First of all it should be noted that Ifá consultations are not ‘fortune-telling’. Although the consultations will often delve into a person’s past, present and future, and many questions regarding the client’s life will be answered, there is a very different purpose involved. When a person comes to be seen with Ifá, they are learning how they can bring their lives into harmony with the will of Olodumare, the Orishas and the Universe. It is Ifá and the Orishas who speak and advise as to what is the best path for the visitor to follow in order to better their lives. This can only be accomplished by properly trained Babalawos and gives the whole event a very different ‘flavor’.
First, the Priest will be saying a number of prayers to Olodumare, to the Eggun and to the Orishas asking their permission to do the work and asking them to speak about the situations affecting the life of the person coming to be seen.
Then the Opele will be cast in order to get the essential Odu or ‘sign’ that accompanies that person. This Odu speaks of the person’s life, the road they are on, how they came to be on that road, and where the path leads. But first we will need to find out the particular path of this sign to further pinpoint the client’s situation.
Several questions are asked starting with whether the Odu comes with blessings (Iré) or with some negativity (Osogbo). This is done so that the person’s personal ashé or spiritual energy is brought into the equation. In this way we ascertain what kind of blessing or negativity is accompanying the person and where it comes from, etc. At this point we begin to tell the client what advice Ifá has for them. Finally, we find out the ceremonies or work that is needed in order to ensure the Ire or blessings or to defend the client from any negativity or Osogbo that might be putting the client out of harmony.
How long an Ifá consultation takes depends on many things. As Priests of Ifá, we are the servants of Olodumare and Orunmila and the course of the consultation is in their hands. This means we cannot close the consultation until Orunmila is satisfied that all that needs to be said and all that needs to be done has been brought out to this person. This can take twenty minutes or two hours, as it is up to the Orunmila and not up to us.
People often ask which is better, a reading in Ifá by a babalawo or Meridilogun by a santero or santera. Again that depends. Both are accurate and both will advise the client well on how to bring their life into harmony. Ifá is usually more in depth, having 256 Odus or signs that can arrive and therefore a greater range of advice can be given. The Orishas speak in both. Which best fits your needs is really up to you.