This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
ERSKINE MACDONALD, LTD. LONDON, W.C.1
William Bascom, Director
University of California
Berkeley 4, California
c U >^y
^ o 2 1
PS _i 3H
^3 00 ^
3- w "S
3 -- 1~ O g .0 v*3 : ^ ^o
University of California
WILLIAM AND BERTA BASCOM
.MYTHS OF By IFE JOHN WYNDHAM.
W.MYTHS OF By JOHN WYNDHAM LONDON. .C. LTD.I ERSKINE MACDONALD.
First published 1921. .All Rights Reserved.
TO MY WIFE. .
The reticence of the natives on religious subjects made it necessary to piece much together from init is cantations and chance remarks. but hoped that the notes will show that no great liberty has been taken with the beliefs of a tribe which inhabits a large area in West Africa. and also to the Council of the Anthropological Institute for permission to re-publish Notes " and XI-XIV which appeared originally in Man." 9 . are offered after a subsequent reading of the " Golden Bough. The author Mr. and was thus enabled to collect the folklore contained in this book from native sources." The suggestions contained in Note IV on I the Creation of Man. The legends to present are bare and uncertain. Ford desires to express his indebtedness to Madox Hueffer for advice when this work Royal was half-finished. and in Note VII on the possible connection between the Edi Festival and the Saturnalia. and it seemed that blank verse would prove a more suitable form them than prose.AUTHOR'S NOTE The author spent District Officer several years as an Assistant among the Yorubas in Nigeria.
Oldkun Goddess of the Sea. Odtiwa or] Odudiiwa j tfgun King of men. 10 . Goddess of the Lagoons. Obdlufon A worker in brass. Ogun. Creator of men. Ordnyan Lddi The warrior son Smith of Ogun. Son of of Odiiwa.PERSONS Ardmft Orisha God of Thunder and Father Son Son of the Gods. N Mdrimi Wife of Obalufon. God of Iron. of Aramfe. A God of Evil who men astray. Ifa The Messenger of known by reason the Gods. The led Perverter. Oldssa Oshun A Goddess who transformed and became the River Oshun. principally of divination. of AramfS.
Oibo means White Man. Dawn and Evening~were also Gods and Goddesses sent by Aramfe. Ojtimu A priest. Peregrin 'Gbo A Forest God who caused the Forest to bring forth wild animals and watched over the birth of Orunmila. Osdnyl A priest and maker of charms.PERSONS shu Now regarded as as the Undoer the Devil. Moon. a charm used in the divination of Okpelle is Ifa. But a higher and very distant Being is mentioned by some of the Priests. . watches over the birth of Offun Kdnran A messenger of f fa. all and French pronunciation 11 is nearly correct in the above names. drni Odtim'la The ancestor of the Ornis of t fe. Orunmila A God who children. The final N is as in bon. but originally of the favours of the Gods. Day. The Sun. Night. who is often spoken of as God.
the chief-priest of Ifa. and asks to hear the history of the place. Orni.A The and white man visits Ife. 12 . the Babalawo Araba. the religious directs head of Yorubaland. the sacred city of the Ydnibas. begins. to continue.
. spirits 13 for you. Once when the King reclined Upon his the dais.MYTHS OF I. f F E THE BEGINNING. I called your from the Dusk for always . before : Heaven . Amidst his sons. To whom their doings and in the mouths have been handed down From Ardmfe reigns in sire to son ? Before this World was made around him There reigned Aramfe in the realm of Heaven Heaven . Old was Aramfe. and his sons lay prostrate feet. The Sun had shone upon The father of the of his vines and cornfields Since time past reckoning. The 6rni of Ife speaks : Oibo. you have asked to hear our lore. The legends of the World's young hours Could truth in greater surety have its and where home Those of priests Than in the precincts of the shrines of Who made the World. In veneration at his telis he spoke : Of the great things he purposed " sons of the creation of My But fair you know things which I made sons. his Gods . Old were the hills . : youth had been The youth Heaven.
Now grand with years. All went not well : A noble animal my mind conceived form to prey upon a river. Emerged in loathsome . and I have given you the chorus of the night The dances and age of mirth and sunrise (the wine of Heaven) your existence. . .THE BEGINNING On waving An Is Your eyes have watched the shadows and the wind corn. remind 14 me of dread days . above me. . I laboured and the grim years passed . hills about and taught the birds budding Their song the unshapely I had formed to beauty. And as the ages came I loved to make I fostered The beautiful more fair. born to bask hills. But I knew the well the heart far-felt Of Him-Who-Speaks-Not. unshaped And unadorned. and the trees. that gave Purpose Me The birth . You have not even heard Of the grey hour when my young eyes first opened To gaze upon a herbless Mass. : Streams flowed along their sunny beds stars I set . My gentle creatures In sunlit channels and mirror the steep Tore down its banks and ravaged field and plain While cataract and jagged precipice.
t F E rifts and wide sundered my Fair hills. Yet I prevailed. a nerveless Mass lies cold 'Neath floods which some malign unreason heaves. 15 . and found sure homesteads is For a new race whose destiny not are their judge . How And wonderful the anxious years of slow hazardous achievement a destiny For Gods. Creation But yours it has not been to lead by the cliffs-edge To Paradise.MYTHS OF When Heaven tottered. the accomplished whole be Heaven. the sand of power. Our realm . Call a despairing land to smiling life Go now. Think. Oduwa. Above the jealous sea. now. See Note I You on the Creation of the Earth. young and all seemed if lost. to you I give (1) The five-clawed Bird. The (1) eternal life of Gods. Far-off. first-born of my sons. " : And Great Orisha cried Can we do naught ? ? What use in godhead without deeds to do Where yearns a helpless region for a hand " To guide it ? And Old Aramfe answered him sends them to : " My son. your day approaches. beyond." way from Mass He paused on the remembrance. the haze make the Rests always on the outer waste which skirts World.
The arts and wisdom will ? I. And you. I am your first-born wherefore do you give to Orisha . My The younger sons. and to you are subject. Your son and servant. 16 . But to your command I yield . and to you give This bag of Wisdom's guarded lore and arts For Man's well-being and advancement. Sorrow and heaviness. Farewell. is (1) all Gods sons. And men Wisest of my Orisha. voice of worship and the crafts are yours To teach that the of new thankful " race may know The mirth Heaven and the joys : of labour. The King.THE BEGINNING Yours is the kingship." But Aramfe is " Enough . And 1 would gladly roam these hills for ever. To each is fitting task given." Theft Odtiwa said Happy our life has been." (1) See Note IV on the Creation of Man. be obeyed the hearts of men Will turn in wonder to the God who said spells Strange benefits. Lord Aramfe. the chorus and the dance. yours the grateful task to loose Vague spirits The race that waiting for the Dawn I to make shall be . and in my : kingship pride o'ersteps Yet.
and into blackness plunged (1) A To sunless void o'er godless water lying seize an empire from the Dark. Of Man's Creation. Thus was the : will War Of God undone sand for thus with the charmed on Earth. Oduwa steals the bag and causes But by the roadside while Orisha slept Oduwa came by stealth and bore away The bag Aramfe gave.MYTHS OF The Gods leave f F E Here the Beginning was : from Ardmfe's vales the exiled Through the desert regions Gods Heaven. and of the restraint placed upon the chafing sea. and win Amidst ungoverned waves a sovereignty. his sons Called forth a World of envy and of war. approached The edge of Heaven. The Goddess of the Sea. Cast wide on the unmastered sea. Of the unconscious years which passed in darkness Till dazzling sunshine touched the unused eyes Oldkun (2) Of men. See Note 17 . of War and magic my priest shall tell you. And the Great Ones did before the day They vanished to return to the calm hills all (1) (2) I on the Creation.
