Destiny is a matter many perceive as mysterious and fatalistic and many perceive it as nonsense. We all are the makers of our own fortune by applying ambitions and skill in building our fortune. Failing to do this will call upon misfortune. But on what goals are we applying our skill? A Ifá proverb says: If we don’t know to where we are going, any road will do’. This is a call to know your destiny. The Yoruba word for destiny is kádàrá and is an elision of Ká, which signifies something coiled up, something cyclical that can be exercised, like a muscle can be flexed and àdà meaning ‘cutlass’ and àrá, ‘lightning’. This invites an understanding of destiny as something coiled up within our Iwa or character and Ori, consciousness that is subject to being uncoiled by the work of cutlass and lightening. We see here the manifestation of the powers of Obatàlá, Ogún, Sangó and Oyá and an understanding of destiny being imprinted by Obatàlá, who coils destiny up within us ready to be manifesting step by step as Ogún tempers us to find a way and Sangó quickens the soul to ascent. This means that destiny unfolds in the face of challenges. Ogún’s cutlass represents the ability to follow ones path, to cut away what is necessary, it is the power that clears the road onward – the path of destiny. In the negative manifestation Ogún’s cutlass invites to anger directed outwards to others. It is about blaming the world for ones failures. Doing this, instead of attracting the powers of the odu Ogunda, which is victory and strength, we invite in the wicked powers of Iká meji and resentment and hatred start to grow as we see phantom enemies flocking around us. Our world becomes one of threat and danger and the cutlass is directed towards the enemies we imagine and therefore manifest. The powers of Sangó and Oyá, the thunder and the storm are metaphors’ for transcendence. Lightning is divine inspiration that brings clarity of vision. If this vision is turned upwards we will experience Otura meji, the odu of visionary clarity, of destiny – if it is turned downwards we will be confronted with Okonron meji and Owonrin meji and we will invite encounters with Èsú at the crossroads of negative passions. Since destiny, the ká is the coil, symbolized both by the virtue of the snail and the golden section given by Obatàlá it tells us that our destiny is always good. We are the ones who alter the good destiny by lack of skill to unfold this coil of fate into a path of blessings. One ese ifa (Ifá verse) from Ogbésé tell us the following:
Isé orí rán mi ni mò ´nse o
Ònà Èdu rán mi ni mò ntò
Dífá fún Agbónbúla
Tí yòò gbón ibú là
Wón níkí ó rúno
Ó gbó; ó rúbo
N kò sai gbón ibú mi là
N kò sai gbón ibú mi níre
I pursue the task my destiny gave me
I follow the path Ifá appointed to me
This was divined for Agbombula
Who would drain the deepest waters to be prosperous
He was advised to make sacrifice
He heard and complied
I will not fail to drain the deepest waters in order to be prosperous
I will not fail to drain the deepest waters to achieve goodness and fortune
When Ifá uses the word ibú it has the meaning of being deep, something mysterious and difficult to get hold of. This has many levels; in one level Agbombula is actually given a very hard destiny, because it is difficult to ‘drain the deepest waters’. He is told that he needs to work hard and apply patience in reaching his goals. Ibú is also a symbol for wisdom, but true wisdom – so Ifá is telling him to pursue wisdom. He accepts and in the moment of acceptance he becomes the master of his own destiny.
If we pursue wisdom on the path of destiny we will always seek to understand. Wisdom is the faculty that makes us understand how to use our skill to reach our goal. The last line is significant, he chose to follow destiny because this will bring goodness and fortune. This is essential in Ifá metaphysics, fortune is always related to goodness or a good character. A good character is tranquil and slow to anger and judgment. A good person is somehow who is considerate and generous and possess humility. Humility simply means that one is capable of considering someone else’s opinion and admit fault, no matter who one has wronged. If we follow the path of destiny we will never embark or tremble upon someone else’s destiny – we will seek to understand when someone else’s misapprehension of their destiny afflict our and see if we can discover a remedy for mending this tormented person that crosses over in our path. We can only do this if we recognize that our judgments and self-centred angry outbursts on the world belong to us. If we admit this we maintain clarity of the path of destiny and we continue to be the masters of our destiny.
No matter the path of destiny – it has always the same goal – fortune and blessing. By revealing our destiny the Fates are simply advising about the steps best suited to achieve the fullness of all what is good. So, the question for self reflection is: on the path of discovery of Fate do you facilitate or complicate for your fellow wayfarers? Ase!