Friday, January 01, 2021

The Orishas Speak: The 2021 Letter of the Yoruba Association of Cuba (Letra del Año para el 2021 de la Asociación Yoruba de Cuba) and My Preliminary Interpretation

 

Pix Credit: Ceremonias Previas de la Letra del Año 2021, realizadas en La Habana y en Las Provincias. / Asociación Cultural Yoruba de Cuba en Facebook

Orunmila! Elérí Ípin, Ìbikeji Olódumarè, A-je-jù-Oògùn, Obìriti, A-p'ijó-ikú-da, Olúwa mi, A-to-i-ba-j'ayé, Òrò à-bi-kú-j'igbo, Olúwa mi, Ajiki, Ógégé a-gb'ayé-gún; Odúdú ti nídú orí emèrè; A-tún-orí-tí-kò sunwòn se, A-mo-i-kú. Olówa Aiyere, Agiri Ilé-Ilógbón; Olúwa mi; amoimotán, A kò mo O tàn kose, A ba mo tàn kose, A bà mo tán ìbà se ke. [Orunmila, the witness of our fate, Second to Olodumaré, you are more effective than medicine, You are the immense presence thatavoids the day of death, Lord Almighty save us, mysterious spirit that battles death. Salutation s are due you first in the morning, for you are the force than produces equilibrium among the forces on Earth, you are the one than can reconstruct  the creature  whose lot in life is bad, you are the reairer of bad luck, those who come to you encounter immortality. Lord and undeposable ruler, perfection int he house of wisdom, Lord infinite in knowedge, we who fail to know you  fully will fail, if we could but know you fully, all would be well with us.]   (Afolabi A Epiga and John Philip Niemark, The Sacred Ifa Oracle (Brooklyn, NY: Athelia Henrietta Press, 1995))

So begins the invocations of the Babalawós of IFA to Orunmila, that divine manifestation of wisdom and the conduit through which it is made available to humanity through the channels provided by Ellegua/Esu, the tricky and quite moody divine manifestation of divine spirit of connection, before the work of divination, of connection to the divine, may be commenced.

Every religion connects the structures of divinity to the human communities around which their worship is structured and social, political, economic, and cultural communities are organized. To that end, the priestly caste platys a very specific role as mediator, interpreter, and as the incarnation of a social order grounded in divine principles and rules.

In most states, the priestly role has been transformed.  But it is useful, as one examines the priestly role in modern western states, to consider a more traditional relationship between the priest and the state.  One of the more interesting manifestations of the role of religion within political life is that of the priests of the practitioners of the old religions of Africa as re-established in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Marxist-Leninist Cuba.  (here)
That priestly role is exercised in very specific ways among the great traditions of Western Religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  It shows a more variegated vigor among Non-Western religious traditions.  These are well known.  Yet most of these have sought to marginalize the great traditions of African religions as a barbaric variant of primitive idol worship that had been suppressed elsewhere.  And yet those religious traditions remain as vibrant, their theologies as complex, and their practices as rich as those other religious traditions that have sought over many centuries to supplant them.  And so it was in the early hours of the 1st of January that leaders of the various branches of the Afro Cuban religious communities met.

