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I. The Creation.

The relationships of the various gods are differently stated by different chiefs and priests of f, and also by the same men at different times.

It appears, however, that Armf ruled in Heaven, and sent his sons, Odwa and Orsha, to a dark and watery region below to create the world and to people it. According to the legends told in f, the gods were not sent away as a punishment; but there is some story of wrong-doing mentioned at wu in the Jbu country. Armf gave a bag full of arts and wisdom to Orsha, and the kingship to Odwa.

On the way from Heaven Odwa made Orsha drunk, and stole the bag. On reaching the edge of Heaven, Odwa hung a chain over the cliff and sent down a priest, called Ojmu, with a snail-shell full of magic sand and a "five-fingered" fowl. Ojmu threw the sand on the water and the fowl kicked it about. Wherever the fowl kicked the sand, dry land appeared. Thus the whole world was made, with f as its centre.

When the land was firm, Odwa and Orsha let themselves down the chain, and were followed by several other gods. Orsha began making human beings; but all was dark and cold, because Armf had not sent the sun with Odwa. So Odwa sent up, and Armf sent the sun, moon and fire. (Fire was sent

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on a vulture's head, and that is why the vulture has no feathers on its head.
) Then the gods began to teach their arts and crafts to men.

After many years Orsha made war upon Odwa to get back his bag. The various gods took sides, but some looked on. The medicine-men provided amulets for the men on both sides. Armf was angry with his sons for fighting and threw his thunderbolts impartially--for he was the god of thunder in those days. The war is said to have lasted 201 years, and came to an end only because the gods on Odwa's side asked him to give back the bag. Odwa, in a huff, transformed to stone and sank beneath the earth, taking the bag with him. His son, gun, the god of iron, then became king.

Ii. Odm
'La, The First Rn Of F

According to tradition, when the gods transformed, they ordered Odm'la to speak for them, to be a father to the whole world and to remain on Earth for ever. In the words of an old chief: "It is our ancient law that the spirit of Odm'la passes from body to body, and will remain for ever on the earth. The spirits of the gods are in their shrines, and Odm'la speaks for them "

I think the rn claims to be Odm'la himself. This is a matter of dogma, and I express no opinion.

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Iii. Odwa.

There is little to add to the story of Odwa told in Parts I, Ii & Iii.

Arba told me another version of the end of the War of the Gods: Orsha and Odwa agreed to stop the fighting on condition that each should have a man for sacrifice every seven months. Fourteen months was then regarded as a year.

Another story Arba told me was: "The Moon is a round crystal stone, which is with Odwa. They take it in front when they go to sacrifice to Odwa--otherwise the god would injure the man who offers the sacrifice." Odwa is said to have taken the stone from a Moslem, and to have been in the habit of looking at it.

When I went to Odwa's shrine, there was a great knocking of doors to warn the god of my arrival. I did not see the stone.

Iv. Orsha And The Creation Of Man.

The legend of Orsha's creation of Man is mysterious. He is said to have thrown images into wombs. I was once told he put signs into women's hands. I can only account for this story by the suggestion that it may date from a period when men had not discovered the connection between sexual intercourse and the birth of children.

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As to spirit life before birth, the priest of Armf said "A child may have been with the spirits, but when he is born he forgets all about it."

The sacrifice offered to Orsha consists of eight goats, eight fishes, eight rats and eight kola-nuts.

Orsha was a god of great knowledge (apart from the contents of the bag which was stolen from him), and taught his son, Oluorgbo--who, according to tradition, is the ancestor of the white races.

The rn attributes ascendancy of Europeans to the up-bringing of Oluorgbo.

Our ancestor has need of eggs, fowls, sheep, kola--and snails.

V. Obalufon.

Little is told of Oblufon, the husband of Mrimi.

He was a man sent from Heaven by Armf, and was a weaver and a worker in brass. He also showed the people how to tap the palms for palm-wine.

Apart from that, "he took care of everybody as a mother of a child, and used to go round the town to drive out sickness and evil spirits."

