But a client has just dropped by to pick up ose dudu (spiritual soap) and Femi must attend to him first.
Femi explains how to bathe with the soap but the conversation doesn’t end there. Next, Femi talks to the client about Ifa ceremonies – “The Warriors” and the “Hand of Ifa” – how long the ceremonies take and what to expect after these rites of passage.
In the meantime, I’m still on hold.
But the wait is worth it. When Baba Femi finally wraps up with the client and gets on the phone with me, he delivers the goods: insights from years of studying and practicing the ancient wisdom known as Ifa.
He’s a teacher, a philosopher, a diviner, an author and a life coach rolled into one…
And while Baba Femi respects the Yoruba spiritual tradition because it’s our foundation, he’s a free thinker. He’s an avid student of spirituality who fuses numerology into his readings. He encourages some students to study tarot as well. He argues that African-Americans and Westerners are not Yoruba and have unique spiritual needs.
“Ifa is a universal system and should not be relegated to just a Yoruba cultural perception,” he says. “In Ifa, it is not about which way is right verses which way is wrong, it’s about understanding what works.”
“I am of the opinion that Ifa, left the shores of West Africa on slave ships in the minds and hearts of Ifa priests and priestesses to bring forth a new way, to see a new order and to follow new definitions. Not by choice but by destiny.”
Expand! Expand! Expand!
Baba Femi loves that word. He wants his godchildren to expand. Expand the way they think, expand the way they approach their spiritual practice, expand the way they do business, expand their understanding of the sacred Odu, expand the way they deal with clients.
Not surprisingly, Baba Femi’s business is expanding. Surprisingly, approximately half of his client base are Christians.
When he’s not in Houston, maybe you’ll find him in New York, or Seattle, or L.A or Atlanta, or New Orleans. One “Hand of Ifa” ceremony here, a “Warrior’s” ceremony there. A lecture here, a class there: readings, ebos – it never ends!
Last summer, I spent some time with Baba Femi, quietly observing and asking questions as he divined for clients in Oakland. He taught me some of his techniques. Those techniques have not let me down yet.
Expand! Expand! Expand! My business is expanding.
But I’m always hungry to learn more. And that’s why I check in with Baba Femi frequently.
Born Stephen Mackey in Houston Texas on December 30, 1957, Chief Mayegun Obafemi Fayemi was the fifth of Vivian and Fletcher Mackey’s six children. He comes from a long line of educators. His great grandfather worked in education under President William Taft.
At the age of 16 he had a vision, he says. A feminine angelic being visited him and guided him during rocky times. And like most African-americans, he grew up in the church and was once a Sunday school teacher. He’s also a former professional athlete and a retiree from Corporate America.
Like me, Baba Femi was also a student of the late Dr. Afolabi Epega, a renowned Yoruba Ifa priest (and scientist) who, perhaps, had one of the biggest influences on Ifa in the West. Dr. Afolabi Epega was the co-author of “The Sacred Ifa Oracle” as well as other books on the orisa tradition. There’s no doubt in my mind that Dr. Epega is still inspiring us in Spirit.
Here’s what Baba Femi had to say during our recent interview:
The Best Way To Connect to Ancestors:
Answer: “Be sincere. I don’t think you need to approach them with a rehearsed prayer. Simply be sincere. The universe hears one language – sincerity.”
What To Expect In A Good Reading:
Answer: “A good reading is about 70 to 75 confirmation about something the client already knows, has been feeling, thinking, praying for or wishing for. It gives you the confidence to make a conscious decision about how to move forward, let go of something, or step into something new.”
What To Do After The Reading:
Answer: Trust the process. Don’t be so quick to judge the outcome. That’s where all the insecurities, fears and doubts come in.
What Is Ifa?:
Answer: “Ifa is the wisdom of nature, the natural order of things, the sacred science of self and how self connects to the environment.”
Why More and More Christians Are Turning To Ifa:
Answer: “Christianity is based on a system of faith. What you don’t know, you believe. What you can’t get to, you hope. If you don’t understand, you pray. People don’t just want to believe anymore, they want to know. To be in a system of faith like Christianity, then to be around a system like Ifa where we say: ‘here’s what occurred 20 years ago, here’s what you did last week – to see that client get emotional about what you’re giving them (through divination) and how much it hit home, let’s me know one thing. They are not just Christians, they are human beings and as much faith as they have, in some areas they don’t have the strength to believe, they just want to know. Any person that wants to know has a right to know. Everything in life is based on a system of knowing. You want your mechanic to know how to fix your car, you want your teacher to know how to educate your child. You can’t walk into a bank and get a loan if they don’t know you. In Christianity they want you to just walk in and believe. You can’t ask questions because you’re not supposed to question.”
Advice To Aspiring Ifa Diviners/Priests
Answer: “Be diligent in your studies. You can’t put every scenario in a book. If you’ve already been through initiation to let the ase flow through you, then just let if flow. Be open to understanding. Odu is ever expanding. Learn the signs and the symbols.”
To learn more about Baba Femi or to contact him for a reading, visit his website at: www.oisiglobal.com or call him at 1-281-536-3827
For a divination session with me. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 510-388-5500
James Weeks/Producer Across The King’s River