IWURE/ISURE

Iwure, breaking down the words would give us iwu and ire which mean to bring forth/unearth and goodness/blessings . Isure on the other hand is from isu and ire  which means to come/break forth from underneath a surface and goodness/blessings respectively. 

The unearthing and breaking forth come from the ground (ile), holds important significance in Yoruba belief. It is believed that blessing/goodness are made available via ile empowered by Olodumare irrespective of the deities one worships or is aligned with. 

The awuro (priest/priestess) is important in the process as they are seen as the intermediary between people and Olodumare who is the Supreme being. Their spiritual training and their knowledge as well as equipment with the command system of Ase makes them integral to the process.  

Opefeyitemi’s aims to simplify and show the process between the supreme being, humans and everything in between. He explains that the process flows between Olodumare(supreme God) and Esu, Esu(trickster god) and Oosa, Oosa(divinities) and Aworo, Aworo(priests) and Eniyan(man) and finally, links between Olodumare, Iponri(guardian soul) and Eniyan.

Before the iwure takes place, orisa’s/oosa’s are given something to eat. Now this varies as the orisa’s have their peculiar taste but there are some common elements though, such as igbin(snail), obi(kolanut) and eyele (pigeon). 

When the orisa’s have been fed, the iwure occurs which involves the oriki of the orisa’s as well as singing, sometimes the entire iwure is sung. After this, the process Opefeyitemi describes is believed to take place and the blessings/goodness requested for are unearthed. 

The blessing sought by iwure can for different scenarios; for weddings, undertaking a journey, at a celebration, at the birth of a child, for the work of one’s hand etc

Below is the English translation of an iwure for Osun:

Great Mother, the Osun water
Greeting, the waters that walk
Abideremo this is your kola
Drive death away
Drive disease away
Drive loss away
May our house not be ‘hot’
May our path not be ‘hot’
May our wives not be ‘hot’
May our children not be ‘hot’
Great Mother Oh
May we not die prematurely
The Mother of Oso, greetings
This is your aadun, let our lives be sweet.
Let is be cold as early morning water
Here is your palm oil and salt
Abideremo, let there be peace
The mother, who owns water
We don’t make enmity with water
Let our lives be peaceful
Let it be sweet 
This is your yearly animal
The water that walks
Peace the hand of peace 
Mother, Abideremo
May our bodies be well
May we conquer enemies o
This is your wine
May you remove death
May you remove disease 
If we engage with business
Let us be prosperous
Let the pregnant deliver peacefully
Let the barren nurse children
Let us all be healthy
Nobody can know the secret of sea
Nobody can know the secret of lagoon
May wizards not know our secret
May witches not know our secret
May the medicine-men not covet your 
children from afar
May ‘life’ not trap us
Great Mother 
Water that walks
Bless today’s petition
The mother of children
That which we have said
Water in the river you’ve heard
Abideremo 
Mighty Mother

 

Resources

YouTube Video on Iwure/Isure

Ayọ Ọpȩfeyitimi’s Ìwuré: Medium of Communicating the Desires of Men to the Gods in Yorubaland Journal

Written by

Tishe

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