His image represents him as a king.

Vi. Mrimi.

Mrimi is the great heroine of the f legends. The story of her sacrifice which I have adopted is Arba's version.

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went also to Mrimi's priest, who showed me her image--of painted wood and no artistic merit--representing a naked negress. His story was much the same as Arba's; but, in his version, Mrimi sacrificed her only son, Ysu, for the whole world and not to any god. It would appear that some early Christian missionary had recognised the Virgin Mary in Mrimi; but it may be doubted whether the missionary had heard of Mrimi's visit to bo (See Note Vii).

Vii. Bo And The Di Festival.

The story of the bo Wars is that some colonists went from f to found a new town which they called bo; but as the gods had given them nothing, they invaded f. On the first occasion they were driven back; but the next year they came dressed in grass, terrified the people of f and took the men as slaves. (And in those parts of Africa dead kings and gods in need of sacrifice are believed to prefer slaves to free men).

Then Mrimi consulted fa, and was told to sacrifice six goats and six bags of cowries to shu, and go as a harlot to bo. Her mission was successful, and she returned with the necessary information--only to find the gods had transformed to rivers, stones, etc. (It seems that gun did not transform, as he was afterwards displaced by his son, Ornyan).

Acting on Mrimi's advice, Ornyan set fire to the bo soldiers on their next inroad.

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The end of bo is commemorated by di (the festival of Mrimi, which began on the 21st November in 1913). Men dressed in hay parade the town, but have to run for their lives when others pursue them with fire. Fire is also taken out to the Bush.

On the first day of di, the rn appears, but must remain in the Afin (Palace) for the remaining seven. During this period the women do honour to Mrimi's share in the victory by emulating her deed, and their husbands are not allowed to interfere.

The meaning of the legend is doubtful. There may have been such a town as bo, but it seems likely that the Festival is connected with agriculture.

bo (or gbo) means the Bush, and Mrimi may have advised the customary burning of the Bush to prepare the land for crops. The date of the Festival (early in the dry season), the fire and the men dressed in hay, all suggest this interpretation. On the other hand, the same arguments, combined with the seclusion of the rn and the license of the women, would favour the view that di was the more general Festival of the Saturnalia. Possibly it was so originally; and the demons to be driven out appeared so material in the form of tropical vegetation that bo (the Bush to be burned) has obscured the former meaning of the Festival. If this be so, Mrimi's mission to bo may be a later fable to account for the license of the women before farming operations begin.

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Viii. Oshun.

shun was a woman (or goddess) in high favour with both Odwa and Orsha. "It were well were shun with us," said Odwa, and Orsha agreed. Accordingly she took her place on Odwa's left, Orsha being on his right; that is to say shun was considered the third personage in f.

The second chief in f, the Obalfe, claims descent from shun for himself and half the people of his quarter of the town. He has a well in his compound, called shun, which is said to be the actual water into which shun transformed herself. He says his first forefather took a calabash of the water with him when he went to war, and this gallon became the source of the River. The source is forty miles from f, and perhaps the Obalfe is right. The well is never dry; and it is needless to add that the water has many curative properties. One would be surprised if a descendant of shun died, except from other causes.

"At the time of the shun Festival," says Obalfe, "all her tribe collect sheep, goats, yams, agidi, palm-wine, kola, rats, fish and pigeons, and bring them to me for the feast. shun gets the blood of goats, sheep and pigeons, the head of a rat--but not of a fish. We eat the fish--although they are the children of shun and consequently our brothers." shun is more strait-laced than her descendants.

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Ix. Olkun

There is a pond in f called kun (the Ocean), where Olkun transformed to water. Thence she flowed underground, and came out in the sea.

Her priest showed me a bronze head of Olkun, which has considerable merit. He told me that, in return for sacrifice, Olkun gives beads. In Benin, Olkun is considered to be the Goddess of Wealth as well as of the Sea; and a King of Benin, who must have been alive about 1400 A.d., is said to have found the treasures of Olkun laid out on the shore and to have looted her coral.

