Orunmila: The Great Fortune Teller of Ifa


Orunmila or Orula, is the Orisha or Yoruba God that represents intelligence and wisdomHe is also seen as the great prophet and soothsayer since he is the one who possesses the secret of the interpretation of the Oracle and Ifa signs.

It is said that this deity was the only witness of creation, since Olodumare (God) He gave him the authorization to observe the entire process of the creation of the world and life on the earthly plant. He is the Orisha who knows all the laws that govern the Universe, he is the only one capable of postponing the death of some person.

Who is Orunmila?

Orunmila also called Eleri Ipin (witness of all creation), is the one who possesses all the divinatory secrets of Ifa, he is the one who through divination and sacrifice was able to defeat death and helps his devotees to get rid of adverse situations of destiny through ebo and specific recommendations prescribed in the Odu (Signs) of Ifa.

Orula is the one who owns the (Opon) Ifa board, this was given to him by the Orisha Shango, like the mysteries of divination. In the Afro-Cuban tradition it is said that this Orisha also has the gift of healing since in several texts they show Orunmila using the use of herbs to heal the sick. He is the owner of the cardinal points, North, South, East and West, which are represented on the divination tray and are invoked at the time of use.

The exact meaning of his name is not known, although there is a theory that believes that it is a contraction of the words Orun (Heaven), Ami o mi (Sign, omen, prophecy) and the (Appears as the sun); that is to say that in theory Orunmila means: The prophet of Heaven who appears as the Sun.

In some Yoruba tribes it is called ibikeji Olodumare: the next in hierarchy after Olodumare.

Other names for Orula:

  • Okunrin Kúkúrú Oke igeti: the man from the Igeti hill.
  • Alaquentu: the skilled physician who founded and became king of the city Ipetu.
  • Adi-fa-fun: The one who sits on the mat to guess the past, the present and the future.
  • A-da-fun a-lu-mo: The one who sits on the mat, moves the palm nuts and knows the future.
  • gboye gborun: The one who lives between Heaven and Earth.
  • Akeré-finú-sagbón: the man with a mind full of wisdom.
  • Amai matan: the incomprehensible.
  • Agiri-ile ilagbon: the wise man who speaks from the house of wisdom and knowledge.
Who is Orunmila

El Birth of Orunmila

The Orishas of the Yoruba Pantheon used the energy of an Odu of Ifa to reach the earth (Odu isalaye), in the case of Orunmila is said to have come through the sign Baba Ejiogbe, it is said that it came to earth at the time of creation.

Olodumare (God) after creating the earth needs to send the deities to it, so that men knew about the existence of divine beings. The first envoys were three deities named Agbon (Wisdom), Imo (Knowledge) and Oye (Understanding).

Upon reaching earth these deities were rejected by the inhabitants of the earthly plane for which they decided to return to heaven.

After some time of reflection Olodumare decides to try again to send the messengers, they were thrown towards the earth.

As they fell they were saying OOOOOOOh, Ro, Emi and Ela.

In the Yoruba tradition it is said that this act is nothing more than the unification of the three deities resulting in the birth of the Orisha of Wisdom and Divination, because if we contract the words there would be a conjugation of O-RO-EMI-ELA, and in terms of pronunciation it would be Orunmila therefore the meaning would be:  Wisdom, knowledge and understanding is the essence of the universe or of existence.

Signs that represent Orula:

Ogunda Yekun: it is the representation of Orunmila on earth, just by putting him on the floor in an athena represents this Orisha in person.

Oyekun Ogunda: The spirituality of Ifá was born. It is the spirit of Orunmila personified.

Orunmila history

Orunmila history

From the time Orunmila was born, he proved to be very intelligent, and he also had some unusual abilities for children his age. At the age of five, he began to use his powers by telling his parents who would visit them during the day and for what reason.

During his growth he learned the practice of spells as well as medicine and little by little he was attracting the attention of everyone in the town.

