Ori is a metaphysical concept important to Yoruba spirituality and way of life.
Ori, literally meaning “head,” refers to one’s spiritual intuition and destiny. It is the reflective spark of human consciousness embedded into the human essence, and therefore is often personified as an Orisha in its own right . In Yoruba tradition, it is believed that human beings are able to heal themselves both spiritually and physically by working with the Orishas to achieve a balanced character, or iwa-pele. When one has a balanced character, one obtains an alignment with one’s Ori or divine self.
Alignment with one’s Ori brings, to the person who obtains it, inner peace and satistaction with life. To come to know the Ori is, essentially, to come to know oneself, a concept extremely foreign to Western philosophy. The primacy of individual identity is best captured in a Yoruba proverb: “Ori la ba bo, a ba f’orisa sile”. When translated, this becomes It is the inner self we ought to venerate, and let divinity be.
When I look for my path, it is you who walks beside me
may we walk in harmony and not stumble upon each others feet
When I am in my darkest hour, it is you who shine a light
may our depths of sorrow always be matched by heights of joy
When I am lost and without direction, it is you who takes my hand
may wisdom reign in the kingdom of our soul
When I am alone in the darkness I ask
my Ori, what are you?
you are the other reality inside
you are the owner of righteous intuition you are my power to observe,
reason and inspire you are my one real identity
you are me
Ori o bless your omo
Photography Courtesy: James C. Lewis (http://www.noire3000studios.com)
Text by: Teekay Akin