X. Ogun And Oranyan

gun was the son of Odwa, and is usually regarded as the God of Iron and of War.

According to his chief-priest (the Oshgun), he went away to war and captured a woman called Deshju, whom he made his wife. When gun returned to f, Odwa took Deshju from his son. There is therefore some doubt as to whether gun was the father of Ornyan--who was born with a leg, an arm and half his body black, the remainder being white (according to the Oshgun).

gun may have had other attributes. He may have been a Phallic Deity, because there are hewn stones in f, called the staves of gun, which appear

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to be of Phallic origin. It is also noteworthy that, at the time of his Festival, gun is said to kill any marriageable girl he may find in her mother's house. (This happened once to Arba; the prospective son-in-law could not produce £5, and Arba, who gives no credit, lost a potential five pound note in the shape of his daughter). Further, when a child is circumcised the severed skin is put in a calabash of gun "to worship him (together with a snail in order that the wound may heal)."

gun may also have been the Sun-God (or a worshipper of the Sun-God). His festival is commonly called Oljjor (Lord of Day). Oshogun says gun was Oljjor; Arba says Oljjor was someone else, the confusion being due to the circumstance that the two festivals take place at the same time. In this connection, the half-and-half colouring of Ornyan is suggestive.

The dog is the principal animal used for sacrifice to gun. Ornyan prefers a ram, a rat, kola and much palm-wine.

Eventually, Ornyan displaced his father, who planted his staves in f and went away. I have presumed the death of Osnyi, as I cannot otherwise explain the fact that gun "went away" instead of transforming as the other gods had done. In his turn, Ornyan "went away: he had too much medicine to die."

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Xi. The Cult Of Peregn

Peregn 'Gbo (or Peregn gbo) seems to have been a god who caused the forest to bring forth birds and beasts. He was a son of God, and came to earth with Ebbor (worship) and di, a god who causes men to do what they know to be wrong.

It is evident from the incantation below that Peregn 'Gbo was originally approached by people in need of children, but nowadays the same formula is recited by the priest whatever a man may be asking for. The priest tells the man to bring a sheep, kola, palm-oil, a pigeon, a cock, and a hen; also a live goat for the priest.

The priest kills the sheep, pigeon, cock and hen. The three birds and a part of the sheep are placed in separate broken pots with palm-oil. The man is then told to produce nine pennyworth of kowries, which are also put in the pots. The priest takes the balance of the mutton in addition to the live goat. The priest then faces the pots, puts pepper (tar) into his mouth, and recites the incantation:--

\"gbo lbi ror"

The forest bore the sloth.

\"ror lbi gubor"

The sloth bore the monkey.

\"gubor lbi han-nmaj"

The monkey bore the leopard.

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\"Ahan-nmaj lbi relu-agma"

The leopard bore the guinea-fowl.

\"relu-agma lbi ekus"

The guinea-fowl bore the hawk.

\"kus lbi ju-gbona"

The hawk bore the evil spirit who guards Heaven's gate.

\"ju-gbona lbi fi kere-tkere hin ku."

The evil spirit bore the generative organs of men and women.

\"Peregn 'Gbo ni abob Iml."

Untranslated. Imale is Peregn 'Gbo's messenger and is sent to do what the man asks.

\"Oriymi la-popo"

Good luck is human.

\"se mi lp okte ba"

The father of a lucky child is lucky.

\"Atorladrla Igbad lordfa fun Ornmila nigbat nwon fi ojor ku re dla."

Atorladorla Igbad approached fa on behalf of Ornmila when they had fixed his death for the morrow. (Atorladrla Igbad is a good spirit who keeps on postponing an evil deed contemplated by someone.)

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\"Ornmila ni ktikun tkun ktiker tiker."

Ornmila says menstruation will cease, and pregnancy will begin.

\"Ornmila ni on ko ynle orun."

Ornmila says that he (the child) will not go to Heaven ("i.e." will be born alive).