La comunidad yoruba cubana espera ansiosa las revelaciones que transmite el grupo de Sacerdotes Mayores de Ifá que se reúne el 31 de diciembre para dar a conocer, cada 1 de enero, la Letra del Año. Esta es la ceremonia religiosa más importante de Osha Ifá. Comenzó a realizarse en el siglo XIX, desde entonces los babalawos de diferentes ramas religiosas se reúnen para entregar las predicciones y cuidados que se deben tener en cuenta durante el período que se inicia. Los refranes y recomendaciones que aparecen en la Letra del Año son esenciales para que los devotos sepan cómo conducirse en aras de vencer los obstáculos en el año que comienza. Además, es muy importante conocer los orishas que gobiernan, los signos y ritos asociados a estos.
[The Cuban Yoruba community anxiously awaits the revelations which will be transmitted by the Principal Sacerdotes of Ifa who met on 31 December to divine, every 1 January, the Letra del Año. Thsi is the most important religious ceremony of the Osha Ifa. The practice started in the 19th century, and from then on the babalowos of the different branches of the faith would come together to deliver their predictions and cautions  that would to be taken into account during the year. The various parts of the Letra del Año are essential for those faithful as a aguide to their conduct in order to overcome the predicted obstacles and challenges which begin with the new year. At the same time it is important to recognize the orishas who will govern the temper of the year as well as their attributes. ] (CiberCuba, Letra del Año 2020 para Cuba)
To that end, at the start of every year the leaders of the great indigenous religion of Cuba conduct, through a series of ceremonies, a general divination for the country.  The results of that divination, and its advice, is organized into a "Letter of the Year" (Letra del Año) (on the history of the Letras del año see HERE (Historia de la Ceremonia de la Letra del Año )).
La letra indica que es lo que comunican los Orichas a las família de santo y creyentes, como les irá en el transcurso del año en curso, y lo que deberán hacer para que, las posibles tragedias venideras no los agarre tan desprevenidos. Por esa letra, se regirán todos los familiares de ese ilé (casa) sin excepción, durante todo ese año, y en ella quedan determinados cuales limpiezas (Ebbós) deben hacerse todos los miembros. [The letter indicates what the Orishas communicate to the orisha communities and uninitiated believers (the laity), how they will fare in the course of the current year, and what they must do so that possible coming tragedies do not catch them so unprepared. The letter serves without exception as the rules and instructions that serve as the basis for the governance (and guidance) of those religious communities, each ilé (house), throughout that year, and in it are determined which cleanings (Ebbós) all the members should undertake.] (EcuRed, Letra del Año)).

The object of the annual letter is to provide guidance for the nation and its people, as well as more technical advice for the orisha communities of initiates and believers. More specifically it is meant to provide guidance for faith practitioners otherwise unable to receive more specific guidance within their own branch. 
 
For the last eight years I have written of the annual letter of the Cuban Council of the High Priests of Ifá (Consejo Cubano De Sacerdotes Mayores De Ifá), the practitioners of traditional religion brought over from West Africa with the slave trade and now naturalized as a powerful indigenous religion throughout the Caribbean and now growing in the United States. (e.g., 20202019; 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015; 2014; 2013; 2012). The 2018 Letter was particularly relevant--it stressed that 2018 was to be the year of great revelations that would begin to have transformative effects (more here 2018).  The 2019 Letter marked a very odd premonition of rupture. The year was  different in another way.  For a few hours early on January 1st, there appeared to be two distinct letters distributed on the Internet.  The first appeared to be the full Letra del Año and was posted to two web sites, one from Miami and the other from Madrid, but both with deep connections to the religious community in Cuba.  That rupture was realized in 2020, for which the divination suggested the arrival of a fundamental fracture that will be repeated over and over. The Letter for 2021 was highly anticiapted goven the unprecedented challenges of 2020 (Crecen expectativas sobre el contenido de la Letra del Año 2021). 

Traditionally each of the major houses provided their own annual divination.  In Cuba a process of consolidation resulted in agreement among the major houses for a major joint divination and the production of a single national augury.  The year 2021 marked the 6th year of an important change, in which many of the most important branches of the faith came together to produce a unified letter. 


 
Pix Source
El 31 de Diciembre de 2020 se reunieron en la sede de La Institución Religiosa Asociación Cultural Yoruba de Cuba los miembros de la Comisión Organizadora de la Letra del Año, integrada por el Consejo de Sacerdotes Mayores de IFA, el Consejos de Sacerdotes Asesores a los Mayores, Sacerdotes Jefes de Familia descendientes de las cuatro vertientes o ramas más importantes de nuestro legado Afrocubano, para realizar la Ceremonia de Apertura del Año 2021. Presidida como es habitual por el Sacerdote de Ifá Ángel Custodio (Bebo) Padrón “Awo Baba Eyiobe” Sacerdote Mayor de Cuba y respaldado por Sacerdotes de IFA de todas las familias de Cuba y sus descendientes en el Mundo. (Letra del Año 2021 para Cuba)
 
The 2021 Letra (oddus (the wisdom of the divine passed through Orunmila the manifestation of such wisdom communication), patakis (sacred parables passed down through generations of babaláwos, Ifá practitioners), and ruling manifestations) and interpretation/suggestions follows, along with the somewhat abbreviated full predictions and interpretations of the  Yoruba Cultural Society and the Council of Major Priests of Ifá  (with thanks to IPS CUBA for the images).  For this post I include my own interpretation-refection of the 2020 Letra in the form of brief comments on the predominant orishas and on the key oddus which form the basis of the official divination.

