The Spiritual Community of the Òrìṣà – Energies of Nature

II Ẹgbẹ́ Òrìṣà II The Spiritual Community of the Òrìṣà – Energies of Nature

The roots of the community

The history of the Sàlámì family

The spiritual aspect of Bàbá King’s family

His mother Àlàkẹ́ was born into a family of Òrìṣà priests. His maternal grandmother Kẹ́yìndé Ẹnioṣó was a priestess and the founder of the Ọmọlú Burùkú temple in Kénta Okebodè in Abéòkúta. His maternal grandfather was a priest of Ògbóni.

His grandfather on the father’s side, Sàlàkọ́ Sàlámì, was a bàbáláwo. The father of his paternal grandmother was also a priest and an olúwo. Even after 150 years he is still popularly known as Olúwo Ìṃọ̀. He was a strong spiritual leader, and even though almost 200 years have passed since he was born, people still remember him because he used to be responsible for the social wellbeing of the community.

By combining the spiritual mission of his ancestors on both sides, Bàbá King was born to be a healer and a priest. It was known that he inherited a part of this spiritual influence from his ancestors, and because of this, he started to accompany his parents, uncles, and aunts as a child and got to experience the Òrìṣà philosophy early on.

His predestined mission was to become a priest and a healer, and he was also permitted to do things that others would not do. His Western education enabled him to spread the Òrìṣà philosophy in the academic sphere as well. This is the origin of his spiritual mission: to continue what his ancestors had started.

He has also received spiritual recognition in Abéòkúta, where he was named Bàbá Ẹgbẹ́ of all the bàbáláwo in Abéòkúta and Bàbá Ẹgbẹ́ of all Òrìṣà devotees, priests, and priestesses.

His children have the mission to heal as well, and this is why they have all been encouraged to study medicine. Even though not everyone will become a priest, they can still fulfil a part of the Sàlámì mission and heal people either spiritually or through any other type of therapy.

The history of the Oduduwa Temple in Brasil (Oduduwa Templo dos Orixás)

The history of the Oduduwa Temple in Brazil goes back thirty years. When Bàbá King came to Brazil, he was given the opportunity to live in the Western world. He could choose either the UK or the USA, but he was attracted to Brazil because he was told that there are a lot of Òrìṣà devotees and that Yoruba culture in Brazil is very active. So this was what first attracted him to Brazil.

He went there to study, and he finished his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in business administration management and sociology. He eventually started teaching the Yoruba language and culture at the University to researchers and Òrìṣà enthusiasts. By studying the Yoruba language and culture they were able to learn a great deal about the Òrìṣà philosophy, eventually developing the ability to create Yoruba thought patterns.

Simultaneously, he started to teach people how to perform divination. In Brazil, these teachings were poorly structured because people did not believe that one could teach the Ifá divination with 16 cowries on an academic level. They thought this was something private to be taught only in temples. After the opening of the cultural centre Oduduwa Centro Cultural, he started to teach people outside the Academy. As a result, Bàbá King was highly criticised and attacked, but nothing could prevent the success of the Centre.

He gave his first lecture to only two female students. Out of 30 chairs in the classroom, 28 were empty. But he persisted and continued his mission. It was a course that ran for four months, twice a week. After finishing this one course, Bàbá King carried on and the number of students gradually increased to the point when there were not enough seats for all the applicants.

Out of this emerged the need to re-introduce the Ifá initiation in Brazil. Nowadays, Brazil doesn’t provide education for bàbálawo priests. That might have been the case in the past, but it now no longer is.

Even before this decision was made, some Brazilians travelled with Bàbá King to Nigeria to undergo the Ifá initiation with bàbálawo Ṣówùnmí Fábùnmi and to do the Òrìṣà initiation in his mother’s house with the late priestess ìyálórìṣà Obimọnúrẹ̀ Àṣàbí Díyàólú. In this way, the first seeds of his life mission as a priest were planted.

