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TERMS TO KNOW – Ifá Orisha Unveiled

On this page you will find definitions to words often used on this website. More words will be added daily.

New Words added: 1, 6, 10, 13, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 31, 32, and 48

  1. Aboru Aboye (Ah-boh-ruu Ah-boh-yay) – This is a respectful greeting that is said between initiates of Ifa (and said when addressing a Babalawo). Also, Aboru Aboye Abosise is the complete greeting.
  2. Aja – Yoruba word for bell, which to used to call the Orisha
  3. Ase (Ah-Shay)  – Yoruba word for “So let it be/May it be so.” Ase is the force, motivation, and power behind any spiritual manifestation.
  4. Awo (Ah-woh)  Ifa Priest in training to become Babalawo.
  5. Aye (Ah-yeh) – Yoruba word for Earth
  6. Baba (Bah-Bah) – Yoruba word for Father.
  7. Babalawo (Bah-Bah-LAH-Woh) – The word Babalawo literally means “father of mysteries,” or “father of many secrets.” This person is an earthly representative of the Orisha who is called Orunmila. He is Priest of the order of Ifa/Orisha He has gone through several years (anywhere between 15 to 20 years of extensive training) and is versed in all knowledge of Ifa. *Note* a Babalawo becomes independent after his training, initiation, and after he is released from his Oluwo (see number 31 for definition). After years of training is complete (although a Babalawo never stops learning Ifa as it is that extensive), he is supposed to wear full white and have a shaved head.
  8. Egbe (Egg-Beh) – A “Society” or “family” belonging to an astral realm
  9. Ebo (Eh-Bo) – Yoruba word denoting prescribed sacrifice(s) done by a Babalawo.
  10. Edan (Ee-don) – Articles made from brass and of which are sacred to the Ogboni fraternity.
  11. Esu (Eh-Shu) – Yoruba divinity of the earth. Owner of the earth. World police and governor. Closest messenger to God in the Orisha tradition.
  12. Egun (or Egungun) – (Eh-guun) Yoruba word for ancestor or ancestors, spirits of the dead
  13. Higher Self – The “Higher Self” is your spirit who is older, wiser, and has travelled this Earth and other different planets over and over again, therefore gathering knowledge abound.
  14. Iba (Ih-Bah) – Yoruba word for I give respect or I pay Homage to, this word is usually used when praying to your ancestors,or Orishas, giving the honor and praise
  15. Ibi (Ee-bih) – Negative
  16. Ide (Ee-deh) – A bracelet fashioned from beads or brass to be worn around the wrist as an indication that the person is an initiate, and the colors or the material (such as a brass bangle for Osun) of the bracelet indicates the Orisha for whom the person serves or is an initiate of.
  17. Ifa (Ee-fah) – Divination system which is used by the Yoruba people of South Western Nigeria.
  18. Ikin – A black nut or black seed from the sacred Palm Tree used as an oracle of Ifa by Babalawo’s.
  19. Itefa (Ee-teh-fah) – Initiation to Ifa
  20. Ire (Ee-reh) – Good or positive
  21. Isese – (Ee-Sheh-Sheh) – This word literally means tradition. When one initiates into the Yoruba Tradition and does so in Africa, he is now an Isese practitioner, in other words, he now practices the tradition of the ancients.
  22. Isese Laba (Ee-Sheh-Sheh Lag-bah) – This means “Tradition is the best way!” or “Tradition is on top of everything.” This is also the name of the yearly celebration of Tradition in Nigeria. On this day, all Ifa/Orisha practitioners will celebrate this Day of Tradition which takes place on the 20th of August. This is also a greeting or saying used on this day. One will say “Isese Lagba!” while the other responds, “Isese Lagba Gbogbo Wa!” (see below for meaning)
  23. Isese Lagba Gbogbo Wa (Ee-Sheh-Sheh- Bug-bo Wa) – Tradition will stay with us always.
  24. Iwa Pele (Ee-wah Peh-leh) – Taken from one of the many teachings of Ifa. Iwa Pele is good or gentle character, the ability to be the best human you can be not only to each other, but also to nature (of which we worship). Iwa Pele ensures long life.