In my next post I will provide a more personal Letter of the Year, the oddus for which were also received 31 December 2020, along with commentary. You are invited to consider both now and during the course of the year--as metaphor, as commentary, or as poetry.   EN ESPAÑOL ACQUI:Los Orishas hablan: La Carta 2021 de la Asociación Yoruba de Cuba (Letra del Año para el 2021 de la Asociación Yoruba de Cuba) y mi interpretación de la adivinación de 2021.


 
The divination for 2019 posed some problems for the Ifa community, especially relating to the authenticity and power of the divination. For a few hours early on January 1st, there appeared to be two distinct letters distributed on the Internet. The first appeared to be the full Letra del Año and was posted to two web sites, one from Miami and the other from Madrid, but both with deep connections to the religious community in Cuba. At the same time the official sites in Cuba posted the more traditional Adelanto de la Letra del Año, de la Sociedad Cultural Yoruba de Cuba (Preliminary Letter). This one included a quite different set of divination. This one was thereafter reported in the official press in Cuba and the U.S. (e.g., here, here, and here). One of the two websites that had posted the original full letter then switched to the Adelanto (preliminary-summary) version; the other had not as of the afternoon of 1 January (here) along with one other (here), though curiously the later one posted on 31 December 2018. By the end of the day, however, the websites had all eliminated the alternative version and posted the now official version (in full HERE). This episode reminds us of the sharp divide between IFA and those who seek to draw from it.

The disorder around the 2019 Divination mirrored the disorder in the divination itself. The divination for 2019 was also quite precise, and precisely correct in its predictions for the roller coaster that was 2019--truth, anger, loss of control, inversions, and surprises. The arrow of Ochossi struck over and over again in 2019. And when that arrow struck its target, the enraged Oschun guaranteed the result. This was a year when secrets were revealed, when power was upended, and when the emotions overcame both logic and organization.That disorder was activated in 2020. But that agency of that fracture--a virus, was less clear. 2020 was not the year of BabaluAye, it was the year of Obatalá and Oshun.  And yet there it was--2020 was the year that Obatala got drunk again on palm wine and produced the deformities that was the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Thsi was not an act of disease as much as an act of creaiton gone wrong.  But that last thought will require years of research to prove correct.
 
The disorder carried over to the end of 2020.  It caused the IFA practitioners to change their divination ceremonies in light of the realities of the pandemic.  
La Asociación informa además, que Las Ceremonias de La Letra del Año 2021, se realizarán a «puertas cerradas», participando los Sacerdotes que sean Convocados, siempre que no excedan el total de 100 personas como medida sanitaria frente al Covid-19, enfatizan la necesidad de entender que quienes no sean convocados no podrá acceder a las instalaciones.(Consejo Cubano De Sacerdotes Mayores De Ifá , Letra del Año 2021).

 The 2021 Letter as issued on 1 January 2021 follows in full (this verson from Cuba en Miami; other versions here, here, and here): 



La Letra del año 2021 de la Asociación Cultural Yoruba de Cuba en unión con la Comisión Organizadora para la letra del Año Miguel Febles Padrón será publicada en las primeras horas del primero de enero de 2021.

Predicciones de Ifá para Cuba y el mundo en el 2021

A los Sacerdotes de IFA, Obbases, Babalochas, Iyalochas, Iworos y Pueblo Religioso en general.

El 31 de Diciembre de 2020 se reunieron en la sede de La Institución Religiosa Asociación Cultural Yoruba de Cuba los miembros de la Comisión Organizadora de la Letra del Año, integrada por el Consejo e Sacerdotes Mayores de IFA, el Consejos de Sacerdotes Asesores a los Mayores, Sacerdotes Jefes de Familia descendientes de las cuatro vertientes o ramas más importantes de nuestro legado Afrocubano, para realizar la Ceremonia de Apertura del Año 2021. Presidida como es habitual por el Sacerdote de Ifá Ángel Custodio (Bebo) Padrón “Awo Baba Eyiobe” Sacerdote Mayor de Cuba y respaldado por Sacerdotes de IFA de todas las familias de Cuba y sus descendientes en el Mundo.

