Friday, January 31, 2014

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: My Journey in the Orisa Tradition, Ifa and Female Centred Spirituality : A List of Inspirational Sources and Personalities

Thanks for sharing, Cornelius, and for the enquiries. 

I will check out those links.

I'm only just seeing this and only bcs a name I mentioned in ithe essay you are responding to came up on my  Google search for that name for another piece I am writing, suggesting the value of posting on USAAfrica Dialogues Series for sharing one's information online. 

I was not alerted to the response by my Google mail which would normally highlight responses in bold.

You have clearly journeyed across cultures and experienced some inspiring insights. 

I have also been privy to some unusual experiences, in contrast to the character of conventional reality, experiences  inspired by different cognitive contexts, including spontaneous  induction of trance from reading the philosopher Immanuel Kant on the Sublime on the first floor of the Ugbowo library of the University of Benin in the final year of my BA there. 

If one dedicates oneself to them,  spiritual systems often work, and other cognitive systems may also yield unanticipated fruits, like my Kant experience,   if one's primary purpose is the expansion of consciousness, this being  my conclusion from my own experience.

As for other goals, such as affecting physical reality on one's behalf, I know little about that. 

I feel tempted to describe my consciousness expanding experiences with Ifa, Benin nature spirituality, spirituality of art, Hinduism, Eckankar, Western magic, the Grail message, Christianity, The Ancient Mystical Order of the Rosy Cross ( AMORC), meditation and sex, but since I stumbled on your response in the midst of writing another piece inspired by the amazing Facebook photo album of Mercedes Morgana Reyes, I might have to postpone such descriptions to their presentation in essays I will post here on mysticism, witchcraft and art.

On this - 'what is the relationship between the Western phenomenon of witch/ Wicca and what is generally known as witchcraft in West Africa?', one may best respond in terms of the witchcraft  concepts one is aware of. 

I have some exposure, often  through unverified belief, even when discussed in such magnificent works as Babatunde Lawal's Gelede-a potent work, even from the footnotes I have read, on the theory of Yoruba/Orisa feminine spirituality-to  the concept of the Awon Iyami -Our Mothers- which may be compared with  the Yoruba/Orisa equivalent of the feminine principle in Western witchcraft and the awesome concept of the dakini in Tibetan Buddhism. 

I dont think I really understand what you mean by the sociological perspective on this, a question I might have understood better if I have read Hallen and Sodipo's pioneering Knowledge, Belief  and Witchcraft, based significantly on person to person discussions with a group of spiritual practitioners in Yorubaland.

My tentative thinking  from my experience and reading is that the human being is capable of some of the powers attributed to witches in Southern Nigeria, such as conducting meetings in locations different from where their physical bodies are located, and that centres of power in nature, such as tree clusters or particularly potent trees, such as iroko trees, may facilitate  such transfers of consciousness.

I also suspect that the culture of using fellow humans as sacrifices for the acquisition of power among those so inclined among such spiritual adepts, a practice attributed to witches in Southern Nigeria,  may be factual in relation to a point in history, at least. 

I am of this view because I understand myself as having  been exposed to these possibilities. 

Dion Fortune, the English occultist whose works I was fortunate to have as  fundamental  to my primary exposure to the occult when I encountered them in Benin, sums up such possibilities in asserting that a practising occultist will encounter opportunities  for good or  evil in their course of their specialised work, and must therefore make choices between them and bear the consequences in terms of their mark upon one's personality and one's future experiences.



On Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 2:02 PM, Cornelius Hamelberg <> wrote:

Toyin Ifa,

 By the way our sister visited me today - such a strong presence – eventually I had to rub some olive oil on the dome of my head – (you may call it an anointment) – such love - God bless her!

