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This is the story regarding Orunmila's first wife, Iwa (character), and how his
mistreatment of her caused him much hardship. It was the subject of Baba Abimbola's seminal
work, which provided an in depth glimpse of the foundation of Yoruba ethics. It is one of my
favorite stories, not so much for its moralizing, I hate moralizing, but it is just a beautiful bit of
prose that resonates so deeply with African thought. It has commentary from awo Falokun that i
think helps us understand it better, but after the first time, read it again and internalize your own
understanding. ase..

K m rgb tagb, w. K m rgb tagb, w.

If we take a wooden object made from ragba and strike it against the calabash, let us hail Iwa. If
we take a wooden object made from ragba to strike the calabash, let us hail Iwa.
Commentary: The wooden stick from ragba used for invocation is being used to invoke good
character suggesting that good character is the foundation of our spiritual discipline.
K m rgb k fi tkuta, w. L df fn rnml, Baba nlo gbw nyw. Nigb t
rnml yk gbyw,
If we take a wooden object made from ragba and strike a stone, let us hail Iwa. Ifa divination was
performed for the Spirit of Destiny when the father was going to marry Iwa. The first time that
the Spirit of Destiny married a wife,
Commentary: To say Orunmila is taking Iwa as a wife is to say Orunmila is integrating the
masculine and feminine aspects of his ori which is the psychological function of all initiation.
w l gb nyw. w s r, Sr l b i. Ngb t rnml f gb w nyw, w n, k
Iwa was the one he married. Iwa was the daughter of Patience. When the Spirit of Destiny
proposed to Iwa, she said it was all right.
Commentary: Iwa is the Yoruba word for character, and here character is rooted in the idea of
patience which means commitment to slow steady progress.
un f o, Sgbn kin kan ni o. niyn k l un jde o. nyin k un nl omi j
niyn k fy je un . . .
She said that she would marry him. There was one taboo to observe. Nobody should send her
away from her matrimonial home. She must not be used carelessly as one uses rainwater.
Nobody must punish her unnecessarily . . . Commentary: This means there is no excuse for not

developing good character, whatever happens, whatever our circumstance we need to stay
committed to the idea of living a life based on the Ifa principles of good character.
rnml n, 'H Olrun m j'. un tj e, un k o, un g . L b gb w
The Spirit of Destiny said; "The Creator will not let me do such a thing." He said that he would
take care of her. He said the he would treat her with love, and he would treat her with kindness.
He then married Iwa.
Commentary: This is a poetic way of saying we are born good and blessed people and that we
have a spiritual obligation to maintain good character as an expression of our relationship with
the Creator.
gb t gb w nyw, gb t p ttt, l b s u . . . L b br s da w lm. B gb e,
After a very long time, he became unhappy with her . . . he started to worry Iwa. If she did one
thing, he would complain that she did it wrong.
Commentary: This suggests that the commitment to developing good character is a challenge and
that we are often tempted to give up on the process because the discipline of developing good
character is constantly confronted by jealously, dishonesty, impatience, denigration and
ungrounded conflict and we still need to maintain our commitment to good character.
A n k gbe e 're. B s, A n k s re. Ngb w r i p whl n ppj, ni w b n k
bur, un lo sle baba un.
If she did another thing, he would also complain. When Iwa saw that the trouble was too much
for her, Iwa said that she would go to her father's house.
Commentary: The idea of going to our fathers house is the idea that when the discipline of
developing good character becomes too much we revert to childlike behavior. In other words we
regress to an earlier stage of development and pretend that the issues that are confronting us in
the present are not real. In psychological terms this is called avoidance.
kb Oldmar s ni baba r n, Sr, baba w. L b k jde nl, l b gbde Orun lo.
Her father was the first born of the Creator. His name was Patience, the father of Iwa. She
gathered her calabash of utensils, and left her home to go live in Heaven. Commentary: When
odu refers to a person returning to Heaven it is a reference to connecting with the higher self. We
are always connected to the higher self through our connection with ori inu which psychologists
call the unconscious self. So returning to Heaven is a reference to the fact that the difficult in
developing good character is causing problems that are motivated from an unconscious or
invisible source and Heaven or Orun is the Yoruba word for invisible realms of Being.
Ngba trnml y d, to se, 'E k il, E k il, E k il. w k yoj.

