The Yoruba religion comprises the traditional religious and spiritual concepts and practice of the Yoruba people. Its homeland is in present-day Southwestern Nigeria and the adjoining parts of Benin and Togo, commonly known as Yorubaland. It shares some parallels with the Vodun practiced by the neighboring Fon and Ewe peoples to the west and to the religion of the Edo people to the east. Yoruba religion is the basis for a number of religions in the New World, notably Santería, Umbanda, Trinidad Orisha and Candomblé. Yoruba religious beliefs are part of Itan, the total complex of songs, histories, stories, and other cultural concepts which make up the Yoruba society.
According to Kola Abimbola, the Yoruba have evolved a robust cosmology. In brief, it holds that all human beings possess what is known as "Ayanmo" (destiny, fate) and are expected to eventually become one in spirit with Olodumare (Olorun, the divine creator and source of all energy). Furthermore, the thoughts and actions of each person in Ayé (the physical realm) interact with all other living things, including the Earth itself.
Each person attempts to achieve transcendence and find their destiny in Orun-Rere (the spiritual realm of those who do good and beneficial things).
One's ori-inu (spiritual consciousness in the physical realm) must grow in order to consummate union with one's "Iponri" (Ori Orun, spiritual self).
Iwapẹlẹ (or well-balanced) meditative recitation and sincere veneration is sufficient to strengthen the ori-inu of most people. Well-balanced people, it is believed, are able to make positive use of the simplest form of connection between their Oris and the omnipotent Olu-Orun: an adura (petition or prayer) for divine support.
Prayer to one's Ori Orun produces an immediate sensation of joy. Elegbara (Eshu, not the divine messenger but accuser of the righteous) initiates contact with spiritual realm (not heavenly places) on behalf of the petitioner, and transmits the prayer to Ayé; the deliverer of ase or the spark of life. He transmits this prayer without distorting it in any way. Thereafter, the petitioner may be satisfied with a personal answer. In the event that he or she is not, the Ifá oracle of the Orisha Orunmila may also be consulted. All communication with Orun, whether simplistic in the form of a personal prayer or complicated in the form of that done by an initiated Babalawo (priest of divination), however, is energized by invoking ase.
In the Yoruba belief system, Olodumare has ase over all that is. Hence, Is considered supreme.
Olodumare is the most important "state of existence". Regarded as being all-encompassing, no gender can be assigned. Hence, it is common to hear references to "it" or "they" (although this is meant to address a somewhat singularity). "They" are the owner of all heads, for during human creation, Olodumare gave "emi" (the breath of life) to humankind. In this, Olodumare is Supreme.
Perhaps one of the most important human endeavors extolled within the Yoruba literary corpus is the quest to improve one's "Iwa" (character, behaviour). In this way the teachings transcends religious doctrine, advising as it does that a person must also improve his/her civic, social and intellectual spheres of being; every stanza of the sacred Ifá oracular poetry (Odu Ifa) has a portion covering the importance of "Iwa". Central to this is the theme of righteousness, both individual and collective.
The Yoruba regard Olodumare as the principal agent of creation.
According to a Yoruba account of creation, during a certain stage in this process, the "truth" was sent to confirm the habitability of the newly formed planets. The earth being one of these was visited but deemed too wet for conventional life.
After a successful period of time, a number of divinities led by Obatala were sent to accomplish the task of helping earth develop its crust. On one of their visits to the realm, the arch-divinity Obatala took to the stage equipped with a mollusk that concealed some form of soil; winged beasts and some cloth like material. The contents were emptied onto what soon became a large mound on the surface of the water and soon after, the winged-beasts began to scatter this around until the point where it gradually made into a large patch of dry land; the various indentations they created eventually becoming hills and valleys.
