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African Traditional Religions Textbook: Ifa

African Traditional Religions: Ifa

Hermeneutics (Interpretation): Oriki Egun

Photography: Will Coleman, Ph.D. Iiyami (mother).


ORIKI EGUN are invocations for the collective Spirit of the Ancestors. In the Yoruba language the word for a single ancestor is Ara Orun, meaning person in the realm of the ancestors. EGUN refers to the collective spirit of all the Ancestors in a person's lineage. It is this pool of collective memory that forms the foundation for consciousness and is reborn through reincarnation.

These invocations are usually used in conjunction with marking the Odu Oyeku Meji twice on an Ifa tray. One mark of Oyeku Meji is used as a portal to Orun (the realm of the Ancestors) and the second mark of Oyeku Meji is a portal to aye (the return to earth). These invocations may be used to honor the Ancestors at public rituals, to ask for the blessing of the Ancestors at initiations and to make offerings to the Ancestors as prescribed by divination.



(Pouring Libation to the Ancestors)

Iba se Ose - Oyeku.

I respect the sacred scripture that guides our communication with the ancestors

E nle oo rami oo.

I am greeting you my friends.

Eiye dudu baro Babalawo la npe ri.

The blackbird touched the dye in the name of all the diviners.

Eiye dudu baro Babalawo ma ni o.

The blackbird touched the dye in the name of all diviners in his name.

Igba kerindinlogu a dana igbo Ose.

Sixteen times we make a fire in back of Ose.

O digba kerindinlogun a dana igbo Ose 'na oo rami o.

The sixteen fires do not harm me.

O jo geregere si owoko otun.

The roaring fire burns to the right.

O gba rere si tosi o.

The roaring firs burns to the left.

Ora merindinlogun ni won ima dana Ifa si.

Sixteen places we make fires of wisdom.

Emi o mona kan eyi ti nba gba r'elejogun o. Ase.

When I do not know the road to follow, I should have followed destiny. May it be so.




(Praising the Ancestors, invocation for consecration of Ancestor shrine and Aso Egun)

Egungun kiki egungun.

Praise to the mediums of the ancestors.

Egun iku ranran fe awo ku opipi.

Ancestors have preserved the mystery of featherless flight.

O da so bo fun le wo.

You create the words of reverence and power.

Egun iku bata bango egun de.

The drums of the Ancestors announce the arrival of the Ancestors.

Bi aba f'atori na le egun a se de.

On the strong mat you spread your power, the Ancestors are here.


May it be so.




(Praising the Ancestors, invocation for consecration of Ancestor shrine and Aso Egun)

Ile mo pe o o. Egungun, o pe o o. Egungun, mo pe o o. Egungun, mo pe o.

Earth I call on you. Ancestor, I call on you. Ancestor, I call on you. Ancestor, I call on you.

Eti were ni ti ekuute ile o. Asunmaparada ni tigi aja o.

House rats are very alert. Rafters never change their position.

Ago kii gbo ekun omo re ko maa tati were.

Rat does not disregard the cry of its young ones.

Awa omo re ni a pe o; a wa lati se oun re.

We, your children, gather here for your annual ceremony.

Maa je ki a pa odun je; maa je ki odun o pa awa naa je.

Do not let us die during the year.

Olodun kii pa odun esin run. Egungun kii pa odun esin run.

Those who give the annual offerings do not willingly abolish the practice. The society of mediums does not abolish its annual practice.

Maa je ki a ri iku omom maa je ki a ri iku obinrin.

Prevent the death of children and wives.

Maa je ki a ri ija igbona. Lile ni ki a maa le si, maa je ki a pedin.

Save us from disease. Let us multiply and increase.


May it be so.




(Praising the Ancestors when offering libation and cola nut)

Egungun wa yana wa neni, je wa memu.

Ancestors please call on us today, and drink our palm wine.

Egungun Baba Iya yana wa o, je wa gb'obi pa.

Ancestors, Fathers and Mothers, please come so that you may accept offerings and split the cola nut.

Egungun wa yana wa.

Our Ancestors please call.


May it be so.




(Praising the Ancestors of the Spirit of Destiny)

Egungun gun ani o gun, Akala ka ani oka lekeleke foso.

Spirit of the ancestors mount the mediums smoothly, the vulture circles the ceremony like a snake.

Ani ofun fun a difa fun. Orunmila, Baba n'on ko lase lenu mo.

The white-feathered bird cleans us in flashes of light. The wisdom of the spirit of Destiny is emitted in flashes of light.

Woni kolo pe Baba pe lode Orun. Tani Baba Orunmila, Morere ni Baba Orunmila.

The wisdom is acknowledged as coming from the Owner of the realm of the Ancestors. Look to the Spiri of Destiny, all good fortune comes from the Spirit of Destiny.

Mije morere no o. To ase si ni lenu morere mi o.

Seven blessings is the power of light. The seven blessings of light are the spiritual powers that come to us.


May it be so.




(Invocation for Ancestors to mount the mediums)

Egungun ajuwon lukuluku gbugbu. A rago gbale egungun kiki egungun.

The mediums of the Ancestors have the power to transform death. We sweep the earth to salute the wisdom of the Ancestors.

Togogo oku yi gbe ni eni ara kan ti nj'ijo awo, iso ran l'okun nde l'agbure,

The Spirit of Death guides the head to touch the mat of those Ancestors who have met in secret, to speak of the bond of secrecy,

igba ti ng o s'oran okun, kil'e m'okun, so mi l'apa si omo keke mo sa

it is the oath of sea water, sea water offered to the earth, it is a sign that water is the child of growth,

mo ny sewe k'apinni, Abaja mo bu mo mu sewe l'agbure,

we drink without negativity; I wear body marks as a sign of my oath of secrecy.

gombo mo wa mo mu sewe l'igbori, tori igbori mi l'oyo - mo - ko.

They show that I pledge my loyalty to the spirits, from this oath I receive the food of learning.


May it be so.


By Awo Fa’lokun Fatunmbi

AKA David Wilson