Thursday, 14 January 2010

Introduction to Yoruba religion


I’ve been interested in Yoruba religion ever since a Nigerian friend of mine introduced me to some of its beliefs. They made a lot of sense to me and seemed strikingly similar to what I know of Eastern religions that aim toward union with the divine (and thus all things).

I bought a book to find out more: The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts, by Baba Ifa Karade (Weiser Books, 1994).

Essence
He classifies Yoruba as a religion since it is “a divine journey to the inner self and to God-consciousness” (pxii). Its tenets revolve around this:

“Oneness with the Creative Essence brings about a wholeness in the potential of the human essence (pxi)”

In Yoruba religion, there is one God, called Oludumare or Olorun, who is responsible for creation and the upkeep of what he made. He has deities who help to perform his work and act as links between mankind and himself. These holy messengers are equivalent to angles and are called orisha. In Yoruba, you must believe in orisha if you are to reach God-consciousness. Yoruba angels never fell from God’s grace.

There is a lot of misinterpration of Yoruba religion, and its New World manifestations (Voudun, Santeria, Candomble etc.), and many confuse mysticism for occultism or “voodoo”. Karabe insists on the necessity of understanding Yoruba history in order to understand the faith.

History
The Yoruba people migrated from East Africa, across the trans-African route from the mid-Nile river are to mid-Niger (explaining supposed similarities between Yoruba and Egyptian culture). They settled in the already-established Ile-Ife, sacred city of the indigenous Nok culture, between 2000 and 500 B.C.

The Yoruba Empire grew with wars initially being fought for people to serve their land and only later, in the 15th and 16th centuries, to secure slaves for export. In this way, the Yoruba’s “most natural resource” (Karade, p3) was depleted with the greatest percentage of slaves sent to the New World, coming from the Yoruba Nation. Many were political prisoners of elite soldiers and warrior-priests and initiated in the higher teachings so they had a good knowledge of the culture. They took this with them through the Middle Passage and thus it became a dominant theme for African descendants in the New World.

Meanwhile on African soil, Europeans were bringing with them Christianity.
What resulted was a synthesis of religions. Some followed an interpretation of Christianity, based on African spirituality and practices, either denouncing or refusing to acknowledge traditional gods. Others kept their traditional beliefs and practices alongside Christianity, integrating them.

In order to keep the orisha alive, the Yoruba consciously disguised them as Christian saints and paid homage to them through Christian social-ritual performances. Catholicism made this easier because of its many saints and because the major enslavers were Spanish and Portuguese (Catholics), the religion was able to remain virtually intact. It manifested as Santeria (in Puerto Rico), Candomble (in Brazil), Shango (in Trinidad), Voodun (in Haiti) and Lucumi (in Cuba). Complete with language and cultural mannerisms intact!

It was harder to keep the religion alive where Africans were subjugated by an English Protestant dominant culture. There were significantly fewer patron saints and the lack of a tropical environment in North America meant there was little cultural relativity. The final straw to cutting the ties, according to Karade, was the practice of inbreeding African-American slaves which meant the end of “fresh ideas and religious fervor from newly-arrived enslaved prisoners” (p6).

61 comments:

  1. Some of the information here is greatly put, but others are a bit off. For example, Haitian Voudon, does not come from Yoruba cosmogeny, it comes from the Voudon religion of Benin, which has some similarities with the deities of Yorubaland, but at the same time has so liturgical, lingual, regional, nomenclature differences.. Also the addition to virtually unchanged is debatable, in most instances most can affirm that the candomble diaspotic religion is the closest in practice to traditional IFA/Oorisa as practiced in Yorubaland... The other diasporic traditions have lost many of the liturgy, and have evolved into autonomous tradition with their own religious hierarchis, practices, and regionalisms...but in the end Modupe!! May Olodumare bless you, Orunmila give you wisdom, Obatala give you clarity to discern... Ase O!