Obatala leaped onto a high-ground and named the place Ife. The land became fertile and plant life began to flourish. From handfuls of earth he began to mold figurines. Meanwhile, as this was happening on earth, Olodumare gathered the gases from the far reaches of space and sparked an explosion that shaped into a fireball. He subsequently sent it to Ife, where it dried much of the land and simultaneously began to bake the motionless figurines. It was at this point that Olodumare released the "breath of life" to blow across the land, and the figurines slowly came into "being" as the first people of Ife.
An Orisha (spelled Òrìṣa) is an entity that possesses the capability of reflecting some of the manifestations of Olodumare. Yoruba Orishas (commonly translated unique/special/selected heads") are often described as intermediaries between humankind and the supernatural. The term is also translated as "Deities" or "Divinities" or "Gods".
Orisha(s) are revered for having control over specific elements by nature, thus being better referred to as the divinities or Imole. Even so, there are those of their number that are more akin to ancient heroes and/or sages. These are best addressed as Dema Deities. Even though the term Orisha is often used to describe both classes of divine entities, it is properly reserved for the former one.
|Orunmila / Ọ̀rúnmìlà||The Yoruba Grand Priest and custodian of the Ifa Oracle, source of knowledge who is believed to oversee the knowledge of the Human Form, Purity, the Cures of illnesses and deformities. Babalawos are Orumila's subordinate as priests and followers.|
|Eshu / Èṣù||Often ill-translated as "The Devil" or "The Evil Being", Eshu is in truth neither of these. Best referred to as "The Trickster", he deals a hand of misfortune to those that do not offer tribute or are deemed to be spiritual novices. Also regarded as the "divine messenger", a prime negotiator between negative and positive forces in the body and an enforcer of the "law of being". He is said to assist in enhancing the power derived from herbal medicines and other forms of esoteric technology.
Eshu is the Orisha of chance, accident and unpredictability. Because he is Olorun's linguist and the master of languages, Eshu is responsible for carrying messages and sacrifices from humans to the Sky God. Also known for his phallic powers and exploits. Eshu is said to lurk at gateways, on the highways and at the crossroads, where he introduces chance and accident into the lives of humans. Known by a variety of names, including Elegbara.
|Ogoun / Ògún||Orisha of iron and metallurgy.|
|Yemoja / Yemọja||Mother of Waters, Nurturer of Water Resources. According to Olorishas, she is the amniotic fluid in the womb of the pregnant woman, as well as the breasts which nurture. She is considered the protective energy of the feminine force.|
|Oshun / Ọ̀ṣun||A second wife of the former Oba of Oyo called Shango (another Yoruba Orisha, see below), she is said to have entered into a river at Osogbo. The Yoruba clerics ascribed to her Sensuality, Beauty and Gracefulness, symbolizing both their people's search for clarity and a flowing motion. She is associated with several powers, including abilities to heal with cool water, induction of fertility and the control of the feminine essence. Women appeal to her for child-bearing and for the alleviation of female disorders. The Yoruba traditions describe her as being fond of babies and her intervention is sought if a baby becomes ill. Oshun is also known for her love of honey.|
|Shango / Ṣàngó||Associated with Virility, Masculinity, Fire, Lightning, Stones, Oyo Warriors and Magnetism. He is said to have the abilities to transform base substances into those that are pure and valuable. He was the Oba of Oyo at some point in its history. He derived his nickname Oba Koso from the tales of his immortality. Shango is the Orisha of the thunderbolt, said to have ruled in ancient times over the kingdom of Oyo. Also known as Jakuta (Stone Thrower) and as Oba Koso (The King Does Not Hang).|
|Oya / Ọya||The third wife of the former Oba of Oyo called Shango (another Yoruba Orisha, see above), she is said to have entered into the River Niger. She is often described as the Tempest, Guardian of the Cemetery, Winds of Change, Storms and Progression. Due to her personal power, she is usually depicted as being in the company of her husband Shango. Orisha of rebirth.|
Irunmọlẹ are entities sent by Olorun to complete given tasks, often acting as liaisons between Orun (the invisible realm) and Aiye (the physical realm). Irunmole(s) can best be described as ranking divinities; whereby such divinities are regarded as the principal Orishas. Irunmole, from "Erinrun" - 400, "Imole" - Divinites or Divine Spirits
The Yoruba believe in Atunwa, reincarnation within the family. The names Babatunde (father returns), Yetunde (Mother returns), Babatunji (Father wakes once again) and Sotunde (The wise man returns) all offer vivid evidence of the Ifa concept of familial or lineal rebirth. There is no simple guarantee that your grandfather or great uncle will "come back" in the birth of your child, however.
