Polyamory – What Does Ifa Have to Say

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July 29, 2020
A Look at Spiritual Awakening Through an Ifa Lens.
October 4, 2020

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I’ve been coming to terms with my own polyamorous nature for a few years now so I thought this month I’d write about my experiences as an Ifa priest with regards to this personal awakening. I hope this can help others come to terms with their struggles with polyamory, and sexuality in general.

While it is very clear that the Yoruba were a polygamous society, it isn’t at all clear whether women in the culture were also permitted multiple husbands. I suspect that was the case. They were an oral culture so much of their history has been lost. But, Ifa by its very nature, is designed to adapt to the culture in which it’s practiced. We do not live like the ancient Yoruba, so our practice of Ifa is bound to be different.

Any prohibitions against polyamory, or any other expression of human sexuality, does not come from Ifa. Sex negative beliefs were introduced when the Christian missionaries arrived. The salve trade worsened things. Santeria/Lukumi for instance, with such strong Catholic influence, has adopted many values that did not originate with Ifa.

How Ifa can integrate our ideas about sexuality, gender, and sexual expression? Let’s start with how Ifa views sexuality. In Ifa we believe that a person makes many choices that are important to the their destiny before they are born. These choices include things like gender, sexuality, and even one’s parents. At no time did Ifa ever judge an individual for these because they are experienced as inherent traits. We must respect the individual’s nature because it is an important part of their destiny path.

The only criteria upon which any judgment can be made are those of good character. When we define character we focus on actions not traits. If a person is doing the right things for the right reasons, if they are caring for themselves and the people around them, if they are concerned with caring for the whole including the planet we live on, if they are contributing by using and developing their gifts, then they are in good character. Things like polyamory in its many forms, as well as the diversity of human sexual and gender expression are neutral. It is how we act as human beings regardless of these things that really matters.

Part of good character is respectful honesty with others. This means expressing one’s truth in ways that consider the other person while maintaining integrity. Not always easy to do. For instance. in the context of my primary relationship I am free to take lovers and even have other relationships. I’m always honest with people I meet so that they are aware that I’m already married before they choose to get involved with me. I’m also open with my husband about who I’m seeing. How much I share is dependent on someone’s needs and comfort level. That is how we ensure respectful communication. Over-sharing can be just as damaging as keeping secrets.

As things developed with my boyfriend it became important for me to be honest with both men. With my husband it was about my powerful feelings for this new man in my life. With my boyfriend it was about how our relationship fits. By doing this I keep communication lines open and ensure respect in both relationships. I can maintain my good character despite my somewhat unorthodox life.

I firmly believe that Ifa demands that we be true to ourselves and our nature as long as it doesn’t harm others. Who you are, and how you love, are not an issue as long as you can maintain your character while living your life. That is the Ifa way.