Oriki are praise poems used to invoke Spirit. They are also coded references to the awo or sacred mysteries that guide the actions of the Immortals. In this Oriki for Esu the Spirit of the Divine Messenger of Transformation we get a glimpse into the way in which Messenger Spirits function in Ifa. Esu is the name given to the energy that sits at the Crossroads meaning the back of the neck or the intersection between the head and the heart. The back of the neck is the iwaju or chakra that regulates the flow of ase or spiritual energy from the feet into the spine, up the spine and into the head. Ase is a trigger that stimulates the pineal gland and excretes melatonin and serotonin. These two chemicals shift the bio chemistry of the brain and open the portals to altered states of consciousness including possession. That is why in traditional Ifa Esu is one of the first oriki to open the portal and set the stage for communication with Spirit.
(Praising the Divine Messenger of Transformation)
Èsù, Èsù Òdàrà, Èsù, lanlu ogirioko. Okunrin orí ita, ajo langa langa lalu.
Divine Messenger, Divine Messenger of Transformation, Divine Messenger speaks with power. Man of the crossroads, dance to the drum.
Commentary: To ask the Divine Messenger to speak with power is to ask Esu to possess any of his initiates who might be present at the ritual. They in turn have the ability to place anyone and everyone present at the ritual into altered states of consciousness which affect the communal ability to perform a ritual effectively. The reference to the Man of the crossroads is a reference to the idea that Esu lives in the back of the neck the crossroads between the shoulders and the spine. This is the place in the body where we make initial contact with Spirit. In any given moment we are open to the influence (ire) or we are resistant to the influence (ibi). When we are in a constant state of resistance we create tension in the spine and the shoulders references by the slang expression “pain in the neck.” The expression ajo langa langa lalu is asking Esu to dance in a spontaneous way using elements of improvisation to guide his movements. I believe that when oriki make reference to dancing it is not simply the movements in response to singing and drumming. Doing a dance means makes those movements in thought and action that will trigger change within a ritual. When Esu places an initiate into possession at a ritual the possession of the Esu initiate tends to place everyone at the ritual into possession. At this point in the ritual the guidance of Spirit is moving the ritual into an arena of spontaneous healing and elevation.
ibi ija de mole. Ija ni otaru ba d’ele ife.
Tickle the toe of the Drum. Move beyond strife. Strife is contrary to the Spirits of the Invisible Realm.
Commentary: The Yoruba expression “tickle the toe” means awake in the inner Spirit. In this instance it is asking Esu to awaken the spirit of the drum so the drum can call other Spirits to the ritual. The request is very specific it is asking Esu to remove strife meaning to remove resistance to the purpose of the ritual. It is asking Esu to bring spontaneous elements to the traditional structure of the ritual that will address directly forms of conflict that are manifesting in the moment. It is a plea to the Immortals to fix what is broken. This can never be done by rote, by mimic old behavior patterns and by following rules of protocol that are ridged and set in stone. When Esu is called upon to end strife the traditional components of the ritual are put on hold while specific issues of resistance to elevation are addressed.
To fi de omo won. Oro Èsù, to to to akoni. Ao fi ida re lale.
Unite the unsteady feet of weaning children. The word of the Divine Messenger is always respected. We shall use your sword to touch the earth.
Commentary: the reference to unsteady feet of weaning children is a reference to anyone who has moved away from their path of destiny. Again the Oriki is asking Esu to be present at the ritual in a spontaneous way so that issues of resistance to destiny can be addressed. The word of the Divine Messenger is always respected meaning if Esu to a ritual and guides the community to add elements to the ritual that deal with specific issues that the community will follow that guidance even they might not understand the purpose of the requested ritual actions. To ask Esu to touch his sword to the earth means use the ase of his penis to create something new. This is not a sexual reference and is not a request for sexual interaction. It is a symbolic reference to the idea of creating something new, just as a penis can initiate a pregnancy, the ase of Esu gives birth to new ritual manifestations that create something new that is effective medicine for the problem being addressed in the moment.
Èsù, ma se mi o. Èsù, ma se mi o. Èsù, ma se mi o.
Divine Messenger do not confuse me. Divine Messenger do not confuse me. Divine Messenger do not confuse me.
Commentary: We ask Esu not to confuse us meaning do not let us become ridged in our ways. Bring us the ajo or ability to infuse our rituals with spontanious messages from Spirit that will cut through our resistance to spiritual guidance.
Omo elomiran ni ko lo se. Pa ado asubi da. No ado asure si wa. Ase.
Let someone else be confused. Turn my suffering around. Give me the blessing of the calabash. May it be so.
Commentary: The Oriki is asking for clarity so we might receive the blessing of the calabash meaning the blessings of the earth.
This Oriki is a part of the Odu Ose’tura from the elision o ase o tutu ra meaning the Spirit of Power Spreads Mystic vision. In Ifa mystic vision is guidance from Spirit that leads us into the process of transformation and growth. This process is constantly changing and evolving while remaining deeply rooted in the traditional elements of transcendence that guide all of Creation.