Whenever the time arrives for a spirit to return to Earth (otherwise known as The Marketplace) through the conception of a new life in the direct bloodline of the family, one of the component entities of a person's being returns, while the other remains in Heaven (Ikole Orun). The spirit that returns does so in the form of a Guardian Ori. One's Guardian Ori, which is represented and contained in the crown of the head, represents not only the spirit and energy of one's previous blood relative, but the accumulated wisdom he or she has acquired through myriad lifetimes. This is not to be confused with one’s spiritual Ori, which contains personal destiny, but instead refers to the coming back to The Marketplace of one's personal blood Ori through one's new life and experiences. The Primary Ancestor (which should be identified in your Itefa) becomes – if you are aware and work with that specific energy – a “guide” for the individual throughout their lifetime. At the end of that life they return to their identical spirit self and merge into one, taking the additional knowledge gained from their experience with the individual as a form of payment.
According to Professor S. A. Akintoye, the Yoruba were exquisite statesmen who spread across the globe in an unprecedented fashion; the reach of their culture is largely due to migration—the most recent migration occurred with the Atlantic slave trade. During this period, many Yoruba were captured and sold into the slave trade and transported to Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Uruguay, Venezuela, and other parts of the Americas. With them, they carried their religious beliefs. The school-of-thought integrated into what now constitutes the core of the "New World lineages":
The Vodun faith, which originated amongst a different ethnic group (the Gbe speaking peoples of present-day Benin, Togo, and Ghana), holds influential aspects on the African diaspora in countries such as Haiti and Cuba, also New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States.
"Chrislam" is a neologism used to refer to syncretism between Christianity and Islam among the Yoruba of Nigeria, mentioned by Greenfield (2001) as an example of the "Yoruba genius for syncretism". 
Yoruba "Chrislam" includes two distinct religious movements, one called Ifeoluwa founded by Tela Tella in the 1970s and 80s and another called Oke-Tude founded by Samson Saka in 1999. They are also known as The Will of God Mission or The True Message of God Mission respectively. Adherence to "Chrislam" in Nigeria is very limited; Soares (2009) notes that "such efforts towards religious fusion or synthesis seem to be rather exceptional and increasingly so. In many places there has been intense competition and higher levels of tension within and between different confessional groups."
Ifeoluwa ("Love of God") recognises both the Bible and the Quran as holy texts, and practices "running deliverance," a distinctive practice of spiritual running likened to Joshua's army circling Jericho, or the practice of Pilgrims circumambulating a Church for Palm Sunday or the Kaaba, and Jews around the Synagogue during Sukkot. In contrast to other Chrislamic sects, Tela Tella, while claiming to believe in both the Qur'an and the Bible, says they are incomplete, and is writing his own book called the "Ifeoluwa Book". Tela Tella claims that an angel of God came to him and told him that he gave him the mission and the name "Ifeoluwa: The Will of God Mission".
Oke Tude (Oketude) in Ogudu (a northern suburb of Lagos), founded by Samson Saka in 1999, is slightly less recognisable to mainstream Christianity, resembling more interfaith worship with three different sessions or services that take place on Sunday. The first is a Muslim session, then a Christian session, and finally there is a joint session that Saka leads. During this he stresses the similarities between Christianity and Islamic beliefs.
