ORISHA’s & IFA's  "ASHE" COMPARED TO SIMILAR  

  

      CONCEPTS IN EASTERN RELIGIONS AND KEMET'S                              

                                  VITALIST THEOLOGY

                                                                                                                 ©Alashe Michael omo'Oshoosi, 2019

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                                                                      PART ONE

                                                  Why I Have Written This Essay

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While I do not encourage Orisha/Ifa practitioners to use the language of Kemet or of Kundalini yoga’s “chakras” in explaining the functioning of human beings, plants and animals, the fact is that on the Internet one finds hundreds of entries that free- ly analogize to (or literally “incorporate”)  these  Mediterranean-rim  and  Eastern conceptions into Orisha/Ifa religion. True, in many ways their concepts are roughly analogous to  the  distribution  of  ashe  in  the  body  in Orisha /Ifa  ideation, but  because they  are  similar  does  not  authorize  one  to claim  that  the “Pillar of Djed” (i.e., the spinal column containing  the seven "Souls of Ra") nor the “chakras” of Kundalini yoga are a part of Orisha/Ifa religion per se. They are not.  

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Tragedy will have authored its masterpiece if some people take this opinion to be a ‘put down’  or dismissal of the “subtle energy”  conceptions of  the ancient Kemites or the  Eastern  theosophists. I have no such intention. I  do  believe  that  there are “energies” that, ipso facto, permeate all physical masses (including the bio-stuff of which we are made). And  some scientists believe  indeed that all “mass” and "mat- ter” particles are but conglomerations or concentrations of various and sundry en- ergy fields. They call them "quantum fields." No problem.

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That said, there is a good likelihood then that humanity has  been on to something for millennia  in  its  views (of  which there are myriads)  that subtle  energy may be manipulated by one living thing so as to affect the functioning—great or small—of some  other  living things; even  at a distance—near or far. (But  I  must  admit  that when  most  people  that I  hear  start  explaining  things  in  terms  of “energies” is  when I start  thinking about putting one of my  hands on  my  wallet and  the  other on my knife because—except for scientists—most often I know they are using this catch-all  euphemism  to conceal the sad fact  that  they  do  not  a have a clue as to what they are talking about in bandying about this term—"energy"--the most abus- ed one in the English language). Thus, I do have questions as to whether the explan- ations or “constructs” like “chakras" are particularly informative, sufficiently defin- ite, reliable, and falsifiable as to be regarded as accurate.

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They, as concepts, are more likely  than  not to be “place holders” for  real knowled- ge. That  is, they may  serve  merely  as  provisional  concepts  awaiting (so  far  for about twenty thousand years) truths about subtle “energies” that are actually dem- onstrable and  of predictive value. But, as  proxies--albeit  hopelessly  metaphysical  ones--they yet serve as a common vocabulary that gives  their  proponents  a sense of shared  understanding. And, in  respect of practical  and  even clinical reality, for them this shared experience--because this term is so widely used--appears to be vir- tually self-validating. And, therefore, is in no need of further reflection.

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My  concern is  not  whether  the  concepts of  “chakras” or  the  seven "Souls of Ra” in Kemetic theology  and  theosophy are valid or useful. I  think  that it  is patently obvious that  people, in great numbers, will attest  that  gurus,  shamans, Reiki "en- ergy"  manipulators, Tibetan  bell  song  practitioners, Kemetic  priests  and  numer- ous  other “healers” must be doing something right in the nature of increasing the health, the contentment and well-being in life by  the manipulation and alignment of the chakras (or of the breath, or whatever they see themselves as doing for their clients)  by making references to them--the "chakras"-- even if they are at a loss—speaking honestly--to explain their metaphysics  in the slightest.

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After all, there was a time not  long  ago  when “chi” (“energy”) was manipulated  in the body with  acupuncture  on  the  theory  that  it  was channeled through “merid- ians” distributed in the  body (like lymph vessels)  though no anatomist in  the world had ever dissected a body  and  found  a single branch  of  one. Yet, truth  be told, in recent years evidence  of such  bodily “energy” channels have  been  demonstrated. So, I am not saying that “chakra” centers (or "wheels") of  energy  do  not  exist, but I do believe that, so far, we know nothing about them except their putative or pro- claimed properties.

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Now know that the Mediterranean-rim world, including lower Kemet, and the East- ern world have been built on ideas of physics and mechanics (and metaphysics) and mathematics that have given them an unshakable faith in “exactitude,” “precision,” and “purity.”And they  also believe  that  the  highest  form  of existence  is perman- ently  to  experience  departure  from  reincarnation  back  into  this  rather  messy world;one steeped in suffering. But nothing could be  further  from  the  world-view of traditional sub-Saharans of  west, central and Bantu south African extraction and its diasporan progeny (that would be us, y’all).

