The following is the official annual reading of the year, by the Ifa Foundation, as taught by the African Traditional Religion (ATR) known as Ifa. Readers may use this reading as a guidepost to improve their life for the new year, set goals, and progress in all areas with the utmost success that the Universe will allow in accordance with ones intention and hard work.
By Oluwo Phillip Neimark
This reading marks the 34th consecutive year I have performed the Reading of the Year. I have gone from young Awo to Elder Oluwo, and I have learned a great deal during these years that is included in everything I deliver to you today. The information has come from a process that was enhanced by my receiving the original Igba of the Patriarch Epega, handed down to me from his grandson, my mentor, the late Dr. Afolabi Epega.
To suggest that entrusting me with this sacred implement, used for major divination by the man that was Dr. William Bascom’s primary informant, was not a major part of my learning, would be a vast understatement.
Ashe, the living essence of the individual who utilized it, is a basic Yoruba truth. It is that truth, more than anything else, which has taught me the meaning of, and the importance of, Living Energy!
The Yoruba understood the living energy of Ifa. They understood that living energies could, by definition, not remain static! That to be ALIVE meant the ability of that energy to perceive change… and to act upon it. It was not until the incursion of Christianity, that attempting to turn the living energies of Ifa, into the static images of their own God, threatened to become the accepted practice.All you have to do is look at your smart phones, the internet, instant messaging and social media to see the revolutionary changes in our world in just the last thirty years. Well, Ifa sees it as well, and Ifa has retained the wisdom and capacity to integrate good decisions, a good life, into this vortex of change!
You see, good character and behavior can be implemented if the LIVING energy is listened to.
The Patriarch’s Igba has helped me to realize this… hopefully this year’s reading will do the same for you.
Love and Blessings,
Oluwo Philip John Neimark
MAIN ODU FOR 2017
“On Path!” – Ogbe-Otura
Orúnmila (Orunmilá, Orúnla, or Orúla),
Elá, Orí, & Obatalá (Orisanla)
This Odu promises to reveal all the benefits that come from fully embracing and being fully embraced by all of life and living. We come to see that the abundance of the universe is in its diversity. And we are a part of that diversity and therefore, we, too, are what adds to the abundance of the universe, whether it be our families, our friendships, or the ecosystems of our planet.
On the side involving our minds and bodies, it tells us that seeking tranquility, mutuality, and harmony should be the foundation upon which our thoughts and actions are based. Daily, we are encouraged to aim to “make peace,” finding where there is “common ground.” We are also encouraged to let divisiveness and antagonism give way to understanding, empathy, and care. Otura, on the temporal side, implores us to consciously and deliberately channel and use the memories of cooperation, generosity, inclusiveness, and non-judgment. We should ask ourselves, daily, “how am I staying ‘in touch’ with the fullness of what inhabits my life?”
Remember that life is an opportunity to experiment with seeing, touching, tasting, smelling, and hearing – as best we can and without erecting useless barriers – all the countless ways life and living unfold and appear. This may mean truly listening to a different political perspective or eating a dish outside your usual ethnic palate or warmly embracing an estranged family member. The key is remembering that just as the Universe includes us, “warts and all,” we aim to include others in an active web of connectivity. Life and living is one of radical inclusion. Acknowledging this fact, true peace becomes our baseline.
Relevant to this course of action is Otura again, on the side involving our emotions and energies. It indicates how important it is to nurture feelings that deepen and expand one’s mutual connection to others beyond one’s self. It enlightens us to the reality that there is no true separation between ourselves, others, and life. It summons us on a journey to open up and stretch ourselves beyond the comforts of the similar and familiar to experience the vast expanse of a life connected by us and thru us. Otura, on the spiritual/emotional side, implores us to plant into our subconscious, our default “worldview,” that existence – at its core – isn’t competitive but communal.
In this way, the library of Otura stores volumes about life’s essential nature being one of expansion. Otura, on this spiritual/emotional side, encourages us to believe that no matter the distance, all is and must remain potentially connected. Expanding our views, our concerns, and our experiences are how we expand and stay connected. In other words, when we take for granted that all is connected to us and us to all, then all that matters is discerning how best to improve and expand upon the connections. And what we come to take for granted in Otura is that we are all in this thing together, descendants of a common ancestor, sharing hopes and hurts, having dreams and disappointments, along with plants and animals, living off the resources of the same planet.
If we embody Otura Meji, we come to experience and to learn the true and powerful peace that emerges when accepting that all of who we are belongs and all of what is belongs. None of us are “outsiders” and to us, nothing is a “stranger.” This year encourages us to acknowledge all of what we are connected to and all that is connected to us. This year is a time to be wowed anew by all to which we are connected and all that is connected to us. This year, the energy of Otura Meji will show us even more just how connected we truly are.
This year, “Ogbe Otura” guides us more particularly into how best to receive all the benefits the Otura Meji matrix can provide.