See Note XIII. when from passed. . And hear each night their chorus with the drum : For changeless here the early World endures In this first stronghold of humanity. The River which separates this World from the next. the song. the sight of men the Great Gods Gods . And when Odum'la's time had come to yield the crown. constant as the buffets waves Of Queen Oldkun on the shore.THE BEGINNING Life in Ife Of Old Aramfe's realm is . as it was But still with us their altars and their priests in the time Remain. (1) (2) See Note II on Odum'la. Gods abide. am born of the Beginning Odum'la speaks for the F[or. : I. To wait upon the River's To Old Aramfe Ifa/ 3 in * brink. the first Orni' of He. his (2) and cross wisdom. of those old . The Messenger of the Gods. They To be a left on Earth Orni Odum'la (1) charged father to a mourning people. To tend Inspired the shrines and utter solemn words by Those invisible. and from their shrines the hidden of the Gods Gods Peer forth with joy to watch the dance they taught. . his divination. (3) See Note XII on 18 . too. of the And. The dance ThjrlifeZ^ . They went away . the mirth.
Thus has it ever been is and now the person With me that Being about. And on our sacred days these of pronounce The words Odudiiwa and Orisha.MYTHS OF and lives 1 F E Odum'la's soul . Proclaimed that son with whom for ever in Abode. . within lips of the 6rni.
And sandy The Gods arrive at the edge of deserts for such is the stern bar ^gCty Aramfe Tremblingly. and yet the mountains A faded line beyond the shimmering waste Called back to mind their ancient home. Heaven. The parched. and beneath 20 . till 'twixt his smiling vales And the stark cliff's edge which his sons approached from the sandy brink they peered Down the sheer precipice. forbidding leagues but yet the Sun Was there. ? Then Oduduwa spoke And what fault was ours? : Outcasts to-day to-morrow we must seek Our destiny in dungeons. " Orisha. and breezes soft. messenger the Of Gods : to me the histories Are known. . and Oduduwa The bag day my king has told you. How you of the days Old Ardmfe sent stole The Gods from Heaven. . Behind them lay . For many a Across un watered plains the Great Ones journeyed. and I will tell Of the Descent. Beneath Hung chaos roar dank blackness and the threatening Of untamed waters. THE DESCENT : Ardba speaks I am all the voice of Ifa. what did we .II.
ere we return to peace is calm.MYTHS OF f F E That yawning blackness we must found a For unborn men Better a homeless life In desert places : city dare we turn and ? flee To some lost valley of the hills Orisha. priest. living men is That I shall make. know first I long to use. and yearn To see the of toiling. Forbidding our task. ! how boundless is the fate ? You flinch from Besides. and Oduwa hung a chain cliff Ojtimu with the Bird. . to And sent Ojumu." So spoke Orisha . You say but And Heaven's think. Over the to the dark water's face. the wise pour The magic sand upon the sea and 21 loose . My mother's son who Aramfe's And thought The arts I to filch away the hearts of to give ? men With blessings which were mine For me. Dumb hungering For life await us let us go. What think you " ? Then spoke Orisha whom men The Great : call* "Is this Oduwa stole that I hear gift. Godhead blind You Aramfe would not know ? think Has Might no bodes spirits With eyes and Odtiwa sends ears : ? .
the crumbling shore. and turned soil (2) to reedy swamps of hope. Oldkun ! For there your rule and your dominion be : To curb For ever. the hungry waves upon the coastlands And thus. /Go 4xrthe fields of men to be." See Note I on the Creation of the Earth. of the Lagoons. And The The (1) (2) you. Ever in the darkness came the waves and sucked by foot Away The and Oldkun and Oldssa.THE DESCENT The five-clawed Bird to scatter far and wide (1) Triumphant land. So Oduduwa called (3) Oldkun and Oldssa " : to the cliff And thus he spoke Beneath. as Earth's ramparts grew. the waters wrestle With the new-rising World. and would destroy Our kingdom and undo Aramfe's will. the homes to the sea shall ! That they shall make. Shall men bring gifts in homage to Oldkun. But. of the Sea. where your ripple laps fruitful bank. shall see continually offerings of thankful men. in our first queen of cities And secret sanctuaries on lonely shores Through every aeon as the season comes. (3) The Goddess The Goddess 22 . Oldssa. while foot Lagoons crept up.
Fair were the leafy trees of night beneath silvering Moon. But ere for us The hour the wilderness which gapes Of those loved Engulf us utterly. Odiiwa called Orisha and the Gods And then To " the cliff's edge. farewell ". and spoke these words of sorrow: We go to our sad kingdom. Then of an age of passing months untold lore repeats By wanings of the Moon our 23 . in the Sun When The dark the hill-tops rose o'er misty hollows . ere the lingering sight hills can gladden us no more May we not dream awhile of smiling days Fair was drenched morning Gone by ? . the Beneath the Bird toiled on until the bounds. . So came the Gods to Ife. . we roamed. the grasslands. The corners of the World were steadfast. and beautiful the wind Good-bye. so let it Such is the will Of Old Ardmfe: be. ye plains Upon The Gods descend. Ah! wine Of Heaven. . Good-bye to sunlight and the shifting shadows Cast on the crags of Heaven's blue hills. while I F E The months in the moonless night The Bird makes Earth.MYTHS OF Of Heaven passed by.
He threw their images into the wombs Of Night. Then young Ogun bade The Forest grow her whispering trees but she Budded the pallid shoots of hopeless night. /And^dl was sorrow round the sodden town Where Odudiiwa Orisha creates reigned. To him the longing shades from other glooms (1) man.THE DESCENT A sunless The dirge of wasting hopes in a strange of and the lament World. Pressed eagerly on but ever the Bird Returned with the unconquerable sand Ojumu poured from his enchanted shell. watched the unlit Dawn of Man Wistfully (1) as one who follows the set flight See Note IV on the Creation of Man. as the unconscious years wore by. the Creator. f fe . Creator. And the marsh yielded. . yearned. Yet for live men Orisha. and called . Orisha. Of a people Beneath the thunder World shuddering the unseen waves Always the marsh On crumbling shores around. and all The wives of the great Gods bore babes with eyes Of those born blind unknowing of their want And But The limbs to feel the heartless wind which blew From outer nowhere to the murk beyond. Oldkun and Oldssa. . 24 .
MYTHS OF i F E Of a lone sea-bird when the sunset fades Beyond a marshy wilderness To Odudiiwa " Our day is : and spoke endless night. hours who spoke To us with her Of Heaven is strange sounds in the . and the pale Moon Sought out the precincts of calm Night's retreat 25 . Our guardian Night. wears no plumage where those embers burned him A mark of honour for remembrance. Again The Father spoke the word. And deep. . fire upon his head and and. to his old sure To crave the Sun and the of warm flame that lit The torch Ardmfe sends fire. the Heaven's Evening and the dance. and Odudiiwa sent If a. The Ocean menaces. deep compassion moved thundrous Aramfe. the bird Moon. the Messenger. . by the Gods' command. The Father of the Gods. still here task. wan woods enclose our weeping children. chill winds moan through Our mouldering homes. and he sent down A Sun the The vulture with red For men Still . yet she can but bewail Her restless ! And where is Evening ? Is Oh Dawn ? where " He ceased.