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And when you  add  to  this  the  Mediterranean-rim  world’s “revealed religions” of Judaism,  Christianity, and  al-Islam and  their dogmatic, doctrinaire, “abstract” and “reductionist” thinking  in  Western  religious  metaphysics   and  mysticism (e.g, “the  blood of Christ” or “the very words of the Holy Kor’an—at least in Arabic—are  Allah)  even  became inculcated into our views of morality, social ethics, and  the supremacy  of literacy. This last penchant, additionally,  lead  to their (and now our) obsessions  with “the Book,” e.g., the Book(s) of the Dead, the Torah, the Holy Bib- le, or the Holy Kor’an as--like body zones--metaphysical entities in themselves.

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Not so in our heritage. Our's was moreso rooted in  orality  and  biology; and much less so in  mathematical computations, mechanics and broader physics (including the metaphysical physics of the putative "energy flows" and energy circuitry in the body). We  were the  world’s original zoologists and ethologists, botanists and min- eralists. That is, our’s was a world of living qualities more so  than a  world  of  pure, transcendent "perfect  forms," categorical  essences, and abstract mathematical quantities and that relationships that are embedded--"numerically"--in  the univer- se. That is, for them, this is a universe (and "nature" within it) in which are embed- ded (and  which  are  governed  by)  mathematical "axioms, definitions,  theorems, proofs and relationships" as was the case with purity-obsessed Kemetic, Indian, 

Grecian and Roman thought. Hence, even purely cognitive processes took on a met- aphysical and reified character for them.

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By contrast,  concerning  obsessions  with  exactitude, we know  that  there are no straight lines in nature and we know  that, with the observable "lawful" regularities of physics notwithstanding, there are no mathematics, per se, embedded in nature, and we know that  there  are no examples of  complete  purity nature--not even in even in  respect of the overly-educated  pieces  of coal  that we  call  diamonds nor even with the presumed purity of rain water. (Please see the essay entitled "What Ain't In Ifa--Math" in this website).

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Our spirituality was, therefore—quite unapologetically—“animist” in nature  (thank God!). And, therefore, we respected  a  creative (not formalistic) qualitative version of life’s “energies” and cultivated  them in every dimension of  this  world  that invol ved any living thing. In Yoruba religion, whether the “Isheshe Agbaye” original ver- sions in Nigeria, the Lucumi  version in Cuba and  the United States, or the Candom- ble version in Brasil, this concept is called “ashe" (pronounced "ah-shay").

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The idea—ashe--is  somewhat  akin  to  the  concept  of  “ki” or “chi,” or prana, in the East.  But  for  us, our vitalism connotes “creative  force” (not  just an energy force)  It  also  connotes  the  concepts  of  affirmation,  menstrual  blood,  blood  in  gener- al  and  even  the  parts of the animals’ innards that are necessary for it to live and that we offer the orishas when we "feed" them (we give them only the "ashes" of  the  animals  and  plants  that  we work with). Thus, black  African culture speaks of the biological and  the  spiritual—life-based and  affirming “ashe” and  not  so much the  abstract  "energies"of  physics and metaphysics like the Kemitic, Grecian and Eastern theosophists do.

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                                                                      PART TWO

                              Why This Essay Is Directed to Yoruba Practitioners

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This reflective piece is addressed to Yoruba religious practitioners; case-closed, full-stop. All, however, are free to consider my thoughts, but it is directed to those who, to one extent or another, are accolades of Yoruba  thought and  the Yoruba mental- ity.

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Whether you are an onlooker, or an alejo (“aleyo” in Spanish), or an aborisha, olo’r- isha, awo, baba’locha, iya’locha, babalawo, oba oriate, iyanifa, an italero, an obasa—i.e., whatever may be your role, stake or station in the religion (but especially if you are a pre-initiate, an  initiate or  a  full-on‘ working’  priest  or  priestess), I urge you to attend to this polemic. It is, especially among us African-Americans, quite notice- able that we tend toward the eclectic and toward  freely “mixing  our  saints” and “working on two or three mats at a time” in  expounding  and appropriating Yoruba  religion, on the one hand, with Kemetic  theosophy  (including what they know of “Egyptian religion”and Hermeticism) and Eastern ideas, on the other. 