Yes, there are secrets and there are secrets, even veiled ones – this visitation is different – very different from when I was visited by the queen of the gypsies (smile) many, many years after my kundalini was awakened, on the day when I returned  to the ashram from a visit to the Vajreshwari Temple  ( I noticed  that the air was saturated with perfume – which perfume ?, they asked me  ( the earth chakra had broken loose and that night and  I wanted to return to Saraswati  - but the ashram guards prevented me from leaving, although I had packed my bags and was determined  to go  “There are tigers up there roaming the hills”, they warned me.. .They had to restrain me forcibly.

That’s a tremendous amount of time (and Shakti!) doing research in the quest for the grail. I met a Dr. Bajpai an Indian professor of Mathematics a couple of times in Nigeria. Around that time he was writing on average a book on mathematics every year – anyway, he explained everything about what you call “the female deity” to me – and – I understood. (Previously - until very recently, there are those who had to sin (but not adultery or fornication) to stay alive – otherwise they are so light they go to heaven and do not return to earth, but that’s changed now

I’m most impressed by your “year studying with Nigerian Benin babalawo-adept in the esoteric knowledge of Ifa- Joseph Ohomina”

All the reading, Sir John Woodroffe (all of him recommended), the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures etc. – the Tibetan is more esoteric (but what do I know, since I don’t know the other Buddhist branches) the language cues - all that cerebral activity is alright if it’s understanding you seek and not suspension of disbelief or belief in the unseen; sometimes the cerebral can get in the way too - but let me ask you   - if it’s ok - have you received any live transmissions?  Chaitanya mantras - real living embodiment of “the teaching”?   It’s all well and fine reading thousands of cookery books, but the proof is in the eating of the pudding, isn’t it? Unless of course you only want to profess, to teach and preach but not to eat. To eat, to sleep, what more?

 A must read (not at all tedious or complicated

After all the Indian and Tibetan stuff  I eventually received transmissions from Iran that were a thousand times  - or more than a thousand times  what I had received before.... but that could also mean  - not only that I was more receptive ( I was more innocent before)  and  the vessel  more capable of receiving? I don’t know.  But I do know that distance is no problem

I believe that you will eventually be making your way to Cuba maybe to re-connect with some of the Yoruba Dispora there?

 There’s the good and the evil - in your comparative studies if you should get your hands on Rabbi Yaakov Hillel’s Faith and Folly  you would have much food for thought. (My good friend, a Jewish guy and an enlightened yogi has other ideas...)

 I’m curious: For you, what is the relationship between the Western phenomenon of witch/ Wicca and what is generally known as witchcraft in West Africa? I’m thinking more of the sociological impact and less of the esoteric, about what you have to say....

I wonder what Osho would say on same-sex marriage. What does Toyin say?  
Sorry about all that blah blah blah. - as my enlightened yogi brother often says, " too many words!" and he's right of course, if it's basically a question of, "Be still and know that I am He!"
We should talk sometime.

Best Wishes

We Sweden

On Tuesday, 28 January 2014 21:39:49 UTC+1, toyinifa wrote:

                                                                                 My Journey in the Orisa Tradition, Ifa and Female Centred Spirituality 

                                                                                             A List of Inspirational Sources and Personalities

                                                                                                                 Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju

                                                                                                        "Collaborative Knowledge Creation"
                                                                                                               A  Division of Compcros
                                                                                        Comparative Cognitive Processes and Systems 
                                                                                 "Exploring Every Corner of the Cosmos in Search of Knowledge"

Inline image 1

A response a question from A-Global Southerner  on Yoruba-101 Facebok group  on my poem/ essay/art titled "Sheela Na Gig : Cunt Wisdom : Womb Wisdom : Opon Ifa"

Integrating Spiritual Traditions in Relation to Ifa and Modern Western Paganism

The "Sheela Na Gig : Cunt Wisdom : Womb Wisdom : Opon Ifa" post integrates insights from Yoruba/Orisa tradition in general, and from Ifa and global female centred spiritualities, particularly  Hindu and Western Pagan. 

