Alashe Michael omo'Oshoosi cautions Yoruba ("Orisha/Ifa") practit- ioners to be skeptical about the projections and introjections of some to import into the religion Westernized ideas like Hermeticism ("Egyptian") religion,"gnosticism, "mathematicism," astrology, melan- in-racism theory, religious sectarianism, Tarot card divination, "chak- ras," (from Kundalini-Buddhist theosophy), numerology, or Hindu religion. Comparisons and analogies to other schools of thought are sometimes useful to further our education, but naive syncretism is unwise and disrespectful to self and kind. (Practitioners of "Pan-African Spiritualism" (PAS) may get away with this, but practition- ers of African Traditional Religions(ATR) should avoid this lack of self-discipline and not confuse the two).
In particular, he finds objectionable the idea that just because Orisha /Ifa uses numbers (as labels or seniority ranks for the odus, and cer- emonial numbers for the orishas) that any mathematical operations are actually going on "in" the religion. Especially ill-advised is the notion that the "dark"--"light" polarities in our Ifa octagrams repres- ent numbers or "base2 " binary digital notations. This is not exactly true; not, at least, as stated. Many people, especially those with Kemetic religious or other doctrinaire variants of al-Islam or Christian backgrounds, might find these theses challenging. But this religion is not for everyone, so when you "knock on the door, you get what is behind the door."To our mathematically-minded friends he says: "Reconsider your hitherto, perhaps inadequately examined, cultural assumptions," for when you are mainly equiped with a mathematical hammer, everything will start looking like a mathematical nail"!
An Adinkra Image from West Africa