When the priest has finished the recitation, the man takes the pots to the shrine of shu (the Devil). The first ten sentences are in praise of Peregn 'Gbo, who ordered Atorladrla Igbad to go to fa, and is now asked to send Imle to Ornmila with the applicant's request. (The incantation is apparently in some form of archaic Yoruba, and the Babalwo had to explain much of it to the interpreter. Some of the translations are probably very loose).

Xii. The Divination Of Fa (a Fragment)

fa was the Messenger of the Gods, and is consulted by the Yoruba on all subjects.

His priests (called Babalwo) profit considerably by divination, which they perform with sand on a circular board, or with a charm called Okpll.

Okpll consists of eight pieces of bark on a string. These eight are arranged in fours.

Each of the pieces of bark may fall either with the outside or the inside showing. Consequently

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each set of four may fall in sixteen different ways having different names and meanings.

The sixteen names are:--

gb--all face down--inside showing.

Oyku--all face up--outside showing.














Offun or Orngun.

When Okpll is thrown on the ground and the two fours are identical the resultant is called:--

Ogbe Meji ("i.e." Two Ogbes)
Egutan Meji

Oyeku Meji
Ossa Meji

Iwori Meji
Ertte Meji

di Meji
Eturah Meji

Obra Meji
Ologbon Meji

Oknran Meji
Ekka Meji

Roshun Meji
Oshe Meji, or

Aworin Meji
Offun Meji

These are called the Sixteen Messengers of fa.

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The chance, however, of the four on the Babalwo's left agreeing with that on his right is only one in sixteen. The other fifteen combinations which may appear with Ogbe on the right are called: Ogbe Yeku, Ogbe Wori, Ogbe Di, &c., similarly with the other Messengers of fa. These combinations are called the children of the Messenger who appears on the right. Thus, Ogbe Yeku is a child of Ogbe; Oyeku Logbe is a child of Oyeku.

From this it will be seen that Okpll can show 256 combinations.

"Procedure".--A man comes to a Babalwo to consult fa. He places a gift of cowries (to which he has whispered his needs) before the Babalwo. The latter takes Okpll and places it on the cowries. He then says: "You, Okpll, know what this man said to the cowries. Now tell me." Then he lifts Okpll and lays it out on the floor. From the messenger or child which appears the Babalwo is supposed to deduce that his client wants a son, has stolen a goat, or has a toothache, as the case may be. He then tells him what he must bring as a sacrifice to achieve his ends. In all cases the sacrifice (or a large part of it) is offered to shu (the devil) for fear that he might undo the good work. For instance, the client is poor and needs money: di Mji appears, and the Babalwo tells his client to bring a dog, a fowl, and some cowries and palm-oil. The man splits the dog and the fowl; puts palm-oil and

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cowries inside them, and takes them to shu. The Babalwo presumably takes the bulk of the cowries for himself.

The appearance of gbe Mji promises long life, but a goat must be brought.

If a man has no children and Oyku Mji appears, he must bring a ram and a goat.

Iwri Mji demands eggs, a pigeon, and cowries from a sick man.

di Mji.--As above.

Obra Mji.--A sacrifice of 2 cocks, 2 hens, and 250 cowries is needed to purify after menstruation.

Oknran Mji.--A goat and 500 cowries bring on menstruation.

Rshun Mj.--A she-goat and 2 hens to cure a headache.

Awrin Mji.--4 cocks and 800 cowries to bring about the death of one's enemy.

gutan Mji.--A ram (large) and 1,200 cowries to cure a bad bellyache.

Ossa Mji.--Butcher's meat and 4 pigeons to drive away witchcraft.

Ertte Mji.-2 pigeons, 2 cocks, and 600 cowries to get children.

Etrah Mji.--One large gown, a, sheep, and 300 cowries to cure eye disease.

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Olgbon Mji.--Sacrifice 4 snails and 4 pigeons if you suspect someone wishes to poison you.

