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Way of the Orisa : Empowering Your Life Through the Ancient African Religion of Ifa
by Philip John Neimark
||The Secrets of
Afro-Cuban Divination : How to Cast the Diloggun, the Oracle of the Orishas
by Ocha'ni Lele
|The Handbook of
Yoruba Religious Concepts
by Baba Ifa Karade
The following information, on Orisa's is from various posts to Djembe-L mail list by its members. To make additions or corrections, please forward your post to FAQ Webmaster. Thank you.
John Walter wrote:
> "Can you tell me any more about Yemaya???? I use a song about her and would like some more backgrounD. Any references.??"
From: Jaqui <email@example.com>
I am a daughter of Yemaya...I don't have any specific references for information, only stories that I have been told, by those who I trust very much, (I was once engaged to a Yoruba man and am also very close friends with Baba Olatunji, who is Yoruba...this is a great way to learn the history of the orisas, from someone who is Yoruba, maybe you know someone???). Anyway...
Yemaya is a Yoruba (Nigeria) and African-Caribbean (Santeria) "Goddess" of the sea, it is said that she gave birth to all that lives and exists, including the moon, stars, sun and to the orisas (orisas are ancestor spirits, the 's' is spelled with a dot under it and is pronounced "sh"...like 'orisha'). Yemaya is the orisa of the oceans / seas. She is
also known as "Ymoja" in Africa and "Iamanja" in Brazil. When she is in the water, she is a mermaid and when she is on the land, she is a beautiful woman. The big celebration for her is on the Summer Solstice, when those who worship her go to the sea dressed in white and offer her gifts (which they float out in little boats). She will either accept the gifts or send them back. Her waters are said to wash away the
troubles and sorrows of those who come to her. She is the Mother of all, maternal and nurturing. She is also very rich and is associated with the richness of the ocean with all of it's wonderful treasures.
She is associated with surrender, renewal, nuturing
and wealth. When you sing your song to her...you can focus on these things, and
also, always remember to give thanks and offer her a gift.
Peace and Blessings,
Yoruba influence in the Caribbean and Latin America
From: Vicky & Gerald Stone <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> >I also have a question , why has the Yoruban culture in particular been such an >>influence in the Carribbean and Latin nations? Thanks Jon Holland
Hello Jon: to answer your question, the Yoruba were one of the main ethnic groups that were enslaved and taken to the Caribbean and Latin America (apart from the US). From Nigeria specifically the Yoruba, the Fon and the Igbo. People from Allada (in Cuba Arada), as well as the Nago or Anago, people in general from West Africa particularly the coastal city-states such as Ivory Coast and Ghana were in particular taken. (I almost forgot peoples of the Congo).
Many Nigerians were taken to Cuba (one of the main shipping points for the slave trade. Slaves in general were brought to Cuba, the US, Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, etc. From Cuba they were used in the sugar plantations much as in the US in the cotton plantations among other type of plantations. In Venezuela were I'm from slaves were used mainly in the tobacco plantations as well as serving as what in the US would be called cowboys.
The African tradition of music, culture, dance, vocabulary survives practically intact in Cuba, in Latin America, Venezuela (my personal experience) as well as in Guyana. It is not so obvious in the US with the exception of New Orleans where you can see transformed African values thinly disguised in order for traditions to continue for example in Congo Square (New Orleans) where the slave was allowed to dance and socialize in minimal fashion.
In Latin America as soon as the slave was taken off the slavers ship, was taken to a church and baptized thus "saving his soul from the devil" using words not understood by the African. Since he was not required to learned the Bible word for word (much less read or learn anything) he was fairly safe from further religious influence unless it was for the good of the church. This resulted in the church allowing slaves congregating only to worship and it was at these meetings that cabildos or organizations for particular saints as well as ethnic groups could be formed. When this happened the African was able to "sneak in" his/her heritage be it music,
In the US the churches were not as lenient and any manifestation of African
identity was discouraged more harshly. The African had to renounce completely any knowledge whatsoever of African values and groups were scrutinized even more harshly (not that it was easy elsewhere).
Iboru, Iboye, Ibosise
Article: Yoruba Sacred Music, Old
World and New
by John Gray
This is a wonderful primer that offers advice as to what written, audio, and visual material is available to help you explore the rich and vibrant music of the Santeria religion.
