One of the great things about being in the orisa tradition is that because it is one of the most if not the most widely practiced African-based tradition in the world, there are many books out there. As a result, for the beginning orisa devotee, finding the right book to learn about the tradition can be an overwhelming task. There are literally hundreds of books to choose from.
The problem is that they are of various levels of quality. Some are exceptional while others are just pure garbage. Rather than focus on the bad, I will list 6 must read books which I recommend for the beginning devotee. In my years of practice as an orisa priest and devotee I feel these are books which are the most helpful in providing decent foundational knowledge about orisa practice. This list is not exclusive. There are many more books out there but these should give you a good start. You may order the items from Amazon through this site as well as anywhere else you may find the books.
Fundamentals of the Yoruba Religion (Orisa Worship) by Chief FAMA
Classic. This book is a great classic, full of usable information provided by Chief FAMA. For the beginner it may be a little heavy but I recommend it because it provides great practical information which you can use immediately. It’s meant to be ingested slowly. It includes various Ifa verses and prayers for the beginning traditional practitioner as well some rituals including instructions on how to cast kola nut, feed one’s ori and giving morning homage. Also, included are sections which provide sacred praise names (known as oriki) for the orisa as well a list of standard offerings and taboos. Of special note is a section defending the right and explaining Ifa’s basis for women initiating into the Ifa priesthood and working as Iyanifa. This is a must-read book you will want to study and refer to time and time again. This is straight valuable information minus the opinions and fluff. Chief FAMA did a wonderful job in writing a book with a great blend of information for the beginning devotee. Click here to order.
Ifa: It's Core Values Vol. 1 What is Ifa? By Solagbade Popoola
Baba Solagbade Popoola is a prolific writer and contributor of valuable information on Ifa and the orisa tradition. For the beginner and the adept, his book Ifa: It’s Core Values Vol. 1 What is Ifa?, is a great start to learn about Ifa and the underlying philosophical concepts. This book is actually the first in a series of books which provide pertinent information on Ifa and other fundamental areas of worship and practice. To order click here.
The Sacred Ifa Oracle by Afolabi A. Epega and Phillip John Neimark
In my opinion this is one of the hands down classic Odu Ifa books on the market. It is often quoted by many devotees and used by many priests as a reference point. It has up to 4 verses of each of the 256 Odu Ifa and includes English and Yoruba. It has a great listing of pictorial diagrams of all the 256 odu Ifa at the beginning of the book which is helpful for beginners to study. One great thing about this book is the quality of verses provided. Included are some powerful verses which shed light on many of our practices. Another plus with this book is the liberal inclusion of Ifa medicine prescriptions, also known as akose in many of the verses. If you can find this book on the market, get it. It will be a reference book you will use for years to come. To order click here.
Yorùbá Culture: A Philosophical Account (Yorùbá Culture in Context Book 1)
By Kola Abimbola
This book offers the beginner a small yet information packed source of information on the philosophical thought of the Yoruba which helps one see the spirituality through the eyes of the culture where it came from. I personally enjoyed in the information on Yoruba medicine, Olodumare, Ori, and Yoruba cosmology which is included in the book. In the end is also a helpful section which gives straight data on many of the major orisa such as place of origin, offerings and special praise names. As in Chief Fama’s book, this book offers some interesting Odu Ifa verses which is always a treat as this is our sacred scripture. To order click here.
The Yoruba Religion: Introduction to its Practice by Conrad Mauge Ph.D
This book is a diasporal classic introduction to Yoruba spirituality and orisa worship. It offers more of a diasporal approach but still helpful for the beginner. It provides basic yet helpful info about the Orisa, the Ancestors as well as an intro to kola nut divination. Of special value is the information on how to venerate one’s ancestors. This is a good starter book. Order here.
FAMA'S Ede Awo (Orisa Yoruba Dictionary) by Chief FAMA
For the new orisa devotee, one essential book you will need is a dictionary as you will come across many Yoruba words you may not understand. This is why Chief Fama’s Ede Awo Orisa Yoruba Dictionary is in my opinion an essential read and reference book for the new and not-so new orisa practitioner and devotee. It is a small paperback but has many words which you will come across in your practice and study of orisa and Ifa tradition. It includes many orisa and spirit names as well some herbs and other important words to know. Click to order.