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A Taste of Lucumi Proverbs

Updated on December 5, 2010
Okpele-Ifa System
Okpele-Ifa System
Cowries-Diloggun System
Cowries-Diloggun System

Lucumi Ifa & Diloggun Odu's(oracles), are not only expressed in numeric & binary values from 0 to 16. But also by a saying or proverb. The proverb comes from one or more patakin within an oracle. Patakin is the term used for that section of the Lucumi Ifa Corpus odu which expresses the story, myth, or legend. There are 256 Sacred odu's and each odu has a vast number of patakins. Each oracle is divided into various parts which include an essay interpreting the oracle; statements or paragraphs on how to work the oracle; ritual recommendations, list of herbs & other organics substances used in rituals; protection charms/talismans, pre-prescribed offerings, taboos; traditional yoruba & lucumi historic or religious events etc.

The Babalawo utilizing Ifa(Okpele) or Olorisha priest diloggun(Cowries) system of divination. In time, become proficient and very well versed in the interpretations and application of these oracles, in ritual work. Ritual work is utilized in order to promote an individuals change in destiny. This change of course is a result of tapping into the energies around us connected to Orisha(deities); which have been assigned by Olodumare(God) to look after us; and for our use. There are many books out there written on the subject of Yoruba & Santeria beliefs and orisha interaction. Yet, I attempt to express the belief system in a deciphered way. A contemporary form in which we all can understand.

The proverbs that I will share with you, no matter how funny they may sound; are of profound thought and wisdom. Mind you, we use these proverbs in order to focus on a clients situation or problem at hand. Aside from connecting to our divinities, spirit guides, ancestors, and inner grace through prayer. During divination ritual, the diviner quickly focuses and reflects on the meaning of the oracle & proverb. He or she meditates on the knowledge acquired through years of experience. And, allows for the Ashe(grace/gift/ability) to supply the conversation.

The toss of the chain(babalawo okpele) or cowries(olorisha shells) supplies the oracle. The inter communication between divinities and diviner, rely upon the correct oracle being cast. This is in order to establish what is in the clients Karma, positive or negative. And, what are the recommendations for overcoming the difficulty or securing a blessings. Not all clients seek divination and ritual work for overcoming troubles. There are those that also come in order to maintain a good quality of life. Upon memorizing the saying, they are able to better recount what was foretold on the day of divination.The client leaves with the knowledge, advices, and work done. Taking the memory of the event with them as long as they remember. The proverb becomes a summary statement of the events transpired, in the individuals life.

I've translated the sayings from hispanic text to american english. Where I've enhanced the english translation for better understanding without corrupting its meaning.

For those who read in both languages. I'll show the spanish text, followed by the english translation. Now, aside from a giggle or laugh, meditate on what the
meaning might be. For there lies a message and lesson as well.

Some Lucumi Sayings or Proverbs:

Dios le da barba al a quel que no tiene quija; Gods gives a beard to he whom has no chin.

Cuando la cabeza se tiene sobre los hombros, el pensamiento hacia el horizonte, nuestros pies en agua salada, no cabe duda que estamos frente al mar; When your head is on our shoulders, your thoughts fixed on the horizon, & feet in salt water, no doubt we're facing the ocean.

Si mi cabeza no se vende, no hay quien la compre; If my head is not for sale, there is no one to buy it.

Los Ojos del hombre solamente ven a Olodumare entre lagrimas; The eyes of mankind can only see God through tears.

Un mentiroso salio por seis meses y nunca regreso; A liar left for six months and never came back.

El que pierde su padre, pierde su proteccion; He who looses his father, looses his protection.

Pagan justos por pecadores; The Just pay for the wicked(sinner).

Usted es candil de la calle y oscuridad de la casa; Your the light of the street, and the darkness of the home.

Amor mata Amor; Love kills love.

El hombre desprueba de lo que no puede hacer; Man disproves of that which he can not accomplish.

