Ebb and Flow is a short dance clip that features Tulani, my daughter, dancing on a beach in Southern California. You’ll get a chance to meet her in my upcoming film, but for now you can view Ebb and Flow here…
This clip is part of a series called Dances Made to Order, an on-line dance festival produced by Kingsley Iron. The music in Ebb and Flow was edited by Derick Silva.
On a philosophical level, the title as well as the dance, Ebb and Flow, makes me reflect on life as well as Ifa divination and the 256 sacred odus in our tradition that indicate there is an order and pattern behind all things in the universe. Everything ebbs and flows.
What are the sacred odus? The odus are divine forces which are applicable to every event in the past, present and the future. Like the universe, each odu consists of a pair of opposites, the finite and infinite, the male and the female, active and inactive, odd and even, hot and cold, good and evil, positive and negative.
Ifa, the ancient wisdom, is all about balance. Many of our problems arise because we are off balance and because we fail to understand that everything ebbs and flows. And each moment has a different message and lesson for us.
Instead of trying to force things to go your way, the challenge before us is to try to adapt our lives to this great cosmic rhythm and dance. Slow down, allow the meditation of this video to flow with you and through you. Blessings!!
I still hear the voice, the laughter and the wisdom. I have no doubt that the spirit of Dr. Afolabi Epega is with me as I sit with clients to practice the ancient art of Ifa divination.
What is he saying to me? “The answer is not in the book, the answer is on the divination table. Speak the truth and let the client deal with the truth. Divination is not about what you remember; it’s about what you see as you cast the opele (divination chain). You can’t know everything about Ifa – no one does. But as long as you divine correctly, you will have an insight,” he tells me.
I also sense Epega’s is with me as I work on the vision for this film. What is he telling me?: “Just listen to the voices of the ancestors and allow us to work through you. As long as you follow our voice you can’t go wrong. Submit completely to the vision and don’t look behind you. Failure is not an option. Maintain the faith at all times. Keep moving forward because Across The King’s River film will rekindle the spirit of the masses,” says Dr. Epega from the Spirit World.
Dr. Epega passed over in 2006. A few days after his passing, I felt moved to write a tribute to him. You can read A Tribute to Afolabi Epega at this link:
Baba Epega, as he was affectionately called, was an accomplished scientist with an honors degree in organic chemistry and a 5th generation Ifa priest, or babalawo, who penned Ifa: The Ancient Wisdom, Obi: The Mystical Oracle and co-authored The Sacred Ifa Oracle. His mission in life was to show the connection between science and spirituality. The idea of showing the link between African spirituality and science in my film is inspired by the mission of Baba Epega and one of his students, Christopher Brown, a brilliant mathematician and Ifa priest.
Although I loved Baba Epega, I didn’t have a full appreciation for his wisdom until recently. Being a scientist, he challenged us to be innovative. Respect the tradition – but don’t allow it to stifle your growth. True spirituality is not about stagnation – it’s about the constant quest for growth. Find what works for you, then have the courage to embrace it even if it flies in the face of convention.
As I point out in my article, A Tribute to Dr. Epega, I didn’t accept his views on gays relationships and I found him to be sexist at times. Still, I am grateful for his significant contributions to Ifa. As I move forward on my journey, I do so with the full confidence that the old master is standing right behind me, guiding each step, ensuring that the sacred traditions of our ancestors will guide and nourish the next generation.
The Yoruba spiritual calendar year begins the first week of June at the Agbonnerigun, or Ifa festival which is held each year in the sacred city of Ile Ife. All the Orisas are invoked and prayers are said for the entire world. Offerings are also made to the Orisas.
The blessing of wealth/money is the prediction for the year, which came down in the Odu, Ogbe Ogunda. Along with the blessing of wealth, the elders wish you the blessing of wisdom to move your life, relationships, your community and your dreams forward in a positive way. Ire O!
The Ifa temple is located on top of the Itase mountain. I’ve never been inside the sacred temple, nor have I ever had the opportunity to attend the yearly Ifa festival. But attending this yearly celebration is definitely on my growing “things to do” list.
When I reflect on the Ifa festival, I reflect on a comment made by Yoruba scholar Wande Abimbola, in his book, “Ifa Will Mend Our Broken World.” Abimbola says “There isn’t a single holiday to celebrate any traditional event in Africa. Not one! They have holidays to celebrate many Muslim and Christian events in Africa, but not one day is left for traditional people.”
As the sacred and philosophical teachings of Ifa continue to spread worldwide, we pray that our own people will make peace with our spiritual traditions and see the value of transmitting them on to the next generation. Ire o!