For the Anago Ifa'Orisha devotee, everything that we are, were, and will be is enshrined in the holy Oracle of Ifa. Our doubts, questions, and unsureties are clarified by the sacred Odu (oracular scriptures) which constitute the foundation of Ifa. And so, we strive to search through the dibris of our ancestral memories embedded and buried deep in the subconsciousness our past. While in the dream state, we are told that during the primal period of our cultural development, ancient African elders carefully monitored and developed the indigenous system of Ifa ethics and paid close attention to every major activity and social behavior in their world. From this analogy a sophisticated, foolproof, pragmatic framework was developed from which their descendants could live and use as a basis to create wonderful, 'civilized' societies and maintain peaceful existence within the communicty, should they choose. To date, Ifa is one of the few classic religions retentions of our ancient past and is preserved as a viable cornerstone of continental African ethics. Its holy scriptures have survived as the most "in tact", despite the cultural genocide that has either destroyed, devastated or contaminated most other African traditional indigenous systems.
In societies where the patriarchial nature of western ethics predominate, the issue of femininity empowerment and the role of women are constantly being discussed and 'fussed' over. The importance of women in western societies is often underestimated, legally restrained and socially controlled to their detriment. However, the ancient Yoruba although gender specific in their cultural format, were extremely considerate of women and their welcomed importance as mothers to the 'balance' of society.
In this article, we shall reveal the traditional Ifa perspective of how ancient Africa speaks with regards to the issue of femininity and offer it as an optional position that African people can ressurect as we approach the 21st century. We shall use data presented in the Odu's Osa Megi and Oshe'Tura to support our position on the issue of femininity. Let us then observe what Ifa says about one of the most controversial issues of the nineties.
The Orisha who is the embodiment of femininity from the Anago perspective is Oshun. Ancient Babalawos whisper even in today's Orisha temples, that Orisha Oshun continues to have a prominant position of enormous wealth and honor among the Irunmale. But when we study. . . the Oracle also tells us in Oshe'Tura, that in primordial times, it did not start out that way. Quite the contrary, the Irunamle did not welcome the participation of Oshun in the creation of the world, nor did They respect Her special 'gifts'. Ifa teaches that in the beginning of the creation of the world, when the first 'team' of Irunmale were sent to design and prepare the world for habitation, Oshun was commissioned to walk with equal standing among the Irunmale. The aura of the sacred Orisha was so infused with Iwa Pele caused Olodumare to be especially pleased with her that she was given the 'beaded crown' which entitled Her as an honored Elder among them. Indeed, our blessed mother was further provided with the enterage necessary to complete Her court and compliment Her ashe. But, after the Irunmale had given salutations to Ifa, Orunmila noticed that They shunned and ignored Oshun. He asked why none of Them wanted to deal with Oshun, and They replied, "It is because She is female". Orunmila then warned them, "Don't even go there, unless you want your very words (ashe) to perish!" He further told them....if they judge Her feminine nature as a weakness, or strange, or something to avoid and ignore, She is extremely powerful and has a devoted enterage of powerful Irunmale followers who answer only to Her! Once this was revealed, the Irunmale thanked Orunmila and started to consult with Oshun. It was at this point, that Their work made progress!
The Oracle Osa Meji is one of the senior Odu Ifa that dictates the correct protocol that all must use when approaching totality of femininity. Ashe is an African (Yoruba) expression that has a number of generic uses, but its fundamental meaning is, the ability to make something happen, i.e., Power! More specifically, Ashe is that expressed ability when executed, causes a significant, noticeable, and changeable impact upon its subject or the object of its direction. The concept of gender, being the second law of the universe, exists for the purpose of seriality, i.e., order. It is the other part of the 'formula' needed for appropriate maintaining of energy balance. This is the reason why the African ethics are gender specific and world is always considered according to two primary genders; female and male. These two genders must ideally operate at certain frequencies with each other in order for the operations of world order. According to tradition, everything has a predetermined social hierarchy in Africa and is arranged in a strata according to their chronological coming into existence. And a human being is defined according his level of behavioral attributes, i.e., Iwa Pele.
The mandated law that was given to Iya Mi Aje Oshoronga by Olodumare, Supreme Controller of the Universe, in the beginning of creation is enshrined in the sacred Odu, Osa Meji which says,
"Your Ashe (AH-SHEY) shall be to sustain the world...
That Ashe shall be a bird contained in a covered calabash.
Exercise your Ashe with caution!