Then he invited bàbálawo Fábùnmi and ìyá Obimọnúrẹ̀ to came to Brazil to perform initiations. His culture taught him that no one is a self-sufficient master who could do everything alone. Despite the fact that he was a bàbálòrìṣà, he invited ìyá Obimọnúrẹ̀ to join him. A priest in Nigeria always works together with his own assistant. Introducing the same practice in Brazil was a way of laying down a solid and credible foundation.

The first time around, the two only did five initiations. But  Bàbá King was committed enough to invite them again next year so that these new initiates could have their own Ifá festival.

And gradually they have expanded.

Bàbá King bought six hectares of land in the forest 70 km from São Paulo and started to build a Temple. But then, at a certain point, he could no longer handle the pressure of being a priest. He was dealing with a number of unfaithful people and a severe lack of loyalty. No matter his dedication, he found himself denying his mission, doing things with decreased devotion, often feeling like a displaced amateur. He no longer wanted to bear this immense responsibility, recognizing that the reality in the Western world concerning religion, philosophy, or a given promise is quite different than in Africa. He noticed that people saw him less as a priest and more like an emergency drug to use whenever they are in pain.

In his culture, there are no former masters or former priests, but in the West, people often get initiated and then turn their back on you. These are the reasons why he was hesitant to finish the construction on the land he bought, ultimately abandoning the idea altogether.

He was working in his office as a priest and performed certain rituals at peoples’ homes.

Later on, he rented a house in Rua São Bartolomeu in São Paulo so that he had a space for his altars. Then he started to use the place to perform ẹbọ rituals, initiations, etc. This venue was initially intended for him and his family, but since the energy of the Òrìṣà is stronger than his own, he was forced to open the doors to others. No matter how small the place was, it was always big enough for everybody.

He was using this place for many years, but at the same time, he was hiding himself away, boycotting his mission and neglecting his responsibility, thus betraying his own mind and common sense.

After 18 years of living in this limbo, always questioning whether to move to the Temple or not, whether to build or not to build, he encountered a problem with his neighbour. The neighbour was a kind man, a psychiatrist who never caused any issues. Then one day, Bàbá King had an ọ̀sẹ́ with 140 people in that small house that also served as a temple. The neighbour came at 3 pm complaining about the noise. Instead of talking to Bàbá King he called the police. The police came, explained the situation to him, and took a number of participants to the station to file a report.

After these people returned from the police station, the neighbour called and apologized.

But Bàbá King told his people that the time was ripe to go away. In fact, it was overdue. This was how Bàbá King interpreted that situation. He was not furious with the neighbour because he knew that he was actually doing him a favour.

And the next day he started searching for a piece of land. One option was to find something in São Paulo, but it was too expensive. He didn’t want to go back to the forest, where he had already constructed two houses, because it was a boring place for the clients with no access to stores or restaurants and no chance to move around. For urban people, that was not a suitable place to stay. So he opted for the seaside instead.

Luckily, he found a piece of land in Mongaguá.

It was a land at the seaside stretching over 2.900 m2. It was expensive, and he didn’t have the money to buy the land in full, but he had enough for the down payment. Because he knew he needed to move away from São Paulo, he signed a pre-contract. Then he spoke to Manuel, his client and friend from Spain who often visited him in São Paulo and travelled with him to Nigeria.

Manuel offered to pay for the land himself, and Bàbá King was finally able to move forward with his mission. The Temple in Mongaguá was built in 2004, and all the activities were moved there.

After a few years, the Temple grew so much that the existing constructions became too small for all the people interested in joining. Bàbá King bought another piece of land beside the wall, and nowadays the Temple measures 6.300 m2. The second part of the temple was officially opened in 2008.

The art inside the Temple and on the outside wall was created in 2010 and 2011 by famous artists from Oṣogbo, Chief Àkànjí Adébísí and Chief Adéṣínà Nurudeen Adébísí.

As the Temple is still growing, it is just a matter of time when additional land will be needed.

The history of the Oduduwa Temple in Abẹ́òkúta (The Centre of Yoruba Traditional Culture)

The Temple in Abéòkúta represents a continuation of Bàbá King’s mission. To have a mission is to do absolutely everything that is in your power. So the Temple in Abéòkúta started operating even before being built. The initial step towards the construction of the Temple was made by the first group of people Bàbá King took to Nigeria decades ago to get initiated into the mystery of Ifá and the Òrìṣà.