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    1. Ase
      Moyuba olofin-olodumare
      Mo juba olofin
      No juba bogbo orisa

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  2. JESUS IS THE ONE AND TRUE GOD!!!!

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    1. Lisa Carter please take your programming somewhere else!

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    2. No, JESUS is the physical manifestation of the GOD HEAD .

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    3. No, JESUS is the physical manifestation of the GOD HEAD .

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    4. Jesus is the fabled manifestation of the Egyptian God Heru.

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    5. I just learned from a member of the khans...the mary story happened before it was egyption...

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    6. Jesus is not god he is his son

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  3. JESUS IS THE ONE AND TRUE GOD!!!!

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    1. JESUS IS A PROPHET NOT GOD

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    2. God's Word is in fact God's Original Name which is OMૐ

      "In the beginning was The Word
      And The Word Was with God
      And The Word was God"

      John 1:1
      Prajapati vai idam agre aseet
      Tasya VAC dvitiya aseet
      VAC vai paramaBRAHMA
      The Vedas..which came first I wonder hmm
      The Word is the Holy Spirit,Shekinah,Sophia,feminin­e aspect of God or God The Mother..connoted by the sanskrit word VAC which means "speech,word,sound personified", the name for the Mother Goddess Saraswati (Brahma →Abraham;Sarawati→Sarah) who was BEFORE Jesus..She is known in Yoruba as Yemaya and was known to the Israelites as Asherah/Athirat wife of Yahweh before King Josiah reformed Judaism and brutally wiped out her followers and their cult in Judah 2 Kings 23☺

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    3. I agree with you Lisa. We have too pray for these lost souls. The last time I checked this yoruba god didn't die on the cross for their sins only Jesus!!! Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.

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    4. If you have read the Bible and know the religion Jesus, God and the Holy Ghost are the trinity and one so no Jesus is God!!!

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    5. Who invited you people here?? This is not your party. If you only mean to boost your own ego by proselytizing some "lost souls", I promise you, if I want to know about Jesus, I'll be going to someone far more educated on the subject who likely has a much deeper perspective on it. Now if you will please take your suitcase full of canned Jesus somewhere else, perhaps the "how I found Jesus when He wasn't hiding" page, we would all be much happier to carry on an ADULT conversation about our Souls. I for one have my hands full with simply MY OWN and don't have the resources to take care of anyone else's. I'm sure you can sympathize, being caretakers of your own.

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    7. To say CHRIST JESUS is god would be breaking the first three commandments given to Abraham... NO OTHERS GODS... NO GRAVEN IMAGES... NEVER USE GOD NAME IN VAIN...

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  4. How do you know that Lisa Carter??? I mean, couldn't your system be right, anD other systems, too? THIS IS NOT ABOUT CHRISTIANITIY, so I which you could take your racist bias and programming elsewhere, "sister."

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    1. How are they racist for saying Jesus is God. lolol obviously they are trolling... That and the fact you are not capable of forming a simple sentence structure. Reading your thoughts was grossly annoying. So, you take your racist, ignorant, non relevant havin ass elsewhere, "dawg".

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    2. Anonymous stop hiding your face! If you are going to be ignorant and not be open minded. Then you can @ lease show your face!

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    3. Newsflash Anonymous- speaking the King's English isnt what gets you into Heaven, and a public education in the Anglo world certainly doesn't count for much these days, especially spiritually. Mr. Griot could be a Nobel Peace Prize winner with English as his second language for all you know. And calling him six names (which are all ovviously racially-motivated on your part) only indicates that you have no better retort to his question of "couldnt other systems have validity as well" than to resort to being the simply ugly person you are showing yourself to be. Have some civility, Sir- better yet, if you can't offer something constructive, please keep silent until such time that you are capable of it.

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  5. Because the Living Word says so. Jesus is Lord and if you dont believe in this you WiLL not enter in the gates of Heaven . JOHN 3:16.

