Mamalawo? The Controversy over Women Practicing Ifa Divination | Ayodeji Ogunnaike –

As the tradition of Ifa divination has gained increasing popularity and membership around the world, the previously male-dominated composition of its priesthood has become challenged. This article traces the origins of women who have sought the highest levels of Ifa initiationÑprimarily in Cuba and the USÑengages the various arguments, concerns, and appeals to authority of the numerous players. Much of the debate hinges around ritual practice associated with the mysterious ori!a Odu, and consequently the article addresses the relevant mythology and rituals associated with her in an Ifa context. It also places the male-oriented nature of Ifa within the larger context of Yoruba gender norms, contrasting Yoruba notions of gender with modern values of gender equality. Thus, it seeks to explain why male Ifa priests from West Africa have been eager and willing to initiate women. In addition, the article demonstrates thatÑcontrary to many popular claimsÑseveral women have become Ifa diviners in West Africa, but that the important ways that gender is understood in a variety of different contexts, its ramifications for initiation rituals, and the rapidly growing number of female initiates in diaspora, will likely change the dynamics of the tradition going forward

Source: Mamalawo? The Controversy over Women Practicing Ifa Divination | Ayodeji Ogunnaike –

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