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 Orisa/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 these 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 Orisa would punish us. Despite this, we resonated to the power and beauty of the Orisa, 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 African Tradition, and the founding of the Ifa Foundation of North America. The books "The Way of the Orisa" – HarperCollins Publishing, and "The Sacred Ifa Oracle" – HarperCollins Publishing, introduced African Ifa to both mainstream and academic America. We created the first Spiritual Retreat with genuine Orisa Shrines and Gardens that we call Ola Olu, or Gift from God. We created the world’s most complete Web Site with more free information on Orisa worship than anywhere else in the world in order to combat the intellectual and emotional slavery that secrecy and lack of knowledge creates. We initiated the first female Iyanifa, the first openly gay Babalawo, as well as introduced the first scholarships for initiation, etc. as we began to restore Ifa to the inclusive world view it was created to provide.
Through it all we have raised our children in the tradition, learned how to maintain our own 30-plus year loving relationship, and have helped others to obtain or create their own.
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 have done this through the following Sixteen Truths of Ifa:
1. This is a benevolent Universe created by a benevolent God
2. You need have no fear
3. There is a single Creative Force (God)
4. There is no Devil
5. It is your birthright to be joyful, successful and loved
6. Personal empowerment is your engine for success and fulfillment
7. You are part of the Universe in a literal, not figurative way
8. Character determines outcome
9. All supremacy is evil
10. You must never initiate harm to another human being
11. You must never harm the Universe of which you are a part
12. Discrimination is personally and culturally destructive
13. Diversity is the hallmark of Oludumare’s (God’s) creation
14. You select your Destiny
15. Divination provides the road map to your Destiny
16. Balance, growth and wisdom provide your empowerment
30 Years of Ifa Foundation of North & Latin America’s Major Accomplishments
- Received the first approved 501 C-3 not-for-profit status from the Federal Government. In so doing achieved equal recognition with Christianity, Judaism, Moslem etc., and set the stage for all others to follow.
- Re-introduced the critical concept of Ori which had been lost by diasporic Practioners.
- Re-Established the historical reality of total equality for women in Ifa practice… subsequently initiated the first, of many, females (in North America) as fully consecrated Ifa priests.
- Established the reality of the Yoruba world view of inclusion and absence of ALL racial, religious, gender and sexual preference discrimination… subsequently initiating the first openly declared homosexual male as a fully consecrated Ifa Priest.
- Established the first (and only) Scholarship and grant program offering grants and free initiation to qualified individuals who demonstrate the moral commitment and financial need.
- Established the ONLY complete Sacred Orisa Gardens in the Western Hemisphere…open to all spiritual individuals seeking to connect to ancient African energies.
- Introduced the concept of long distance divination, by phone, internet etc. doing away with the self-imposed limitations of range of energies.
- Introduced the choice of non-blood ceremonies.
- Published, through HarperCollins Publishing, the first complete understanding of the 256 Sacred Odu, setting the stage for inclusion, in Western Academia, of Ifa as a major world philosophy.
- Created the largest offering of free information regarding Ifa on the World Wide Web.
- Introduced the Inner Circle, a select group of independent thinkers to chart the Foundation’s future.