       My Foundations in Yoruba/Orisa Spirituality 

My fundamental knowledge of  Orisa tradition comes from  Olodumare :  God in Yoruba Belief by Bolaji Idowu, perhaps the most lucid and yet comprehensive work in the field.

My further understanding  comes from The Return of the Gods : The Sacred Art of Susanne Wenger by Ulli Beier,  a superb presentation of the Orisa tradition from a Western mind deeply attuned to the tradition, drawing from Wenger who was immersed in it through a lifetime in Yorubaland, particularly at the  Osun forest at Osogbo.

An amazing summative statement of Orisa spirituality  is Wole Soyinka's seven stanza  poem at the conclusion of A Credo of Being and Nothingness, while the essay itself transcends  religious particularities  in describing a  meditation  on the Nothingness  before cosmic manifestation. 

This meditation  may be correlated with Wole Soyinka's awesome depiction of the ancient voluntary death ritual  in a place in Yorubaland in his Death and the King's horseman and his fantastic meditations on cosmic origination in The Man Died, possibly in chapter 33 and in A Shuttle in the Crypt

We have thus entered some of the most profound adaptations of Yoruba/Orisa spirituality, taking us to Soyinka's Myth, Literature and the African World, the three non- historical essays of which, for me, along with the poetry of Credo, communicate the power of a scripture.

The most sophisticated and profound writings known to me covering  the scope of the Orisa tradition  are the works of Susanne Wenger, of which I  have read The Return of the Gods, written by Beier but deeply grounded in a vision  shared with Wenger, Adunni, a magnificent series of interviews with Wenger and The Sacred Groves of Osogbo, all these with wonderful photographs, and the greatest, one of the greatest works in global spirituality, A Life With the Gods in their Yoruba Homeland, with amazing photographs by Gert Chesi, superb images in colour and black and white, magnificently hardback bound.

The best place I know of to get it is a search through The Amazon prices are significantly higher, the last I checked.

Other  books by Wenger are  The Timeless Life or Mind of the Sacred, not sure of the specific title, and others I dont remember now or know about, along with other books and essays on her work and that of her artistic collaborators. 

Summations that could be described as bridging the basic and the more sophisticated understanding of Orisa are  my essays  on Orisa and Ori in The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought. ed by Abiola Irele, essays which one might be able to read on the book's Amazon link.


                                                                                                                 Inline image 2

            My Foundations in Ifa

The 'Sheela Na Gig/Opon Ifa' post is a presentation of an approach to an aspect of Ifa cosmology and practice in relation to English, Christian and universal female centred spirituality.

My foundations in Ifa are from Wande Abimbola's An Exposition of Ifa Literary Corpus and Ifa Divination Poetry.

He has more books and a rich catalogue of essays.

I consider any work  by Abimbola a necessity.

Reading and rereading him, and meditating on his works I find a priceless education.

A marvellous perspective  on Ifa  in relation to Orisa tradition is provided by Awo Falokun Fatumnbi, that being his Ifa name, his other name being perhaps George Wilson.

His "Obatala : Ifa and the Chief Spirit of the White Cloth", available free on Scribd, is mind blowing and I expect his other books are also potent, as evidenced by other essays of his on Scribd and at his website.

I have been privileged to spend a year studying with Nigerian  Benin babalawo-adept in the esoteric knowledge of Ifa- Joseph Ohomina. 

Qualities of character, of relationship with inscrutable and ever expanding knowledge and nuggets of wisdom I will continue to ingest and unravel over a lifetime were communicated to me through this relationship. 

I must confess that meditation and writing on Ifa ideas has proven priceless in expanding the knowledge gained from reading and direct teaching.

I have collected some of these writings in my Facebook notes, my blogs, of which "Ifa Student and Teacher" is representative on Ifa.