When Bàbá King finished constructing the first part of the Temple in Mongaguá, he came to realize that he needed to give something back to Africa. Because it was Africa that gave him the most important thing anyone can have – prestige and respect.

Therefore, he decided to build the Temple in Abéòkúta. He bought the land in 2005, and the first part of the Temple was built in 2007. The Temple is still under construction primarily because there are so many things Bàbá King plans to do.

All the artwork is by famous artists: Chief Àkànjí Adébísí and his son Chief Adéṣínà Nurudeen Adébísí, by Jímọ̀ Ìdòwú Ọlábómì and Jímọ̀ Ìdòwú Ọlábọ̀dé as well as by Ọlálẹ́yẹ Ọláoyè Jósèph and Ajíbẹ́ṣin Abíọ́dún Àlàdè.

The history of the Spiritual Community of the Òrìṣà - Energies of Nature and the first initiations for Slovenians, Croatians, Serbians and others (The Ẹgbẹ̀ Òrìṣà temple)

We have been searching for several centuries for the wisdom and the connection with nature that our Slavic pagan ancestors still had – particularly in relation to the practical use of natural elements. We have been meeting in various groups while also investigating on our own and visiting different Masters from all over the world who could provide us with the practical knowledge and not just the theoretical background. In February 2003, when a group of spiritual seekers gathered around Ladislav Medvešček and Jasmina Audič travelled to Brazil where African priests performed initiations for them, no one knew exactly what kind of rituals these were.

The only thing that mattered to them was that it was an authentic and original experience, and it was their intuition that filled them with hope that this could be the real thing.

The energies of nature are omnipresent, but were suddenly able to name them for the very first time: they were introduced to Ifá and the Òrìṣà.

The group met with Bàbá King, one of the most important priests and the link between the original Yoruba heritage and the western world, the high Ifá priest Bàbáláwo Fábùnmi, and one of the supreme priestesses wielding immense female power, Ìyá Àṣàbí Òbímọnúrẹ̀.

These seekers went through initiation processes and attended a short course that equipped them with practical knowledge. Upon their return, when they began to put this newly acquired skills into practice, they soon began to improve the quality of their lives.

Their infectious excitement and palpable changes in the quality of their lives got noticed by everybody and served as an impetus for the next group of followers to make the journey the next year as well as for numerous other groups that followed.

Our greatest blessing and our biggest advantage have been Bàbá King’s visits to Slovenia, later followed by visits from other priests as well. The chance to study the Ifá philosophy and the Odù Ifá whose immense value has been recognized by UNESCO, the chance of getting to know the rituals and the wisdom, the chance to return back to nature in a way that is in sync with our pagan roots – all of these opportunities likely stemmed from Bàbáláwo Fábùnmi’s spiritual orientation that revealed the fact that Slovenians play a highly important role in spreading the Yoruba tradition throughout Europe.

This was later confirmed in praxis and is reflected in the fact that with the help of the first group of initiates more than 250 people from all over Europe, most of them from Slovenia and other former Yugoslav countries, have travelled to Brazil in the span of a decade.

The Spiritual Community of the Òrìṣà – Energies of Nature was founded in 2007 out of the need to expand and secure a place for indoor meetings and to show our face to the public. The leader and representative of the Community was selected and confirmed by Ifá divination.

We are thankful to the very enthusiastic first group consisting of 18 individuals who answered the spiritual call and began to study Ifá and to the Medvešček family who allowed us to use their house in Podčetrtek free of charge to register new members and give lectures. We are also grateful to the residents of Podčetrtek who embraced us as their own despite initial reservations. The situation in Brazil has thought us that no seed can ever grow if there is no soil to plant it in. This is why Bàbá King established a firm in Slovenia called Afriški kulturni center d.o.o. that serves as a formal legal entity enabling us to organize lectures for broader population and is now the owner of the house and the land in Bizeljska vas. The headquarters are slowly being renovated as the community is steadily growing in numbers.

The seed that was planted back in 2003 has borne so many fruits that we can only be thankful to the soil that nourishes it.