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    1. Lee thompson Young would not have committed suicide had he not tampered with twisted teachings. The devil comes to kill steal and destroy. This mans life has been stolen from him by his own hands because of the evil intities that tormented his mind to make him think that you create your own destiny and when you leave this earth. THATS SICK. THE ONLY LIVING GOD THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS THE TRUTH! It is not thy will that can be done it is Gods WILL! You create your destiny by walking in truth and in the light as you yearn towards the Lords instructions, i seriously doubt the Lord had Young to kill himself. Thats a result of this man made belief system to make sin and the arthor of confusion to be okay. Jesus is Lord !! And The OnLy Living God. One day when judgement comes to earth you will see That The Lord Jesus Christ Came So We Can LIVE!!
      From a true Woman oF God !

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    2. May GOD bless you for speaking the truth! JESUS is the only way! I too was so heartbroken to find out how lee Thompson took his life because of this sick twisted religion..and when I looked on this site to see what he saw,I see nothing but the devil! The lord rebukes all devils in the names of JESUS!

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    3. All of this is a grand fairy tale...along w/ Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the tooth fairy.

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    4. God's Word is in fact God's Original Name which is OMૐ

      "In the beginning was The Word
      And The Word Was with God
      And The Word was God"

      John 1:1
      Prajapati vai idam agre aseet
      Tasya VAC dvitiya aseet
      VAC vai paramaBRAHMA

      The Vedas..which came first I wonder hmm
      The Word is the Holy Spirit,Shekinah,Sophia,feminin­e aspect of God or God The Mother..connoted by the sanskrit word VAC which means "speech,word,sound personified", the name for the Mother Goddess Saraswati (Brahma →Abraham;Sarawati→Sarah) who was BEFORE Jesus..She is known in Yoruba as Yemaya and was known to the Israelites as Asherah/Athirat wife of Yahweh before King Josiah reformed Judaism and brutally wiped out her followers and their cult in Judah 2 Kings 23☺

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    5. What is more Yahweh is not The Lord Most High, but El, known as Eledumare/Olodumare in the Yoruba Tradition, The AllFather Is (He is also known as Brahma, Wotan, Cronos, AmonRa, Anu in different ancient world religions)! Psalms 82

      Yahweh is ONLY the exclusive god of the Hebrews.

      El is the Compassionate God the Father for EVERYONE!

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    6. Simply by chanting OMૐ The Word God's Sacred Secret Name Hidden in Plain Sight one has a direct connection to the Creator,cutting out the middleman!!

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    7. Us Christians speak the truth and indeed we need to pray for our misguided brothers and sisters. Yoruba is a witchcraft religion, like voodoo and Santeria. Practitioners have been FOOLED into believing these religions are of God and benevolent. Practitioners are taught to take what you want through magic.

      These witchcraft, spiritualism, santeria etc, OPEN PEOPLE UP TO BAD SPIRIT. You know this is true because that's what practitioners are taught. I know because I have a good friend who is a practitioner of these ''religions''. Their answer is to counteract the attack of bad spirit with more witchcraft, sacrifices and spells for cleansing. It's just a senseless, vicious cycle.

      JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY. WORSHIP GOD AND BE FREEEE OF THE BAD SPIRIT WHO RUIN LIVES. JUST FOLLOW THE LORD.

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    8. Who invited you to pass judgment here? Just because it works for you doesn't give you the right to preach to someone else.

      Go fix your own problems, we here are grown adults who know how to be responsible for our own Souls. What we do is between US and the DIVINE *not you*

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    9. That Lee Thompson took his life because of Yoruba spirituality is a very ignorant allegation to make. He was bipolar and suffered from depression before he took his life; and you attribute this to meddling with Yoruba spirituality? smh

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  6. Where does it state that Jesus is God any place in the Bible you've read? Was he not the son that asked and warned not 2 be worshipped...

