Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ase and Initiation

In this post we’ll explore the use of animal sacrifice. We’ll look at some options that align better with modern lifestyles.

In cultures where animals were raised for food,  blood offerings were often used. Sometimes to give thanks to a deity. Sometimes to ask for help. Remnants of these practices can still be seen in many traditions.

The blood itself is not important. It is the life-force of the animal that is being offered. In Ifa, life-force is called Ase (pronounced ah-shay). Ase is a powerful energy that is used in many rituals around the world.

In traditional Yoruba, and Cuban,  practice the life-force of animals is used to generate energy. In their cultural context this is completely appropriate. The killing, and butchering, of animals is part of daily life for them.

I am not making judgments about people who still choose to use animals in this way. A priest of good character treats animals far better than a slaughterhouse would.

Most of the people reading this live in a modern, western, cultural context. Many have never witnessed an animal being killed. It is as if our meat was never alive. We are separate from the the process of slaughtering, and butchering.

The Ase of the animal  is  directed by the priests to a specific purpose during a ceremony. It is the Ase that is important. It can come from many sources.

In cultures that never raised animals, medicinal herbs, and potions, are used instead. Even breath can be used to generate sufficient Ase to accomplish the work at hand.

I have received initiations with, and without, blood. I received the highest initiation for a male Ifa priest in a bloodless ceremony. It is to date the most powerful experience that I have ever had. I do all of my work bloodless. I do not believe that the Ase of an animal is necessary.

What is your position on blood offerings? I’d love to hear.


  1. E pe le o. With all due respect, how can one live in accordance to the Yoruba lifestyle and avoid blood sacrifice? Ifa is the Oracle, the mouth piece of Oludumare. Based on the Odù that comes and the situation of the client, specific ebo must be done. How does one get around that? If one chooses to live according to the traditions of a particular lifestyle does he have the right to pick and choose what we will and will not do?

    Ifa knows everything. Ifa is past present and future. Who are we to question the prescriptions of Ifa? Looking forward to your feedback. E se.

    1. Alafia Ọmọ Ọ̀kọ́ 'Fá. Thank you for your comment. No one today is living a "Yoruba lifestyle". The use of electricity, telephones, the internet, make that impossible.

      It is important to honour the culture that gave birth to this beautiful system. But, the Yoruba culture and traditions are not the philosophy itself.

      Oludumare created the entire Universe. The Odu and Orisa are eternal, and infinitely, adaptable. Ifa is available to all people regardless of culture. Offerings are determined through consultation with Ifa not by set prescription. They are effective only when they are appropriate for both client, and Orisa, and done with good character.