Many people define Odú as the physical symbols used to mark the signs received during the divination process. Others equate Odú with the verses associated with each symbol that form part of the body of the Ifa divinatory corpus. While both elements reveal a small part of Odú, the greater mystery lies far below the surface.
The Odú are the sacred symbols that hold the ase (power/life force) of everything in existence. They are holistic maps that chart the dynamic movement of energy and identify the most primal forces of the natural world. The Odú are transcendental mandalas that mark the active and inactive energies of a given situation with startling accuracy.
All that was, is, or ever will be, is born through Odú, including the Orisa and their sacred ase. The varied manifestations of Heaven and Earth are born through Odú and it is through these same sacred pathways that they will be returned to the primordial void. Odú govern the cycles of nature and the sands of time. They are the cosmic energies of creation—the very fabric of life itself! Like brilliant points of light positioned around the circumference of the Universe, Odú are the stars from whose holy emanation worlds are born. They are the blood and bones of our natural and supernatural existence.
Odú is the oracular utterance of the spirits, the divine wisdom of all those who have come before and those who have yet to be born. Uninhibited by space and time, Odú is the original language of the Ancestors and Orisa. They are the pure voice of divinity that expresses itself in absolute binary perfection. Odú hold the answers to all of life’s questions and collectively they become the eternal compass that directs and redirects one on their journey. The Odú issue words of blessings, but also carry admonitions and warnings. They reveal the forces obscured from view and translate the kinetic patterns of spirit into tangible rhythms of communication. Serving as the nexus for all of creation, Odú are universal points of physical and metaphysical ingress and egress. These sacred forces are the umbilical cords that nourish and sustain all multidimensional activity and movement.
The Odú are living, sentient entities engaged in potent and constant interaction with their creations. They are interconnected repositories of vast spiritual force, embodying the infinite dance of creation and destruction. The masculine and feminine, light and dark, yin and yang – such is the nature of Odú. The physical signs that represent Odú are the symbolic skeleton keys to an ancient universe, a world that is the womb from which all life ensued. It is through these gateways that invocations echo into the heart of the universe and are answered by the spirits. They are akin to spiritual antennae, able to transmit energies that manipulate and modulate reality on micro – and macrocosmic levels. They are remarkably precise frequencies of energy that invigorate and also negate those things that fall under their auspices.
Odú govern the birth of a newborn and the death of an Elder, the tides that rush in and the riverbed that runs dry. The light rain that brings refreshment and the hurricane that carries destruction; the flame that illuminates and the explosion that critically burns are found within Odús grand scope. Odú’s face wears the smile of joy and utters the cry of anguish. The sun at its zenith during midday and the moon that softly illuminates the evening landscape are the children of Odú. The charismatic forces of attraction and repulsion are given license through Odú. Spirit’s descent into matter and its eventual transfiguration and ascension walk the road mapped by Odú. All ailments and their cures are discovered through these holy beings. Odú rule the moment of fertilization, the critical period of gestation, the act of birth and the inevitable call of death. Odú marks the cells within our bodies and the space between these cells and the space between the spaces. Odú are the fiery manifestations of light from the Void and the suffocating magnetic pull of the Black Hole. Odú are sacred constellations, satellites of immortal wisdom that impact the cosmic machination of the universe and the minute steps of the individual. Odú gives birth to the day as surely as it does the night.
In a more microcosmic sense, the Odú give rise to success and bring about failure. The ability to move ahead or the impossibility of manifestation is rooted in Odú. Relationships are formed and dissolved through these energies. They hold the frequency for ultimate connectivity or total disconnection. Steadfastness and instability, clarity and confusion are juxtaposed through Odú. The complex model of one’s being can be clearly charted through these sacred energies. Life’s initiatory rites, both personal and communal, are given strength through their ties with these forces. That which is buried deep within the past or waiting patiently in the future can be understood through exploration of their relative Odú. The circumstances of the present gain clarity when examining the Odú that governs their form and function. Balance is both lost and regained through a direct and often complicated relationship with Odú. Awodele Ifayemi