Perhaps the most controversial aspect to Ifa Orìsà spiritual tradition is the practice of animal sacrifice. Some may see it as primitive, cruel and macabre yet the truth is animal sacrifice is practiced by most cultures in the world. If a culture sheds the blood an animal for food or any type of product, then it practices animal sacrifice. And if you partake in any of the food or products from that animal, you are inadvertently participating in animal sacrifice. However, this post is not about animal sacrifice but about the blood and its significance and power in African Spiritual Technology.
In the human body, blood called Ẹ̀jẹ in Yoruba, is the substance which is created in the bone marrow, infused with oxygen in the lungs and pumped throughout the body through the heart. As the orisa Ogún is the provider of the skeleton of the human body, Ogún is directly connected with the blood of all human beings vicerally. In fact the main source of iron (Ogún’s energy) in the body is found in the blood in the form of hemoglobin. It is iron or the oxidization of iron in the blood which actually gives it its red color. It’s the same phenomena which causes iron to rust in the presence of oxygen over time.
The main purpose of blood in the body is to transport nutrients and oxygen to the cells and organs. Blood is also the partial carrier of the Ẹ̀mí- or spirit which was first provided to human beings by Olódùmarè. Ẹ̀mí is associated with and found in the breath but it is more. It is found in the blood as well. All the nutrients whether from animal or vegetable matter consumed are broken down by the small intestines and converted into energy and extracted nutrients which are then deposited into the blood to be distributed throughout the body.
Now the blood as the “carrier of the nutrients and energy” serves as a battery for the organs which is why in the body the heart pumps the blood around the body through the blood vessels and then find outlet at the organs where the blood literally baths the organs while the organ soaks up the nutrients from the blood to use.
This same “bathing effect” of the organs in blood is how we feed our òrìsà icons. We “bath” them in blood. I was fascinated when I noticed the connection of how blood nourished the organs and how we use it to “feed” our spiritual icons. The flesh of the animal is used to feed the community and the orisa. Nothing is wasted.
So why do we feed the òrìsà icons blood? It is because of the spiritual technology at work. We are not feeding the òrìsà persay. Orìsà are not blood drinkers. When they walked the earth, they did not drink blood, they ate food made from vegetables and animal flesh like all other human beings. However, because the icons which they left to be conduits of their spiritual energy are forms of spiritual technological devices, blood serves as a “battery” to activate and empower them. Nothing more. Nothing less. Blood contains vital Àṣẹ, spiritual power which empowers certain spiritual technology. Blood is like the gas which empowers and powers our spiritual technological devices we call òrìsà shrines. And no, we Orisa Ifa practitioners don't practice human sacrifice!