At first I used sixteen little seeds for divination. The method he used was very effective leaving his clients astonished as it determined what was the problem that distressed them. In this way he achieved fame within the town which generated disturbance in the rulers of that place, for which they decided to expel Orula from the Town.

Orunmila crossed the Niger river and went to Benin, from Benin he crossed to Owo and Ado and finally settled in Ile Ife. There he found the optimal place to make it his home. He put into practice his Office as a fortune teller and achieved unprecedented fame, even King Oduduwa came to his house seeking advice.

Orunmila's influence on Ile Ife is said to have been such that he persuaded them to abandon the Yoruba practices of wearing facial markings.

Everyone in the town wanted Orunmila to initiate them into the art of Ifa, but he only chose 16, these are the ones we know as the Apostles of Orunmila or Odu of Ifa.

The Ikines

Of Orunmila's instruments the most important is the ikin, its use is essential for the Ifá priest. Usually the seeds or Adele are used for divination in a process called atefar. Palm seeds were the only object or means of communication that Orúnmila left behind.

It is also through the Ikines that this Orisha receives the attentions, sacrifices and offerings that his believers make to him.

Iwori Meji reveals that Orunmila left Ikin as his representative to the Babalawos.

At the beginning of the civilization Orumila had 8 children and they lived in a land called Aido Inle, there he taught them the art of divination. After instructing them, he decides that it was time to return to heaven.

Time passed and Orunmila came down to earth and invited all her children to perform a very important ceremony for a deity named Awede Shato. Everyone was arriving and kneeling in front of Orunmila as a symbol of respect and saying, Iboru, Iboya, until it was the turn of the youngest son named Ologo, he did not want to kneel and said: «You crowned me King being my Father, and I cannot degrade myself by bowing down in front of anyone ». Orula, faced with this situation, became very sad and immediately returned to heaven.

From that moment, chaos began on the earth, there was no stability of any kind, women were infertile, crops did not occur, droughts and pests shook the earth. All the inhabitants of the world began to beg Orunmila to return and thus everything would return to normal, his eight children decided to go to heaven to try to convince him.

Upon reaching heaven the apostles saw Orunmila, he was standing in front of a very large palm tree, in his hands he had 16 seeds and 16 pieces of ivory. All his sons came to greet him and knelt before him and asked him to please return with them to earth. Orunmila replied that he was not going to return, but asked to receive the 16 seeds that he possessed and said: I will not go down any more, but you must use these seeds, called Ikines to guess, because they will be my representation on Earth.

Opele or Ekuele: Chain of Divination

Ifa board

El opele It is the second most important attribute or tool of the Orisha of Wisdom and divination. This divination instrument is composed of eight Okpele shells, it can also be made with coconut shells. (Demanding the odu of ifa the ekuele can be made of different materials). These shells are joined by chains by pieces of chains, so that four are left on each side.

The chain of Divination is thrown by a Babalawo on the Ifa Board or on some mat in the process of consultation with Ifa.

Ifa board:

The Ifa board is a wooden tray mostly circular in shape, sometimes and depending on its use it can be semicircular or rectangular. Most are carved, in some versions with decorative shapes, on the Traditional side it has an Eshu on the back.

In the Afro-Cuban version, it has a sun, a moon, a cross and a skull carved in the cardinal points.


Cola de Vaca in the Nigerian tradition or Cola de Caballo in the Afro-Cuban side. With this tail the Ifá priest (babalawo) helps himself to scare away death, its use consists in moving it from one side to the other.

Let us crash gégé against gégé

It was the name of the resident Awo of Alákòókó

The snail is not very enthusiastic about heating itself with fire

A hawk cannot pick up an owl for transport

Three Olúwo, six cow's tails

The war that was made with spears

That it was impossible to do

What Èdú did, Òrúnmìlà used it to destroy the conspiracy

The war that was executed with a spear

That it was impossible to execute

What Èdú did, Òrúnmìlà used it to destroy the conspiracy

Cow's tail was what Èdú used to break the conspiracy

Break the conspiracy of death

Break the conspiracy of affliction

Break the conspiracy of litigation

Break the conspiracy of loss


The Irofa is also called a rod of authority, its function is to certify an action that is being performed both in divination and in the performance of some ebbo. The use of this tool consists of gently tapping the board while reciting Ifa chants or prayers, in this way the spirituality of Orunmila is invoked.

