Ifa Orcutt

Ifa divination is practiced by the people of West Africa and Nigeria. It is a randomizing process that provides a solution to a prayer of request given by a client. First the diviner, or babalawo, and the client have to pay homage to past, successful babalawos. Next, the babalawo passes palm nuts from one hand to the other. Then, with the palm nuts that fall, makes markings in the powder in the divination tray. The diviner then interprets these markings, which they study for several years, and gives the client a solution. Click here to learn more.

This system is a randomized process. While the markings the diviner creates are familiar to them, which palm nuts fall or how many times the process will be repeated are not known. After marking the powder with random palm nuts, the diviner observes the markings and interprets them. This is where the prediction comes from. They may agree to have another session if more information is needed.

This system mostly applies to individuals. A client will come to the Ifa diviner with a question, and they will give an answer by interpreting markings. However, the odu, which contains all the markings that the diviners study, has a great significance to the entire Yoruba community. The verses, or ese, within the odu hold records of the Yoruba culture. They reflect the language, values, and history of the people. These texts are passed down through generations.

Ifa divination aligns more with the concept of free will than it does with determinism. The diviner does not tell the client exactly what their future holds. They just give the client an interpretation of random markings. Then, the client can do whatever they want with the interpretation.