Signo regente: Ika fun

Primer Testigo: Odi leke

Segundo Testigo: Irete ogbe

Profecía: Un bien de salud firme y seguro en la tierra que va a proporcionar Orula

Onishe: Durante 8 días ponerle diferentes Addimu a Orunla y al octavo día llevar esas ofrendas al río y allí sacrificar una gallina a las ofrendas y al río.

Obatala: Sacrificarle 2 Codorniz, con 16 rodajas de pan, cacao, cascarilla y 2 velas.

Oniche Ile (Casa): Baldear la Casa con 8 hierbas de Obatala

Divinidad que gobierna: Olokun

Deidad acompañante: Ochún

Bandera: Azul con ribetes en amarillo

Bandera azul con ribetes amarillos

Ebbo recomendado para el año 2021: 1 Gallo, 1 Piedra Del Río, Agua de Río, Migajas de Pan, Tierras de 16 Lugares diferentes, Ropa Sudada, 8 Tiras de colores diferentes, demás Ingredientes.

Obras del Signo de Ifá del Año 2021

Lo que nace en el signo que rige el Año 2021

Refranes del signo:

  • El que ríe último ríe mejor.
  • A veces lo que no le gusta es lo que tiene que hacer.

Orishas que hablan en la letra del año 2021 de la Asociación Yoruba de Cuba:

Enfermedades que aumentan su índice:

  • Enfermedades Infectas contagiosas
  • Enfermedades Gastrointestinales
  • Enfermedades del Sistema Nervioso

Acontecimientos de Interés Social:

  • Aumento del desacato a la autoridad en sentido general.
  • Incumplimientos y Rupturas de convenios.
  • Incremento de desastres naturales que conlleven a pérdidas tanto materiales como de vidas humanas.
  • Aumento en flujo migratorio.
  • Aumento en las pérdidas de vidas humanas como consecuencia de la emigración ilegal.
  • Aumento en las Violaciones, territoriales, jurídicas, sexuales.
  • Aumento en las tensiones políticas, sociales y religiosas que pueden conllevar a un conflicto.
  • Puede haber aumento de la mortandad materno infantil por malos procedimientos.
  • Aumento en la ingestión de bebidas alcohólicas.
  • Aumento en los índices de estafas, robos y asaltos.
  • Incremento de las falsas consagraciones y de las profanaciones religiosas.
  • Aumento en la deformación moral.
  • Incremento en las adulteraciones de alimentos y bebidas que generen intoxicaciones alimentarias.
  • Aumento de los hechos delictivos.
  • Este signo exige de todos un cumplimiento de los mandamientos religiosos

RECOMENDACIONES DE LA LETRA DEL AÑO 2021

  • Se hace un llamado a la Sociedad Mundial a realizar un análisis sobre el alto nivel de corrupción existente en todas las esferas.
  • Se hace un llamado a la familia para inculcar respeto, educación y el amor por el trabajo.
  • Mantener las medidas higiénicas sanitarias establecidas.
  • Cumplir y respetar las leyes de cada país para evitar problemas judiciales.
  • Combatir la promiscuidad en el hogar.
  • Se recomienda chequeo periódico en cuanto a la salud.
  • Se recomienda aumentar el aseo personal, el lavado de las manos.
  • Se recomienda respeto dentro del matrimonio para evitar las rupturas.
  • Analizar las consecuencias de los favores y los compromisos.
  • Se recomienda la rogación de cabeza con dos palomas blancas.
  • Elevar la planificación económica familiar para evitar pérdidas de dinero y deudas.
  • Llevar tributo a Olokum al mar.
  • Los Aleyos e Iworos que tengan pendientes consagraciones, realizarlas este año, verificando antes, a la persona que escojan para consagrarse.
  • Ser selectivos con las personas a realizarles consagraciones o rituales religiosos.
  • Evitar el narcisismo en sentido general.
  • Reforzar la puerta de la casa (ver a su padrino)
  • Acudir a la casa del padrino en busca de orientación religiosa detallada.