They can be chunks of deer (Agbani), or carved wooden forms, there are also variants in some Odu of Ifa that recommend that the Irofa be carved in ivory, bronze or different materials.

Iyefa, Ashe of Orula:

Divine powder used on the Ifá board at the time of divination to draw the symbols that identify the Odu. Normally Iyerosun is used, which is a powder obtained from the osun tree, which is mixed with different materials recommended in the signs of Ifa.

Orunmila colors:

Orunmila's colors in the Afro-Cuban tradition are Green and Yellow, although in Nigeria it is common for terracotta and light green to be used.

The green represents the daughters of the trees when they are fresh full of life and the yellow represents when the daughters are already dry. This is a metaphor for life and death since it is said that Orunmila is the one who has the secret of defeating death.


Orunmila is syncretized with St. Francis of Assisi Therefore, it is customary to celebrate it on the same day, which is October 04 of each year.

Offerings and Adimuses to Orula

To Orúnmila, black goats, black chickens (Depending on the Odu for which the sacrifice was prescribed, they can be yellow or white) and pigeons are generally sacrificed.

Depending on the circumstance and under a strict study and analysis of the Odu of Ifa, you can offer: goats, cows, ram among others.

Adimu to Orunmila:

Orunmila can be placed 16 balls of mashed yams, these are placed in front of the Orisha's foundation on top of a Taro Leaf (Ewe Ikoko).

He also likes shrimp, white snapper, yams, and various fruits.

Its herbs (Ewe) are:

Aguinaldo morado, petite basil, arabo, altea, arará, fideo liana, colony, copey, coconut bark, gallant at night, paradise, Ceiba, yam among others.

Orunmila and Ifa

This verse of the Sign of Ifa Ogbe Weña tells us:

Èyìn làá wò soro

Adifafun Òrúnmìlà

Níjó omo aráyé yíò ma ko Baba lá kò bu

Èyìn làá wò soro

Adifafun Òrúnmìlà

Níjó omo aráyé yíò ma ko Baba lá kò yìn

ko yin

Wón ní kí ru'bo

Ó r'bo.


We must think well (before acting)

I perform divination for Òrúnmìlà

When people knew him they abused him.

He made divination for Orula

When people meet him and pray to his face

He was asked to make sacrifice

Orula made the ebo.

This verse reveals to us that at first people abused Orunmila, discredited and humiliated him when they saw him go by. As soon as Orula arrived at his house, he went to Ifá to make divination, the question he should ask.

Ifá always told him not to pay attention to those insults, but to face wherever he went and that no matter what he was doing with the promise that those who were abusing him would now come to beg him. Orunmila always told his Ifá, every time he was abused by people, he sang:

Ifá, bi won bá mbú mi

Ìwo ni

Enìkan ò bu my béè rí


Ifá, you are the one who allows people to abuse me and ridicule me

No one abused

I don't even ridicule myself before like this

When things got better, those who abused and ridiculed Orúnmìlà now pray, honor and respect him. When Orúnmìlà returned home, he addressed his Ifá in the form of a prayer saying:

Ifá, bi wón bá yìn me or

Ìwo ni

Enìkan ò yìn mi béè rí


Ifá, now people are praying to me

And it is for you,

No one had ever prayed to me like this before.

Orula phrases

Orula phrases

Orúnmila says that the birth of a person
marks the beginning of your prosperity,
will grow up to marry, have children
and be endowed with material wealth;
will finally die,
the day he was destined to die.
This is the philosophy of life.

Learn more about Ifa and Orunmila:

1 comment on “Orunmila the Great Ifa Soothsayer”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Scroll to start