Iyami Osoronga are commonly known as the witches of the night. The existence and propitiation of Iyami Osoronga is exclusive to the traditional Ifá practice, since they are not known outside of Yoruba lands.
The propitiation to Iyami Osoronga
The Yoruba consider the Iyami Osoronga as their spiritual mothers. They went down to earth by themselves, in Orunmila’s stomach and without Olodumare sending them. For this reason all the orisha respected them, but they are not considered deities.
They generally have a negative connotation, as they disrupt people’s lives, especially pregnant women and very young children. They also cause health problems, arguments or simply obstacles in the day to day. That is why the babalawo constantly encourages them to avoid disturbances or that the witches can do some damage. The way of promoting Iyami Osoronga is exclusive to traditional practice, and in the Ifá Tradicional Pro application you will be able to find out how to do it.
Just as the Orisa represent some element of nature, the Yoruba represent the Iyami Osoronga in birds and cats.
Adaasa: Obatala’s machete
The propitiation to Iyami Osoronga has its specific materials. One of the most important in the Adaasa (Àdáasá) or Òòsànlá (Obatala) machete. It is a machete-shaped bell that is sounded during propitiation to witches.
In Osa Meji it is explained that Obatala gave the Adaasa to Orunmila as thanks for having helped him defeat Iyami Osoronga, when they were attacking him. In this Odu, the cotton was being decimated by the witches and came to Obatala’s house for help, who declared after consulting Ifá that no bird could consume the cotton. As a result of this, the witches prohibited Obatala from using water from the river of the birds.
Obatala went to the Irunmole (Sango, Ogun …) but they could not help him. He then ran to Orunmila’s house and was chased by witches there. Previously, Ifá had warned Orunmila to offer sacrifice with beans and glue, and Orunmila did so, placing the sacrifice on her doorstep. When Obatala arrived at Orunmila’s house and the birds saw the beans, they began to eat them and they were glued to the ground. Then Orunmila took Obatala’s machete and cut off the birds’ heads, freeing Oosanla from her enemies. In gratitude, Obatala gave the machete to Orunmila who declared that the machete belonged to Oosanla and that the cotton would germinate and flourish in the presence of all the birds.
Initiation in the cult of witches
There is an initiation in the cult of Iyami Osoronga that is secret. However, no babalawo or follower of the Ifá or Orisa cult are initiated into Iyami or participate in these ceremonies.