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The Ijoye Ceremony in Ifá Why is the Alawó beaten?


At the end of the seven days in Ifá, the initiates perform a very significant and sacred ceremony called Ijoye (Ijo Oyé), usually known as Yorye and means the day of the coronation of the Alawó.

This day, which is an integral part of the Ifá rituals, many know it because the initiate is beaten, it is a tradition supported by the writings of Traditional Afro-Cuban Ifá.

It is a very important ceremony and shows that a true son of orunmila does not neglect Ifá and they consecrate themselves to be men of good heart, willing to sacrifice themselves in the study, always prepared to abide by the oath of Ifá.

What is the reason for spanking Alawó at the Ijoye ceremony?

In the Ijoye ceremony, the alawó leaves the room where Orunmila is, thus leaving Orula abandoned and goes to the field with some seeds, machete in hand and hoe.

Then he must make seven furrows, come back again and sow, thus seven more times and each time he returns the Awos beat him with sticks made from the stick scraper * until he enters the room and embraces Orunmila as a symbolism of his commitment and oath.

The meaning of this ceremony is that when the Alawó goes to work the land, he neglects Orula and the Awos require him to work Ifá because that is what he swore and by not complying, Orunmila punishes him.

The Ijoye centers its meaning in that the Awó Orunmila should only work Ifá, otherwise he can be punished, which is symbolically represented through blows or whipping.   

  • The scientific name for the belly scraper stick is Swordfish amoena, or as it is religiously known: Ewé Omá or Eká Ore; and it is a plant that is attributed to the power of Eleggua.

Are they brutally flogged?

The Alawó should be beaten in a moderate way, as it is symbolic.

A good awo of Orunmila does not allow acts that are truly inhuman to happen in front of him, therefore, the brutalities that some usually apply are unnecessary.

What Yoruba patakies and legends support this religious tradition?

This story tells that Orunmila spent time at the house of Oduduwa and he had a son named Akala. 

Every night when Orunmila was already asleep, Akala to annoy him would run over him by trampling him.

But one day Oduduwá asks Orunmila to do Ifá to Akala and after Orula is consecrated, he asks Akala to lie face down and also in front of everyone he passes over him, hitting him.

Another Yoruba story about whipping:

This legend tells that Orunmila had the name Aideju Awo and before coming down to earth the Odun of Iwori Irete is consulted and comes out, which said that he should not avoid suffering and then Orunmila does ebbó following the sacred word of Ifá.

He goes down to earth and stays at the house of Oduduwá, who had a son named Akala and every time Orunmila slept, this would bother him to wake him up and run over him.

One day Akala falls very ill, Orunmila consults him and comes out that he must consecrate himself in Ifá.

Orunmila does Ifá to the son of Oduduwá in the mountains and the day comes when he tells him to lie face down and he thought:

This is the day that I will take revenge on Akala for everything she made me suffer every night.

And so, he begins to spank Akala.

In the end, the stories give us a single lesson:

The Awos owe loyalty to Orunmila and their mission is to save humanity through the word of Ifá.

Iboru Iboya Ibosheshe Orunmila! 

Learn more about Orula and the word of Ifá:

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