 The  'see my complete profile 'link on that blog  takes one to my complete list of blogs on Blogger, including one on ese ifa, Ifa literature, and perhaps one on opon ifa, the Ifa divination tray and cosmological symbol. 

I also have a summative statement of my understanding of Ifa at my essay on Ifa in The Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Thought.

Very informative groups on Ifa abound on Facebook.

Odu Access Network has a growing collection of ese ifa carefully discussed by members, while Orisa/Ifa/Egun Talks examines in some depth each week a subject in the tradition each week, while both groups also address a range of topics in the tradition. 

Solagbade Popoola, Elebubion, Awo Fagbami Nougbodekon, Obafemi Origunwa, Aina Olomo, Awo Fategbe, among other Orisa and Ifa luminaries,  are people whose Facebook accounts, Facebook groups, comments in various Facebok groups,  and other institutions they have founded  are   priceless for knowledge of Orisa and Ifa.

A very good blog on Ifa, among which must be a good number  of others, is Ifa Yesterday, Ifa Today, Ifa Tomorrow, by Ifalola Sanchez. 

My essay,freely  accessible online,  on Ifa divination, in relation to autobiographical theory in studying the work of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh both presents foundational and more sophisticated understanding of Ifa and presents a style of its possibilities in the study of non-African cultural forms, thereby indicating its universality of application, a path taken by other writers whose names I dont have now, including Olu Longe in  "Ifa Divination and Computer Science"  and Ron Eglash in African Fractals

                                                                                                                 Inline image 3                                                                                                          

             Opon Ifa Studies 

The 'Sheela Na Gig/Opon Ifa' post also  builds on a division of Ifa, which I describe as Opon Ifa Studies,  the exploration of the opon ifa, the Ifa divination tray and  a central cosmological symbol of Ifa. 

Foundational information on opon ifa symblism is in the marvellous Yoruba : Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought and priceless  essays are in The Yoruba Artist : New Theoretical Perspectives in African Arts

A pioneer in Opon Ifa Studies is Hans Witte, as in his book  Ifa and Esu : Iconography of Order and Disorder .

All the essays of Babatunde Lawal are irreplaceable in relation to the entire Orisa tradition and he presents vital information on opon ifa in his essay on Twinness in Yoruba Belief.  

The one body I know dedicated to Opon Ifa Studies is the Facebook group  Opon Ifa Studies, with fantastic essays of high sophistication and conceptual range, covering different disciplines, on opon ifa. 

A Google search for opon ifa will bring up a significant number of hits.

Essays  on opon ifa by myself and others are in my blog on opon ifa in Blogger and in my Facebook Notes and photo albums

          The Feminine Principle in Ifa 

The 'Sheela Na Gig/Opon Ifa' post is also based on the feminine principle in Ifa known as Odu.

My understanding of this concept comes from my reading of it  in relation to Olodumare  in Bolaji Idowu's Olodumare : God in Yoruba Belief, the analysis of the concept in relation to Olodumare by Shloma Rosenberg  in his wonderful essays on Orisa,  online.

Babatunde Lawal has a magnificent section on the feminine in Yoruba cosmology in his book on Gelede and I expect the writings of the Drewals in their book on Gelede as well as the book on Yoruba Ritual: Performers, Play, Agency will also prove priceless. 

One of the richest discussions of the feminine and Ifa is by Awo Falokun Fatumnbi in "The Ifa Concept of History", if I remember the title well, free online.

I also find the marvellous essays of Rowland Abiodun on both the feminine principle in Yoruba cosmology and on ase, creative, transformative cosmic force, to be priceless.

These essays might be in the files  section of the Opon Ifa Studies Group and certainly in The Cosmos of World Art and Correlative Cultural Forms Facebook group

The work of Susanne Wenger in this field is priceless. 

There are a number of Facebook groups dedicated to the feminine principle in the Orisa tradition, of which I can recall Daughters of Odu Ifa-Egbe ômô obìnrin Ifa.

There are others I belong to but dont recall now.

