Iyami Osoronga (My Mother the Sorceress) Iyami have been characterized as a negative force in the universe frequently associated with “witchcraft” and the use of female power to harm others. However, this particular belief is ill informed and is in contradiction to both Ifa scripture and Ifa ritual practice. For one, offerings to Iyami are a component of nearly all offerings made as a result ofconsultation with Ifa divination. In addition, the use of the symbolic representation of birds (Eleye) on the crown of the king (Oba) suggests that the blessing of Iyami is an essential element in the sanctification of the monarchy. Referring to the cluster of birds (birds represent the power of the mothers) on his great crown, is reported to have said, “Without ‘the mothers,’ I could not rule.
“The Iyami are the women that guide Olodumare. They go by the name Aje or Iyami. The three Iyaami that primarily guide Olodumare are called; Ayere Eiye Ayere Eiye Oyeye Eiye Ti Se Oniko Eleiye. These three Iyaami not only guide Olodumare, but they empower the Aje on the earth. They are the ones that originally sent the Aje to the World. The three Iyami have supreme power over Aje on earth and they are the ones who initiated and spread Aje throughout the World. The Aje on earth fall into two categories, Oso, which are male Aje and the Eleiye which are female Aje. Esu has ability to enter among both Oso and Eleiye. No one can choose to initiate Aje/Iyaami, they choose who they want to initiate and “call” that person.
According to Ifa, the difference between men and women is that women are born with ofo ase or the power of the word. This power is called aje and is rooted in the concept of ge or female ase. Ase is a component of the life force breathed into each human being by Olodumare; it is spiritual power; it is the power to create. Ase is given by Olodumare to everything – Orisas, ancestors, spirits, humans, animals, plants, rocks, rivers and voiced words such as songs, prayers, praises, curses, or even everyday conversation. Existence, according to Yoruba thought, is dependent upon it; it is the power to make things happen and change. The power of the word is an important part of harnessing ase