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This is, of course, understandable, but not wise, per se. Indeed, we  do  understand  why  so many of these ideas have come to us through history  and  the  value  that  so  many  people have,  at times, found  in  them. However, we  should  maintain ourselves internally mindful   so  as not  to slip  into syncretism  even as we  tend to  juxtapose so  many  trends or ideas in our daily lives. Some might say  that we, for example, in  the  Afro- Cuban Santeria version  of  Yoruba, Santeros  have  already  allowed  for  the  much syncretization, e.g., of  Catholicism, into  Yoruba  religion.* (*Please see fn. #2 on syncretism and sectarianism)

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This is a misunderstanding. Our people put “African”in every aspect of life that was, otherwise, Catholic-Hispanic in the New World. But you can ,be sure that there was virtually nothing (except  a candle here or there)  that was  Catholic  going on inside Yoruba religion i.e., inside “the Room” or the sacred groves--igbodu(s)--that prec- eded "the Room(s)."In other words,nothing Catholic was brought into the inner sanctums of the Ishe-she Agbaye, Lucumi (Santeria), Candomble nor any other var- iant of Yoruba religion. (And what goes on in “the Room” is, in fact, the only thing that really counts as sanctified or non-negotiable, ritually-speaking, and in respect of secrecy)!

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So, as  we  proceed, it  is  alright—perhaps,  even, desirable  from  time-to-time-- to 'walk  down other  lanes,'  'to  know  other saints,' and  on 'to sit  gaze onto other's mats,' so long as one  does not  lose sight  that  these other  paths are in important ways different from the world views of "black Africa" like those to which you—as a Yoruba  devotee--are  committed; however  valid  and useful they  may  be  on  their  own terms for other people. After all, having  more  than one initiation in different versions of “the religion” (i.e., among African  traditional religionists) is not  unusual for our people so we, obviously, can look and learn from the experiences of others by comparison if we like. We were not sectarians (and we never had religious wars!)

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But, again, do not let us lose sight that  there  are also significant world view differ- ences between  that  of  the “black African” world view, i.e., the  west  Africans, the Bantus of central and south Africa (not to mention the Sans or forest people of cen- tral Africa), on the one hand, and  the  Mediterranean-rim  cultures (i.e., those coun- tries near the Mediterranean) or the far East, on the other, as alluded to above.

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It is only for this reason that I  have  entitled this  series of essays  quite colloquially: “What  Ain’t  In  Ifa” (i.e., is “what  ain’t in Yoruba's "Orisha/Ifa religion”). Our  focus here, of course, is  on  the  concept of “chakras” and  the seven "Souls of Ra” but, in due course, I will take on matters like what extent, if any, are the ideas of mathem- atics, astrology, melanin-racism theory,” and so on, as “being in Ifa” (or not).

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We, African Americans have a distinct penchant for unwisely, and impulsively taking eclectic liberties (even with the  best of naïve intentions) in naively combining dog- gone nearly everything of interest to us that, perchance, we have been exposed to that is not western (or that they mistakenly believe in non-western) . But this  habit can, at times, be disrespectful to our particular cultural heritages and  our priestly  lineages with ATR's that extend back into west  and  central  Africa history  and projects to us right here in north America today--particularly if we do so wittingly.

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Orisha/Ifa is a complete psycho-spiritual  religious  system  that does not need “leg- itimatization” by naïve  syncretization with  other world views. The hard-core roots and  nature  of  the  Kemetic and Eastern  world views  are  substantially  different (especially  psychologically-speaking) from  west and  Bantu  central African world-views of the true ancestors of the diasporan African-Americans.  

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But, alas, for those who simply “must” make naïve comparisons and syncretizations, I offer the following:

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                                                                      PART THREE

     ORISHA / IFA CONCEPTIONS OF BODILY “ENERGY" CENTERS AND FLOWS

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           ORI (CAN ONLY BE LIKENED TO THE CROWN, as the "7th  CHAKRA")

                           The Ori Is, In It's Highest Aspect, Godly; Not "Pure."

Only Olodumare is "Pure" (Invisible). Olodumare is "Oba Mim"--The Pure King

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ORI (head, destiny, intelligence, consciousness, your most important orisha)/   ORI ODE (one’s persona, the “head” and its looks and habits that are presented to the public) / ORI INU  (Your “inner orisha” or your oju inu  or “inward-looking eye that is also called your  ori apere )/ORI-OKAN (“Eriokan” or your “heart conscience.) OL-ORI (Your  guardian  orisha  who “owns” your  head, your asiniwaye)/ Your IPONRI (Your ipon’ori or your “ego ideal”; the ideal you)/  ORI’RE’RE (“Ori’ire’ire" is a really “good” or  intelligent  head vs. ori-buruku or “bad” head that can only be trumped by cultivating a  good  character)/ EBBO’LE’RI (or ebbo' lori--an  act  of  feeding or strengthening  and  aligning the Ori)/ ORISHA (a deity, a “selected (special) head") OBA ORIATE  (or an Obasa, if  female) is a  master-of-ritual ceremonies (like initia- tions) that serves as the Lucumi equivalent of a babalawo that sits at the head of the mat),ORI (as shea butter); Orisha Ikole Obirin (Motherhood/Femininity).