When the Spirit of Destiny returned, he said; "Greetings to the people of the house, greetings to
the people of the house, greetings to the people of the house. But Iwa did not respond.
Commentary: The reference to returning to the house is a reference to Orunmila examining
himself, looking at his own conscious state of Being. When Ifa speaks of a house it is generally
referring to ori.
Baba w br p w d? won ar il yku ni won k r w. 'Nbo l lo? lo oj ni?
se kin kan ni?'
The father asked for Iwa. The other members of the family said that they did not see her. "Where
has she gone? Did she go to the market? Did she go somewhere?
Commentary: The father or the conscious component of ori is asking the self what happened to
good character why is not evident in the home meaning in the ori of Orunmila.
Tttt, l b f j kn eta, l b lo sl alwo. Wn w fn un p w ti s lo ni. K ma w a
lo sl Alr. Ngb t dl Alr, n,
He asked these questions for a long time until he added two cowries to three, and went to the
house of a diviner. They told him that Iwa had run away. He was advised to go and find her in
Alara's house. When he arrived at Alara's house he said;
Commentary: The reference to cowries is a reference to the first four principles of odu ifa
meaning life, death, transformation and rebirth. It is the movement through these four principles
that maintains our connection to the spiritual discipline of maintaining good character. When we
take this issue to the house of Alara we are asking for Divine intervention. Alara from the elision
ala ra meaning the light of consciousness spreads.
K m rgb, 'K fi tagb, w l n w o, w.
'If we take a wooden object made of ragba wood, and strike it against the calabash, Iwa is the one
we are seeking. Let us hail Iwa. If we take a wooden object made of ragba,
Commentary: The process of reconnecting to good character begins with the commitment to
using the invocations and tools of Ifa sacred technology to invoke good character.
K fi tagb, w l n w o, w. K m rgb, K fi tkta,
and strike it against the calabash, Iwa is the one we are seeking. Let us hail Iwa. If we take a
wooden object made from ragba and strike it against stone,
Commentary: Stricking a stick against a stone is a reference to asking Orisa to assist us in the
process of maintaining spiritual discipline as it relates to the development of good character.
w l n w o, w. Alr o rw fn mi? w l n w o, w.

Iwa is the one we are seeking. Let us hail Iwa. Alara, if you see Iwa let me know. Iwa is the one
we are seeking, Iwa.
Commentary: The odu is asking Alara or Divine consciousness to shed light on the problem of
reclaiming good character.
Alr lun rw, Baba tn dl Orangn ile Il, Omo eye abiy hruhru. n, nj rw
fun? lun rw.
Alara said that he did not see Iwa. The father then went to the house of Orangun, king of the city
of Ila, offspring of one bird with plenty of feathers. He asked whether Orangun seen Iwa.
Orangun said that he had not seen her.
Commentary: Alara or Divine consciousness is being asked to find Orangun from the elision O
ran oogun meaning the Spirit of the application of medicine which is another way of saying show
me the ebo to fix this problem. Alara is looking for the medicine in Ila from the elision I ala
meaning I am light or the light my consciousness. The verse is saying the medicine for fixing our
loss of good character is within us in our higher self.
K sbi t b d. Ngb t p tt, tn bi k ipri r lr. P n w w tt dl Alr,
There was hardly any place he didn't go, after a long time, he turned back and inquired from his
divination set. He said that he looked for Iwa in the house of Alara.
Commentary: The personal quest for salvation was ineffective so Orunmila turns to divination or
ancestral wisdom in search of a solution.
n w a dl Ajer, n w a dl rngn. n w dd gbr, awo Olwu. n w a
dd seegb, awo gb. n w a dd tkms, awo de Ijs.
He looked for her in the house of Ajero, he looked for her in the house of Orangun, he looked for
her in the house of Ogbere, Ifa priest of the Creator.
Commentary: Through divination Orunmila sought guidance from Ajero from the elision aje ro
meaning the spirit of the power of the mothers descends. He sought guidance from Orangun
meaning the spirit of medicine. He sought guidance form Ogbere from the elision ogbe rere
meaning the good fortune that is manifest in the odu eji ogbe.
n w a dd spurt, awo de Rmo. Wn n w ti lo de Orun. n n f loo m un
nb. Wn n k bur, t b le se bo.
He looked for her in the house of Osepurutu, Ifa priest of Remo. They told him that Iwa had
gone to Heaven. He said that he would like to go and take her from there. They said that was all
right, provided he performed sacrifice.