On the temporal, everyday side, we are encouraged to discern opportunities to connect. Connect in ways that are radically new and unexpected. Connections are opportunities to grow and expand even further. Just begin to connect, beyond our worries, hang-ups, or routines. Just take the step and do what it takes to begin a connection. Anything is possible when we start to connect. Existing is not enough, we need to embrace being connected. Connect to your ancestors, your family, your friends. Connect with those who even seem different. These connections are opportunities that have tremendous potential. When there’s an opportunity to connect, do so in a healthy, empowering, harmonious, and sincere way. Positive long-term outcomes are made possible by the connections we initiate, nurture, and strengthen in the beginning.
On the emotional, spiritual side, we are encouraged to see life as a “two-way street.” Life is a give and take, a mutually beneficial exchange. We are to assume that there are no real deficits because we have much to give AND much to receive through our being connected. Our significance and strength are determined by what and by how we can share, provide, and receive. We are neither victims or victors. We are learning to belong. We belong for, belong with, and belong in, respecting others as belonging too. Our embrace is ever widening. Our disposition is welcoming. We are driven to understand so that we are exceptionally hospitable. For we host and are hosted by all that makes up life. There is no limit to what may be present in us, present for us, and present with us because our presence is everywhere, in many forms. There is no connection we cannot make. We only need to reintroduce ourselves. Barriers and what separates are small illusions compared to what truly binds us together. We are connected connectors, grounded in our ability to start connecting and seeing where it goes.
“DON’T BE SURPRISED”:
- If social, political, military, or economic outcomes or dealings in distant places play a more immediate role in one’s personal affairs.
- If a firm and diplomatic response is what’s called for in many instances.
MAIN FOCAL POINTS:
This year, the non-random events we must experience on our individual journeys, providing us essential lessons we need, will be rooted in Irete-Idi. The fruits of our contentment will be the result of our perseverance. Things don’t have to be perfect for us to be happy. Elevating our way of thinking ensures that we will endure now so that we can enjoy later. Staying optimistically determined brings what we’ve imagined into reality. Don’t give up so easily at the first signs of turmoil or difficulty. Never let a challenge undermine your ability to think clearly. Difficulties are no reason to make poor choices. Challenges are no excuse for surrendering prematurely. Challenges and difficulties open us up to realizing what truly makes life worth living. If we do the work, make the adjustments, and do all within our power to do, we’ll transcend what we thought were our limits and experience the beauties of life tangibly.
“TO THE POINT”: Releasing one’s self to their ultimate purpose NOW is a part of a larger project of experiencing what’s truly worthwhile LATER.
“DON’T BE SURPRISED”:
- If situations warrant that one “steps their game up.”
- One experiences a growing dissatisfaction with flash over substance.
Practical Experiment: Schedule your day, accounting for its 24 hours. See your time as limited and “sacrificial.” Ask, “Are these sacrifices consistent with what I hope to actualize?”
This year, our overall state of well-being and functioning optimally, physically and spiritually, will be rooted in Irete-Otura. Our state of healthiness or unhealthiness is what we’re “bringing to the table.” The quality of our health is not merely our own but is of communal importance. Our personal state of health, physically and emotionally, impact those to whom we are connected. Maintaining our healthy mind and body strengthens the overall health of those we care about, those who look to us, and those depending on us. Tending to our health properly and seriously makes us an asset to the community instead of a liability for the community. However, there is no need to suffer in silence or isolation. Return to the community of doctors, of herbalists, of nutritionists, of psychiatrists, of Ifa practitioners who might support you with helpful recommendations. Don’t sacrifice your health for the community but rather improve your health for the community.“TO THE POINT”: Addressing the core issues NOW, instead of merely the symptoms, is a part of a larger project of acquiring a more pleasant and agreeable disposition when dealing with others LATER.
“DON’T BE SURPRISED”
- If one must implement a serious routine to achieve better health.
- Poor health, psychologically and/or physically, becomes a barrier to networking and socializing.
Practical Experiment: “Connect” with your meals. Think about and state aloud what each item of food and drink, nutritionally, is “bringing” to your body and why that’s important.
This year, good outcomes and desired results, that come after our efforts, will be rooted in Oturupon-Ose. Success is not one-dimensional. It’s more than just lots of money or a lucrative career. Success is multi-dimensional; it’s financial, spiritual, emotional, physical, relational, etc. And because our character and integrity have a multi-dimensional impact, it can be helpful to us in so many ways. Character and integrity can and should be maintained because it pays off. It also allows us to truly enjoy ourselves because we have a clear conscience. Maintaining good character may sometimes seem like you’re losing out in one way but in the long-term, it attracts new achievements in other ways. “Doing the ‘right’ thing” should not be perceived as a burdensome duty but as a liberating event. Stay centered. No need to overreact or leave your values on side of the road. Being true and authentic to what we believe is right/best empowers us to make any moment, a transformative moment. A sound and firm foundation will allow us to truly explore new possibilities for success and prosperity, even if comes in a different form.