  25. Iya (Ee-yah) – Yoruba word for “Mother.”
  26. Iyanifa (Ee-yah-nee-fa) – A priestess of Ifa. A woman who has gone through Ifa initiation and has gained knowledge of the Ifa system. In other words, a priestess of the order of Ifa/Orisha.
  27. Obara Meji – Obara Meji is in the seventh place in the unalterable order of the first sixteen principle Odu’s of Ifa, called the mejis.
  28. Oba (Oh-Bah) – Yoruba word for King
  29. Obatala – Other wise called Orish-nla, is an Orisha (see Orisha) of the pantheon of Orishas of the Ifa/Orisha traditional practice. He represents peace, he wears white and all his shrines are white from walls to floors. He was the creator of man so ordered by God, who later blew breath through the nostrils of Obatala’s design. He is said to be a very Old and wise man who power is God like (See The Orishas)
  30. Odu – Refers to the coded language that appears when Ifa is cast, of which there are 256 Odu’s. There are sixteen majors, which are “Mejis” and 240 permutations. Can also be regarded for easier understanding or your book of destiny or akashic records.
  31. Ochosi – Yoruba divinity of the woods. He is a hunter in the Orisha tradition.
  32. Ogbe (Ug-beh) – Yoruba word meaning light and is the first Odu of Ifa (see Odu) in the order of Odu’s
  33. Ogbo Ato (Ug-boh Ah-toh) – This is the response when an IFA initiate is greeted “Aboru Aboye” (see number 1) Ogbo Ato is, however, the short response to which should be “Ogbo Ato Asure Ìwòrì Wofun.” Please note that when Aboru Aboye is saluted, then the long response should be replied, but if Aboru Aboye Absosise is the salutation then it is okay to respond “Ogbo Ato.”
  34. Ogboni (Og-boh-née) – A fraternity of Elders of which there are various sects, of which the focus of veneration and worship is of Iya Onile (See numbers 22 and 34). Ognoni is a fraternity indigenous to the Yoruba people although it can be found in other places. This fraternity focuses on the reverence and worship of Iya Onile (which is Mother Earth). It’s iconography are the sacred Edans (See number 10).
  35. Ogun (Oh-gun / Masculine Energy– Yoruba divinity who rules over iron in the Orisha tradition. See The Orishas.
  36. Olodumare/ Olorun – Yoruba word for the Divine Source (God).
  37. Oluwo (Typically pronounced Oh-loo-wu in Yorubaland, although it ends with an ‘O’, this is common in the Yoruba language) – This is a chieftancy title given to a male practitioner (or Bàbàláwo) of the Isese Ifa/Orisha tradition.
  38. Oni (Oh-nee) – Yoruba word for King
  39. Onile (Oh-nee-leh) – Yoruba word for Mother Earth
  40. Opon Ifa Tray – A carved circular board made from wood on which Babalawos divines on, and is also used to invoke Ifa
  41. Ori-Eleda -The Yoruba concept of “your head” or “inner consciousness” which is also considered to be a divinity, the one who leads and guides you throughout your life. 
  42. Orun – Yoruba word for Heaven
  43. Orunmila – A Yoruba divinity who is the owner of the Ifa oracle in the Orisha tradition.
  44. Opele (Oh-peh-leh) – An oracle of divination used by a Babalawo or Iyanifa also when cast reveals odu.
  45. Orisa (Oh-ree-SHA)  Deity which reflects the manifestations of God in the Yoruba spiritual religious system. They rule over forces of nature and all the endeavors of humanity.
  46. Ifa/Orisha Tradition – A traditional way of life of the Yoruba people of South Western Nigeria who believes in the worship and reverence of nature and all its elements.
  47. Oyeku – (Oh-yeh-koo), Yoruba word meaning darkness, and the second oldest Odu of Ifa (see Odu) in the unalterable Odu’s of Ifa.
  48. Oyin (Oh-yeen) – Yoruba word for honey
  49. Oyinbo (Oh-yee-bo)  Literally a word for white-skinned people, but is typically used for a foreigner of any kind.
  50. Yoruba – One of the three major tribes of Nigeria, they can be found in the South Western area of Nigeria.