Ifa Priestess Or Iyanifa – Explained

Ifa is an ancient Yoruba spiritual tradition that has been practiced for thousands of years in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa.

The Ifa religion is based on the belief that all things in the universe are connected and that there is a divine force that governs everything.

Ifa priests and priestesses act as intermediaries between humans and the spirit world, using divination tools and spiritual rituals to help people connect with the divine.

In this post, we will explore the journey of an Ifa priestess, from her calling to her training, and her role in the community.

We will also learn about the challenges and rewards of becoming an Ifa priestess.

What is an Ifa Priestess?

An Ifa priestess, also known as an Iyanifa, is a woman who has been initiated into the Ifa tradition and has received the spiritual authority to communicate with the Ifa oracle.

She is responsible for providing guidance and spiritual support to individuals and communities, interpreting the messages of the oracle, and performing rituals and ceremonies.

Iyanifas are highly respected in the Yoruba community and play a vital role in preserving and passing down the traditions and values of the Ifa religion.

They are often called upon to perform ceremonies for important life events such as births, marriages, and funerals, as well as for healing and protection.

The Calling of an Ifa Priestess

The calling to become an Ifa priestess is believed to come from the spirits and ancestors.

Many women report feeling a strong sense of purpose and direction from an early age, while others may receive a calling later in life after experiencing a significant event or trauma.

In her book Iyanifa: Woman of Wisdom, Awo Falokun Fatunmbi describes her own calling to become an Ifa priestess.

She recounts how she was visited by the spirit of her grandmother, who had been an Iyanifa, and was shown a vision of herself performing rituals and ceremonies.

This experience set her on the path to becoming an Iyanifa and she underwent years of rigorous training and initiation to become a fully-fledged priestess.

The Training of an Ifa Priestess

Becoming an Ifa priestess is a rigorous and demanding process that requires years of study and training.

The first step is to find a reputable teacher or mentor who can guide you through the process of initiation and training.

Initiation into the Ifa tradition involves undergoing a series of rituals and ceremonies that connect you with the spiritual energies of the tradition.

This process can take several years to complete and involves learning the history, mythology, and symbolism of Ifa, as well as mastering the art of divination using tools such as the opele and ikin.

Once initiated, an Iyanifa must continue her training and study throughout her life, deepening her knowledge and understanding of the tradition and refining her skills as a diviner and spiritual leader.

The Role of an Ifa Priestess

The role of an Ifa priestess is multifaceted and complex.

On one hand, she is a spiritual leader and teacher, responsible for guiding individuals and communities on their spiritual path.

On the other hand, she is also a healer, using her knowledge of herbs, rituals, and divination to help people overcome physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges.

An Iyanifa must also be a skilled communicator, able to interpret the messages of the oracle and convey them in a way that is accessible and understandable to her clients.

She must be a compassionate listener and a wise counselor, helping people navigate the complexities of life and find their true purpose and destiny.

Challenges and Rewards of Becoming an Ifa Priestess

Becoming an Ifa priestess is not without its challenges.

The journey requires a great deal of dedication, commitment, and sacrifice.

It can be physically and emotionally demanding, requiring long hours of study, meditation, and prayer.

In addition to the personal challenges, Iyanifas also face social and cultural barriers.

The Ifa tradition has historically been a male-dominated space, and many people still hold onto patriarchal attitudes that limit women’s roles and opportunities.

However, despite these challenges, many women find the path of the Iyanifa to be deeply rewarding and fulfilling.

They report feeling a strong sense of connection to their spiritual roots and a deep sense of purpose in their work as spiritual leaders and healers.

In an interview with The Nation Online Nigeria, a woman named Oyekemi Omolara Ijiyode shared her journey of becoming an Ifa priestess in America.

She talked about the challenges she faced as a Black woman in a predominantly white society, and how her faith in Ifa helped her overcome these challenges and connect with her ancestral roots.

“I had to learn to navigate this world as a Black woman,” she said. “But Ifa has helped me find my voice, my strength, and my purpose.”


In conclusion, becoming an Ifa priestess is a journey of spiritual growth, personal transformation, and social responsibility.

It requires a deep commitment to one’s own spiritual development, as well as a willingness to serve others and contribute to the community.

While the path is not easy, many women find the rewards of becoming an Iyanifa to be immeasurable.

They report feeling a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment, as well as a strong connection to their spiritual roots and cultural heritage.

If you are considering becoming an Ifa priestess, we encourage you to seek out a reputable teacher or mentor who can guide you through the process of initiation and training.

Remember that the journey is a lifelong one, and that the rewards are not just for yourself, but for the community and the world around you.


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