Ekka Mji.--4 hens, oil, and 700 cowries for earache.

Offun Mji.--If children keep on dying, sacrifice 16 snails, 16 rats, 16 fishes, and 1,600 cowries, and the following children will live.

Osse Mji.--8 snails, 8 pigeons, and 800 cowries for children.

Ogbe Yeku.--(a) If a man has no money, he must bring 4 pigeons, 2 shillings, and soap. The Babalwo mixes leaves ("ewe-ire") with the soap as a charm, and the man must use it for a bath.

(b) If a man is very ill, he must offer 3 he-goats and 5s. 6d. He will then be better.

Ogbe Wori.--(a) If a man is sick, he must offer 8s. and a sheep. Otherwise he will die.

(b) If a man needs money, he must bring thread and 6 pigeons and buy soap. The Babalwo gets "ewe aji" and puts them on the soap with the pigeon's blood. The thread is put inside the soap. The man then washes.

(c) If a man has committed a crime, he must bring 7 cocks and 35s. The Babalwo kills the cocks, and takes the 35s. for himself. He takes the sand of Ogbe Wori from the fa board and puts some on each cock's breast, with 260 cowries. Five of the cocks are then

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given to shu and the other 2 are taken to a place where three roads meet. Then either a necessary witness will not appear in court or the accused will be found not guilty.

(d) If two men want the same woman, and Ogbe Wori appears (when one of them consults fa), the Babalwo asks for 4 hens and a he-goat. The woman then becomes the client's wife. shu gets the hens and the goat's blood; the Babalwo, the goat.

Xiii. A Cure For Sudden And Serious Illnesses.

The priest puts pepper (atre) into his mouth and recites:--

"Aklej! Aklej!"

A spirit who grips a man by the throat and makes breathing quick and uneasy.


A spirit who causes eye-disease.


Spirits which trouble sick persons.


Spirits now called Anjnu, who cause delirium.


One who causes bad bellyache.


Spirits who cause severe headaches.

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One "who has a very sharp edge to his cloth," and causes backache.


Imps seen at night in white cloths. Now called Elr. They afflict children.

"Olmo-ro, niyye shuk!"

"Olmo-ro, who art the mother of evils." She does no harm but is invoked because her children, already named, will listen when prayed in their mother's name.

"Arnposh rek!"

The husband of Olmo-ro and the father of the evil spirits. If he is not invoked the sick man dies. He is also called upon to stop his sons' mischief.

"shuku den lnyimi!"

"Evil, leave my back!" When this has been spoken, the spirits leave the sick man.

"Bi bura Nla ba de ti mi, apyinda."

"If the Great Evil comes to the river's bank, he will turn back."

bura Nla is the master of all the evils. If called by the other spirits, he comes to the further bank of the river Arnkenken, which is described as the "water of Heaven". If he crosses to the near side, the sick man dies.

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After finishing the incantation, the priest takes some of the pepper from his tongue and puts in on the patient's head. The patient recovers, and is able to take nourishment at once.

(The Yoruba of this is probably archaic. The interpreter did not understand it, and the Babalwo had to explain).

Xiv. Ajja (the Dust-devil).

\"Ajja was a doctor who lived with Armf, and came to earth with another doctor. They made various medicines--one to kill a man when asked to do so. He pronounced certain words, and the man died. He could also kill with his walking-stick. He lives on ke Armf (ke ra), and can only be approached through Armf (the father of the gods), because he is a bad man. He is worshipped near Armf's shrine.

"When he wishes to make trouble, he comes through the town. He sometimes sets fire to a house by picking the fire up and putting it on the thatch.

"When a man meets Ajja, he should protect himself by putting pepper in his mouth and saying: "Ahanryen, Fgada Shaomi" (names of Ajja), "ki ru re bmi" (put your tail in water). The man should then spit the pepper at Ajja.

"Sometimes Ajja turns into a big lizard."

According to another story, Ajja is a devil with one leg who throws men down and breaks their ankles.

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