And mirth With Oduduwa (1) (2) See Note V on Obalufon. an efficacious native intoxicant. And all Was changed Had lifted from : for when the terror of bright Day the unused eyes of men.THE DESCENT To share her watch on Darkness wings. calls the happy toilers home. Ogun taught (1) and wise Obdlufon Made brazen out vessels and showed how wine streams From the slim palms. Palm-wine. (2) And in the night the Gods Set torches in their thronging courts to light The dance. reigned. 26 . and Day took And flew to the broad spaces of the sky To roam benignant from the floating Which cling to hillsides of the Dawn mists to Eve Who The Age of Mirth . Sparks-flew from Ladi's anvil. and Heaven's music touched the drum Once more as in its ancient home. while The/iise~bf iron. .
that gifts men Should win the twenty last one. A tale is told How God in the Beginning sent three sons Water and Into the World Forest Earth. : and chronicle A The fable of Earth. Bequeathed from other times. save one The Forest and the Rivers and how God promised Of that to his first-born. food and wine in Forest and in River Strife between So Man prevailed but in those days. . second chapter from the histories . Odtiwa and For jealousy and pride Odiiwa held Orisha The bag Aramfe gave Often Orisha to Great Orisha. Till once when Odudiiwa sat with Ogun 27 . Came strife and turmoil to the Gods for still Patiently. Earth.MYTHS OF III. And this is true For in those years when Ogun and the Gods Made known their handicrafts men learned to seek Thatch. With one and twenty That are the sons of Earth and men all Earth and stole . . Good again by virtue : Humour. Water and the Forest gifts for . made entreaty oft A suppliant came before his brother in vain . . Ardba continues Oibo. I will tell I F E THE WAR OF THE GODS.
The speaker is probably prepared to travel. though he be silent." (Communicated by drum-beats. war To arms their followings of Gods and men. Yoruba threat " The Elephant has power crush the (2) Leopard. men The woe that Oduduwa's But (1) theft prepared little the Gods recked of their deep guilt to cp. 'neath the monster's foot? ( Odiiwa angered exceedingly ^~ -v. Of the Gods from paths and such for . not told Have a care.) Yoruba saying. The sound " of drums was heard and Great Orisha skilled Obalufon." (2) Begone ! Who speaks Unseemly words before the king has packed Orisha and Odiiwa called brings to tfe. That I Give back the bag mine Else. !) may do our Father's bidding. is it how caution slept In the still woods when the proud leopard fell. : I not king ? Did not Aramfe make ? Me lord of Gods and men His load. " Lured on by silence. Approached with and said : The time has come to teach Aramfe's arts (for it is To men.THE WAR OF THE GODS In that same palace where the Orni reigns. I think. wars began fall And on that day the first of In Ife and the Forest. 28 . Such was the divine.
" their babes But when in the The whirling clouds were wheeling sky And the great trees were smitten in his ire by the wind. came the Of Old Aramfe as he mused "In vain sons stop it . with the still night came down a sense Of impious wrong. where the Evil of the Void Insentient Violence home. weighed down Warriors aweary. Dead The Ardmft tries to too. World : . and all was changed. dead the Forest seemed. knotted growth stifled air while on that hush. To shape in the Abyss a World of joy 29 . for the Of Heaven born and destined Gloom. amidst its strangling.MYTHS OF Till i F E for then darkness fell and all was quiet Returned the memory of Calm. too. Thundrous Aramfe His erring sons : rebuked "At my command you came had made its To darkness. in the and women with naked woods. Dead. Into the Waste beneath I sent my to The children of my : happy vales make A World of mirth for desolation holds The homes Are outcast of ffe. the storm's distant thundrous voice : Mute herald. Around. their heritage. its boughs unstirred . ungodly sin.
. And The " in the dripping forests and the marshes rebel Gods fought on while in the clouds : Afar Aramfe reasoned with himself I spoke in thunders. and your punishment For now my thunderbolts Is theirs to share. I may tell. and Old . filled still The marshes that Ojumu dried but They fight. I hurl. with deluges upon the land To^nll the marshes and lagoons. or Again into I grieve . then. the storm Aramfe in his grief Departed on black clouds. In the Unknown. the anger of his sons endured. Beyond the sky where 30 have set the Sun. and stay If or aye your impious war. brawling ? Did the Void's black lead Creation in the Outmatch you. but what can : I ? Achieve In Heaven omnipotent ? but here What means it I cannot I . . ? Punish. possess your hearts to ? come its own For Man's misfortune but you have borne them on the tide Of your wrong-doing. this soul OFTHE GODS ways of Heaven." but fails t Dawn came Was But gone. still But still the wrath. and my deluge .THE WAR And How.
another full score but not one word of the great deeds. of Of hopes and imminent defeat is Or victory snatched away handed down : No legend has defied. Can this Be Truth Amidst the unnatural strife of brothers TheWorld was weaned: by strife must Oibo. And Old Aramfe Of blood sought to stay the flow . a Gods one charm Could turn a spear second robbed its The wounding sword of all Made one so terrible that a Must flee sting. The dimness and the But when An end was come calm to the ill days foreknown of the To Him-Who-Speaks-Not. remembrance Of Heaven stole upon the 31 sleepless Gods . The weary days of all that war. it endure ?" how the first of wars began. your pen has written ' but of the days. fears. no voice called through baffling years. what tongue Tis said the anger of the Gods Can tell ? Endured two hundred years : we know all the priest Osanyi made strange amulets for The mortal soldiers of the aside.MYTHS OF Is : : f F E He-Who-Speaks-Not He knows all.
We The weary of the battle. . 32 . In Heaven Why then did Great Orisha in Bring plagues on those he made love ? Afar Ardmfe gave to you the empire. . for sleep . sleep all weary Nature craved. . One mother's sons say. (1) Yoruba saying. with his comrades stood Before the king. and its agony Weighs heavy on our people. And with the give back the bag to Ogun. this ? empty war between it so. the warrior.THE WAR OF THE GODS For while the Moon lay soft . Sleep : and 'twixt silver'd leaf. . careless hours of Have you forgot ? Old Aramfe's realm What means You Will this war. Orisha willed 'Twas said of old 'Who has no house (I) buy no broom'. with while all her spell On ff of the many battles With sorrowful reproach the wise trees stood And gazed upon the Gods who made the soil The Of peace And voices of the Forest crooned their dreams " "Sleep. Orisha. and thus he spoke " : Oduwa. " " the slumbrous reed-folk urged. The shadow and the igun asks Oduwa to The drowsing dawn breezes yearned.
his king while for the crown. . the wisdom knowledge of the Of Great Orisha which alone could wake sleeping lore. will and be your spur " Shall one Is it not said. but not its clue the skill. the sceptre you were born And hand down strengthened to a line Could not uphold your Until the end. my brother has made war its Upon And greatness. : Odiiwa refuses . promised treasures. power I have wrought unceasing. Priest bury. and Great Orisha Will trouble us no more. The nations of the World Are yours give back the bag. and anon 33 his mate dig up . : . ways The bag things. Roused all the faithless The bag he held years had not revealed Bitterly he answered . " These many years ." But neither Ogun Nor the soft voices of the night could loose thrall of : Odiiwa from the envy the rule Of men and empire were of no account When But Its the hot thought of Old Aramfe's lore his black ire anew. and joins my cause itself my enemies.MYTHS OF And to Orfsha f F E Of mysteries and hidden You seized The . to hold of kings Weak son. Wearies of war. To-day My son hope of my cause.
