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Religious Dogma and Isese

Started by Omowale, Mar 13, 2023, 02:10 PM

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Ojumo ire from here. In this thread I will be talking about the threat of religious dogma and how this mindset threatens Isese. 

Religious dogma is a part of the core philosophies in many foreign religions. Especially Abrahamic faiths where you have commandment style religious doctrines. Many people around the world who were not born into Isese are usually coming from one of the Abrahamic religions. It is great that our faith is growing in popularity as people all over the world are becoming interested in indigenous spirituality all together and becoming more cynical of religions that were spread as a product of colonialism and chattel slavery. That being said, it can be hard to let go of dogmatic thinking when leaving those religious institutions. Yes I call them "institutions" because these organizations educate and shape how one thinks of religion/spirituality overall.

Some days ago I came across this tweet by @spiritual_wife where she is debunking this dogmatic thinking. Apparently there is misinformation being spread by some of those in the west about how you can only venerate an orisha at the specific geographical location that orisha is a patron of 🤦🏾�♂️. Here is what she had to say:

As she said, this information is inaccurate and quite insulting.  I also think there is a possibility that this information could be spread by frauds too. Fake priests who perhaps try to solicit their clients to be overly dependent on them, so that way they can extract more money. May they reap what they sow.

The other issue that may be the root cause, is foreign dogmatic thinking infecting indigenous religions. Many people are raised being accustomed to the concept of sin. To avoid sin, one has to follow a set of Holy laws, commandments, rules, that were made for the masses to abide by. Because in their belief, sin leads to hell. There is no hell in Ifa. Some people have shared resources to me from authors of these "Isese" books that teach readers in this style. I have heard "16 Truths" and other rules written in the style of commandments. Odu Ifa is not a central Holy book that aims to subject a mass audience to a broad set of rules. Odu Ifa does not revolve around a central holy book or commandments. In fact there was no central holy book that existed for the vast majority of its history. The beauty of Isese is it is a dynamic tradition. Isese as we know it today is an amalgamation of local deities and smaller traditions, practiced by the indigenous people of Yorubaland. Who are more like a clan of smaller ethnic groups. Isese today comprises of a decentralized network of Ifa priests (elders) who spread the lineage of their ancestral practices via literary corpus, Odu Ifa. This is an advanced oral tradition. The purpose of books in this practice is not to spread dogmatic doctrine, but to assist us in enhancing our studies taught by our Ifa priests who are our elders in our respective spiritual families (our iles). While there is some general philosophical thought in this faith, the only doctrine that we follow is the dynamic wisdom of Ifa when it is cast for us as individuals. What Ifa instructs you to do, is different from what Ifa instructs me to do. We do not proselytize religious dogma in this faith, but we promote individual spiritual awakening by Ifa aligning our individual destinies when divination is cast for us.  We do not operate as a "church" for the masses, we operate like a decentralized family of  traditions. And like the tradition of medicine where people have to seek medical professionals to become their "family doctors", we seek out Ifa priests who become our spiritual godparents. There are doctors that we can recommend to others and doctors that we do not recommend. Approach the practice similarly.

For those who are already in the practice, this may seem like an obvious trivial point.. But I believe newcomers and those unfamiliar are at great risk for absorbing dogmatic teachings because they read it in a book. Ifa is a way of life. We must break away from western institutional style teachings that claim to have the supreme "Holy Laws" of a deeply dynamic way of life.

Let me know what you guys think.
~Manifest destiny from within~


This is definitely an interesting topic. For those in the Diaspora many already know that we can offer an offering in the Bronx River still honoring Ọsun.

In Yorùbáland, many rivers in Èkìtìland are known as Ògbòó. As far as I know, most of these streams are not connected to each other nor the Ọ̀ṣun river, yet people who worship Ògbòó believe that they are also honoring and paying homage to Ọ̀ṣun, because shes not restricted to one river.

I definitely had to change my world view being raised as a Christian and I think it comes with time and understanding through guidance from a great Olúwo


@Atipo Exactly! There are many forms of Ọ̀ṣun as well as the other irunmole. It is important that people coming to Isese know this concept. 
~Manifest destiny from within~


In one of the Osun threads. I talked about the orisa Yemese, and she was venerated as the manifestation of Osun in one of the verses. People forget that there are 400(+1) Orisa that each have varying traditions. I am not so familiar with Èkìtìland. This is the first I'm hearing of Ògbòó.
~Manifest destiny from within~