Spiritual Development Part I
In this day and time there are many people searching for guidance and inner peace. People that were raised following the Christian faith are become Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim. You have individuals that are even going back and studying Wiccan and the Celtic (Druid) cultures. People are getting acquainted and embracing traditional African spiritual systems and traveling to Nigeria, Benin, Haiti, Cuba, Brazil and Trinidad.
One of the fastest growing spiritual systems in the world is Ifa. Ifa is a spiritual system that was traditionally practice by the Yoruba people in Southwest Nigeria. There are many people of different ethnic groups that are looking at Ifa as a tool for their spiritual development. The energy on the planet is shifting quite rapidly and I believe people are starting to recognize the change.
In the most humble way, I believe the divine force that we call God has a spark in each and every individual on this planet. Spiritual Systems when used correctly (going within) can be a tool for enlightenment and spiritual development. At the same time being ignorant (not knowing) certain information can be a crutch and a prison for the individual if he or she is looking for God outside of himself or herself. This can be in Christianity, Islam, Ifa, or any other system. If one is looking for God outside of himself or herself, they run the risk of self-imprisonment.
With that being said, the Ṣàngódaré Institute for the Study of GAN philosophy is dedicated in providing information and creating an environment for proper spiritual training and techniques that promotes spiritual development. Being a babaláwo (Priest of Ifa), I receive questions constantly on how to do certain things from rituals to creating altars. Whether you’re Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim, I believe a sacred space should be in each individual’s home. When the layers of all the different systems are pulled back, all that is left for the individual seeking spiritual development is the divine self.
A few days ago, I received several questions from an Ifa practitioner regarding ritual, prayer and structure. The following is part of my response to him.
First and foremost, rituals that are done should be what feels right to you. In the Yoruba tradition/priesthood there are certain days that the Orisa priest/priestess go to their shrines and give offering or do rituals to their Òrìṣà. Each Òrìṣà (divine beings, archetypal energies) has a designated day that is based on the Yoruba calendar that rotates every 4, 8, and 16 days (more explanation of this will be explained in part 2 of this article).
- Create a sacred space for your Ori (divine inner self). This sacred space is designed for meditation and rituals to the Ori (divine inner self) not the Òrìṣà (divine beings and archetypal energy).
- In the evening before going to sleep it is good to write out a plan of action for the next day. Place the written plan of action on the altar. “One should always have a dominant purpose, planned procedure and a particular destination.”
- The Ori altar or shrine can consist of the basics of fruit, glass of water, a white candle in most cases, and 3 kola nuts, if available. A wood table or whatever is used for these items should be covered with a white cloth.
- A bowl of cowries (shells) is good to have on the altar, along with efun. The cowries are an intricate part of the Ori pot (altar, shrine) in Nigeria. Efun is used to mark a cross on your third eye. Efun is white chalk that can be purchased from an African store. It is sacred to Ọbàtálá, an Òrìṣà (an archetypal energy) that represents coolness.
- A mirror on the wall at eye level above the altar would be ideal. The mirror is implemented for spiritual exercises with the meditation.
- Divination with the Obi Abata can be done on a daily bases for your guidance. A ritual or a prayer should be done to your ori in the morning along with meditation and chants so your head/mind is clear, focused and at peace, before you begin your day. “A Clear mental image tends to materialize itself as an actual condition or event.”
In part 2 of this article, we will explore more altars and shrines. We will discuss how to active different types of energy. It is my firm belief, if and individual has paid thousands of dollars for initiation, whether in Nigeria, Cuba, and Trinidad or even here in the United States, proper training and education should come with it. Many people have traveled to Nigeria, Cuba, and Trinidad and in the United States for initiation, and many times have been taken advantage of in the name of indigenous spirituality. This is something that needs to be address, but will not change as long as people stay naive to the game. However with all that said, there are many people who have had proper initiation and training and are doing very well. It is my hope in this spiritual quest that people learn to listen and trust their inner self.
Ifa Priest & Astro-Numerologist