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Who is the Babalawo? The highest Yoruba hierarchy

babalawo orula

Believers and non-believers have heard of the babalawo, and the term quickly encompasses distinction, power, spiritual communication, and divination. It brings to mind the image of a wise santero who predicts the future and who communicates with higher energies and spirits.

And it is that, within the yoruba religionAs well as in the Catholic, there is a kind of hierarchy among the practitioners that, according to each level, requires a level of knowledge, preparation and relevance and is organized for the fulfillment of various functions or attributions.

El babalawo o babalao, is the highest expression of the Yoruba hierarchy and has a great knowledge and handling of Ifá, which discovers and is able to decipher the word of the diviner Orula.

His name comes from the union of the words "baba", which means father, and "awo", which means wise.

Babalawo, followers of Orunmila

The babalawo acts as a mediator between the Orishas and men, and is a follower of the teachings of orunmila, the great fortune teller.

For this reason, people turn to them to consult when they go through difficult situations or when they need to make an important decision in their lives.

The babalawos They carry out the consultation and divination between the Orishas and the person through the interpretation of the Oracle of Ifá, used exclusively by the highest Yoruba hierarchy.

Using the results of the various elements of the Oracle, they advise believers on the next steps they should take in their lives to avoid complicated situations.

El babalao, is the spiritual guide of those who are lower in the hierarchy and is the greatest student of all the secrets of religion.

We already know the meaning of Babalawo, the Ifá priest who deciphers the secrets of the universe, but among religious, and at the social level, the Babalawo is more than a concept or a definition, he is a teacher, a sage, the father of the mysteries that he offers his light to guide everyone.

Qualities of a Babalawo:

  • Maintains a balanced connection with the energies of the Orishas.
  • Inspire wisdom, faith and humility in everyone.
  • Custody, help and guide in all sacred religious ceremonies.
  • It transmits ancestral teachings about the legacy of our religion.
  • Possessing great religious and life knowledge, he is wise and humble in his actions.
  • Provides orientation, balance and well-being with his advice.
  • He is honest, sincere and in good faith allows the word of Ifá to guide everyone.

In Cuba, within the cult of Santeria (Rule of Osha) the Babalawó is a respected and much loved person, not only because of the powers that his great knowledge and wisdom contain, but because for Cubans he is the wise father, whom all we come when we need help and good advice.

Babalawo consultation, Orula's word does not fall to the ground.

In a consultation, the babalawo is Ifá teacher, who uses consecrated elements for divination and recites prayers aloud to ask for the help and blessing of his ancestors and invokes orula to support you in the divination process for the person consulting.

Then he throws a chain or “Ékule” divided into two parts with four shell elements each.

Depending on the position in which all the parts of the Ékule fall, 256 variants or ideographic signs called “Oddu” of Ifá can be obtained, representative of the ancestral teachings.

All the signs contain a specific divinatory signature expressed in verses that identify with the querent and attribute certain characteristics to him, it is the sacred word of Ifá that speaks in these queries.

Thus, the Oracle of Ifá, always responds to a past, current or future situation, and among all the responses indicated by the Babalawo, the oracle consultant always finds the solution to his problem, because "Orula's word never falls to the ground", it is true and sacred.

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