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ORI (as a ritual deity object --a pot--that can  be  made  and “fed” in place of one’s actual head). This is analogous to the "reserve head"--a statuette of a person's head

--that was often placed in the tombs of the deceased in Egypt in case the mummy's actual head  was  damaged or  degenerated--so that he  or  she  could  successfully make  it  into the Eternal Afterworld)/  IBORI  (an  altar  dedicated  to propitiating  one’s own ori  inu/ ORUN ORI (one’s  hair  style  that  shows  confidence, organiz- ation, beauty, and  is a  part of the ori ode)./  IMORI (a reading  done  by a babal- awo  for an infant to  determine  the  nature  of  the  infant’s  ori joto (his  or  her destiny, intelligence and persona). And  this  is  done  before  the  infant’s  feet  are  permitted  to  touch  the ground in the essent’aiye naming ceremony between sev- en and nine days of age). Similarly, in Yoruba  culture we have  the term ORIKI  (a praise  name or  legendary  account of an ori's--that  is, a person's--reputation  in life). Also there is a concept called ORILE  (that signifies the avatars of an ori ). ORI-OTUN (one's hairstyle that shows itself to Heaven (Otunowa), and ORI-IKA (are one's finger tips that comb the hair) and IPONRI (collective unconscious & ego ideal = clairvoyance amd psychic ability's source; as ogbon inu or intuition and isiri as in-

spiration). The APARI (deep unconscious ability to have iwa pele; apere or apere inu is a part of ori inu).  

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Finally, in addition to the points of  the  body described  here as “owned” by various orishas (i.e., "chakras"), Orisha/Ifa  priests/esses also stimulate  and  “feed”  at  least five points on the cranium: the forehead iwaju), the crown (eleda/ eleri), back of head-neck ("eshu ni paco" which means "Eshu decapitates my wisdom), and both temples), the sternum,  and at all of the major joints and feet of the body.

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We  do not speak of the “cleansing” the “Ori” per se since, when it is “fed” in a “rog- ation"or “ebbo l’eri” ritual  (as  described  immediately above), it  will cleanse  itself. The fetishization of and  obsession  with “pure” states  of  life   and  the  concept of

“purification cleansing” from  outside  manipulations  and   ministrations of priests  /esses  or  gurus  is  not  the  way "alignment" is  conceived of  in Orisa /Ifa  religion (especially  in  the Afro-Cuban  Lucumi  variation). "Purity" in  the  west  and  central  African cultures does not operate obsessively as it does for Kemite adepts, Americ- ans (generally),and Eastern religionists and philosophers (like Hindus or Buddhists).

The closet thing that we have to the concept is"meticulous cleanliness" that is man-dated  when  the  odu  "Ofun Mafun," as an  example, shows  up in  an Ifa divination reading. Awere,  a type of sage, the smudging o f which  facilitates a  cleansed  soul, can be helpful in appeasing this Olodu.).

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But between shit and piss are we all born! That is, from this rather "impure" and messy scene, the  most  exalted,  potent  and  complex thing  in  the Universe  is born. And  in this world, therefore,  one  can  never be born  into  nor remain in a  "pure” state (clean  is  okay--but “pure"?--for  very  long?  Doubtful!) So  why  fet- ishize  it?  As an illustration: Both in the western, Mediteranean-rim  and Eastern  world  views, sexuality  is  often neurotic. For them, sexual intercourse is alien; something "impure"; something reflecting our "lower selves," i.e., or our "concup- iscent nay-chas!" (Oh... ooo ... mio!)  But, abstention from sex does not make peop- le  "pure!"  Fidelity and loyalty with one's sex partner(s) is what makes one "pure"!

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But  the “Revealed  Religions”  of  the  Mediterranean-rim  world,  and  the  Eastern world, with all of their sex guilt complexes, would make you think differently on the questions  of “purity” and “impurity” in one’s life. In  their  views  you  were  literally born into guilt and sexual sin (except in al-Islam where one is born into a state of Is- lam--peace!--but then that only  lasts for a moment). 

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But I  invite you to think deeply.  After all, “guilt,” upon reflection, is  really  nothing but fear; two  kinds of  fear, to  be exact: the  fear  of  abandonment  and the fear of reprisal for having committed the “transgressions.”

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I recommend  not  burdening yourself with abstract obsessions  like  the  nature of "purity" and its pursuit. It is cleanliness that is "next  to Godliness, not “purity.” And thus the Ori strives, therefore, for“Godliness.” And it accepts  that God engendered

orishas and in their personifications they sometimes had foibles,"impurities," situa- tional ethics,  and inattentive moments. I suggest leaving the OCD (obsessive-com- pulsive  disorder  complexes) about "purity" to the Mediterranean-rim folk and the far Easterners like the Buddhists and Hindus.

