The importance of the body in orisa worship

The human body is a very huge component part of orisha worship. It is the centerpiece where many of the rituals and ceremonies take place when a devotee undergoes a ritual in the tradition.


The body, especially the head, has special spiritual purposes in these main areas:

  • Iwaju Ori - the third eye that gives us the psychic ability and allows us to connect our waking consciousness with the waking consciousness of people around us.

  • Atari - the top of the head that allows us to connect with the consciousness of Olorun and our higher-self in Orun. It is the mirror of yourself that exists in Orun and gives us the ashe to achieve perfection of good character. Atari is a person at their fullest potential; the person we strive to become.

  • Ipako - this is the back of the neck and the place where our consciousness links with the consciousnesses of our ancestors and the Yoruba deities. Guarded by the orisha Eshu, Ipako is the gateway to the spiritual world and to a spiritual voyage. It is the place that links us to our past experiences and the past experiences of our ancestors. It is known to be the threshold and place of entry for a Yoruba deity to enter the body during a possession.

  • Opolo - the brain is where premonitions, dreams, thoughts, or ideas about what is contained in destiny comes from. Since humans don't necessarily remember their destiny upon entering the world, the brain provides us with guidance and clues towards so that destiny can be achieved as it also provides forewarnings when destiny has been altered.

  • Okan - the heart is the source of emotional feelings and assist ori with reason when making decisions to help with keeping the brain in making good decisions so that destiny can be achieved.

  • Ese - the feet provide ori with alerts when destiny is being altered. For example, when circumstances lay ahead on the path one will trip with their left foot, and if with the right foot then blessings are ahead on the path.

Other concepts related to ori include ori inu (consciousness within consciousness - the inner self) that is in tune with our spiritual path and provides us with support in recognizing misalignment with our destiny; through ori inu, we have the ability to re-align ourselves with our true destiny. Ori apere (spiritual forces that influence a devotee) is a constant multi-layered entity that is shaped by successive lifetimes that influences our physical experiences. Apara inu (the source of consciousness) is our natural tendency of having a good head (ori rere), bad head (ori ibi) or no consciousness at all (ori buruku). Ipori (the higher-self) is the model of perfection or the representation of our highest potential that we seek to align ourselves with through our actions, sacrifice, initiation or other spiritual remedies.

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