Here is an excerpt from the introduction:
"In Yoruba religion, whether practiced in Ile Ife, Salvador, Bahia, La Habana or the Bronx, music and dance have always been central. They are the mediums which connect the physical world (aiye) of the living with the supernatural world (orun) of the gods (orisha) and ancestors (egun). Oriki -songs and praise poems to the orisha - act as activators, quickening the senses of the faithful and opening a pathway for the orishas' divine energy (ashe). Drumming helps shape the ceremony, channeling the orisha with their special rhythmic signatures, and dance, as John Mason puts it, 'is thebody's way of singing the praises of the orisha.' These are the tools for summoning the orisha; invitations to a party held on their behalf."
You may read the entire article at http://www.descarga.com/cgi-bin/db/archives/Article17
From: JOEY LIKE <email@example.com>
Thank you Happy for the intro in Digest 286. As I said before, I have only been playing djembe for a year now and practically learned to drum on my own. I was
"taught" by my roommate, who is also learned on his own. I'm not sure who lead him the drum. But I am so very entranced by the power of ancient rhythm that I
have been on a personal quest to discover and learn the backbeat of our being. And I think the ancient African religion of Ifa may provide a clue. I began
to study Ifa and Yoruban culture about the same time as I picked up the djembe. I am intrigued by the fact the this religion is so flexible--being both Christian
and pagan in its approach and philosophies. But now what I have focused on is the dinivination patterns, or Odu. When you cast the shells or pound the palm
nuts, you mark down one of two symbols--a single dot or a double dot.
You repeat this process three more times to form a column. This is an Odu, a representation of a chosen Orisha(angel). A second Odu is created, and placed to
the left of the first, to form what is called an Odu pair, and one of 256 fortunes is revealed. Now, when an Odu pair is written, it looks something like this:
o o o
o o o o
o o o #122: Irosun Ofun
To me, this also looks like a rhythm notation in 4/4 time, with the single dot representing quarter notes and double dots eights. If streched it out longways,
starting at the top right dot, following and reverse "N" pattern, and ending lower left it would look like this:
I am still studying and expermenting with the theory, and I have no real proof of a connection between Ifa and drum, but by writing this I hope to get some
feedback and critical opinion from others. There are 256 Odu, which could translate into 256 rhythms. But, until then I'll keep playing and studying.
From: "JOEY LIKE" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Monday, April 10, 2000 7:36 PM
Greetings! It's been quite a while since I left a message here and I felt it was
time to update everyone on my personal research into the rhythm/religion connection.
I have been teaching myself songwriting for the last few months and decided to
continue experimenting with the 16 Orisa Odu(dinivination symbols). Since the Odu's
are marked with a series of single or double dots, I arranged them in a 4/4 meter.
And here's how it looks:(o=quarter note x=eight note)
Odu's 1-4 oooo/xxxxxxxx/xxooxx/oxxxxo/
Odu's 5-8 oxxxxxx/xxxxxxo/ooxxxx/xxxxoo/
Odu's 9-12 oooxx/xxooo/ooxxo/oxxoo/
Odu's 13-16 xxxxoxx/xxoxxxx/oxxoxx/xxoxxo//
If you play the quarters as "Gun" and the paired eighths as "Go-Do", you can create some very basic rhythms. You can even mix and match the numbers to make over 250 paired patterns. For example:
Oshun(Goddess of Love) is represented by two Odu's: 8 and 15. If placed together, they'll sound out like this:
Here's another one. #10-Oya(Thunder) and #6-Shango(Lightning):
Now you play around with and see how it works for you!!
|Djembe-L FAQ V3b1||History of Yoruba culture in Cuba including overview of Arara, Abakua, Kongo groups and rhythms||The World of the Yoruba||The World of the Mande||OrishaNet|
|The Music of
Santeria: Traditional Rhythms of the Bata Drums
by John Amira, Steven Cornelius
|Yoruba Sacred Kingship : 'a Power Like That of the Gods'
||Sixteen Cowries :
Yoruba Divination from Africa to the New World
by William Bascom
|The Way of the Orisa : Empowering Your Life Through the Ancient African
Religion of Ifa
by Philip John Neimark
|Ifa Divination: Communication Between Gods and Men in West Africa
by William Russell Bascom