Yoruba 34 . forms stone. saying. (1) No day's brief work have you But all my heart has longed for through a life ! Of labour. So let it be : God of Soft Iron Upon your royal brow descends this day The crown of a diminished chieftaincy. With the sweet honours For I of a king in hills name go back to Old Aramfe's and transto And the calm realm you prate of." Then Oduduwa Transformed to stone and sank beneath the Bearing away the fateful bag. through all thus. soil. bag with the ages of the World arts Mm. A voiceless lore and which found no teacher Have (1) lain in bondage.X THE WAR OF THE GODS The corpse ?" undone. taking the And Beneath.
lord Of uninhabitable woods.MYTHS OF IV. A daughter only. Once with the Spring. and waylaid her in the paths Of her fond nightly dreams. of the times of peace our annals hold . granted to his queen. She saw the clustered tree-tops breaking into Copper and red and every green. young Adetoun. a strangeness which he always seemed day With doubtings. reigned. When Oduduwa and But also. that Life (1) See Note VI on M6rimi's 35 sacrifice. and she leaf To keep in hiding chequered the fair Remembered how beneath the new It year's buds was ordained by Peregrin 'Gbo. the wife of skilled Obalufon for while his lesser wives Proudly bore many sons unto their lord. f F E THE SACRIFICE OF Ardba continues Oibo I : M 6RIMI (1 > . Was And as the years Lagged by. have told you of the days Orisha fought . grief ever-growing Befell Great Morimi. Now in the age when mirth And Oduduwa Mdrimi has no sons. . Strange legends .
priest of Ifa tfa : Where from each beam and smoke-grimed hung pillar The charms the wise man set to guard his home.THE SACRIFICE OF M6RIMI Should spring from Forest. His messenger to stay the grasping hand Of Death Will give ? Thus do the Gods me sons. when up the morrow's sorrowing dawn yield life. (2) See Note XII on the divination of 36 . and from the sloth that laughs womb ? Of Forest leaped the by night 'mid the boughs the sloth brought forth the ape That bore the leopard ? And did not Peregun Watch o'er the birth of young Oninmila. and Life from tiU all Life. ills His wives and children from the (1) contrived See Note XI on Peregun 'Gbo. to the leaguing fiends the child's did not the watchful God send down and surely one " must I appease ? . The Woods were gladdened with the And birds and thus she reasoned : voice of beasts "Is it not told How How Peregun 'Gbo (1) spoke. Ah whom ! She consults Quick with new hope Great Mdrimi sought out A (2) in his courtyard dim. And Must Fair ever. Ila.
To her gift And laid it on Okpelle and the Seizing the charm of ifa said " : Okpelle. Its unknown cure " ! Then he laid down the charm And Of Offun Kanran stood before them. for sacrifice : Whose Adetoun. shrine calls out for blood. and loathing of the ways of the Gods Possessed her while indignation fed her love . . The : face Ifa's priest was is troubled. priest By the bad spirits. nay many sons. her to sacrifice f fa a son. Of her one child. A Moons faded from the sky.MYTHS OF . The months passed by : Moons came. To you the woe of Mdrimi is known You only can reveal its secret cause. you long You have a daughter. Was But yours. At will last she cried : go again 37 . And in the smiles of happier wives she read . mockery And grief and her Adetoun remained Companions of her hours. this : the message of my lord for. " But sons I asked for I . . your path stands Flshu." Without hope Mdrimi Went forth. . f F E she whispered. and he said Who " tells Mdrimi. the Undoer. in The Gods would give you many sons. and your husband's love her daughter.
Would you hold back? Is not the birth of Nations the first law Aramfe gave ? Can any wife withstand His will. . of messengers Reveal the thoughts of ifa. thundrous voice. " : her to act Who To Of with his guileful reasoning compels on Ifa's message. fidi. . and the ears the God-Messenger.THE SACRIFICE OF MORIMI And pray The last for sons is and my Adetoun. the smooth of tongue. oh. and Morimi shall know Her grief and her reproach no more. Silently in the night Came the Perverter. Has ebbed will it not flow again Yet hope She consults Went not with Mdrimi Of tfa's priest self -same . to the dark court and when a torch of sorrow in the disclosed Ifa again. Oldkun's tide " ? word : not yet. The bode dusk To her drear home Great Morimi fled back In terror of the deed which love commanded. conscious sin The forms ffa." (1) Then doubt Ogun kills unmarried 38 girls of marriageable age. . have heard The far-off. . And di advises love condemned. or maid stern Ogun's call ? (1) To-day Is yours. mother of great kings that shall be : The green shoots greet the Spring-rain and forget The barren months.
Crept up the pass between the (1) According to the legend. And think Obalufon ! ! Then di. On the Undoer Iishu's altar of early The lazy blue morning smoke hills. In darkness and with the dawn a young while girl lay The death of Adetoun. she answered Will Gods Not give ? Is the grim World a morning market Where they drive bargains with the folk they made ? Are babes as bangles which Obalufon Fashions to barter " " ? But fidi answered her : But once Aramfe spoke to Odudiiwa. M6rimi consulted Ifa^three times before acting on his advice. And with what heavy hearts the Gods went forth From Heaven's thrice. the Perverter. hid his form .MYTHS OF Seized Mdrimi but still f F E " . 39 . (1) valleys to the blackness ! Now Thrice to the woman Mdrimi the word : Has come with promise of the World's desire Not every wife is chosen for the mother " Of a house of kings.
Taught by the Gods.THE UBO WARS. . The World Was young Shot forth of peace. the 'Mid struggles with the Forest the town grew While dull remembrance of unnatural wrongs See Note VII on Ubo and the Edi Festival. dreamed again her early dreams. Returned to measures of the dance. and Great Orisha saw the joy of life once more lived In his creatures' eyes. from first. the folk began to learn The arts of Heaven's peace anew the drum .* Ardba continues After the : 1* Oibo. graven on War of the Is the sad legend which my memory my father . upon the craggy slopes the trees red buds. told me Gods. Thus mankind among The Gods. gifts : by strife Gave no good 'midst battles with the Wild. and multiplied until the youth foundation Of ffe sought new homes and wider lands In the vast Forest and thus was born the of Ubo The . (1) (2) See Note X on Ogun. first Fair daughter of Odiiwa's city. gaunt : With suffering. But to these colonists the Gods. and ancient ffe. and the Olubo is attended leader took the of Ubo with his chieftaincy. their Fathers. ffe returns to the arts Of the Great Gods' departure. Men name called Her Ubo. Unnoted while King 6gun (2) The years slid by reigned. 40 .
laughing lights "Who The Chief of Obo His lamp between the leopard's paws " ? (3) Years passed In grieving while Oliibo sought the homes seeks advice. not brooks. not. And through the unceasing hissing of the foam . Word came Would Of Ogun. God saw the . laid gifts At crossway Or wandered shrines where childless women go. And prayed him to And the fat beasts.MYTHS OF IFE Bred Man's first rebel thought against the Gods . nor Gods crossway altars at the light of dawn . With Autumn's fall Olubo came with gifts before the shrine Of the grim Forest-God who hedged his land. to f fe that the folk of tJbo gifts. . No voice of counsel came. And the accept the corn he brought nor seize his lands again.0i spirits of the Forest springs. oil. and smelled the blood Of birds and (3) cattle and the longed-for voice Yoruba saying. And when the time of festival was near. bring no nor worship at the feet : But the King scorned them. to drear coasts to share his wrongs With Ocean chafing But rivers answered Of at his old restraint. 41 .
the maids were And Oltibo in- all men feasted on the sacred days Of Ogun and the Lord of Day when sudden. no more . . (Hope perishes away as slaves. vades Ife. men were silent. A glimpse.THE UBO WARS which the Came to Oltfbo " : See with the rain fields I come trees." : In Ife was great joy : the last Black thundercloud has passed wed. About dull tasks but not so people wandered . These goblins are called 42 Etere. . The drum Was A (1) listless and laughter mute. In the dark hour a mother sees the dance Of white-robed goblins (1) of the midnight streets sick child is lost). Be this your symbol Go thus against the Scornful Ones arrayed As I. Forest-God Each year apon your gives with springing : him Rank-growing grass and vegetation wild Your work of yester-year is all undone By my swift desolation. slaves of tibo lords. From the still Forest o'er the walls there broke and the takes Portents of moving trees and hurrying grass men On Ife's stone-still revellers. and her Despair held rule Their : the new-wed wives were lone . See Note XIII.
