Ifa is an ancient West African spiritual technology. Ifa is a philosophy and a set of practical tools that assist us in relating harmoniously with our Selves and all our relations.
Ifa originated in Yorubaland, an area of Nigeria, between 10,000 and 8500 years ago. As the Yoruba people developed an empire over the 14th-17th centuries, the influence of Ifa spread throughout Nigeria, Benin and Togo.
Ifa came to the Americas with slaves from that region. Syncretic practices such as Lucumi (Santeria), Candomble and Voudoun arose where slaves were able to disguise their practices under the mantle of Roman Catholicism. Collectively, these syncretic practices may be known as Ifa diaspora traditions.
Ifa is a monotheistic tradition, featuring a single Creator known as Olodumare. However, Ifa predates the development of dualistic religions which separate heaven from earth, body from mind, and material from spiritual life. Ifa recognizes that the Earthy Play of Olodumare requires coordinated action among natural energy matrices known as Orisas, ancestors, human beings, and our non-human relations.
Ifa gives a clear answer to our age-old question, “What are we doing here?”
Ifa says, “Let’s do things with joy…There are a lot of good things in heaven that are still not available on earth and will be obtained in due course…those selected to transfer the good things to the world are called…human beings.” (Epega, Afolabi A. and Neimark, Philip John: The Sacred Ifa Oracle. Brooklyn, NY: Althelia Henrietta Press, 1995, pp. 193-194.)
Those who seek further elaboration of Ifa’s philosophy may enjoy visiting the website of Iyanifa Lisa’s teachers, Oluwo Phillip Neimark and Iyanifa Vassa Neimark of the Ifa Foundation of North and Latin America. Particularly useful may be Oluwo Philip’s 16 Truths of Ifa.
Ifa tools and the Ifa worldview are deep roots of The Discipline of Pleasure. Some students choose to make these integral, explicit parts of their trauma transforming toolkit.
And: it is not necessary to practice Ifa to practice The Discipline of Pleasure. Iyanifa Lisa walked many other spiritual roads before coming home to Ifa and appreciates biodiversity in spiritual thought and practice. She enjoys learning about the specific medicines carried by different spiritual paths as well as finding the areas of common concern among them.