Music: Abdoul Doumbia, Bright Hawk

Africa and the Orishas


Yoruba divination board
Africa is where all traditions start, because humanity began in Africa. The Yoruba people of western Africa have a number of different oracular systems, all of which allow contact with the divine. For the Yoruba, spirits or deities contacted in this way are known as Orishas, which are thought of as specific manifestations of the supreme being, Olodumare. The Yoruba Orisha tradition is the source knowledge that infuses Candomblé rites in Brazil, Santería in Cuba, and other spiritual systems that are a blend of African, Native American, and Catholic traditions.

The Yoruba also venerate their Egungun, or Ancestors. Their three-pronged tradition is based on working with one’s Ancestors, divination, and cleansings and offerings to the Ancestors and the Orishas. These three core practices are thought to bring events, situations, and people into harmony and balance.

Each Orisha is in charge of different areas of a human life. You approach different Orishas depending on what work you are trying to do or what knowledge you are trying to receive. In this journey to Africa you will be introduced to a teacher who shares wisdom with you and takes you to a village celebration where you will witness, and perhaps engage directly with, the Orishas. As you dance with the Orishas in this journey, you may ask their name, or their nature may become apparent by the information you receive.