Ifá calls our world aiye akamara – a world of mystery. Mystery is understood to be both something hidden that moves creation but also it contains the idea of being puzzled by what we meet in the world.
The world is mystery on so many planes, both for good and bad. All these mysteries are lodged down in Ifá proverbs or its oral teachings. Often they overlap. One of these mysteries that keep on puzzling me, no matter how much I understand them are confined in the proverb:
Má sé wó tòbì àràkúnrín ré
It mans simply:
“Do not wear another man’s apron”
This proverb takes on a multiplicity of forms. In its most direct it is a reference to the priesthood of Sángó where it is customary to wear aprons around their waist, in the manner of woman. This is done in honour of the female powers that are the potency of bestowing and removing the crown of kingship. The priests of Sàngó wears the apron of women as a constant reminder of the need for recognizing ancestry, earth and his own position and how it came to be.
This proverb also speaks about the taboo against making court towards the wife of one’s comrades, because in this is revealed greed, jealousy and passions taking most unhealthy directions. To desire your brother’s wife is considered a most base reflection of bad character, a general tendency towards envy is revealed in this desire of transgressing upon another man’s territory. In the obvious manifestations we find various state of war coming from these forms of envy.
Envy can also take the shape of imposing your opinions upon someone else. When we impose our opinions upon people we are by our actions revealing arrogance. By imposing your opinion on another you are by proxy patronizing the person in question. It doesn’t matter if you feel that your opinion is god given, as in the case of evangelization or if your imposing attitude is because of your envy and lack of character as when you target someone just because they make you feel inferior.
In the modern world everybody insist on their right to hold personal opinions. In waging their rights the distinction between holding an uninformed opinion and an informed one is forgotten leading to attempts of taking another man’s apron. Of course there are often veiled admirations in these forms of envy but it still remains that it is rude. Typical for these forms of ‘apron-snatching’ is the irrational discourse. The imposer set out aggressively to convince you that his arguments are better than yours. When the flaws are pointed out a rational ambivalence seem to be triggered where fire is fed to ones opinions and reflected in defamation and personal attacks. It is here the envy becomes evident. When the imposed opinion shatters further distortions of fact and foundation is presented and the lack of fact is substituted with fire and passion. The envy turns hot and violent. It is all a game of passion where a distorted flame of Sángó seeks to besiege what is not his.
It is envy projected upon you; it is the essence of the ‘evil eye’. Ifá understands envy to be like a smoke or ashes thrown against the wind; this can also be the effect of imposing ones opinion upon others. By constantly throwing ashes (judgments/values/opinions) towards someone will make the envy one to be covered in his own venom and in the end will be a monument of shame amongst his peers. Ifá is quite clear in telling repeatedly that unless asked don’t give your opinion to fellow men. At times these personal opinions projected upon one’s person can take quite insane dimensions when we encounter people who are greedy for our apron. Our initial reaction is surprise, contempt and anger. Fire flames up in us as we enter into this vibration. When this link is established we can allow the envy of the imposer to ignite us or we can break this link and avoid being food for envy. Of course both actions tend to make the imposing one entering a state of madness and fury – even enmity. Ifá speaks in the omo odu ìká’wónrín about an extreme concentration of enimity and evil. It speaks about how evil was surrounding Owon, which is the principle of spreading abundance. In this situation Owon was not raging war – but he was laughing. He was laughing because he had sacrificed his passions on the altar of love. The verse tells us concerning the reason of the advice of making this sacrifice:
'So that their enemies would not be able to
Remove them from their positions,
And so that their adversaries would not be
Able to detract from their honour
Anyone who says love should not
Expand in the world
Will be destroyed in the world'
Ifá tells us that the principle of abundance is rooted in joy and love – which are attributes of a person who is interested in cultivating good character. If you do have the growth of good character as a goal, you will also be met with opposition because good character provokes those that possess none and in doing this your character is also put to the test. Character can be like a mirror sparkles in goodness to a blinding reflection of scolding sun rays that might infuriate those infested with envy and a negativity. Ifá says that a good person run the happy risk of provoking the world by its mere presence in the world.
So; in the end; ‘don’t wear another man’s apron’ boils down to not imposing your beliefs, desires or person upon someone else. It is about respect and character supported by love. It is about self awareness and the realization that we should seek what bring joy to our lives and not entertain our envy, hubris and distorted sense of self importance it be about lies and deception of fact or of one’s station and destiny.
And I say, with Ifá, in the end of ìká’wónrín that if love is what marks our steps:
‘May we live long
may the mark we leave not be wiped out in the world’