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Similarly, in the true legacy of West and Central Africa, obsessions with “higher and lower selves” do not apply (as implied by the "Pillars of Djed" when projected onto the  body  as  the  seven "Souls  of  Ra" or  as “chakras” as  the  Easter  theosophists would have it). There is  only  one “self.” And  that “self” (as one’s ori)  has  multifold foci or locations in the  body as  well as in the “heaven” from which a body periodic- ally finds its reincarnation source. But no aspect of ori is "higher or lower" than any other aspect of it while we are here on Earth. Ori is a unified deity.

                                                                                     *

So, again,  for those  anguished  souls  who simply must  syncretize Mediterranean-rim sentiments and Eastern theosophy into their Yoruba understandings (or misun- derstandings as may be the case) let me indulge you further:

                                                                                                                                             *

          IFA  (CAN ONLY BE LIKENED TO FOREHEAD'S "THIRD EYE" as the "6th 

                                                                                                                        CHAKRA")

                                                                               *

IFA (ORUNMILA) IS THE  WITNESS  TO DESTINY AND INSIGHT. IFA "CONNECTS THE DOTS" OF THE WORLD;  “IFA HAS A  MIRROR  CAPABLE  OF  SEEING THE LENGTH OF A YEAR”; (I.E., HAS   GREAT   UNDERSTANDING); “IFA   HAS  SEEN  IT  ALL”;  “IFA LOOKS IN ALL DIRECTIONS AT ONCE” (I.E., IFA HAS  HINDSIGHT, FORESIGHT,  AND INSIGHT). THE ORI OJU INU  IS IFA'S THE "IWAJU" SPOT (AND THERE IS NO "THIRD EYE"; THAT IS A USELESS METAPHOR FOR INTUITION).

                                                                              *

          OBATALA (CAN ONLY BE LIKENED TO THROAT as the "5th CHAKRA") 

                                                                                *

WISDOM, FOREBEARANCE,  CREATIVITY, HEALTH, COOL-HEADEDNESS  ARE  THE ATTRIBUTES OF OBATALA. HOT SENTIMENTS ARE COOLED AS THEY ESCAPE THE THROAT, THUS OBATALA GIVES THE  CLIENT CONTENTMENT AND COURAGE, AND  SELF CONFIDENCE AND A ROYAL BEARING."ESHU (ELEGBA) GIVES  US  THE  ROAD,  SHANGO  TEACHES  US  HOW TO FIGHT ON THE ROAD, BUT  IT  IS OBATALA WHO  KNOWS THE  REASONS FOR THE ROAD."

                                                                                 *

                OGUN (CAN ONLY BE LIKENED TO HEART as the "4th CHAKRA")

                                                                                 *

OGUN!  PROTECTOR  OF  THE  HEAD AND THE  PEOPLE,  SKILL,  SELF-POSSESSION, MOUNTING  TALL  (CHALLENGING)  THINGS,  BOUNDLESS  ENERGY, STINGY WITH TALK,  OWNS POWER,  IRON, VIRILITY, SENSITIVITY, MECHANICAL AND MEDICINAL CREATIVITY, SKILL, CRAFTSMANSHIP  AND   DIPLOMACY (VERSUS)  BEING  STUCK-ON-STUPID LEVELS OF AGGRESSION WHEN ANGERED OR AT WAR, OR WHEN HE IS IN THE THROWS OF SELF-DESTRUCTIVE, SELF-IMPALING, EMOTIONALITY.

                                                                                * 

 OSHUN (CAN ONLY BE LIKENED TO ABDOMEN; THE NAVEL or "3rd CHAKRA")

                                                                                *

USING  FREE-FLOWING  AND  REPLENISHING FRESH  WATER,  PLANTS (AND HERBS, PARTICULARLY)  FROM  HER  RIVERINE  AREAS, OSHUN  DOES  NOT  LIKE  STAGNA- TION  AND  PUTRIFICATION. SO  SHE  WASHES  AND  CLEANSES  THE  BODY  WITH “CLEANSINGS” (AND  INGESTIONS  OF  HER  POTIONS  SO  AS  TO  STIMULATE THE BLOOD AND THE INTESTINES TO CLEANSE  THEMSELVES) AND, THUS, CAUSE HER “3RD CHAKRA” NAVEL PORTAL ENERGIES TO FLOW, TO NOURISH THE FETUS, AND THE BODY, AND  TO  ELIMINATE  THE  POISONOUS  WASTES  OF  LIFE. WITH FRESH- NESS, “RECOGNITION,” AND  HARMONIOUSNESS  ALL OUTCOMES  ARE SWEETEN- ED AS WELL  BECAUSE  SHE  ALSO GIVES  US, AS "ANYA," THE FREE-FLOWING  SOUND  OF  THE BATA DRUMS.

