Ifá: A Forest of Mystery

Limitation  736 standard hardback 64 fine bound exemplars
Dimensions  240 × 170 mm
Extent  400 pp
Illustrations  18 original pen & ink illustrations by Childerico
Bindings  Fine edition bound in rust handgrained morocco blocked in gold, custom Victoria Hall paste endpapers, all edges gilt, finished with a silk ribbon and presented in a slipcase: Sold out

Standard edition bound in vibrant red cloth, palm leaf stamped in green, embossed bitter chocolate endpapers: £45 plus postage

Bibliothèque Rouge  paperback edition
£20 plus postage

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Ifá: A Forest of Mystery by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold is a major study on the cosmology, metaphysics, philosophy and divination system of Ifá, written by a tradition holder and member of the council of elders, known as the Ogboni society, of Abeokuta, Nigeria.

Ifá – an alternative name for its prophet Òrúnmìlà – is a religion, a wisdom tradition and a system of divination encoding the rich and complex oral and material culture of the Yoruba people. The Yoruba culture is grounded in memory, an ancestral repository of wisdom, that generates good counsel, advises appropriate ebo (sacrifice) and opens the way to develop a good character on our journey through life and in our interactions with the visible and invisible worlds.

The work is a presentation of the first sixteen odù of the Ifá corpus of divination verses explained in stories, allegories and proverbs reflecting the practical wisdom of Ifá. The work is both a presentation of Ifá for those with little knowledge of it, and a dynamic presentation of the wealth of its wisdom for those already familiar with Ifá. The deities and key concepts of Ifá metaphysics are discussed, including: Obàtálá, Ònilé, Sàngó, Ògún, Oya, Òsányìn, Yemoja, Èsù, àse (power), egúngún (ancestry), ìwà (character), and orí (head/consciousness/daimon). Notably, Dr Frisvold has created a work which celebrates the Yoruba wisdom tradition and makes a bridge with the Western world. It is of value for the light that it casts on the origins and mysteries of Èsù and òrìsà, and an important source for those practicing Quimbanda, Palo, Santeria, Vodou and the African Diaspora religions. Yet its lessons are universal, for it is the art of developing character, of attracting good fortune and accruing wisdom in life. As Nicholaj writes: 

‘…Ifá is a philosophy, a theogony, theology and cosmology rooted in a particular metaphysic that concerns itself with the real and the ideal, the world and its beginning. It is rooted in the constitution of man and the purpose of life and the nature of fate. Ifá is a philosophy of character. The philosophy of Ifá lies at the root of any religious cult or organization involving the veneration of òrìsà. […] Through stories and legends, divinatory verses and proverbs, this philosophy will be revealed piece by piece until the landscape has been laid open before you… ’



Part I · A Philosophy of Character

The Timeless Wisdom of Ifá
Òrúnmìlà & the Secret Structure of Odù
The Art of Divination
The Cosmology of Ifá

Part II · A Forest of Mystery

Èjì Ogbè · The moist air of consciousness
Òyèkú méjì · The mother of the spirit of death
Ìwòrì méjì · Celestial agriculture in the land of transformation
Òdí méjì · The house of deep comfort
Ìrosùn méjì · The rivers of consciousness
Òwónrín méjì · The sweet and bitter track
Òbárá méjì · The fork in the road
Òkànrán méjì · The crossroad the heart gave
Ògúndá méjì · The relentless pathmaker
Òsá méjì · The mysteries of the birds of night
Ìká méjì · The wicked cobra of fire
Òtúrúpòn méjì · The secret path of truth
Òtúrá méjì · Love’s gentle harmony
Ìretè méjì · The author of fate
Òsé méjì · The sweetness of mystery
Òfún méjì · The calabash of character
Òsétúrá · Èsù & the design of the world


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