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In Yoruba mythology, Orunmila is an Irunmola and deity of destiny and prophecy. He is recognized as "ibi keji Olodumare" (second only to Olodumare (God)) and "eleri ipin" (witness to creation). Orunmila is also referred to as Ifá ("ee-FAH"), the embodiment of knowledge and wisdom and the highest form of divination practice among the Yoruba people. In the Santeria / Lukumi diaspora, in present-day Cuba, Orunmila is known as Orula & Orunla. Orunmila is not Ifa, but he is the one who leads the priesthood of Ifa and it was Orunmila who carried Ifa (the wisdom of Olodumare) to Earth. Priests of Ifa are called babalawo (father of secrets) or Iyanifa (female Ifa priest). Orunmila is regarded as a wise man or sage, it was Orunmila (meaning; only heaven knows the keys to my salvation Orun-ni-mi-Ela). His name is actually Ela also called Elasoode (Ela ties Ide on), while in heaven assisting Olodumare with the organization and creation of the universe, which because of his great assistance and vast wisdom/knowledge Olodumare sent Orunmila to Earth with Oduduwa to complete the creation and organization of the world, to make it habitable for humans. It is Orunmila and only he who recognizes the position that Olodumare put Ori as the supreme deity above the Orisa including orunmila himself, it is Ori that can intercede and affect the reality of a person much closer than any Orisa. For this reason it is important to consult with Babalawo during times to know ones direction and the wish of ones Ori.

A woman can only be consecrated in to the mysteries of IFA in Africa and even then will not be allowed to divine using all the tools of IFA. Women do not need to receive Odu because all women already have Odu which is represented by the womb of women and female child bearing ability; the womb is seen as both a physical and spiritual gateway between the heavens and the material world. Several Odu Ifa mandate that women do not see nor receive Odu (Calabash of Existence), and any claims that it can be given are easily dispelled, Ifa stanzas cited in several occasions why. Odu is associated mainly to the force creation as a gateway between the physical world and metaphysical world for the transfer of divine knowledge and messages. Throughout Cuba and some of the broader santeria diaspora, Orula can be received by individuals regardless of gender. For men, the procedure is called to receive "Mano de Orula" and for women, it is called to receive "Kofa de Orula". The same procedure exist in Yoruba land, with esentaye (birthing rites), Isefa (adolesants rites) and Itefa coming of age. Worshippers of the traditional religious philosophy of the Yoruba people all receive one hand of Ifa (called Isefa) regardless of which Orisa they may worship or be an Orisa Priest, it is that same Isefa that will direct all followers to the right path and their individual destines in life.

The traditional religious point of view include similar privileges accorded to woman as priestess of Ifa and Woman society. A woman priestess is known as Iyanifa, Iyalaja, Iya Agba and Iyalase. The title Iyanifa is in suspect since it is not used by either the Cuban or West African practitioners of IFA.

  • Iyanifa - A woman Awo Ifa, or can be a titled woman within an Ifa community not a priest, she can also be the Iyanifa present at the Itefa ceremony of any person, as the inclusion of women is mandatory at every males Itefa rites.
  • Iyalaja- A Spirtual mother working with Iya Nla.
  • Iyanla- the Great Mother, also called Awon Iyami (the powerful Women) and sometimes referred to as Gelede, the female masqurade commonly found in the Egba areas of Yoruba land and somewhat well preserved in Bahia, Brazil
  • Iya Agba- A old and wise woman.
  • Iyalase- High Priestess and head of woman society.
  • Iyale- elder / wise woman of the community or village

The Yoruba believe in duality in life: males exist because of female essence and females exist because of the male essence, so every major rite or ceremony includes both genders, as it should be.

Among West Africans, Orunmila is recognized as a primordial Irunmole that was present both at the beginning of Creation and then again amongst them as a prophet that taught an advanced form of spiritual knowledge and ethics, during visits to earth in physical form or through his disciples.

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