Ifá speak in several odu’s about the descent of spiritual forces on earth. These tales, often from the family of Ogunda, Ogbe and Ofun, speaks about the desire for spiritual forces to join with matter, to make roads on earth.
The roads on earth were made by Tobi Ode, whose name means ‘the hunter who possesses great skill’. Prior to Tobi Ode and his successful opening of the roads on earth (Ikole Aye), there were other attempts of clearing the earthly wilderness for spiritual passage. Ikole Orun (the divine realm) had a desire to merge with Ikole Aye (the realm of earth visible and invisible). The first attempt was made by Obatala, the King of the white cloth and dreams. He made a cutlass of silver (àdá fadàkà), the metal of the moon, to cut his way through the earthly vegetation, but the silver blade got bent and destroyed. The lord of dream used dreams to cut through matter and thus opened a particular road for ingress between humans and gods, by the powers of the night and its ruler; the moon. The itan (story) tells how Obatala managed to cut the under bush, but was unable to clear the road it self for the hovering blockages of green born from the earth. Since Obatala cut the under bushes his powers still speak from the roots and soil – as in dreams, but the road itself was opened by iron. Iron in Yoruba is irin, the very same word given to the divine watchers, ‘irin’. So, there is reason to assume that irin (iron) was used to open the portals for irin (the watchers) to open the ways for angelic congress with humans and the earth (and let me remind that Yoruba takes 30% of its vocabulary from the sinaitic language ‘sin’ that is at the root for Hebrew).
As odu displays it, it was a celestial ordeal. Osagunda speaks about a challenge given to the Irumole (powers of light that dwells in heaven) hinting towards a contest of what spirit can mend the broken calabash; that is, the world as we know it. It was ‘the skilled hunter’ who accomplished the goal, and upon his accomplishment Orisa (the immortals) came to earth and established their mysteries. The hunter himself was given great honour. Tobi Ode was renamed as Ògún and forced to be an olori (chief), which he refused. Instead he went to the abodes of Obatala, the mountains. It did not took long before the people called him to come to restore order and he came, dressed in ariwo (palm fronds), like a forest lord. The first town he arrived to was Ire (good fortune), here he wrestled with all malefic powers and obtained the name of Onire, meaning ‘Chief of Good Fortune’. And so it went, city after city. Ògún’s path was a road of success until one day when he decided to stop. This happened at Ile Ife, the city of
, where he declined the honor given, to be first amongst the Orisa. Instead of assuming the crown of kingship he assumed the crown of his destiny, which was the crown of irin (iron). His destiny was the crown of igbo (the forest) and thus by opening the roads, he is dancing in its perimeters; not as its king but as its enabler. Thus Ògún, the spirit of iron is the force that cultivates the land, but still keeps him self at bay. As the opener of the roads he knows all civil mechanisms, but his choice, his destiny is to stay clear from all these things that belong to civilization. But he can be called upon to settle matters of ‘civilis’, born from his merging with ‘naturis’, which is the perspective from the mountain he chose to venture towards and make his dwelling. Love
Ògún is the son; marked and blessed for return, as he did he must make. But the return is enabled. And herein rests the mystery of fall and of the renegade angels – as seen from the divine design. Herein his role is marked and assumed by his retreat. Ase!