Like the yarrow stalks of the I Cbing, where one extra stalk is removed from the bundle before divining with the rest, so it is with ifa. Only sixteen palm nuts are manipulated in divining, but in Ifq the diviner has a seventeenth or eighteenth nut that he places opposite him beyond the divining tray, on a ring of cowries known as 'the money of Ifa'. The nuts themselves are from the oil palm, Elaeis guineensis, and are about an inch long, ovoid with hard, black shells marked with lengthwise grooves. Inside are white kernels from which the Yoruba extract palm kernel oil for soap-making and for export. Alternatively one of the 256 odu of Ifa can be obtained by a single cast of the divining chain, which is a considerably faster method for generating the odu than the eight passes made with the nuts.
Was this article helpful?