WHO WE ARE
Oluwo Phil & Iyanifa Vassa Founders of the IFA Foundation International
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 discrimination 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" – Harper Collins Publishing, and "The Sacred Ifa Oracle" – Harper Collins 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