Divination Techniques

By Eileen Moyer
University of Amsterdam (formerly University of Iowa)

Priests of Ifa gather at the palace to perform the rite of Ifa Adagba, Nigeria, August 1982. Photo by John Pemberton III. 

Yoruba Ifa divination is perhaps the best known divination technique.  This is partially due to the extensive field research done among the Yoruba, and because of the close links between the Yoruba in Africa and the Americas.  Because a large portion of the enslaved peoples who were brought to the New World originated in the Yoruba area West Africa, many elements of the systems of Yoruba belief have survived or in some cases been reinvented.  The devastation of enslavement must have led Africans to question the cruel fate that tore them away from their homelands, friends, and family. Despite the efforts of slave owners to erase African culture, many elements were retained and continue to thrive throughout the Americas today. This, combined with a growing interest in Yoruba and other African religious systems by many Americans, partially explains why it is possible to find a Yoruba diviner in virtually any major city in the United States.