 

Interpretation:

This year presents an interesting turn in ruling manifestations of the divine.  

1. Ruling manifestaitons of the divine spirit in the world

The year 2020 was ruled (in the sense that the divine manifestaiton of energy pointed toward the predominance of certain forms of approaches to the year) by Oshun and Obtala, the divine manifestations of both the most positive and most negative energies of faith (passion) and reason (intellect), they are as well the manifestaitons of the qalities of inland waters) and air.  This year, 2021, the principal manifestations of divine energy are all water--Olokun and Oshun. But this is water energy of a vastly different sort. And it is worth taking a moment ot consider Olokun's place in the cosmology of thsi religious community. In the analysis of the 2020 Letter fo the Year I noted some of the range of manifestation of Oshun, but there as against the critical aspects of Obatalá. Still, it is worth reviewing for contnuing relevance in 2021. One of the patakis of Oshun, though, reminds us that Oshun may not always keep her word, even after she makes a promise. The story of Oshun and Iroko, a Cieba tree, reminds us that while Oshun is always ready to make a promise (in this case a promise to serve as an occaisonal companion), enforcing the agreement can ultimately produce a permanent separation.  In this case  Ioko's heled Oshun concieve and Oshun failed to keep her end of the bargan.  Iroko eventually managed to meet Oshun's child through the help of Ellegua, and took the child down into the eart fro many years to tell him stories.  Eventually Oshun discovered  this and Iroku produced the chld, well entertained and contented along with richess for Oshun to guard.  But thereafter her children were warned to always stay away from the Cieba tree. 

Both Oshun and Olokun are connected with water.  Oshun's manifestaitons are generally tied to the water that feeds life on land--rivers, lakes and the like,--and thus of fertlity and wealth mostly in that sense but material wealth as well , and to passion, childbirth and other aspects of fertility.  She is also the manifestaiton of overlush fertility and of infertility as well. She is generally understood as gendered female ad all that implies in tradtional manifestaitons of the dfemale principle. Olokun, on the other hand, is said to reside at the bottom of the seas. He isto be distinguished from Yemanya though sometimes there is a strng connection and in some cases an identity (eg in Candomblé). But he is not a "he." Olokun is effectively ungendered, or multi-gendered--Olokun is male or female or male-female, or not male or female or male-female. Olokun "is." He can be revered as the head of all of the manifestaitons of divinity connected with water and is thought to guard vast wealth at the bottom of the seas where Olokun takes residence. But that is the essence of Olokun--dark, submerged, the holder of treasure, androgenous or gender multiple.  The Patakis speak to Olukun's sense of mutual respect but also of hs temper in the face of affront.  The story of Olokun coming on land to restore honor when he felt his daughter slighted by Oko reminds us that the relationship between earth and water can be destructive and difficult to control.  As the Pataki goes Olokun was enraged when his daughter's relationship with Oko (the divine manifestaiton of the land and its abundance thrugh farming) ended after it was revealed that Oko broke his promise not to mock her deformities.  Though ultimately Oko made peace with Olofi (the unseen supreme diety) Olokun refused to make peace and contiinued to destroy the lands of the earth.  He was ultimately punished when a divine chain was made and he was tied to the bottom of the sea with it. It had been possible to do that precisely because, it is sometimes related, Olokun's rage was so great that he was not even aware that the chain was boing wrapped around him.  Blind rage, a passin tha is out of control, the origins of which might have been justified but then were the source of its own breaches of the rules; that is the fundamental manifestaiton of Olokun.  Olokun holds wealth, but like him, it is tied to the bottom of the sea.  In Caribbean traditions, the intermediary, then, are Yemanya and Oshun who together represent the abundance of the waters and its fertility.  African tradition in places still aligns Olokun with Posiden.  

