Obi divination, or obi abata divination is a West African form of divination that originally originated within the traditional yoruba religion of Ifá. This practice is used by initiates, and non-initiates of traditional Yoruba religion, and in Yoruba-derived Afro-American religions. Obi divination was originally, and traditionally done with kola nuts, though it has also been done with cowrie shells, coins, halves of palm fruits, and pieces of coconuts. Obi abata, or obi means kola nut, which is why it is known as obi divination, even though other things may be used. These other objects that are used may also be known as obi when they are being used in obi divination. In this form of divination you gently throw these objects in order to see which way they are facing when they land. It is a form of divination that gives yes, or no answers, and is primarily used to communicate with the orisha, and egungun (ancestors), though it can also be used to communicate with all types of spirits, and aspects of divinity.

Obi divination is usually used to answer minor yes, or no questions, and it does this by seeing which obi in a toss are open, or closed:

  • Kola nuts can fall white side up (open), or dark side up (closed).
  • Palm fruit can fall white side up (open), or dark side up (closed).
  • Cowries can fall “mouth” side up (open), or “mouth” side down (closed).
  • Coconut can fall white side up (open), or dark side up (closed).
  • Coins can fall heads (open) or tails (closed).

Usually you will pray to the orisha, a guiding spirit, or the egungun (ancestors) before obi divination, so that they will be able to deliver the answers to you. Take the obi that you are planning to use, and pray with it, breathe into it, and ask your question before you toss them. Depending upon how many are open, and how many are closed will determine your answer. You will be able to figure out the meaning of the answer by looking at these five different odu (cast patterns) in which it can land upon:

Alafia, or Alaafia | 4 Open:

Alafia means “peace”, and is an absolute yes. This is shown by all 4 of the obi being in agreement in the positive position. This may also indicate that whatever you ask about may come quicker, and in a higher amount, then you first expected. Though alafia can be knocked off its balance very easily, and may also indicate that there are some things that may cause problems that are not seen. This may be an absolute yes, but it is important to have awareness, and caution of the flow, and balance in case alafia is disrupted.

Though in order to make sure that this answer is correct, long-lasting, and will come faster, and greater than expected a second toss with the obi that states alafia, etawa, or ejife must be presented. If the second toss is okanran, or oyeku, then the final answer is actually no.

Etawa, Etagua, or Itagua | 3 Open + 1 Closed:

Etawa is a maybe, though it can also be taken as a not very definitive yes. This is shown by three of the four obi being in the positive position, while one is in the negative position. Showing that there is an element of dispute in the answer, because one has gone against the other three. It means there will be a lot of things in the way of your question, and because of that it may happen, but not super smoothly. You will probably get what you ask though there will be things to work through before you can. There may also be delays, and it may not come very quickly. This may also mean that the orisha, a guiding spirit, or the egungun (ancestors) is pondering the situation, and needs a second question to be able to answer, and they would like clarification of what you are asking.

This is an unstable answer, and you will want to reformulate your question, and may want to toss a second time. If the second toss is alafia, or ejife, the answer is yes, and whatever is will come to pass though it will be slowly, because of all the things that are in its way. If the second toss is okanran, or oyeku then the answer is no, and it will not come to be because there is so much stuff in the way of it happening, or it may be delayed so long that it will not have time to manifest. If the second toss is Etawa again then the answer is something more like “do not ask what you already know”.

Ejife, Eyeife, or Eyijife | 2 Open + 2 Closed:

Ejife means the answer is a yes, but there should be no further questions asked about it, or subjects pertaining to it. This is because it is said to anger the guiding spirit that you are communicating with, and because there is no need to ask further questions, because there is a balance between things, and because of that there is no further reason to interpret, or look into this ask. This is shown by 2 obi in the positive position, and 2 in the negative position.

It is a yes though it will take a lot more effort for that thing to come to pass, and there should be some caution around it. Ejife represents perfect balance between blessings, and experiences, and because of that it is a yes, though you may have to go experience other things in order to get to that yes. Because of this it will usually take alot more effort for this yes to come to fruition, then an ask that is interpreted through Alafia. Ejife is truer to form, and is a lot more grounded, and stable, then the other yeses.

Okanran, or Okana Sode | 1 Open + 3 Closed:

Okanran is a no. Whatever was asked will not happen, and would need a lot more work before it could even have a chance of happening. This is shown by only 1 obi in the positive position, while all the other three are in the negative position. It can also be seen as a small light in the darkness slowly being snuffed out.

Oyeku, or Oyekun | 4 Closed:

Oyeku means “darkness”. Oyeku means absolutely no. This is shown by all 4 of the obi being in agreement in the negative position. There may be a lot of things negatively connected to this question that need to be cleared away before obi divination can continue. A spiritual cleansing will usually be needed to clear out this negativity. And, because of this there may also be an elusive element to the question, or the spirits may need something, before they will be able to divine it for you. Oyeku, may also indicate that there are a lot of unseen undetermined forces that cannot be illuminated, or expanded upon, leaving the divination in full darkness. Oyeku is an absolute no, and anything having to do with this issue should be dropped, until a spiritual cleansing of the situation can be done.


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