New way of working with the Orisha!
The Ifa Foundation has, for almost 40 years, pioneered many of the logical rules that had been misplaced during the diaspora. Most important was the drive to give women and gay men, equal rights to this beautiful philosophy. Female Iyanifa's, identical ceremonies for the Icofa, correct reading of the opele and Opon, plus a host of other “restorations.” Now, after years of planning, and ongoing development, we are pioneering the next step for working with the Orisha and Ancestors.
Step One: The Sacred Orisha Gardens
What are sacred spiritual gardens?
In African philosophy, genuine Spiritual Gardens represent the intermediate point of connection between human and Orisha (Eternal energies created by God). This intermediate point, or physical Orisha, reflects its own accumulated ase’ (eternal energy), as well as the energy of EVERY prayer and offering that has ever been made to it. The Sacred Orisha Gardens at Ola Olu, the only complete Sacred Orisha Gardens in the Western Hemisphere, where literally thousands of ceremonies, ebbos and offerings have taken place, have accumulated the most intense energy vortex within the physical Orisha, allowing your own potent connection and empowerment to take place.
Now you can take advantage of these gardens for initiations,ebbo's and sacred tools, either by visiting the gardens, by having our DUALITY of Ebbo – meaning that YOUR ebbo is offered through the appropriate Orisha Garden AS WELL as by a physical ebbo given to you for your invoking the Orisha whenever you feel the need. In this way you elevate your solutions to include not only your own, and our ase', but the ase' of the thousands of people who have offered through the gardens previously... and in the future... and, if you desire, you are invited to come down to the Sacred Orisha Gardens, anytime during the year, and Vassa will show you where your offering is, teach you how to pray in accordance with the offering and also show you the prayers that you have made, or others, at ALL the gardens... it’s a great opportunity. If you select to do your offering from your home, with placement in the gardens, the offer is open to you year round.
Step Two: Igba Iwa
The Spiritual underpinning of who you are dealing with is enormously important! What at the time seemed an almost miraculous accident The Ifa Foundation came into possession of the personal Igba Iwa of Afolabi Epega’s, Grandfather, the Patriarch Epega, who had been one of Bascomb's primary informants. At the time Afolabi had been visiting us from New York and had brought the Igba by train to our home to help in the initiation ceremony of yet another Ifa priest. Following the ceremony Afolabi was eager to go on to a meeting he had in New Orleans, and did not have the time to take a train. He strongly believed you could not fly with the Igba Iwa. We had spoken of his creating an Igba for the Foundation earlier, when suddenly he turned to me and asked: “Would you want the Igba of my Grandfather for the Foundation?” “We would be honored!” I replied.” And so, the Ifa Foundation became the home for the Patriarch Epega's personal Igba Iwa...and joined us forever, at a level that transcended the temporal – to the Epega bloodline. Every instrument, initiation, ebbo we conduct comes from this Igba and as such connects you to it, and a direct bloodline generations ago in Africa!
As all such powerful implements are “born” from the accumulated energy of an older implement, every Igba created at the Ifa Foundation relies upon the more than a century of accumulated spiritual energy contained in the Patriarch’s original Igba Iwa.
These two seminal differences, plus our almost 40 years of personal exploration and Orisha work, define us.
When we began our journey, almost 40 years ago, we were motivated - probably much like you are - from a combination of need, curiosity, and dissatisfaction with what Western spirituality seemed to offer. When we first encountered the Orisha, there was virtually no Ifa in America - only Santeria/Lucumi. So, Santeria/Lucumi was the initial path that we took. It soon became clear that we had simply traded the fear and dependency created by Western religions for an Afro/Cuban world view that mirrored those traits. When we asked questions, we were told that we were either not ready, being insolent, or that it was a “secret”. When we objected to the racial, sexual, and gender discriminations that surfaced, we were told that the Orisha would punish us. Despite this, we resonated to the power and beauty of the Orisha, leading us to begin a journey to find its roots and its relevancy to our lives.
That journey resulted in re-discovering Ifa in the original African Tradition, and the founding of the Ifa Foundation of North America. Our books "The Way of the Orisa" (HarperCollins Publishing), and "The Sacred Ifa Oracle" (HarperCollins Publishing), introduced African Ifa to both mainstreamand academic America. We initiated the first female Iyanifa, the first openly gay Babalawo, re-established the concept of Ori, and returned to Ifa's inclusive world view. We also created the largest Sacred Orisha Gardens in the Western Hemisphere where all could experience the beauty and power of Ifa.
We have accomplished all of this by uniting our male and female energy to work together, by learning (and subsequently teaching) the imperative of Empowerment rather than dependence, of Confidence rather than fear, of self-reliance rather than paternalism, and of logic rather than blind faith. We invite you to join us on this journey.