaami who put the crown on the new king. All the kings power and authority were in the crown.
It contained the ase of Kingship. The mens society and the womens society, made up of respected elders, made decisions which were passed to the king. In a Yoruba village, Iyalode is a title bestowed on a woman who is head of the women of the community. She is the one who issues the birds, the power of aje. She is head of the market place, and a priestess of Oya.
She represents women in court, and settles disputes. She controls the menstruation of all the women, and so controls all women through her mystical powers Verger After the arrival of Muslims and Europeans, the womens societies were destroyed so that kingship would not be in the hands of the women, and the position could be corrupted. At that time the Kings son could not be king.
Kingship went to a nephew. So although women have always been known to have and use ase for good and for bad for the Yoruba, the ase of Iyami is not in and of itself good or evil; whats important is how it is used , they wouldnt become portrayed purely as witches who are evil and must be persecuted until after the Muslims and Europeans came.
In Odu you will find extensive praise and love of the mothers. There are many sources that show that the idea of witchcraft developed after the arrival of Christian missionaries and colonial officers, who, by persecuting the indigenous religion, created new forms of pagan religion replete with witch hunting groups, and anti-witchcraft churches, etc.
Debrunner The mothers, when they came into the world, came to roost in an Iroko tree as eleiye. The iroko tree is sacred to Iyaami. According to Fatunmbi: " Iroko from the elision i ro ko meaing I learn possession. The iroko trees are huge ancient trees similar to the baobob tree in South Africa. The trees are scattered throughout the rain forest and grow in isolation, meaning a single tree and not in clusters. In traditional Yoruba culture, villages were built around the iroko tree.
The iroko tree is the Ifa tree of life because within the shadow of the iroko tree there are over a species of living things living in perfect harmony. The effect of all these living things creating a balanced environment, is that the iroko tree is an inter-dimensional portal. The tree is used both for the ancestors and for Iyaami. In Ode Remo on the full moon all the women of Iyaami meet in the iroko tree in their astral bodies.
It is taboo for men to walk past the tree on a full moon. If you were to do so accidently, you would not see anything unless you had second sight, but the grandmothers would warn you the next day not to violate the taboo. In the sixties as part of the alleged transfer of power from Britain to Nigeria, British intelligence paid the Yoruba Christian community to walk through Yoruba land burning down the iroko trees and destroying the village Iyaami shrines.
The British did this because they knew that the mothers had control over the oba king and in order to install puppet kings in Yoruba land the British needed to destroy Iyaami. The iroko tree in Ode Remo shows evidence of this burning. The entire Christian crusade was filmed by Bascom, and the raw footage is available at the Berkeley anthropological museum.
As far as I know, it has never been shown in public.
I will explain in this article in detail who are Aje or iyaami osoronga, type of Aje witches that we have in the world and their mode of operation and their mode of initiation and origin of conflict between human being and iyami. Before I start to explain anything I will clear the grey area find difficult by many babalawo that it is only the aje iyami osoronga who can choose who they want to initiate. The truth is that some people get initiated to aje iyaami osoronga witches through their own personal quest. In which they actually get initiated to get this energy but such initiation can only be done by persons who get the energy and on covenant. Aje is nothing than a supernatural phenomenon inherent in nature which when tap into by human or manifest itself in human it can be use to achieve either good or bad end depending on the motive and character of the possessor.
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She is the originator of existence and the womb of all origins: Yoruba spiritualist Samuel M. Because of its scope and power, Aje is feared and revered by many. The feeling is that in order to fulfill her role properly she must possess such power. Chief who created being. Iyami Aje also continue to occupy essential positions of power in Yoruba sacred societies and political institutions. The influx of Abrahamic faiths and the European witch-hunts of Europe during the s coincided with the influx of Islamic and Christian colonialism and the slave trade in West Africa.
What Is IYAAMI?