his voice : 'Evil has come down on By Evil only can desire prevail. As when a I call man lies beset by fiends (1) not to the Gods for aid. but take The pepper on my tongue and thus invoke Those very fiends in their dread mother's name. the Gods. 43 . assured of triumph. (1) See Note XIII for the incantation. ' ' . And then command now the Prince of leaguing lip) Woes (Though hastening to the River's Again such is to turn ffa's counsel. . Thus crave and go. So sped Mdrimi to the rebel town and when A Of lord of tibo sought her midst the shades night. the his aid Take Undoer . harlot to the land of Ubo .MYTHS OF Mdrimi consults tfa. strode ffa. To the dim court of gift. The bode is good. priest. Great Mdrimi. A She finds out the secret. and laid bare Her A vision flickered : And the priest prophesied sick " and was gone. the Undoer's will possessed his lips. I F E Mdrimi for she. While lishu's shrine yet ran with blood. And he betrayed the way of tJbo's downfall. six he-goats to fishu. borne Swift in the form of Messengers to me ffe: who advises His her to go to tjbo.
The charm to Ogun. transform to stones. See Note VIII on Oshun.THE UBO WARS Meanwhile. Orisha could but moan and sank (2) Children I made you soil who but I ? " Beneath the he loved.. And 6shun : threw Her body down but never ceased a stream Gushed up. as Osanyi gave 6gun. See Note IX on O16kun. a snake. 44 . . etc. So went the Gods but last. The sage Osanyi of will lay : The door For naked of our deliverance come then dominion what are we Gods his And one by one Osanyi gave To " charms the lorn Gods. (1) A snake rivers. rebel last of all the Gods Back from the town Great Morimi " : Rushed back. the sacred stream that flows for ever. the gods And Ogun said " We scorned our upstart son : . Oldkun (3) fell . . 'neath the wide Earth she flowed . Scorned him and let him be ' nor bore in mind little The wisdom Is yet of the Past. . Unknowing. and brought (3) (4) (5) cried The fire the vulture Yoruba saying. sat alone in their abasement.' See now the end has come : Swift from the sight of mocking men we must wide " ? Depart. To except the broad spaces of her troubled realm.
by command Festival Of Morimi. The months crept by King Ogun's warrior son. And here in f fe. while Ordnyan destroys the tJbo Oranyan. her rebel Gods. the children of the captives Worship Olubo. but must flee before Oranyan's fire. Fate-laden. as the invading hosts of l)bo scaled walls. . . But when the he hid city. tfbo before Ordnyan. a rush of flaming boughs destroyed Grass garments and rebellious men. (1) See Note X on Ogun and Ordnyan. and her folk Thus fell Saw slavery in ffe. fire War . Time spared these deeds But gave to the impenetrable wilds The place where Cbo stood. . The di Her rites. (1) schooled the sireless lads to festive season came. And on those days of feasting No man may blame his wife for her misdeeds All-mindful of the guile of Morimi. . And.MYTHS OF IFE Shall slay the hosts of l)bo ! ". Them The with red prepared within the army. .
. Forgotten lives were lived. And unremembered Of the givers of wives sought out the shrines life. for. and shadowy priests Kept warm the altars of the departed Gods Old men went softly to the River's lip (1) : Unsung : 'twixt hope and fear mute colonists Went forth to the strange forests of the World . In battles where Oranyan torch-lit . Of battles for Ogun. (1) But then came traders from the wilds The River which separates 46 this World from the next. . THE PASSING Ardba continues : OF OGUN. Yields up the legend of its In those Last tranquil years the mothers blessed King Ogun For peaceful days and night's security . . of peace beloved of Old Aramfe.VI. at the last. f fe knew no more Wars. grey and bent. Oibo. chose out 6gun reignsThe way in peace. . Yet now. new Their names are lost. And The old men used to tell of their brave deeds led. applaud last dance and pass their calm days Happily. After the tJbo An age passed by. let a final tale Be told . that silent age fall. and .
In house and market. Markets are often found at crossroads See Note X. with wondrous heard they At crossway markets (1) in far lands of deeds Oranyan did on battlefields beyond The region of the forests. To his first far-off Were always Oranyan returns of . and their pale days Lagged by. the young men's dreams of Earth's Kingship. Oranyan. These tales. on Ogun and Ordnyan. would go back home. when on a day. unheralded. (1) (2) King Ogun spoke the crown " : My son. and came Before his father to demand Of Oduduwa. None could deny his entrance the : demand crown.MYTHS OF IFE By thorn and tangle of scarce-trodden ways tales Through the dim woods. The hero strode again the streets he saved From the Oliibo's grass-clad men. of . (2) Wars to Oranyan with a host appeared before Her peaceful gates. . while the fathers feared The coming Aweary of the day when the grey God. 47 in the forest. Such were the various thoughts men from distant In ife. filled oft-told the air with rumours And dreams Of ancient of ife war which troubled the repose for.
THE PASSING OF OGUN
and you are welcome. But why with these armed men do you recall Times well-forgotten and the ancient wars ?
Tis long since you were
a land of peace
beneath the shade
the mirth of Heaven's vales
Has found a home,
Their measure. hurt
the chorus and the dance
Lay by your arms, and may no
Attend your coming or your
Harshly Oranyan answered his old father
of peace, Great
Ogun, and the calm
Aramfe spoke and Oduduwa's dream Of wisdom linked to supreme power begat
that same night on Heaven's rim
Devised another destiny for men.
That deed, and bid the
still-born live ?
taught the peaceful peoples of the World
Their longing for red
Who slew young maids who would not wed to bear
theft of Orisha's bag.
More sons for ancient wars
pray, but Ogun,
father sowed his son shall reap
As the succeeding seasons in the course Where Oshun pours her stream. First, long
The sunny months
boy upon the mountains
As a whole season when the boisterous storms
the crag-strewn bed with racing waters,
And the warm Sun is hidden by the clouds, Doom brought me journeys, toils in darkness, wars And yet more wars. Again the barren months
the wagtail lights upon the rock
a lazy trickle moves
age Aramfe's promised peace
. . .
Gives back her stolen happiness to
And now, And
His charms forgotten
cannot turn to stone
Osanyi made the charms which enabled the Gods
THE PASSING OF
6 G U N
My worn old body down to rise instead A river of the land, as Oshnn did.
No, Earth must hold me, glad or desolate,
or outcast in the vague forest,
the locked pools bask.
ask to be
my tale of days accomplished,
Aramfe's bidding done
last arts taught,
God on Earth who knows
the Father bade us give
To men, Upon
make way, and go
But Oranyan said
Mistress of the
These years the kingly power has passed away
the old sleeping town Odiiwa built
To me, Oranyan, battling in far Where no voice spoke of Ife. Let
obscurity or wide
the black clouds of the storm
Were overhanging human destiny The breathless pause before the loud wind's
though they seemed to
length, Eteffon, the friend
of the old chiefs
Of Ogun, voiced the fond hopes
the city of the shrines which guard the Gods, and
Are ordered by the Presences which haunt
The sacred precincts
The noise of war and tumult
from those who dream beneath the
this first breast the infant nations stray
the utter marches of humanity.
Let them press onward, and
Oranyan lead them
the far corners of the World be
Let the unruly
before their sword
from the cool road of her destiny
and the ways
to go forth to the
the old chiefs echoed
Live with us yet,
Reign on your stable throne."