                                                                              *

YEMOJA (CAN ONLY BE LIKENED TO REPRODUCTIVE TRACTS AS THE "2ND CHAKRA")

                                                                                    *

‘A HUMAN BEING IS JUST A SPERM AND EGG'S WAY OF MAKING NEW SPERMS AND EGGS,’ / (LIFE IS ALL ABOUT REPRODUCTION), MOTHERHOOD, AND NURTURANCE  "IT IS YOUR MOTHER WHO INTRODUCES  YOU TO YOUR  FATHER" (MOTHERHOOD IS CENTRAL). IN  DEPARTING  FROM  ADDICTIONS, PENT UP ANGER AND RANCOR, WE EMERGE INTO SIMPLE AND RELAXED FAMILY FELLOWSHIP (EVEN FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE  THE GUESTS OF A FAMILY NOT THEIR OWN] WITH  THE  ASHE  OF YEM- OJA. (YEMOJA = "YEYE OMO EJA" = 'MOTHER OF THE FISH CHILDREN').

                                                                                                                                              *

SHE  IS  THE  OWNER  OF  THE  ARK, THE  CRADLE, THE  UTERINE  GOURD  OF  THE WORLD. ODU  LIVES  IN  HER  POT:  THE  UTERUS  OF  REINCARNATION,  LIFE, SEX- UALITY AND ALL THAT IS  ASSOCIATED  WITH  MOTHERHOOD, MOTHER WIT,  AND MOTHERLY  DISCIPLINE.   HER  SALT  WATER (AMNIOTIC FLUID) LIVES  INSIDE  THIS WOMB AS WELL AS IN THE PLASMA OF THE BLOOD STREAM AND IN THE PLACEN- TA. ONE EITHER EXPERIENCE HER, YEMOJA, AS UNPOLLUTED, UNMOLESTED, AND RECEPTIVE  TO  SEXUALITY AND  NURTURANCE OR (OR ELSE!)   IT’S  TOTAL  OBLIV- ION  FOR  ALL  LIVING  THINGS. YEMOJA IS  A  MOON CHILD  AND SHE  TARRIES  IN THE PLAYGROUND OF THE EMOTIONS. 

                                                                                 *

  SHANGO (CAN ONLY BE LIKENED TO ANAL REGION, as the "ROOT CHAKRA")

                                                                              *

THE ANATOMICALLY LOWEST POWER CENTER OF THE BODY IS OWNED BY SHAN- GO ("CHANGO"). WHEN HE IS UNGOVERNED, LUST AND POLLUTIONS RUN AMOK. SHANGO’S  ASHE  GIVES  US  PROSPERITY  AND  THE  MASTERY  OF  TACTICS , AND GIVES  US  SOCIAL  ENTHUSIASM, EXCITEMENT,  COURAGE, “SLICK  WISDOM,” SEX- UALITY, AND  GENEROSITY.  AND  HE  EASILY  USES  THE  GAMESMANSHIP  OF  THE “PLAYER,” BUT, AGAIN, WHEN  HE  IS  GOVERNED  BY LUST,  POWER, AND POLLUT- ION, HE CAN BECOME  A  SELF-DESTRUCTIVE TRAGIC-HERO: MANIPULATIVE, THE SUBJECT  OF  DERISION, BRAZEN, ARROGANT, COCKSURE, AND EVEN TYRANICAL.

AND  THOUGH  HE  LOVES  THE  PEOPLE, HIS  BAD  TRAITS  CAN REALLY “BLOW IT” FOR  FOR EVERYONE. OFTEN, HE  ENDS  UP  SUICIDING  HIMSELF.  SO, FOR BETTER OR  FOR WORSE,   SHANGO  DRAWS  ON  ALL  OF  THESE  THINGS. HE  EITHER  HAS STRENGTH (TOTAL BACKBONE!) EMANATING FROM HIS FOUNDATIONAL LEVEL OF LIFE-POWER, OR  HE  LOSES  CONTROL AND SHITS OVER EVERYTHING AND EVERY- BODY WHEN THIS—HIS OR  HER--"ROOT CHAKRA’S” LOWEST  CENTER  IS “OUT OF ALIGNMENT.” (ONE KNOWS THINGS ARE  BAD WHEN EVEN ONE’S  ASS IS ‘OUT-

OF-WHACK). DO'BALE SHANGO, KAWO KABIESI...OOO OOO! (PRAISE SHANGO!).