Searching for these, I came upon the name of Mercedes Morgana Reyes who seems dedicated to the Iyami-Our Mothers-dimension of the female aspect of Orisa spirituality. 

The group Bini and Yoruba Deities, founded by Aminat Ola is also likely to have essays on Iyami. 

My Facebook page, blog and Notes titled "Space of Becoming" provide a summary of my understanding of this field in relation to other African spiritualities.

        Female Centred Spiritualities : Global

The 'Sheela Na Gig/Opon Ifa' post is also inspired by an exposure to the great developments globally  in female centred spiritualities particularly in Hinduism, Buddhism and modern Western Paganism.


Central to my inspiration here are the concept of Sakti in Hinduism, as represented by such foundational texts as the Soundayalahari, commentary on the poem and other literature on Goddess veneration in Sri Vidya, of which the works of Douglas Renfrew Brooks and the PhD thesis of Geoffrey Lidke are central, along with  marvellous  Yogini Hridaya and works on the poem.

Also vital is the organisation created by  and the books of Maddhu Khana, such as Yantra : The Symbol of Cosmic Unity, along with her renowned PhD thesis, the book on which is awaited.

Summative of Hindu Goddess concepts and much of global Goddess conceptions are the Mahavidya,  The Great Feminine Wisdoms, on which the works of David Kinsley are particularly good, and the few other books that seem to exist on them are very good, including Aghor Pir's blog, now available as fee online PDF files.

Anything written by, quoting or discussing the matchless Abhinavagupta is precious, his insights on the feminine/masculine dynamic being peerless in lyricism, profundity and conceptual magic. 

The great scholar of Hinduism Mark Dyczkowski is currently engaged in presenting a translation of Abhinavagupta's  magnum opus the Tantraloka

A Google search will unearth  treasures of information on these figures, and Facebok has a good number of impressive groups and pages dedicated to the subject. 

Out of these, the site Siva Sakti Mandalam by Mike Magee, the site of the Sakti Saddhana group and their translation of the devotional text the Sri Devi Khadgamala Stotram, are in a class of their own.

Hindu Goddess literature is huge in primary and secondary expressions. 


The concept of the dakini in Buddhism is an awesome correlation of the feminine principle and a conception of the transcendent character of ultimate reality.

I have moved closer to appreciating the dakini concept through my exposure to Judith Simmer-Brown's Dakini's Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism and June Campbel's Traveller in Space: In Search of Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism

       Modern Western Paganism

My exposure to modern Western Paganism has been more limited and less structured, though rich, and has emerged largely through visiting such sacred sites as Avebury and Glastonbury in England, learning from the modern  Western witch Yvonne Owens, what I presented in the post from Theodora Wildcroft and memories of reading Starhawk's Spiral Dance and the unforgettable Elements of the Goddess by Caitlin Mathews and the novels of Marion Zimmer Bradley, particularly The Mists of Avalon and others in her Darkover Series. 

My essay, available free on Scribd,  comparing the Osun forest artistic and conceptual cosmography created  by Susanne Wenger and her school and the Glastonbury  work of Katherine Maltwood presents one approach to correlating the Yoruba/Orisa and English nature and Zodiacal spirituality. 


Unifying these various strands of knowledge in relation to female centred spirituality for me is the work of Ayele Kumari, as represented by her books, blog posts and Facebook comments.

The Facebook group Exploring Ayele Kumari presents this inspiration and my method of pursuing the synthesis it inspires.

Christopher Okigbo's poetic cycle Labyrinths blends such intercultural streams  into a unity focused on a central inspirational source, his work being a smaller example of the different but related achievement of Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy, one of the greatest creations  of humanity. 

                                                                                                         Inline image 4 Also posted in

Facebook Notes

Opon Ifa Studies Facebook group 

The Cosmos of World Art and Correlative Cultural Forms (COWACArt)  Facebook group

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