Book Review || The Way Of The Orisa
So I apologize because I completely forgot that I ready this book a couple of months ago and I never posted that I finished it!!! Back story. My interest in Orisas/Orishas (however you want to spell it) came when I started listening to Ibeyi. Their music was so enchanting and it spoke to my spirit. I looked them up and a few articles noted their father's afro-Cuban background and how Ibeyi meant twins. The articles also mentioned that the word "ibeyi" derived from Yoruba, a people and language from West Africa (what is now Nigeria). I kept my eye out for any articles and translations of Ibeyi's songs, as they sang a lot of Yoruba lyrics on their album. A few months later I came across this article on Buzzfeed that also drew me in (click here to see the article for yourself, it is BEAUTIFUL). Around this time, I was also seeing a lot of people mention Orishas such as Obatala, Oshun, and Yemaya on their social media accounts. My interest was definitely piqued. I saw someone post this book The Way of the Orisa: Empowering Your Life Through the Ancient African Religion of Ifa and I decided to get it. I would say that it was definitely a good choice!
I did not get the book because I wanted to convert to Ifa, but because I wanted to learn more about it, to have more knowledge. Growing up Christian, anything that is not the bible is deemed "of the devil" and it causes you to be fearful. I made the decision a while ago to always research something before I "judge" it or dismiss it.
So now for the actual review!
I would say that this book was very informative. Of course I have heard of some things regarding Ifa as well as practices from West Africa (I also wrote a review on Of Water and the Spirit). The introduction gives the reader the authors perspective and journey to Ifa. The author also lists the sixteen (16) truths of Ifa. I personally resonated with most of these truths, they made sense to me. I am not going to lie, when the word sacrifice was mentioned, I got a little a little scared. I will share my feelings on the "Sacrifice" chapter later.
In the first part of the book, the author breaks down what Ifa is. The Overview briefly describes the Orisas, practices that are a part of Ifa, and what happens in a divination with a babalawo (priest). Ancestor worship, sacrifice, death & rebirth, the days of the week are explained and the author gives you the quick story of the Orisas.
Ancestor Worship: I knew about ancestor worship, but I was never fully interested in actually doing it until I read this book. The author actually tells you how you can go about doing this and gives an example of the prayer he gives to his ancestors that you can use or build upon for yourself. The author answers FAQs for the reader as well.
Sacrifice: I was so apprehensive about reading this chapter, but I am glad that I did. First, the different types of sacrifices were listed and explained. They are "ebo", "etutu", and "ipese". The author specifies which animals are used for different "problems"/reason such as having long life, getting a husband/wife, overcoming enemies, etc. It made me feel better knowing that the followers of Ifa value and honor the animals life that they sacrifice. Also, if an animal was sacrificed for something good, the meat is used. On the contrary, if an animal was used to take away disease, the animals flesh is not eaten. The author gave his account of the first time he attended and animal sacrifice for a ceremony. What really made me feel better was when he had to touch the animals forehead to the animals forehead before the sacrifice. He felt the energy of that animal and truly honored the animals life and energy that it was about to give. Although I may not be ready to witness that, it did make me feel a bit better about the whole sacrifice thing.
Death and Rebirth: The book states that death should not be feared because rebirth exists. You are reborn to a new blood relative. Death is not a bad thing because that means that destiny has been fulfilled and if the person was old in age, filled with knowledge and wisdom, "then it is time to shed the old body, replenish the spirit, and prepare to return reborn and refreshed."
Days of the week: The author gives a rundown of each day, its attributes, and which Orisa rule that day. A story on how the days came to be is also shared.
The second part of the book gives a brief description of a few Orisas. I know there are plenty more than the few listed/described. The Orisas explained and described are Orunmila, Elegbara/Esu, Ogun, Obatala, Sango, Yemonja/Olukun, Oya, and Oshun. A few other Orisas are also described. More than one Orisa can be in you, but one rules your head/ is you mother or father. The author gives you bullet points to figure out if you are the child of each Orisa. Also mentioned are the things the Orisa likes, what you can give as offerings, which color represents them, etc. A detailed story of the Orisa is given. A description of what their children are like is also written.
I would say that if you are interested in any religions coming out of Africa, especially West Africa ( more specifically Nigeria), I would definitely say that you should get this book. It is quite a bit of information to take in, but it is well worth it, even if you do not want to practice anything in there.
If you decide to get the book or read it OR if you have already read it, please share your thoughts on it!!