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  7. Jesus asked Not to be worshiped? Where in the new testament did you read that???

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  8. Lee "looked like a Christian" if there is a "look". He seemingly didn't use illicit substances or alcohol. Everyone spoke highly of his soulful grace and character. As a believer in the divinity of Jesus myself, my question is "why didn't Christianity find a lodging place in the life of someone who by all intents and purposes was open to anything that was good?" the outcome of his life isn't in question. He seemed to have made an informed decision and exercised his freedom of choice. His life and how he ended it should not be taken for granted. Suicide is becoming so prevelant now and it gives me pause.

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  9. What is so beautiful about Yoruba religion in my opinion is that it asserts the primacy of the Guardian Angel or Ori/Eleda above all other gods as the direct connection to the Creator Eledumare/Olorun

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  10. Bendicion

    The Yoruba religion has brought me closer to my spiritual side and this belief has kept me strong through my rough days. Olodumare and the saints give me peace and guidance. I have never felt this way for any other religion before. I love hearing patakis of how the Orishas were in human form and what they love in the after life and the meaning of each story. If everyone was to find a religion that allowed one to see the beauty, peaceful energy and the positive of just being a caring soul, everyone would enjoy life and be happy and realize how precious life is.

    Maferefun!

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    1. And bless you for finding what improves your life! So few people know how to seek the holy in the quiet without proclaiming their ignorance as gospel in the marketplace. Those who seek their own oneness with the Holy need only quiet to feel at one with the Soul :) It is a blessed thing to find in these hectic times and I wish you so much peace, my friend.

      Bless you for extending your hope to others. May we all find such peace :)

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  11. You all believing in the slave masters words and stolen ways agree with slavery and see no faults in it.and you are disresp
    ecting your ancestors! may you find peace in there light

    slavery stripped us two things we havent got back !

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  12. Respect for each other's Belief is necessary.Water always find its level.We as thinking human Beings have been exposed to different cultures over the years.It is beautiful to have an Opinion and to express it.There are Orthodox Jew and The Messianic Jew.The Orthodox Jew is still waiting for their Messiah;should the Messianic Jew be upset with them?Of course not! Note I wrote Jew not Hebrew. All Hebrews are NOT Jews and all Jews are NOT Hebrews.Also the Master Jesus the Messiah never walk in JEWRY.Read The Gospel of John Chapter 7 Vs:1.
    The Master Jesus The Messiah always indicated to the multitude that he was sent by the Father.Check the Four (4) Gospels.
    Now in reference to the above back and forth comments; read The Gospel of John Chapter 10 Verses 7 to18,but pay attention to verse 16 and understand it.
    The African people have their own Culture and are entitled to their Choice of Work and Worship of their Understanding of the Natural Laws and Principles of the Universe/Cosmos.Respect them.
    There are different Beliefs of So-Called Christianity. The Pentecostal,Pilgrim Holines,7th Day Adventist,Baptist,Roman Catholic,Jehovah Witness,The Evangelicals,etc. They say that they Believe in the Teachings of Jesus The Messiah and they all worship differently. Understand? So respect another's Beliefs.

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    1. I've read many opinions in these types of forums and never really felt the need to comment until now. So here it is, Truth. Time will pass,Seasons will change and ALL that lives will die. All other opinions,practices,religious beliefs, traditions, hypothesis', have always changed since the beginning of time if anyone can TRUTHFULLY say when THAT was. Truth- We are ALL flesh and spirit. How could we be so bold and say that " that which we believe should be accepted by everyone else in this living world"?

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    2. Best comment so far. The problem with beliefs is that people believe their truth is the absolute truth. It is just that- your truth. To want to impose it on everyone else is ridiculous and invasive. On that note, I find the energy brought to this forum by those pushing Christianity quite negative and disruptive.

