Ifa Divination: Communication Between Gods and Men in West Africa

By William Bascomb

"The sacred texts of Ifa, repository of the collected knowledge of numerous generations of Yoruba humans, are a useful resource not just for all scholars of African oral literature and Yoruba civilization, but additionally for destiny generations attracted to the continued power of Ifa divination and a Yoruba lifestyle and thought." —Henry Drewal

This landmark research of Ifa, an important and difficult method of divination of the Yoruba humans of Nigeria, is still a enormous contribution to scholarship in anthropology, folklore, faith, philosophy, linguistics, and African and African-American studies.


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What it does suggest, in spite of the fact that, is that Ifa divination is largely a projective method, similar to the Rorschach try out, in that "its interpretation is determined by the client's motivations and different mental factors," as Rene Ribeiro (1956: 18-19) says. This parallel was once well-known via a priestess of a Yoruba-derived Afrobrazilian cult in Recife, who seemed the Rorschach try out as a divinatory procedure and requested Ribeiro (1956: 5-6) to "look Ifa" for her. "Finally it may be mentioned that given that Ifa verses are usually ambiguous entailing the re-structuring of loosely based stimuli for interpretation, its rapprochement with the simplest projective tools turns into greater than valid" (Ribeiro, 1956: 20). the customer, reckoning on his personal challenge, selects the verse that offers his "answer," and he additionally translates the issues of the mythological characters within the verses by way of his personal wishes and anxieties. during this connection it's to be recalled that in line with 3 Yoruba authors, J. Johnson, S. Johnson, and Lucas, it's the diviner instead of the customer who selects the fitting verse. if you count on that divination will inform them which candidate will win the following election or which horse will win within the 3rd race, a be aware of clarification is needed. it really is attainable to invite such questions during the means of particular possible choices, yet to take action will be silly and could neither end up nor disprove the effectiveness of the process of divination, simply because their body of reference is kind of varied from the questions that Ifa solutions. those are, in essence, "Which of the applicants proposed may be chosen for the easiest curiosity of all involved? " or "Which of the urged residence websites might be most sensible for the welfare of the folks who will dwell there? " and "What sacrifices are essential to make sure the so much favorable final result? " solutions to those questions usually are not simply evaluated, both instantly or eventually, specially in view that they're given when it comes to the destinies which are believed to manage the lives of the participants involved. As with different platforms of divination, or even with Western. medication and technology, the buyer is never capable of come to a decision even if the prediction is 70 Ifa Divination exact. the implications tend to be identified for it slow, or even while the sacrifice is by means of misfortune, there's continually the average doubt that the results could have been worse if the sacrifice had no longer been made. As one diviner defined, if undesirable is foretold via particular choices after which proven within the verse, the sacrifice is made in order that the implications usually are not as critical as estimated; and if solid is in a similar fashion proven, it's made in order that the blessing can be higher and are available extra quick. Even Western technological know-how has been tormented by questions of this sort, and one may well debate no matter if to stick with the recommendation of 1 health care professional or one other, or none in any respect. Like those different platforms, Ifa divination depends on an underlying beginning of trust usually bolstered via its successes, whereas its disasters are rationalized or forgotten.

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