                                                                                   *

Please note here that we in Orisha/Ifa religion also have a concept called "odus" which describe 256 basic conditions of life that a person may be subject to at any

given time. Interestingly, these odus are also considered orishas in their own rights.

As such, they can be prayed to and offerings made to them as well. They are the signs that come up (and speak) during a divination "reading." Each of the sixteen 

main odu(s) also has its body-parts that can be "fed" as a part of appeasing them.

What they are and how this is done is beyond the scope of this small essay, But I mention it because it is akin to addressing "chakra"-like body zones.

                                                                                 *

                                                                       PART FOUR

     THE SIXTEEN "OLODUS" OF ORISHA / IFA HAVE THEIR FOCI IN THE BODY

                                                                                                                                                              *

 The Orisha / Ifa religion recognizes sixteen basic categories of "life conditions and experiences" that are called "Olodus." These odus are not only condition of existen- ce that change from time-to-time for (and within) the individual--affecting his or her experience while being so influenced--but also have certain body parts that are "portals" for entry into the individual as each of them is also considered a "god" in 

(an "orisha") in its own right.  Here are body portals for the odus: And "the energy"

is called the Ipari is the spirit that moves the limbs of the body; the ashe, the chi, or the prana of movement.

                                                                                                                                              *

First Version:

                                                                                                                                              *

(Source: “The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts,” by Baba Ifa Karade).

                                                                                                                                              *

"Obara Meji" (The Head),  "Otura Meji(The Mouth), "Ika Meji" (The Throat),"Irete 

Meji" (The  Right  Shoulder),   "Otura Meji"  (The Left Shoulder),   "Odi Meji"  (The Chest),  "Iwori Meji"  (The Right Ribs),  "Oyeju Meji(The Left Ribs), "Ogbe  Meji" (The  Stomach),   "Oshe Meji(The  Right  Hand),  "Ogunda  Meji(The Left Hand), "Ogunda Meji" again (The Male Genitals), "Osa Meji(The Female Genitals),"Irosun Meji(The Right Thigh),  "Owonrin  Meji," (The Left Thigh),  "Osa  Mejiagain (The "Irosun right Foot) and "Ogunda Meji" again (The Left Foot). There are two remain- ing Olodus, the body parts of which I am unfamiliar; but this is the basic scheme.

                                                                                                                                                *

Second Version:

                                                                                                                                                 *          

The Body’s  Correlates of the Holy Odus in Orisha – Ifa Religion

 

(Source: "An Introduction to the Study of Ifa: A Workbook and Study Guide for init-

 iates Only)"; by Medahochi K.O. Zannu (Iba…eee!)

 

Buttocks             =      Odi Meji

Spinal Column   =     Ogbe Meji

Blood Vessels    =     Ogbe Meji

Human Head      =     Ogbe Meji

Menstrual Flow =     Irosun Meji

Hands                   =     Oworin Meji

Feet                   

Vocal Cords, Speech          = Okonron Meji

Male Genitals & Sperms   = Ogunda Meji

Mouth                                    = Otura Meji

Blood Circulation & Ears,

Cheeks

Internal Organs, Eyes,       = Osa Meji

Lips, Nostrils, Two Thighs,

Female Genitals, Labias

Majorum and Minora

Thoracic Cage (except      = Ika Meji

Sternum)

Breasts                                  = Oturupon Meji    

Longevity                             =  Irete Meji

Feet and Hands                  = Oturupon Meji

 

The Body’s Diseases and the Odu

 

Stomach disease                = Oworin Meji

Erectile Dysfunction         = Ogunda Meji

Swellings of Body              = Oturupon Meji

Dropsy                                   = Oturupon Meji

Abcesses & Diseases of    = Oshe Meji  

Putrification 

 

                                                                              *

      RELATED: COMPARING KMT AND EASTERN THEOLOGY AND THEOSOPHY

         KEMETIC YOGA STIMULATES THE “CHAKRAS,” IT IS BELIEVED BY THEM

                                                                              *

Egyptians believed that from the bottom of the spinal column’s“root chakra” (speaking analogously) to its top or “crown chakra,” there existed seven centers of psycho-spiritual consciousness and  bodily  functioning. These  seven (or twelve, in some variants) centers  were  called  the seven"Souls of Ra”analogous to the con- cepts of seven or “chakras” as popularized in the Kundalini  yoga  system of  India. In  KMT language these  seven  souls  were  called “sefech Ba Ra” and their  their “energy” flow  was  controlled  by  the  goddesses  Aset  and  Nebethet  through seven serpents (not just two of them)--hence, their  concept of  serpentine (prot- ective) energy of the serpent-like shape of the spinal column.

