Archive | November, 2009

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Apetebi: The Wife of Orunmila

Posted on 17 November 2009 by Babalawo Aworeni


An Apetebi is the name given to wife of Orunmila. It is also the name Orunmila gave to the wife of a Babalawo.

In the Odu Ifa Ogbe Sa, Ifa gives the story of how the Apeeibi became the wife of Orunmila. Ifa relates that Orunmila went to war in the town of Ilu obirin after all the efforts of the other Orisha were unsuccessful. Orunmila consulted Ifa, made the proper sacrifice and subsequently was able to defeat the uprising in Ilu obirin. The town of Iluobirin was inhabited by only women. These women were tied together with rope and taken back to the town where Orunmila resided. Once they arrived in town Orunmila’s advisers wanted to kill all of the women. Instead of killing the women Orunmila decided to make them Apetebi.

The difference between an Apetebi and an Iyanifa (female Ifa priest) is that an Apetebi is not necessarily initiated to Ifa but is a wife of a Babalawo. Whereas an Iyanifa is not only initiated to Ifa but is a learned Ifa priest.

After a woman marries a Babalawo, she is required to clean the area and house of Ifa every 5 days. It is necessary to keep the area where Ifa rests clean. She is always to take water to visitors when they arrive in the home. She must also honor her husband and cannot be rude. She should be respectful of all her husband;s omo Awo. She must be the keeper of her husband’s secrets and be careful of her words outside the home.

A Babalawo’s duties to an Apetebi include treating his wife with respect. He cannot beat or use harsh words towards her but must be cool tempered and patient. If a problem arises between a Babalawo and his his it must be solved amiably.

When feeding Ifa the Apetibi should bring Esin and use these materials to pray. There are many songs specific to Apetibi. In the Oketase temple in Ile-Ife, the Apetibi have Aro, which are roles specific to Apetibi in the Agboniregun and Ifa festivals. When Odu is being carried out Apetibi have Orin that is sung specifically at that time. During each occasion there are many necessary assignments and duties the Apetibi must perform. Through these many tasks the wives of Orunmila receive the blessings of Ifa.

Respect that is given to a Babalawo is also given to his Apetibi. The Apetibi has power. She was given cowries by Orunmila to divine for his clients in his absence. The Apetibi can divine with erindilogun. She has access to all of the Orisha houses. However she can never into the house of Odu or Oro. These places are forbidden to female. The Apetibi will wear Ide Ifa and traditional cloting. Another babalaow can never sit in the place where an Apetibi has just vacated.

The Apetebi is a valued member of the Ifa community.

Omo ti a fi etebi ki a ma pe ni Apetebi

Lubedo siko aya mi no

Ajagbakira aya mi ni se

Eri mi e dasi yayaya

Edo koyaya

O to ka daesi doko nu ka wa sere gba yi o

Emorora ka o emo ku aribo ode o

Ifa ati Orisa a gba wa o ase

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