Commentary: Orunmila is seeking guidance from the odu Ose tura which is the odu that gives
birth to fertility and is the odu that causes the expansion or ori in tefa making Orunmila elerin
ipin meaning witness to Creation. Here Orunmila is asking to be reinitiated so he can expand his
consciousness and solve the problem.
Wn ni k r awn, k foyin fn Esu. L b foyin rbo fn l, Esu. Nigb t Esu to oyin l,
Esu ni 'nn l dn t by?
They asked him to offer a net, and said to give honey to the Spirit of the Divine Messenger, He
offered the honey and when the Divine Messenger tasted the honey he said; 'What is this that is
so sweet?'
Commentary: Giving Esu honey is asking Esu to sweeten our life meaning remove the pain
caused by losing our connection to good character.
Ni rnml b di Egn, l b dde Orun. L b tn br s korin. In k l'rnml w.
Ltoj won r l ti r w. L b so m on . . . won pabi b sobi dire b s aso lj.
The Spirit of Destiny put on the costume of the Ancestors and went to Heaven, he started to sing
again. The Divine Messenger played a trick on him and went to find Iwa.
Commentary: Here Orunmila goes into possession with the ancestors in an effort to solve the
'w, o ha sese bun, O si fi'un sl lde ay, olo'. w n b ni, l j kun s lo,
The Divine Messenger said that a man has come to Heaven who is looking for you. Iwa left her
hiding place,
Commentary: This means we find our good character in the wisdom of the ancestors.
Kun n foknbal'rnmln k dkun, k se Sr, k klo. w gb,
She went to meet him where he was singing. The Spirit of Destiny was dressed as an Ancestor,
he embraced her . . . Those who change bad luck into good opened his costume.
Commentary: The fundamental medicine of Ifa is to change bad luck into good luck meaning to
re-establish our connection to good character.
Sgbn n k bur. Ohun tun se s tn k. n, 'w rnml, K o maa w pada lo
sde ay o. T o b pad db.
The Spirit of Destiny asked; 'Iwa why did you behave the way you did? You left me on earth and
went away. She said that was true. She said that she left because of the way that she was treated,
that was why she had run away.

Commentary: When we ignore the taboos that make good character a habit, we lose the ability to
easily access good character.
Gbogbo nnkan tun ti k n w fn o tlt l, k o ma se o. K o ma se dada. K
ohw plpl. K o tj aya,
She left so that she could have peace of mind. The Spirit of Destiny begged her to have patience
with him, and to follow him back to earth. She refused. She told him to go back to earth and to
honor the taboos she had given him. Commentary: This means we are never perfect and that we
constant strive to do better.
K o tj omo. Ltn lo, o n foj r w by. Sgbn un maa ba yn gb. Sgbn b o
b ti se un s, b ni ay re se ma t s. Ase.
She told him to behave with good character, to take care of his wife, to take care of his children,
you will see me no more, but I will abide with you and whatever you do to me will determine
how orderly your life will be. May it be so.
Commentary: This is a reference to the fundamental idea that the development of good character
brings good fortune.