The meaning of the 16 Odu Ifa of the Ifa is based on 16 symbolic or allegorical parables contained in the 16 Core Chapters or Principles that form the basis of the Ifá, a system of divination of the Yoruba people of Nigeria.
The Grand Priest of Ifa, the Babalawo or Iyanifas are the Priests and Priestesses of the Ifa Oracle that receive and decode the meaning of the Divine Messages contained in the Odu Ifa Parables that are transmitted to them using a Divination Chain known as Opele or the Sacred Palm or Kola Nuts on a Wooden Divination Tray called the Opon Ifa.
When the 16 Odu Ifa is combined, a total of 256 Odu emerges which is essentially a collection of 16 Odu, each of which has sixteen alternatives that are believed to reference all situations, circumstances, actions, and consequences in life.
These form the basis of traditional Yoruba spiritual knowledge and are the foundation of all Yoruba divination systems.
Ifá proverbs, stories, and poetry are not written down. Rather, they are passed down orally from one Babalawo to another. People consult Ifa for divine intervention and spiritual guidance.
The 16 Odu Ifa:
- Eji Ogbe: The principle of Eji Ogbe is the idea of perfect alignment with Destiny.
Ifa teaches that all human Destinies are rooted in the spiritual discipline of developing good character.
- Oyeku Meji: It references the idea that death represents the end of a cycle for example the end of poverty, the end of ill health, the end of confusion, and the end of loneliness.
iii) Iwori Meji: It focuses on the ability to identify REAL possibilities.
iv) Odi Meji: Odi means the spirit of female reproductive organs; it is known as the seal.
To seal something in a ceremony is to guarantee it will manifest. A seal is anything irreversible such as birth.
v) Irosun Meji: Irosun Meji occupies the fifth position within the order of Odu Ifa in Yorubaland.
Irosun means the spirit that protects the head and descends. The Odu is known as the sounding Osun.
Osun is the spirit that protects the head (Ori). The head is where memories are stored, so by protecting the head, Osun preserves the past.
Irosun Meji is the stable and inflexible reality of what has come before us.
vi) Owonrin Meji: Owonrin means brought by the hands.
It says the solidification of the past lays the foundation for that which is to come.
Humans are born with a spectrum of potential that cannot be changed. Within the spectrum, we can make choices affecting the way our potential becomes manifest.
vii) Obara Meji: Obara is the Odu that incarnates humility in the struggle with arrogance.
For those who are struggling to find abundance cleaning away the negative effects of arrogance is the first step towards accessing your ability to create abundance.
viii) Okanran Meji: Here is a warning not to scatter your attention.
Okanran refers to new beginnings and a change of direction in your life. This change needs to be focused and directed towards a specific goal in order to be effective.
ix) Ogunda Meji: Ogunda Meji is a reference to the courage of Ogun to face unknown obstacles.
When some people have problems they complain and blame others. In Ifa, complaining and blaming others is called ibi.
Ire comes from accessing Ogun’s Ase, which is the Ase of the courage to take responsibility for all of your problems and the willingness to face them head-on.
x) Osa Meji: There are some stories attached to his Odu, simply put, it is said according to the Odu Ifa Osa Meji Ifa explains what happened between the Iyami and human beings:
When humans (eniyan) and birds (eye) came to earth (Aye) from the sky (Orun) they made the sacred promise they will never kill each other.
Time passed by and human beings became hungry because there wasn’t food for them and so they started to die one by one; Esu came to humans and put in their minds why they were dying with so many birds around.
Humans decided to break the promise and started to kill the birds and eat them.
The Eleye became very furious and went to Eledumare who said that human beings were guilty and since that moment the Eleye or Iyami will have the power to interfere in the human’s life and do what they want with them.
Human beings broke the promise, they broke the equilibrium and now they need Iyami’s favor to avoid negativities.
xi) Ika Meji: This speaks of running away from evil thoughts, evil actions, and evil utterances. IFA says evil does not pay, but doing good and thinking well, and speaking out good words attract enormous blessings from OLODUMARE.
xii) Oturupon-Meji: Oturupon-Meji occupies the twelfth position in Odu Ifa.
It is an image of instability within the forces of the earth.
Oturupon Meji reveals how the faculty of intelligence came to the world.
It relates to Egungun (Ancestor Society). The Egungun should be allowed to comment on the resolution of any conflict.
Oturupon deals with the spiritual consequence of lack of courage.
xiii) Otura Meji Otura meji means peace, harmony, love, and light through proper examination of mind, heart, and soul to find the infinite wisdom, infinite
power, and the infinite supply of all that is necessary to achieve our earthly destiny and spiritual growth.
xiv) Irete Meji: Under this Odu, Orunmila speaks of possible initiation into IFA to guarantee long life and good health.
This Odu speaks of the prosperity of life and the Exaltation of life if the possible offering of rituals, sacrifice, and initiation to encourage the fulfillment of life and happiness.
xv) Ose Meji: Ose Meji says there is a woman that is looking to have children but she has been unsuccessful up till this point.
Ose Meji says this person must make a sacrifice.
Ose Meji says that if this person can sacrifice, they will soon find a spouse, and birth to children, and receive a financial increase.
xvi) Ofun Meji: Ofun Meji occupies the sixteenth position within the order of Odu Ifa in Yorubaland, West Africa.
In Ogbe Ofun, it means that the person is in alignment with their destiny and is receiving blessings as a result of the effectiveness of their prayers and spiritual discipline.