El que comete adulterior con la esposa de un hombre siempre sera su enemigo; He who commits adultery with the wife of a man, will always be his enemy.

Arbor que nace torcido, jamas su tronco endereza; A tree that is born twisted will never straighten its bark.

El que le desea la muerte a otro, ya esta muerto; He who desires someone elses death, is already dead.

Hay quien vive en la oscuridad aun cuando Olorun lo rodea con luz; There are those that live in the dark, even when the sun surrounds them with light.

La cerebro is para pensar, los ojos para ver, los oido para oir, pero no todo lo que se sabe, se oye, y se ve, se puede hablar; The mind is for thinking, the eyes for seeing, the ears for hearing,
yet, all that you think, see, and hear, should not be said.

Es mejor comer poco todos los dia, que comer mucho una sola vez; It's best to eat a little bit everyday, then to eat much for only one day.

El que tiene duda, no tiene seguridad; He who has doubts, has insecurity.

El que no sabe es como el que no ve; He who does not know, is like he who does not see.

La boca que come sal come azucar; The mouth the eats salt also eats sugar.

Todo el cuerpo entero duerme menos la nariz; The whole body sleeps except the nose.

No sabe lo que es amor, aquel que no esta enamorado; You can't know what is love, if you are not in love.

El matrimonio es un palacio de dos puertas, la verdardera, y la falsa; Matrimony is a palace with two doors, a true one and a false one.

La mano que no puedes cortar besa la; The hand that you can not cut, kiss.

Un perro sordo no sirve para cazar; A deaf dog, is not good for hunting.

El que nacio para cabeza, no puede ser cola; Whom was born to be a head, can not be a tail.

Las ratas abandonan un barco que se hunde; Rats abandon a sinking ship.

El que tenga miedo que se compre un perro; He whom has fear, should buy a dog.

Camarron que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente; The shrimp that falls asleep, gets taken by the current.

Buen caracter is la esencia de la belleza; Good caracter is the essences of beauty.

El perro tiene quatro patas y coge un solo camino; A dog has four legs, yet can only choose one trail.

El raton no mata al gato; A mouse can not kill the cat.

En la tierra no hay justicia divina; There is no divine justice on Earth

Darle pan a un perro callejero pierde pan, y pierde al perro; Give bread to a stray dog, loose the bread, and loose the dog.

El es feliz ignorante, pero pobre de el cuando habran sus sentidos; He is so happy ignorant, that It will be a pity, when he opens his senses.

Visteme despacio que estoy de prisa; Dress me slow, cause I'm in a hurry.

El mal busquelo en su casa; Look for evil in your own home.

El agradecimiento es la memoria del corazon; Gratitude is a memory within the heart.

Hay que hacer por aquel que hace por otros; We must do for he that does for others.

And, these are but a few of the sayings or proverbs taken from the original
traditional Yoruba Ifa Corpus, past down through generations. And, today
the Lucumi Ifa Corpus of sayings or proverbs.


Submit a Comment

  • BabaSixto profile image

    Sixto J Novaton 6 years ago from Florida

    Yes.. you are so right.. and I did think about it at first when I wrote the article.. But, changed my mind in order to give folks an opportunity to research for themselves. There is no fun, if I give everything away... LOL

  • profile image

    John Lingenfelder 6 years ago

    It would be good if the Odu from which these proverbs

    are derived could be listed along with the proverb.


    John Lingenfelder

  • profile image

    OMAR 7 years ago


  • BabaSixto profile image

    Sixto J Novaton 7 years ago from Florida

    Much appreciated.. and happy to be writing here...

  • profile image

    hopperpa 7 years ago

    wow this is something I WAS REALLY looking for a kinda of translations, from Spanish to English. Growing up in South FLA speaking Spanish but mostly read in English not in Spanish. This is very helpful, kinda grew up with following the religion. You have answer lots of questions that I had.