Pix credit here
It is this complex relations among the waters that appear to be at the foundation of the divination for 2021. This set of structural characteristics must be taken into account in interpreting the oddus cast for the year, from out of which the babalwos will create their interpretaitons.  Ths of the senior babalawos of Cuba are reproduced above.  And they are worthy of significant study--especially for those in Cuba. And indeed, the thrust of the interpretaiton has as its center the patakis of Oshun and Olokun related above.  They speak to ruptures and breaches of contract and of relationship.  And they speak as well to the passions and destruciton that will come as the response to these ruptures, breaches, and violations.  The patakis, as interpreted by the Cuban Babalawos remind us to have a care in the protection of agreement, but also to be mindful of excessive passion in the response to rupture.  The result of that combination, of an intemorate and unrestrained response to betrayal or rupture, will be deadly.  Olokun reminds us that in the end all parties suffered--Oko to forever reside far from the sea, no longer able to combine easily with the water that had proven so beneficial, and Olokun himself we find bound to the bottom of the sea for his intemperance in the face of rupture, of insult, and of disrespect.  Oshun treated her promises lightly and found herself without its product--her children, for many years.  There is hope of course, in the end, assuming contrition and the sacrifices of acts of forgiveness are made.  But this is a messy business. 

For the Cuban babalawos, the end product is a warning against all sorts of ruptures--social, political, business, familial, personal.  It is also to warn aganst the corruption of politics, of social organization, of religionthat will produce the deformities that may trigger ruptures. In the spirit of Olokun and Oshun, they suggest this is a year of broken promises, of rage, and of sacrifice as those in the wrong try to do right (eventually) but those in the right inevitably are tempted to do wrng.  Even where peace is eventually made--the result of these corruuptions, ruptures and breaches--moral, social, political, physical, etc.--is separation.  What was once aligned and compatible will be sundered. It is, in effect, a time for the picking up of the pieces after an explosion and for each to go his or her or its own way.  Even in peace the old unions and alignmn¡ets will be ruptured. The advice: be mindul of arrangements, agreements, connecitons; they can be corrupted or breaced.  The other side of the advice; in the face of betrayal, of corruption, and of breach, adhere to rinciples of proportionality in the face of an overwhelming temptaiotn to lose control.  As to the specifics suggested for ameliorating this inevitable augury--the Babalwos offer advice that the reader may choose to consider. 


2. The Oddus.

The guiding oddus deepen this interpretaiton and point more closely to the drection that may be taken in 2021. These are considered next.  he principal oddu is Ìká-Fú (No. 235 in the order of Ifa Oddus), supported by Ìdí-Ìreté (No. 119); and Ìrètè-Ogbè (No. 42). 

A. Ìká-Fú (No. 235)

Ìká-Fú speaks to agreements, to mutuality, to the quid pro quo of existence.  "Ìká-Fú, A dífá fún Olobahun Ìjapá, won niki Olobahun Ìjapá rú. . . Ó ko ko rú. Wón ni: Eniti komu (ohun) towó rè wa kiiri t'eni gba s'owó "[Ìká-Fú was divined for the tortoise. He was asked to sacrifice. . . He refused to sacrifice. They said: one who cannot contribute his own cannot recieve from others](Afolabi A Epiga and John Philip Niemark, The Sacred Ifa Oracle (Brooklyn, NY: Athelia Henrietta Press, 1995; p. 501). The tortoise was also asked to sacrifice  so that his debtors might pay him what he was owed ("Ìká-Fú, A dífá fún Olobahun Ìjapá, won niki Olobahun wa rùbo kiobaa le ri owó gba lowo tiojee ni'gbese." Ibid., p. 501-502).

Let us start with the fundamental character of the oddu.  This oddu is comprised of a union of Ìká (no. 11 in the order f Ifa) and Ofún (No 16 in that order).  Ìká speaks to worries, to uncertainties and to the enemies that tend to block one's path, and tus augment worry. It speaks to the seduction of partners and the unreliability of children and associates. And it speaks to the high cost of victory and inadvertant blockages that are caused by our own arrogance. The pssibility of success is there, to be sure, but that path requires substantial sacrifice (understood in its broader sense of works intended to further the objective and in this way to seal a bargain with divine forces). Ofún, on the other hand, speaks to patience and restraint. It also speaks to the exploitation of superiors and the likely need to reduce expectations.  Here the story of the refusal of Olofin to sacrifice to augment the wealth of his children--the 16 major oddus of the Ifa cycle, is read to remind its users, the babalawos, that they will not acquire riches from the use of their powers, only wisdom, in return those who use them way court disaster by failing to heed wisdom when demanded. Here one goves but recieves what may not be expected.