Empty our life has been while from far plains. Must ? All Ife slumber that the old may drowse No . great rumours came To mock our The laggard seasons . Vibrant with the romance. and each year Mdrimi's festival recalls alike hero's name and ffe's greatness. From the young louder men suppressed at then young men acclaim " Until their leader. and that. should he die by his own hand. gaining courage. trouble would be saved." And a loud cry went up " " From his followers Oranyan is our King And in that cry King Ogun heard the doom : ! A Of chieftain of our day sees clear in eggs (1) fateful parrots in his inmost chamber : The walls of his proud city (his old defence) rule of iron Can never more uphold a For victor treachery within. cried : Ordnyan. we will have Oranyan. lustre. the living Oranyan' s name bestows. and no other. To be our King.THE PASSING OF but the 6 G U N first. 02 . And " wearily He spoke his last sad words : My boyhood scarce hills Had ended on (1) Aramfe's happy A gift of oarrot's eggs to a Yoruba chief is an intimation that he has reigned long enough.
Ife Ogun. I have grown old with If& : I feel that Ogun did become still and years. arose . Of his old queen of cities but white and dense. bare Yet born to smile. ." Dawn came and Ogun stood upon a hill To Westward. Would be more kind. to Ah ! my I trees away.MYTHS OF IFE When And I came here with Oduduwa I . For queenly Sometimes Ife. . morning sea. Beyond. 53 Dl . and turned to take a last farewell . That vision paled : red-gold Above grey clouds the Sun of yesterday So passed Climbed up to shine on a new order. with the rejects lapse tigun goes Of Yet she me. Old Ogun from the land. O'er harbouring woods and unremembering ff6 A As mist was laid and blotted islands from a all. with him. . Lovingly watched this ancient city growing. and Ogun dreamed he saw Again those early days. When he and Great Oduwa watched the Bird lone grey hills Two Found those grand slopes. planted the grand forests for a robe f fe. an age gone by. hills with magic sand. and my trees go.
On the way from Heaven Odiiwa made Orisha drunk. called Ojumu. When themselves the land was firm. Orisha began making human beings was dark and cold. and Aramfe sent the sun. and also and sent it. It appears. with f fe as its centre. moon and fire. several other gods. Wherever the fowl kicked the sand. Ojiimu threw the sand on the water and the fowl kicked it about. to a dark and below to create the world and to people watery region his sons. On reaching the edge of Heaven. Oduwa hung a chain over the cliff and sent down a priest. however. Aramfe gave a bag full of arts and wisdom to Orisha. the gods but there is some story of wrong-doing mentioned at 6wu in the Jebu country. THE CREATION.NOTES I. Oduwa and Orisha let down the chain. and were followed by . . relationships of the various gods are differently of ffe. because Aramfe had not sent the sun with Oduwa. The stated by different chiefs and priests by the same men at different times. and the kingship to Oduwa. So Oduwa sent up. and stole the bag. (Fire was sent but all 54 . dry land appeared. with a snail-shell full of " " magic sand and a five-fingered fowl. that Aramfe ruled in Heaven. According to the legends told in were not sent away as a punishment ife. Odiiwa and Orisha. Thus the whole world was made.
The spirits of the gods are in their shrines. Ogun. ODtiM 'LA. the bag with him. " In the words of an old chief It is our ancient law : that the spirit of Odum'la passes from body to body." I and Odum'la speaks think the Ornf claims to be Odum'la himself. Oduwa. they ordered Odiim'la to speak for them. became king. the god of iron. and that is why the vulture has no feathers on its head. when the gods transformed. taking After many years Orisha to get back his bag. Aramfe was angry with his sons for fighting and threw his thunderbolts impartially for he was the god of thunder in those days. The war is said to have lasted 201 years. and came to an end only because the gods on Odiiwa's side asked him to give back the bag. then II. is This a matter of dogma. for them. The medicine-men provided amulets for the men on both sides. in a huff. transformed to stone and sank beneath the earth. and will remain for ever on the earth. to be a father to the whole world and to remain on Earth for ever. THE FIRST ORNf OF According to tradition. His son.) Then the gods began to teach their arts and crafts to men. but some looked on.MYTHS OF fFE on a vulture's head. . and 55 I express no opinion. made war upon Oduwa The various gods took sides.
which is with Oduwa. and to have been in the habit of looking at it. have thrown images into wombs. of doors to warn the god of my arrival. add Oduwa told II & Araba told me : another version of the end of the War Gods Orisha and Oduwa agreed to stop the fighting on condition that each should have a man Fourteen months was for sacrifice every seven months. is He said to only account for this story by the suggestion that it may date from a period when men had not discovered the connection between sexual intercourse and the birth of children. to III. I I can was once told he put signs into women's hands. there was a great knocking I did not see the stone. 56 . When I went to Odiiwa's shrine. of Orisha's creation of The legend Man is mysterious. ORISHA AND THE CREATION OF MAN. IV." a Moslem. They : " take it in front when they go to sacrifice to Oduwa otherwise the god would injure the man who offers the Odiiwa is said to have taken the stone from sacrifice. ODtfWA. of the then regarded as a year. Another story Araba told me was The Moon is a round crystal stone. to the story of There in Parts is little I.NOTES III.
and taught his son. and was a weaver and a worker in brass. sheep. knowledge (apart from the contents of the bag which was stolen from him). 57 . Our ancestor has need of eggs." His image represents him as a king. " he took care of everybody as Apart from that. Morimi The is the great heroine of the ffe legends. husband of Morimi. kola and snails. and used to go round the town He was a man how the people to drive out sickness and evil spirits. the Heaven by Aramfe. He also showed sent from to tap the palms for palm-wine." The offered Orisha consists of eight goats. OBALUFON.MYTHS OF IFE As said " A to spirit life before birth. VI. a mother of a child. Little is told of Obalufon. eight rats Orisha was a god of great and eight kola-nuts. but when all he is born he forgets sacrifice about to it. Oluorogbo who. story of her sacrifice which I have adopted is Araba's version. MORIMI. the priest of Aramfe child may have been with the spirits. V. is the ancestor of the white races. attributes ascendancy of Europeans to The Orni the up-bringing of Oluordgbo. according to tradition. eight fishes. fowls.
Ye"su. It would appear that some early had recognised the Virgin Mary Christian missionary it may of VII. . Oranyan tJbo soldiers on their next inroad. as he was after- and six bags of cowries to wards displaced by his son. and she returned with the necessary information only to find the gods had transformed to rivers. terrified the people of ife and took the men as slaves. in his version. sacrifice are believed to prefer slaves to free Then Mdrimi consulted six goats f fa. etc. story of the Ife to found a new town which they called but as the T)bo gods had given them nothing. (And hi those parts of Africa dead kings and gods in went from . for the whole world and not to any god. that some colonists The . Mdrimi sacrificed her only son. they invaded ffe. stones. (It seems that Ogun did not transform. Oranyan). and was told to sacrifice shu. in Mdrimi but be doubted whether the missionary had heard Mdrimi's visit to tfbo (See Note VII). Acting on Mdrimi's advice. On the first occasion they were driven back but the next year they came dressed in grass. who showed me merit her image of painted wood and no artistic repre- senting a naked negress. and go as a harlot to T^bo. need of men).NOTES I went also to Mdrimi's priest. 68 set fire to the . His story was much the same as Araba's . tiBO AND THE EDI Ubo Wars is FESTIVAL. Her mission was successful. but.