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  13. During the period of African Slavery, from the late 1500's to the late 1800's, millions of Yoruba people were forcibly taken out of Africa. Their numbers dwindled and so did their land area. After Slavery, the European powers (i.e.) the British; French; Dutch; Spanish and Portuguese, cut up the continent of Africa into different pieces and imposed new countries and languages in Africa.

    The Yoruba people suffered greatly, they were divided. Their people were scattered all over the Americas. They now spoke many different languages...Spanish, English, Dutch, French, and Portuguese.
    As slaves, the Yoruba people were no longer free. They were not allowed to practice their religion, play on their drums, which was integral to their worship, or engage in any other religious Yoruba practice. They were forced into European religions which were Catholicism and other forms of Christianity.

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    1. Obviously not a scholar of Atlantic religious history. There are volumes and volumes of work, both evaluating historical sources and modern ethnography, that refutes the notion that slaves were turned into factory-made Christians. It was hidden, integrated, or disguised, and many of the whites in power were fearful of cracking down on it too hard because of one fact- in most of the places Yoruba culture showed up in the Western Hemisphere, blacks outnumbered whites between 5 and 10 times over. Uprising was ALWAYS a possibility. Don't make the mistake of believing the trumped-up confidence of the white patriarchal system and the line that "white males cotrolled everything all the time." It may not look *exactly* like it did then, but then again neither does "mainstream" Christianity. Try visiting the Caribbean sometime, or South America. You'll soon realize you're NOT in Kansas anymore.

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  14. I am a christian; a very hardcore one at that. However people do not need to impose their beliefs upon others. We can all sit here in front of these computers and debate over who is correct, however there is no sense to doing so unless one side is willing to change. Imposing yourself upon another can only hurt them and push them away from what you are trying to get them to accept. I don't try to tell anyone they are wrong and I am right simply because i wouldn't like someone to come up to me and do the same. A debate isn't the answer to everything, and to be honest, the Christians on here make our faith look bad, as even the non-believers are using more scriptures from our OWN book of faith than us.

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    1. Spiritual Breeze7 November 2015 at 18:08

      Your own book?? Are you original Greek?? Wake up!! First off im sure you study from king James VERSION...which anyone who studies bibles was a re-edit or an existing print. The oldest bible on Earth today, soooo ancient, It is called the codex sindicus..its also on dislpay in the British Museum nowadays by the way, is in no way relative to kings james version or any other version we are allowed to know of. Can you even read Hebrew to know what the old testament says in that language?? I doubt it because if you did you would see the bullshit they blinding ppl with. Studying the bible is not reading it..its beyond investigation!!! If you knew math you would know the true size of the ark..lolol. Jesus said do not worship ME...but the one who sent me..which is the same one who sent me and you . Christianity is more guilty of separating ppl than uniting them,check your frequency!! By no means do I disrespect a messenger of the creator...but the ppl who place the messenger OVER the creator. Jesus in my eyes was a spiritual being, which is a whole different level, all what he did was spiritual work. Now you are responsible for your own doings right now while you live not in death alone!!! You did it, not Jesus.

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    2. MONOTHEISM IS THE WAY...

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  15. P.S. thank you for writing this on your faith, i am currently taking a class in which i needed to write a paper and i was assigned Yoruba. Your paper has given me some more needed knowledge to understanding your faith!

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  16. The picture of Jesus that every Christian is worshipping is actually Vicktor Borgia. Anonymous and his gang of hateful followers can discuss that among themselves while trying to also answer why are you looking for new religions if you love yours so much.

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  17. I'm so glad I've reprogrammed my mind and I've been guiding to this page to find a new faith... My spirit feels at home

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  18. I needed this... behaviors such as those above are some of the reasons why I got away from Christianity... in addition to the lies... the fact that this was forced upon us... the hypocrisies... inconsistencies...

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    1. Apparently not; but perhaps the only one in your heart, and that's fine.

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    2. Apparently not; but perhaps the only one in your heart, and that's fine.

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