Orunmila came to the world and rose to a high post, both as a businessman and a babalawo. His success rivaled that of the local king. This is what his enemies used to persuade the king that Orunmila was trying to outshine him. Not only that, they claimed that Orunmila was practicing human sacrifice. To substantiate their case, Orunmila's enemies went to exume two beheaded corpses and hid them in his backyard.
When the king's guards went to search Orunmila's compound for evidence, they found the corpses. Orunmila was quickly arrested. While awaiting trial, Orunmila called out to his wife, asking her to go consult Ifa with his babalawo. The babalawo advised apetebii to roast a rat and offer it to Orunmila's Ori and promise Ori a he-goat if he would be delivered from this calamity. They did as instructed.
It was then that Esu transformed himself into the appearance of an itinerant babalawo who wandered into the kingdom on a spiritual mission. When he heard the story of Orunmila's detention he asked the king if he was really certain of the allegations because the penalty of incarcerating a babalawo was catastrophic for the entire kingdom. Esu advised the king to investigate the matter very well.
The king sent for the bodies in order to get a closer look at the evidence. Upon further review, the guards discovered that these were actually people who had been buried recently. They even discovered the burial places where they had been disturbed. They revealed that interviews with Orunmila's family and students all confirmed that he strictly forbade human sacrifice in any form. Orunmila does not deal in such practices at all.
It was then that the guards apprehended Orunmila's accusers, who were sentenced to death by execution. For his part, Orunmila was released and made the Shashere of the kingdom. To celebrate the occasion, Orunmila hosted a large feast for the entire community.
In another instance of the same Holy Odu, Ifa teaches us the following:
One's senses sleep and awaken with one
One's Ori is his avenger
Too much knowledge of Ifa creates problems
That was Ifa's message to Orunmila on the day that he would solve Orisanla's problem and be falsely accused by the divinities. Orisanla called Orunmila to consult Ifa for him. He was told to make sacrifice with his only white cloth. Orisanla offered his only white cloth, which left him naked.
When the deities found Obatala naked, they asked what had happened to his cloth. Orisanla replied that Orunmila took it as a sacrifice. The deities became angry. They ostracized Orunmila. They accused Orunmila of bad manners and punished him with a sanction which required that he provide an elaborate feast for all the orisa. They knew this was impossible, because Orunmila did not have the resources to have such a feast.
Orunmila went to consult Ifa for directions. He was told to appease Esu. It was Esu who went and gathered the materials for the feast, far beyond the expectations of the orisa.
In both instances, we see the significance of feasting the spiritual community, both as a way to celebrate as well as a way to atone. Orisa Lifestyle is, by definition, a collective experience. Eating, drinking and sitting together is a way to acknowledge our differences but not allow them to define us. The elders say that there is nothing like two friends who never fight and two foes who never reconcile. The Odunfa Banquet is an invitation to affirm our common ground and proclaim our shared vision, too. Please join us! We welcome the Good Spirit! Live the medicine!