In Latin America, Yoruba religion has been on intense Syncretism with Christianity, Indigenous religions and Spiritism since the first arrival of African immigrants. On Brazil, the religion of Umbanda was born from the rich interaction of beliefs that Latin America provided. Followers of Umbanda typically consider themselves Monotheistic, but honor Catholic Saints and Orisha as manifestations from god or as Tutelary deities. Umbanda worship also include elements from Native South American rituals such as the ritual use of Tobacco and communication with the spirits of deceased Indian warriors (Caboclo).
In the 1949 documentary Fiestas de Santiago Apóstol en Loíza Aldea, anthropologist Ricardo Alegría noted a similar tendency at Loíza, Puerto Rico, arguing that the affinity between the black population in the municipality and the Catholic saint Santiago Apóstol may derive from the way in which he is depicted as a warrior; a similar theme to some depictions of Shango. This theory supposed that this resemblance was used by the population as a covert form to honor their ancestral deity.
Afro-American religion (also known as African diasporic religions) are a number of related religions that developed in the Americas in various nations of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the southern United States. They derive from traditional African religions with some influence from other religious traditions, notably Christianity.Aganju
Aganju (known as Agayú or Aganyú in Latin America) is an Orisha. He is syncretized with Saint Christopher in the Cuban religion known as Santería.
Aganju is strongly associated with Shango, being either Shango's father or his brother or somehow having ties; both Orishas being members of the deified royal family of Oyo.Akan religion
Akan religion comprises the traditional beliefs and religious practices of the Akan people of Ghana and eastern Ivory Coast. Akan religion is referred to as Akom (from the Twi word okom, meaning "prophecy"). Although most Akan people have identified as Christians since the early 20th century, Akan religion remains practiced by some, and is often syncretized with Christianity. The Akan have many subgroups (including the Ashanti, the Akuapem, the Wassa, the Abron, the Anyi, and the Baoulé, among others), so the religion varies greatly by region and subgroup.
Similar to other traditional religions of West and Central Africa such as West African Vodun, Yoruba religion, or Odinani, Akan cosmology consists of a senior god who generally does not interact with humans and many gods who assist humans.
Anansi the Spider is a folk hero, who is prominent in Ashanti folktales, where he is depicted as a trickster. In other aspects of Akan spirituality, Anansi is also sometimes considered both a trickster and a deity associated with wisdom, responsible for creating the first inanimate humans, according to the scholar Anthony Ephirim-Donkor.. This is similar to Legba, who is also both a trickster and a deity in West African Vodun.Aṣẹ
Ase or ashe (from Yoruba àṣẹ) is a West African philosophical concept through which the Yoruba of Nigeria conceive the power to make things happen and produce change. It 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.In addition to its sacred characteristics, ase also has important social ramifications, reflected in its translation as "power, authority, command." A person who, through training, experience, and initiation, learns how to use the essential life force of things to willfully effect change is called an alaase.
Rituals to invoke divine forces reflect this same concern for the autonomous ase of particular entities. The recognition of the uniqueness and autonomy of the ase of persons and gods is what structures society and its relationship with the other-world.Candomblé Bantu
Candomblé Bantu (also called Candomblé Batuque or Angola) is one of the major branches (nations) of the Candomblé religious belief system. It developed in the Portuguese Empire among Kongo and Mbundu slaves who spoke Kikongo and Kimbundu) languages. The supreme and creative god is Nzambi or Nzambi Mpungu. Below him are the Jinkisi or Minkisi, deities of Bantu mythology. These deities resemble Olorun and the other orishas of the Yoruba religion. Minkisi is a Kongo language term: it is the plural of Nkisi, meaning "receptacle". Akixi comes from the Kimbundu language term Mukixi.Eshu
Eshu (Yoruba: Èṣù, also known as Echú, Exu or Exú) is an Orisha in the Yoruba religion of the Yoruba people (originating from Yorubaland, an area in and around present-day Nigeria). As the religion has spread around the world, the name of this Orisha has varied in different locations, but the beliefs remain similar.Gẹlẹdẹ
The Gẹlẹdẹ spectacle of the Yoruba is a public display by colorful masks which combines art and ritual dance to amuse, educate and inspire worship. Gelede celebrates “Mothers” (awon iya wa), a group that includes female ancestors and deities as well as the elderly women of the community, and the power and spiritual capacity these women have in society. However, this power may also be destructive and take the form of witchcraft; therefore, Gelede serves the function of appeasing this power, as well.Ifá
Ifá is a Yoruba religion and system of divination. Its literary corpus is the Odu Ifá. Orunmila is identified as the Grand Priest, as he is who revealed divinity and prophecy to the world. Babalawos or Iyanifas use either the divining chain known as Opele, or the sacred palm or kola nuts called Ikin, on the wooden divination tray called Opon Ifá.