The key here: no just mutuality, but also the knowledge of the uneveness of the exchange, the tenuousness of the relationship, and the need to contribute if one is to extract. 

B. Ìdí-Ìretè (No. 119).

Ìdí-Ìretè augments the initial augury of mutuality and contribution in a peculiar way.  It suggests the difficulty of that contribution. If one does work hard, gain is impossible and contract stillborn. Its essence is simple:

Okó kiiko isé sile. Àdá kiiskunrun, Ajá nf'orí ja'gbo wa sisé Èrú ijà kii b'Agbo [A hoe never fails to work. A cutlass is never sick. A dog gets to work relentlessly. A ram fears no opposition] (Ibid., p. 274-275).

The reference of Okó is important in this year as he was the Orisha whose breach of agreement initially set Olokun into the rage that unchecked, left him chained to the bottom of the sea., and Okó sent far from the waters. But at the same time it is a warning that augments the insight about the payment to the babalawo's in Ìká-Fú.  That warning--one cannot aspire to more than what the social order permits.  A place for everything and everything in the place designated--for tose who seek to break the boundaries of imposition--gender, class, politics, etc., this is not the year when such a breach will produce much gain.  And indeed, the buries suggesiton--this is the year of the counterpunch, of the power of the status quo and of the view of breaches of social contracts, including by those who seek to overcome themselves, will be severely punished.  Perhaps so severely punished that the punishment itself will constitute a breach that will be punished in turn. Not a good year for either peace or stability, thougha year in which that is the baseline from which all uproar will spring.

And indeed,  the fundamental character of the oddu underlines this  supplemental warning  for the interpretaiotn of the principal annual oddu.  Ìdi meiji (No. 4) seaks to hidden enemies who meant to trick and trap. And it speaks to detachment in the face of danger--Okansoso ewon kiike [a single link never breaks] (Ibid., p. 15) and thus the sacrifice of a chain. Ìretè (No. 14) touches on the necessity of humility and warns against intrigues of enemeies.  It speaks to making sacrifice to fit in if only in order to survive and perhaps to thrive. And the warning in the form of the story of Akon the crab, bought as a slave, he produced many children and remained with his master even as the human slaves rebelled and feld. To stay in one's place, to become ones place, runs its own dangers. 

C.  Ìrètèogbe (No. 42).

The second augmenting augury is Ìrètèogbe, No. 42 in the cycle of Ifa.  Here one comes at last to the ray of hoe--the intimation already in the stroy of Oshun and the Cieba tree, one of the acquisition of wealth and the return f one's children, but at a price. This is an Ifá cast for Olokun--again a significant connection. It was predicted he would be rich and have many children (wón ni a di alájé, a di olomo).  And he did.  But his rage cost hin his freedom and his wealth and children became detached from him as he lays at the bottom of the sea. It is as well the oddu of tit for tat--one sacrifices hney to Ifá and recieves honey in return.  But it tells us nothing of the context or conseqeunces.  That becomes more obvious--at least its direction, from the two preceedings oddu. 

Recall as well the fundamental character of this oddu: here we encounter Ìretè (No. 14) again, cautioning humility but warning about that condition as a trap.  We also encounter Èìiogbè (no. 1), a complex oddu which also reminds us of the dangers of Okun in the form of Ògèdè the farmer, who repays the sacrifice of the bana tree by cutting it to the ground after it has given all of its chilfdren (the fruit) to the farmer.  He not just a betrayal but a fatal one. 

D. The hidden Oddu:  Ìretè méji (No. 14)

Note as well, here, the hidden oddu--Ìretè méji (No. 14) whose aspects appear twice in the three augury oddu.  That suggests that its teachings and warnings are to be underlined, and its lessons taken as an important fundamental baseline for interpreting the principal oddu.  Ìretè méji emphasizes the need to community and for initation to assure a long life.  Initation requires sacrifice and embedding within a larger society.  it is about fitting in--and its necessity if one is to survive the year or extract success from an endeavor. But it also warns of failing to heed advice.  Again Akon the crab makes an appearance in this oddu, and in a significant way: 