On the other hand. which began on the 21st November Men dressed in hay parade the town. women . combined with the seclusion of the Orni and the license of the women. this period the women do honour to Mdrimi's share in the victory by emulating her deed. Mdrimi. tJbo (or tgbo) means the Bush. demons be a later fable to account for the license of the before farming operations begin. but for their lives is have to with fire. of On remain the day in the Ann the Orni appears. the hay. but it seems likely is that the Festival connected with agriculture. Possibly it was so originally . During The meaning may have been of the legend is doubtful. and the in the to be driven out appeared so material form of tropical vegetation that tJbo (the Bush to be burned) has obscured the former meaning of the If this be so. and their husbands are not allowed to interfere. the same arguments. would favour the view that Fldi was the more general Festival of the Saturnalia. (early in the dry season). but must (Palace) for the remaining seven. Mdrimi's mission to l)bo may Festival. di. and M6rimi may have advised the customary burning of the Bush to prepare the land for crops. mn when others pursue them Fire first also taken out to the Bush. all fire The date of the Festival and the men dressed in suggest this interpretation.MYTHS OF fFE The end festival of of tfbo is commemorated by di (the in 1913). There such a town as tJbo.
fish and pigeons. " " all of the Oshun Festival. He has a well in his compound. sheep and pigeons. Oshun gets the blood of goats. rats. eat the fish although they are the children of Oshun consequently our brothers. 60 We and Oshun is more strait- . and bring them to for the feast. kola. the head of a rat but not of a fish.NOTES VIII. and perhaps the Obalufe is right. which is said to be the actual water into which Oshun transformed herself." said Odiiwa. except from other causes. the Obalufe. yams. and Orisha agreed Accordingly she took her place on Oduwa's left. The second chief in ffe. and this gallon became the source of the River. He says his first forefather took a calabash of the water with him when he went to war. agidi. Orisha that is to say Oshiin was considered being on his right . her tribe collect sheep. the third personage in fie. OSHUN. The well is never dry and it is needless to add that the water has many curative properties. One would be surprised if a descendant of Oshun died. The source is forty miles from Ife. " in high favour It were well were Oshun with us." laced than her descendants. called Oshun. claims descent from Oshun for himself and half the people of his quarter of the town. goats. palm- At the tune me wine." says Obalufe. . (or goddess) Oshun was a woman with both Odiiwa and Orisha.
which has considerable merit.MYTHS OF IFE IX. fore some doubt as to whether Ogun was the father of Ordnyan who was born with a leg.. and God of Iron and of War. the remainder being white (according to the Oshdgun). OLOKUN. Oldkun is considered to be the Goddess of Wealth as and a King of Benin. Oldkun gives beads. He may have been a Phallic Deity. called the staves of Ogun. X. OGUN AND ORANYAN is as the Ogun was the son of Oduwa. is said to have found the treasures of Oldkun laid out on the shore and to have looted her coral. . and came out in the sea. which appear 61 . There is a pond in ffe called Okun (the Ocean). Thence she flowed underground. When Ogun returned to There is thereffe. his Ogun may have had other attributes. where Oldkun transformed to water. He told me that. an arm and half body black. Oduwa took Deshdju from his son. usually regarded According to his chief-priest (the Oshdgun). Her priest showed me a bronze head of Oldkun.D. he went away to war and captured a woman called Deshdju. in return for sacrifice. because there are hewn stones in ffe. In Benin. whom he made his wife. who must well as of the Sea have been alive about 1400 A.
It is also Ogun . the half-and-half colouring of Ordnyan is suggestive. and Araba. I have presumed the death of Osdnyi. Ordnyan prefers a ram. said to kill any find in her mother's house. is credit. Oshdgun says . the Oldjjor confusion being due to the circumstance that the two festivals take place at the same time. a rat. Further. to The dog is the principal animal used for sacrifice Ogun. pound note in the shape when a child is circumcised " to put in a calabash of Ogun him the that with a snail in order worship (together the severed skin wound may heal). girl he may happened once to Araba the prospective son-inlaw could not produce 5. much Eventually.NOTES to be of Phallic origin. lost a potential is five of his daughter). who planted his staves in Ife and went away." 62 ." also Ogun may of have been the Sun-God (or a wor- the Sun-God). Ordnyan displaced his father. kola and palm-wine. at the time of his Festival. commonly Ogun was Araba says Oldjjor was someone else. who gives no marriageable (This noteworthy that. In this connection. His festival is shipper called Oldj j or (Lord of Day). Ordnyan : to die. " went away he had too much medicine turn. as I cannot otherwise " " instead of went away explain the fact that Ogun In his transforming as the other gods had done.
a god who causes men do what they know to be wrong. dgubor Idbi dhan-ndmajd leopard. of the mutton in addition to the live goat. puts pepper (atare) : into his mouth. and came to earth with beasts. for the priest. forest bore the sloth. . which The priest takes the balance are also put in the pots. It is to evident from the incantation below that Peregun 'Gbo was originally approached by people in need of children. and a hen . f F E 'GBO. kola. and recites the incantation Igbo Idbi iror The 2. The priest then faces the pots. The monkey bore the 63 . The man is then told to produce nine pennyworth of kowries. The priest tells the man to bring a sheep. also a live goat palm-oil. THE CULT OF PEREGUN Peregun 'Gbo (or Peregun Igbo) seems to have been a god who caused the forest to bring forth birds and He was a son of God. but nowadays the same formula is recited by the priest whatever a man may be asking for. 1. a pigeon. cock and hen. pigeon. 3. a cock. The three birds and a part of the sheep are placed in separate broken pots with palm-oil. Ebbor (worship) and fidi. tror Idbi dgubor The sloth bore the monkey.MYTHS OF XI. The priest kills the sheep.
6. who guards Heaven's 6ju-gbona Idbi dfi ikere-tikere ehin eku.) 64 .NOTES 4. 8. The evil spirit bore the generative organs of men and women. relu-agdma. kusd Idbi dju-gbona spirit The hawk bore the evil gate. The guinea-fowl bore the hawk. Imale is Peregun 'Gbo's messenger and is sent to do what the man asks. (Atorladdrla Igbadd is a good spirit who keeps on postponing an evil deed contemplated by of death someone. Atorladorla Igbada approached Ifa on behalf Orunmila when they had fixed his for the morrow. Peregun 'Gbo ni abobd Imdle. Atorladdrla Igbadd lordifa fun Orunmila nigbati nwon ft ojor iku re ddla. se luck is human. Untranslated. Idbi ekusd 5. 7. 9. Ahan-ndmajd Idbi erelu-agdma The leopard bore the guinea-fowl. 11. Oriydmi la-popo Good 10. ami Idpe The father okute aba of a lucky child is lucky.
" and pregnancy will begin. Orunmila says that he (the child) Heaven (i. These eight are arranged in fours. When man The the priest has finished the recitation. the who now asked to send Imale to Orunmila with the applicant's (The incantation is apparently in some form request. Orunmila says menstruation will cease. ordered Atorladdrla Igbada to go to ffa. first ten sentences are in praise of Peregun 'Gbo. I F E Orunmila ni kdtikun tikun kdtikere tikert. Okpelle consists of eight pieces of bark on a string.MYTHS OF 12. Each the outside of the pieces of bark may _fall either with or the inside showing. and Yoruba on all subjects. tions are probably very loose). consulted -3$ ") His priests (called Babalawo) profit considerably by divination. which they perform with sand on a circular board. and is much of it to the interpreter. of archaic Yoruba. 13.e. will be born will not go to alive). Orunmila ni on ko yunle orun. and the Babalawo had to explain takes the pots to the shrine of fishu (the Devil). Consequently 65 . Some of the transla- XII. or with a charm called Okpelle. THE DIVINATION OF IFA (A FRAGMENT) is If a by the was the Messenger of the Gods.