“TO THE POINT” Implementing “long-term” thinking NOW is a part of a larger project of imagining, exploring, and transforming life’s moments into what it CAN be for you LATER.
“DON’T BE SURPRISED”
- If you must patiently go the “extra mile” to secure the goal.
- “Wealth” is redefined and abundant in unexpected ways and appears in unexpected places.
Practical Experiment: Jot down, in detail, what “success” looks like for you in the important areas of your life. Then, each day, for a week or two, jot down an entirely new view of “success.”
This year, the way we regard and behave toward one another will be rooted in Ogunda-Meji. Show discipline and restraint while making our relationships work. Manipulation and control should give way to effective coordination. We should endeavor to clear every road we can within our relating to others. Communication should be clear. Intentions should be clear. Expectations should be clear. The type of path we make in our relationships will determine what can travel on that path. Forging a path of honesty allows trust to travel through. Forging a path of thoughtfulness allows kindness and consideration to travel through. Forging a path of abusive criticism allows anger and resentment to travel through. Never hesitate to close a useless or dangerous road and forge a new one. People are not our projects. And we exist for more than other people to use as target practice. Because there are always numerous options, it’s important to reflect creatively upon the type of paths we forge with/toward others. And as others relate to us, it’s okay to organize the relationship in such a way that it neither becomes overwhelming or burns us out. Relationships aren’t about how many we have but discerning which ones are worth working on.
“TO THE POINT” Putting your energies in the right place NOW is a part of a larger project of initiating changes that bring order and opportunity LATER.
“DON’T BE SURPRISED”
- If you must say “no” and pace yourself to get things done.
- If situations go “sideways” because we’re simultaneously juggling the interests of too many people and tasks.
Practical Experiment: Set up a 30-minute “interview” of someone with whom you’re relating or intend to be in a relationship. Bring some honest questions. And don’t forget to ask for references.
This year, above all else, the importance of our family bonds will be rooted in Ogbe Meji. Whether we’re looking to start families or are extending new people into our families, or expanding the true meaning of family amongst our kinsfolk, family life is a key blessing. We can’t go back, what’s done is done. Allow new family traditions, new conversations with family, new meetings and encounters with family, and new definitions of “family.” Let’s affirm that this is a brand-new start for the members of our family, including ourselves. We’re learning to accept the fact that NO family is perfect and families are works in progress. It’s all “one step at a time” – just start, with what’s within your power to say or do. As we become more aware that the personalities within our families come in all shapes and sizes, we’ll also acknowledge that everybody plays a role. So let’s not be so obsessed with making our families into the people we want them to be but rather let’s discern opportunities that make life bigger and better for now so that future generations can flourish. Whatever becomes of our families in the long-term will be the result of the seeds we plant now.
“TO THE POINT”: Discerning when and where to begin – and actually beginning – NOW is a part of a larger project of setting up long-term opportunities LATER.
“DON’T BE SURPRISED”
- If “new chapters” arise, from new pregnancies to new marriages to new reconciliations.
- If what WE really want a relative to do or say becomes hard to know and articulate.
Practical Experiment: Gather a new and candid story from a family elder and tell it to a younger person in your family.
This year, overcoming the issues that we may confront will be rooted in Ofun-Oturupon. Calm down. There’s something bigger and more profound at play when facing our challenges. Whereas the significance of the battle may not be known fully now, persevering with character will yield a positive outcome for the “big picture” later. Allow a lesson, an insight, a revelation, a “Eureka” moment to present itself. Everything doesn’t need to make rational sense. Be mindful that what seems logical and convenient in the short-term may not be truly wise in the long-term. Mere thinking should give way to a heightened sense of “sensing.” Our spiritual abilities can give us a better perspective about the “big picture.” No matter the nature of the difficulty, our spiritual quest can bring just the knowledge and wisdom we need to further anchor ourselves in integrity. Our spiritual epiphanies can ensure we learn the best lessons when our character is tested. What we have practiced “in the dark” will be reflected in the character we display “in the light.” Weathering the storms of life, with good character, will not only take a clear and reasonable mind but it will require the resources of our spirits and the spiritual world. Seeking and adhering to the visions of our spiritual practice should be the bedrock upon which our determination grounded during difficult times.
“TO THE POINT”: Delegating the variables beyond our control to that which is beyond us NOW is a part of a larger project of trusting in the “big picture” LATER.
“DON’T BE SURPRISED”
- Feeling misunderstood or feeling like we’re “not getting it,” as if what we’re working on spiritually isn’t working practically.
- Situations tempt us to overreact and undermine our stance/worldview.
Practical Experiment: Look for and apply an Ifa-based solution to address a situation that you usually would respond to by your “commonsense” or habit alone.
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