Odan-ab orípegunpegun li o dífá f'Akon, Won ni: Iwa Akon Koniiba yi ojà mu. Nitorinaa bi Akon ba fe ki ìwa oun ba ti ojà mu kiowa ru: Ata-epo ati aso olokeleti Akon ko ko rú; O wa di ojo ojà Akon gbe ata epo rè ru, o fi pantete bi o ti nfe lati da aso, Olokoleti rè bora, bee ni ata (ikoko) epo re yi tioso si oju de, o fo sii laso, Epo ti o fo si Akon lara ni ojo naa liosa, liosi wa ni ehin rè titi di onì yi. Bi Ifá yi ba bui ènìyan, ki a kilo fun eni naa pe: ko gbodo maafi aso-olokoleti bo'ra [Odan-ab orípegunpegun was cast for Akon. He was told he would never fit  in with the people in the market unless he adjusted a fault in himself for which sacrifice was required, a pot of oil and a shawl. Akton refused to sacrifice on market day. He balanced his pot of palm oil on his head, but when he attemped to wrap himself with his shawl, the pot fell off his head and soaked his clothes. The palm oil that soaked Akon clothes and his body remain on his back to thsi day. If anyone is born by this Ifá, he should be warned to avoid using a shawl to cover his body]. (Afolabi A Epiga and John Philip Niemark, The Sacred Ifa Oracle (Brooklyn, NY: Athelia Henrietta Press, 1995) p. 55-56).

Akon the crab, the slave, the producer of many children for others that he serves and against whom he will not rebel or flee.  Akon, the crab, who wishes to fit in but redfuses to change, and who takes what ought to be offered for himself, only to be marked forever by it, and in the process lose whatever he had of value for sale in the market. Ifá advises against wearing a shawl.  That would have been offering enough. By refusing to sacrifice the shawl Akon lost the oil which marks him permanently. Had he sacrificed the oil he might have worn his shawl to his hearts content. Had he sacrificed both he would have obtained his goal--to be initiated, that is to fit in with the people of the market. But the insights of the story go in many different directions; the folly of those who do not fit in but seek to project themselves into a communal space anyway; the folly of avarice; the perhaps greater folly of carelessness; and the permanence of the conseqeunces of actions that cannot be undone.  

But wider message of Ìrètèmeiji ought to be emphasized as expressed in the double focus on the imperative of initiation, of a coming into community, and of the conseqeunces of the failure to do so.  Thsi is the year that those outside the communal walls may fare well, but they will be marked, and they well carry the burden of that marking going forward. Yetas the story of Akon the crab reminds, and as Ìdí-Ìretè (No. 119) explains: "Okó kiiko isé sile. Àdá kiiskunrun, Ajá nf'orí ja'gbo wa sisé Èrú ijà kii b'Agbo [A hoe never fails to work. A cutlass is never sick. A dog gets to work relentlessly. A ram fears no opposition] (Ibid., p. 274-275). 

And that brings us back to the principal oddu for 2021: Ìká-Fú (No. 235).: mutuality, uneven exchanges, the need to contribute is one is to extract, and the tenuousness of fitting in. It is a year for worry, but also for patience and for the caution to avoid excessive reaction to both rights and wrongs.

E. Oracular Trajectories.

Like 2020, 2021 is the year of Ìrètè, but with a difference.

2020 was the year of Ìrètè-Sa; it was guided by the oracular conclusion--Oku li o nru oku (The dead are carrying the dead).  And, indeed, that became the anthem of2020, the year of the dead carrying the dead, the living and the dead clashing, and the irrresponsibility in their warfare.

2021 is the year of Akon the crab: slave, great producer of value, a fool who will be taken advantage of  even as he acts as his own worst enemy by givong in to the excesses of his character (Okó kiiko isé sile. Àdá kiiskunrun, Ajá nf'orí ja'gbo wa sisé Èrú ijà kii b'Agbo [A hoe never fails to work. A cutlass is never sick. A dog gets to work relentlessly. A ram fears no opposition] (Ibid., p. 274-275). Now applied to individuals, communities, institutions, states, and other aggregations of human endeavor and one produces a potentially explosive coctail of folly, the marks of which we will all bear for quite some time. 



 


 



 

 



 






 
 
 

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