Ifá is practiced throughout the Americas, West Africa, and the Canary Islands, in the form of a complex religious system, and plays a critical role in the traditions of Santería, Candomblé, Palo, Umbanda, Vodou, and other Afro-American faiths, as well as in some traditional African religions.Ifẹ
Ife (Yoruba: Ifè, also Ilé-Ifẹ̀) is an ancient Yoruba city in south-western Nigeria. The city is located in present day Osun State. Ife is about 218 kilometers northeast of Lagos with a population of 509,813.
According to the Yoruba religion Ife was founded by the order of the Supreme God Olodumare to Obatala and then fell into the hands of his brother Oduduwa, which created turmoil between the two. Oduduwa created his own dynasty through his sons and daughters that became different rulers of many kingdoms. The first Oòni of Ife is a descendant of Oduduwa, which was the 401st Orisha. The present ruler since 2015 is Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, Ooni of Ife who is also a Nigerian accountant. Named as the city of 401 deities Ife is home to many worshipers of these deities which also are celebrated through festivals. Along with the culture of Ife, their beliefs extend along the concept of the Ase, which help make art of the Kings and Gods. Ilé-Ifè is famous worldwide for its ancient and naturalistic bronze, stone and terracotta sculptures, dating back to between 1200 and 1400 A.D.Oba (ruler)
Oba means ruler in the Yoruba and
Bini languages of West Africa. Kings in Yorubaland, a region which is in the modern republics of Benin, Nigeria and Togo, make use of it as a pre-nominal
honorific. Examples of Yoruba bearers include Oba Ogunwusi of Ile-Ife, Oba Adeyemi of Oyo and Oba Akiolu of Lagos. An example of a Bini bearer is Oba Ewuare II of Benin.
The title is distinct from that of Oloye, which is itself used in like fashion by subordinate titleholders in the contemporary Yoruba chieftaincy system.Obi divination
Obi divination is a system of divination used in the traditional Yoruba religion and in Yoruba-derived Afro-American religions. In Yorubaland, it uses palm or kola nuts; in Latin America and the Caribbean it uses four pieces of coconut.Ogun
Ogun or Ogoun (Edo: Ògún, Portuguese: Ogum, Gu; also spelled Oggun or Ogou; known as Ogún or Ogum in Latin America) is an Orisha, Loa, and Vodun. He is a warrior and a powerful spirit of metal work, as well as of rum and rum-making. He is also known as the 'god of Iron'.Olodumare
Olodumare (Yoruba: O-lo-dù-ma-rè) also known as Olorun (Almighty) is the name given to one of the three manifestations of the Supreme God or Supreme Being in the Yoruba pantheon. Olodumare is the Supreme Creator.The Yoruba believe Olodumare is omnipotent and is also responsible for the creation of all life, Yoruba tradition says everything is in the hands of God (Olodumare) when they are going to bed at night.The name Olodumare symbolises a divine "Entity" following these characteristics: not having a father or mother; one that and is not bound by space.Historically, the Yoruba did not worship Olodumare, there is no specific shrine and no sacrifice is often made towards their way.