                                                                                *

First, imagine  an  elongated  obelisk or “pillar” (“teken” or pylon) standing  straight up. That would be  the spinal column.  Now  also imagine the  arms  outstretched at about the  third center down  from the “crown” or head; where the chest is. This “t” looking figure—if we hung scale baskets from each hand of the outstretched arms--would be the “scale of Ma’at” used  for testing  the integrity of the self and balance of the soul (or lack of it) at  that--the Heart (knowledge,wisdom and righteousness)  level . Now,  finally,  imagine a  cross-bar (outstretched arms) being at any level of any of the other six “chakras” too.

                                                                                  *

Ausar (Osiris), aided  by  Ma'at  and  Anubis, evaluates  one's  ethics  and  weighs on  the  balance  scale  the  soul (i.e., the heart's memories) at each of  the levels of the “Seven Souls of  Ra” within  a person at  the  seven levels of  the spinal column. The

heart--with its deeds  and  memories--is placed on one side of the scale and the Os-

trich feather on the other.

                                                                                                                                          *

In KMT  the  spinal  column  is  also  called  “The Djed Pillar” (or  the  Pillar of  Ausar-Osiris). Again, it  has its seven  levels. To  each  level  there correspond parts of the body. For example, the second level is near the sexual organs. So, for example, pro- blems  with  sexuality (or  the  damning-up  of libido  and  the  personality   conseq- uences of this) may be addressed  by  poses  and  sequences that affect this lowest “chakra” of  the Djed pillar (i.e., of  the  spine). Similarly, a  constricted  heart (with  its  many  implications)  may  be  profitably  affected  by  passing  energy  smoothly through  the “chakra” that  corresponds  to  the Djed  pillar  at  that--the 4th--   level. And  so  on. Unlike  the  other organs of  the body, the heart--that  for  the  Egypt- ians  was, again,  the  seat  of  thought and,  therefore, memory--was  left  inside  the  corpse  during  the  mummification  process. And, as  mentioned, the  serpen- tine  figures--usually depicted as two snakes--coiled  themselves  up and  down  this Djed  column in the human body, i.e., the spine in life, generally, as well as in death. 

                                                                               *                                                                                *

In Asia, their power is called “chi” or “ki”; in Yoruba culture it is called “ashe,” and in the West it  is  called “vital power” or “vitalism.” Indeed, in  KMT,  this  “energy”even curves around the “sun disk” crown  of  the  deity Shu (breath  and  wind) itself. If it flows freely it is considered good and healthy. But if these energies are damned-up at one or  more  of  the seven  levels, then  the  individual  may have  problems with the “soul(s) of Ra” and  the  corresponding  various  parts  of  their  bodies (or  their lives). Hence, it is yoga--'uniting  the  upper and  lower' through movement, breath, meditation, diet and ‘sacred geometry’--that  keeps  this  energy  flowing  smoothly. This is the “chakra” idea: the root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, “third eye,” and crown that are analogized as the “Seven Souls of Ra.” 

                                                                                                                                             *

Yet, notwitstanding what Kemites and Indians believe (which may be highly valid for them), Orisha/Ifa religion has its own knowledge about the spirituality of body

functions, body parts, and bodily integrity.

                                                                                 *

                           GOOD SOURCES TO UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF ORI

 
Footnote #1                                                                            *                                   

1.      “ORI, THE SUPREME DIVINITY”  by Lanre Ola-Ifa Okemmuyiwa, Es Es                                           Communication Ventures, Lagos

2.      “ORI” by Babatunde Lawal,  found in many internet sources.

3.      “The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts,” by Baba Ifa Karade

4.      "An Introduction to the Study of Ifa: A Workbook and Study Guide

                     for Initiates Only)"

5.      “Ancestor Ritual” essay in Oshoosi. com by Alashe Michael Oshoosi

 

Footnote #2

In a companion essay in this series entitled "What Ain't In Orisha/Ifa Religion--Sectarianism" I will discuss how we may profitably evaluate the quality of religious beliefs. The first set of questions  are these: Is the  religion or a variation  of it aut- hentic, valid,  reliable, and  useful? The  second  set  of questions  are  these:  Is the religion or one of its variants sectarian in nature (do its proponents argue with ot- hers--inside  or out of it--about its authenticity, validity,  reliability or utility)? 

                                                                                  *

Do its  proponents  proselytize others  who are not in  it in  order to  convince them to leave their own practices and join in with the proselytizer's religion or religious variation?  And, finally, are these religionists doctrinaire and dogmatic about their beliefs; beliefs that are usually set forth as codes, rules or commandments that ap- ply equally to everyone? Along these lines of inquiry we  may find important distinc- tions between (sub-Saharan) African Traditional Religions, on the one hand, and all other religions and theosophies, on the other.

Alashe Michael omo'Oshoosi in Regla, (La Habana), Cuba