8. 5. 9. di. 10. Etiirah. Okdnran. When Okpelle is thrown on the ground and the two fours are identical the resultant is called : Ogbe Meji (i. Ow6rin. kka. Obara. gutan. Offun or Ordngun. face down up 2. Oshe. 4. Oyeku Meji I Two Ogbes) Egutan Meji Ossa Meji Ere"tte Meji won Meji di Meji Obara Meji Okdnran Meji Roshun Meji Aworin Meji Eturah Meji Ologbon Meji Ekka Meji Oshe Meji. 6. These are called the Sixteen Messengers of 66 . all face inside showing. 15' 16. 12. outside showing. Ere"tte. 11. 7. 3. 14. 13.e. or Offun Meji f fa. Ossa. Rdshun. names are : 6gb6 Oye'ku Iwdri.NOTES each set of four may fall in sixteen different ways having different The 1. Oldgbon. sixteen all names and meanings.
The latter He says lays takes Okpelle and places it on the cowries. it Now tell me. He then tells him sacrifice to achieve his ends. has stolen a goat. dog. From this it will be seen that Okpelte can show 256 combinations. ffa. left f F E of the four on the Babalawo's agreeing with that on his right is only one in sixteen. 67 . Ogbe Wori. know what this man said to the : cowries." floor.MYTHS OF The chance. Yeku is a child of Ogbe Oyeku Logbe . and some cowries and palm-oil. the client is poor and needs money and the Babalawo tells his client to a a fowl. Ogbe a child of Oyeku. &c. as the case as a may be. Eshu cases the sacrifice (or a large part of it) is offered (the devil) for fear that he might undo the good : For instance. bring The man splits the dog and the fowl puts palm-oil and work. Then he out on the From lifts Okpelle and the messenger or child which appears the Babalawo is supposed to deduce that his client wants a son. or has what he must bring In to all a toothache. The other fifteen combinations which may appear with Ogbe on the right are called Ogbe Yeku. Ogbe Di. Procedure. Okpelle. These combinations are called the children of is the Messenger who appears on the right. He then " You. . however. Thus. similarly with the other Messengers of : ffa.. di Meji appears. A man comes to a Babalawo to consult places a gift of cowries (to which he has whispered his needs) before the Babalawo.
a man has no children and Oyeku Meji appears. 2 hens. is A sacrifice of 2 cocks. As above. and 300 cowries to cure eye disease. If life. fidi Meji. One large gown. 2 cocks. he must bring a ram and a goat. Meji. and 250 cowries needed to purify after menstruation. cocks and 800 cowries to bring about the death of one's enemy. figutan Meji. and 600 cowries Eturah Meji. Obara Meji. Iwdri Meji demands eggs. a pigeon. and cowries from a sick man.NOTES cowries inside them. she-goat and 2 hens to cure a Aworin Meji. 68 . Okanran Meji. a sheep. 2 pigeons.200 cowries Ossa Meji. The appearance of Ogbe Meji promises long but a goat must be brought. to get children. Erette Meji. Rdshun headache. Butcher's meat and 4 pigeons to drive away witchcraft. A A 4 goat and 500 cowries bring on menstruation. and takes them to The shu. (large) and 1. to cure a A ram bad bellyache. Babalawo presumably takes the bulk of the cowries for himself.
he must bring thread and 6 pigeons and buy soap.600 cowries. 4 hens. 2 shillings. Otherwise he will (b) sick. and 800 cowries for children. die. 16 rats. Sacrifice 4 snails and 4 pigeons you suspect someone wishes to poison you. The man then washes. with 260 cowries. 6d. ffa 69 . (c) If a man 7 cocks and 35s. Osse Me"ji. and the man must use it for a bath. takes the 35s. (a) If a man is and a sheep. (a) If a man has no money. If a man needs money. for himself. and 700 cowries for earache. and soap. The thread is put inside the soap. he must He will then be better. 16 fishes. and Wori from the He takes the sand of Ogbe board and puts some on each cock's Five of the cocks are then breast. a man is very ill.MYTHS OF 1FE Oldgbon Mji. offer 3 he-goats and Ogbe Won. he must offer 8s. he must bring The Babaldwo kills the cocks. If children keep on dying. The Babaldwo mixes leaves (ewe-ire) with the soap as a charm. and 1. if Ekka Me*ji. Offun Mdji. Ogbe Yeku. 8 snails. oil. sacrifice 16 snails. has committed a crime. (b) If 5s. 8 pigeons. The Babaldwo gets ewe aji and puts them on the soap with the pigeon's blood. he must bring 4 pigeons. and the following children will live.
priest puts The recites : pepper (atdre) into his mouth and Akelejd! AWejd ! breathing quick and uneasy.. fishu gets the hens and the goat's blood the Babaldwo. . Spirits. witness will not appear in court or the accused will be found not guilty.NOTES given to fishu and the other 2 are taken to a place Then either a necessary where three roads meet. I Amtiror/dshorgtrrt Spirits now called Anjanu. the goat. The woman then becomes the client's wife. who cause severe headaches. the Babalawo asks for 4 hens and a he-goat. XIII. One who Ojoboldro I causes bad bellyache. Aktitobdrun Spirits which trouble sick persons. A CURE FOR SUDDEN AND SERIOUS ILLNESSES. who cause delirium. A spirit who grips a man by the throat and makes Akilewdssa ! A spirit ! who causes eye-disease. and Ogbe Won appears (when one of them consults ffa). . (d) If two men want the same woman.
. afieyinda." and causes backache. will listen prayed in their mother's name. which is described as the " water of Heaven ". Ele"re. already named. leave my back " ! When this has been spoken. he is is man dies. the spirits leave the sick man. Ol6mo-dro. Bi bura Nla ba de Hi 6mi. who does no art the harm but is mother of evils. when Ardnposht freke! The husband of 01(5mo-aro If and the father of the not invoked the sick evil spirits.MYTHS OF ' I F E Abiytte-ashdrmunydnyan " One who has a very sharp edge to his doth. niyeye tshuku " Oldmo-dro." fibura Nla is the master of all the evils. the sick the other man dies. Asd-nUtt-tnofdrapd I Imps seen at night in white cloths. he comes to the further bank of the river Are*nkenken. Now called They ! afflict children. tshuku den linyimi! " Evil. He also called upon to stop his sons' mischief. If called by spirits. " If the Great Evil comes to the river's bank. If he crosses to the near side." She invoked because her children. he will turn back.
Ajija. of the After finishing the incantation. He lives on Oke Aramfe (6ke Ora). the fire When he wishes to make trouble. He pronounced certain He could also kill' with his walking-stick.." According to another story. and to earth with another doctor. The patient recovers. the preist takes some pepper from his tongue and puts in on the is patient's head. (put your : " When a man meets spit the pepper at Ajija. He is worshipped near Aramfe's shrine. interpreter did not understand had to explain). and take nourishment at once. " The man tail in should then b<5mi water). The and the Babaliwo " XIV. " Sometimes Ajija turns into a big lizard. who throws men down and breaks their ankles. Ajija is a devil with one leg. (The able to Yoruba of this is probably it. Fagada Ajija). came They made various asked to do so. he should protect himself " in his mouth and saying Ahanby putting pepper " " of ki Shaomi fru re (names rlyen. medicines one to kill a man when words. and the man died. NOTES. 72 . Ajija was a doctor who lived with Aramfe. and can only be approached through Aramfe (the father of the gods). . AjfjA (THE DUST-DEVIL). he comes through He sometimes sets fire to a house by picking up and putting it on the thatch. " the town. because he is a bad man. archaic.
. ( .^.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.