Ifa Divination

by John Pemberton III
Professor Emeritus, Amherst College

Babalawo Kolawole Ositola performing a divination rite known as Idafa-Ilu, Ijebu-Ode, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria, June 1982. Photo by John Pemberton III. 

Holding the ikin ifa (palm nuts) in his lefthand, the priest grasps them with his right hand. If one palm nut remains, he makes a single mark in the iyerosun dust. If two remain, he makes a mark. Two parallel rows of four marks indicate the signature of one of the sixteen odu ifa.