When we speak about an initiation in Ifá, it means the ceremony of Ìséfá; to make Ifá is beyond receiving 18 Ikin Ifá. Ìséfá is composed of paraphernalia of 16 Ikin Àwìrìn for the Divination, one Òsesàá (The Guardian) and one Òdùsò which is the Èşù of this hand of Ifá. Of course, this is subject to some variations in certain regions and Ile (lineage), there may be “some” changes.
In my search for the essence of this religion, the Yoruba religion; I have read some literature expressing that the introduction to Ifá through the Ìséfá ceremony is just a temporary step into the initiation; the first step. It is important to understand this.
The physical presence of the person is required in the Orisha or Ìtéfá Initiations, but not so in Ìséfá. Owo 'Fákan, a hand of Ifa, is like the Ebo, something temporary. There is some literature, foundations of the Yoruba religion, in which interviews with a Babalawo who has been an institution of Ifa on the Yoruba land such as Bàbá Òké, are quoted. Àràbà de Lagos, in Nigeria, is the land where years ago the Yoruba religion emerged and where only one godson has been requested the white soup tureen with the lid; this godson just goes a few days later to collect his Ifa’s hand, he has never been present. Of course, this is based on the above said.
I want to emphasize that, following the deepest and most comprehensive traditions of Ifá, both women and men have the right to be initiated, with the exception that, the woman must not see Odú in the ceremony and the Apètèbí (Babalawo’s wife) does not need to make Ìtéfá; in this case, the husband will take care of her spirituality. Eni tì Ifá Bá nrò means that Ifá is for anyone who Ifá wants to be initiated, either man or woman, anyone having Ifá’s spirit in their blood.
There is no verse of Ifá saying that a woman cannot be initiated and non saying the opposite either. Thus, I coincide with the knowledge and statement of Àrábás elders who have all the knowledge and authority to say that Orunmila approves the initiation of women in Ifá. Either initiated woman or non initiated woman in Ocha, can do Iyanifá.!