Yoruba consider Olodumare to be the origin of virtue and mortality. Is believed to bestow the knowledge of things upon all persons at the time of their birth. The Yoruba call on Olodumare when other deities are unwilling to help or seem incapable. Yoruba believe Olodumare created all other forces of the universe to help continue the evolution of the universe.Olofi
Olofi or Olofin is the name given to one of the three manifestations of the Supreme God in the Santería religion. Olofi is the ruler of the Earth.
The Supreme God has three manifestations: Olodumare, the Creator; Olorun, ruler of the heavens; and Olofi, who is the conduit between Orún (Heaven) and Ayé (Earth).Ori (Yoruba)
Ori (known as Orí in Latin America) is an Orisha metaphysical concept.
Ori, literally meaning "head," refers to one's spiritual intuition and destiny. It is the reflective spark of human consciousness embedded into the human essence, and therefore is often personified as an Orisha in its own right. It is believed that human beings are able to heal themselves both spiritually and physically by working with the Orishas to achieve a balanced character, or iwa-pele. When one has a balanced character, one obtains an alignment with one's Ori or divine self.
It is also believed that Ori be worshiped like Orisha. When things are not going right, Ori should be consulted. And to make things right Ori should be appeased. This is because whatever one becomes or whatever happens in one's life is as destined by Ori.Orisha
Òrìṣà (original spelling in the Yoruba language), known as orichá or orixá in Latin America, are the human form of the spirits (Irunmọlẹ) sent by Olodumare, Olorun, Olofi in Yoruba traditional identity. The Irunmọlẹ are meant to guide creation and particularly humanity on how to live and succeed on Earth (Ayé). Most Òrìṣà are said to be deities previously existing in the spirit world (Òrun) as Irunmọlẹ, while others are said to be humans who are recognized as deities upon their deaths due to extraordinary feats.Many Òrìṣà have found their way to most of the New World as a result of the Atlantic slave trade and are now expressed in practices as varied as Santería, Candomblé, Trinidad Orisha, Umbanda, and Oyotunji, among others. The concept of orisha is similar to those of deities in the traditional religions of the Bini people of Edo State in southern Nigeria, the Ewe people of Benin, Ghana, and Togo, and the Fon people of Benin.Oshosi
Oshosi (Yoruba: Ọ̀ṣọ́ọ̀sì, Portuguese: Oxóssi, is an Orisha of the Yoruba religion in West Africa and subsequently in Brazil.Trinidad Orisha
Trinidad Orisha, also known as Shango, is a syncretic religion in Trinidad and Tobago and is of Caribbean origin, originally from West Africa (Yoruba religion) and influenced by Roman Catholicism. Trinidad Orisha incorporates elements of Spiritual Baptism, and the closeness between Orisha and Spiritual Baptism has led to use of the term "Shango Baptist" to refer to members of either or both religions. Anthropologist James Houk described Trinidad Orisha as an "Afro-American religious complex", incorporating elements mainly of traditional African religion and Yoruba and incorporates some elements of Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism), Hinduism, Islam (especially Sufism), Buddhism, Judaism, Bahá'í, and Trinidad Kabbalah.Ọlọrun
Olorun is the ruler of (or in) the Heavens. The Supreme God or Supreme Being in the Yoruba pantheon, Olorun, is also called Olodumare.
Humans do not worship Olorun directly, there are no sacred areas of worship or ordained person. Olorun is outlying, distant and does not partake in human rituals. There are no shrines or sacrifices dedicated directly to him, although followers can send prayers in his direction.Among the Yoruba Christians and Muslims, meanwhile, the word Ọlọrun is also commonly used to denote their faith in God as The Almighty Divine, The Absolute Sovereign."
For Yoruba traditions there is no centralized authority, because of this and the way the traditions were spread through the slave trade to other areas of the world, there are many different ways that Yoruban People and their descendants or Orisa-based faiths can understand the idea of Olorun.
Yoruba religion (Orisa-Ifá)
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