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Protector of White Cloth, Father of the Sacred Grove.


Praising the Chief of the White Cloth

Obanla o rin n'eru ojikutu s'eru

Chief of the White Cloth never fears the coming of Death.

Oba n'ile Ifon alabalase oba patapata n'ile iranje

Father of Heaven forever rule for all generations

O yo kelekele o ta mi l'ore. O gba a giri l'owo osika

He disolves the burdens of my friends. Give me the power to manifest abundance.

O fi l'emi asoto l'owo. Oba igbo oluwaiye re e o kee bi owu la

Expose the Mystery of Abundance. Father of the sacred grove, owner of all blessings increase my wisdom.

O yi aala. Osun l'aala o fi koko aala rumo. Oba igbo.

I become like the White Cloth. Protector of White Cloth I salute you. You are the Father of the sacred grove.


May it be so.

Ibeyi Oya



from 'American Ifa'

In the early 1950s to 2000s, wearing white clothes was more than a fashion statement.

Wearing white clothes for a year provided the sign to the universe that a person had accepted their destiny and had prepared to take that journey. Just in the past 15 years, the concept of wearing white clothes for a minute outside the igbodu has changed.

It is like a death-rebirth cycle to existence again.

The concept of entering into an agreement with the orisa and ifa has become zero. The concept of wearing white clothes for a year disciplines a person. It reminded them every day for a year of their contract and commitment towards fulfilling the agreement with God (Olodumare), ancestors and orisa.

Wearing white clothes basically keeps the person balanced between life and death. For example, in some societies white is the color of death. It is the color of hidden powers or ase (ashe), e.g. like the shroud in which a person is wrapped in when they die.

The color white itself is for the “Alala” – the owner of dreams; Obatala who is the father of secrets. …he is the orisa who dresses in white, sleeps in white and wakes up in white; meaning the waking of consciousness.

At the end of the day, white clothes reflect and deflect.


Ifa says Ika was cast for Eka,

Okanran was cast for Eka,

who got the message that Death was on his way

to his house because of his evil deeds.

If Eka didn’t want to be killed,

he should sacrifice a sheep

and the black cloth on his body.

He also should cease to be bad,

and should wear white clothing only

from that moment on.

Eka listened, but refused to offer.

Ifa says that this person must desist from doing bad things, and he should improve his lousy character. He would do wise to always wear white cloths.

EBO: 1 goat, and the black cloth the client was wearing.

In conclusion, appreciate priests and priests alike should wear white clothing to remind themselves of the contract which they made with Olodumare/ancestors and orisa; to keep themselves balance in the world.

Wearing white clothing helps build “Iwa rere” – good character.

Ibeyi River



In IFA, white clothes are to be used during spiritual occasions. it must be used during spiritual consultation, sacrifice, rituals, initiations, and propitiation exercises. The essence of white dress during and after initiations is to ensure purity, openness, whiteness and sanctification of the body, soul and the spirit of the initiate as a shrine of Olodumare.

IFA says, initiations purify the soul, the spirit and ensure enormous blessing from the unknown into our lives.

The cloth or IFA white dress is a form of outward remembrance that neatness, purity, openness, sanctification, should not only be an inner concern and feelings, but an outward purification and illumination as well.

In other words, our outward life must conform to spiritual identification of our inner being.

White dresses in IFA tradition signifies purity and transparency, clarity and cleanliness. It means imitation of God’s pure state that deter stain or impure attribute of evils. We must learn to be clean both at the inward life and outward life. IFA says, at least every Ose IFA, that is IFA weekly adoration, white cloth must be used to connect the power of Olodumare through IFA.

Cleanliness and purity enable us to enjoy the blessings and favour from Olodumare and His numerous divinities. Using white dress and clothes describe IFA as a divinity of pureness and an emblem of openness to all human; and also depicts tradition of brightness and transparency.

IFA tradition is an open philosophy and religion of all men who are willing to learn the true state of divinities and the path to Olodumare . IFA followers must serve as embodiment of purified tradition with clarity of purpose and transparency in all their dealings with others.

IFA name must not be spoilt or smeared through any means of impurity.

All IFA devotees must always uphold its principles through right behaviour, right thoughts and right deeds, hence those with right cloth cannot hide under darkness.


Yoruba religion in Cuba, I see white people……

By Lorrie Graham

Chances are, when you are wandering the streets of Havana, Cuba, you will notice people dressed completely in white.

They are elusive and not keen on being photographed.

These people are going through their Santería initiation. People of all ages can choose to follow Santería, with an initiation process that sets the follower on la regla de ocha (the way of orishas). The initiations are ritualistic and involve elaborate ceremonies.

Followers are required to stay inside at night for an entire year and only dress in white. No one is allowed to touch the follower aside from family members or lovers.


My Year In White

A sociology professor records her experiences.

Mami Wata

Initiates into the Santeria priesthood must wear only bright white clothing, and forgo alcohol, parties, dancing, being photographed, touching adult non-initiates, and enjoying public spaces. A sociology professor records her experiences....

In the days immediately following my initiation into the service of the Orisha in the Lukumi religion, I wrote very little, though I have fragments of memory from that time. I remember clearly the brightness and confusion of the supermarket on the first day I was freed from the seven-day ceremonial seclusion.

Newly bald, covered head to toe in white layers—a long white skirt; chokotos (ankle-length pants); a roomy, long-sleeved blouse; and multiple head coverings—I was extremely self-conscious about my appearance.

I worried about the ubiquitous mirrorlike surfaces on car and shop windows. My godsister told me not to be concerned, to just forgo focusing on the reflections I was obligated to avoid during my first few months of the year in white.

I recollect also the tentative, awkward way I moved about the public space, as if I really was taking the first steps of a new life.

And I remember at the airport the next day, on my journey home across the country, feeling both unsettled and excited by the great numbers of people around me, enthusiastic about the sense of fresh potential, empowered to have passed through security so seamlessly despite my bizarre dress, musing about whether it was a coincidence or if I enjoyed mystical protection during the yaworaje, the year in white that follows the kariocha initiation in the Lukumi tradition.

Once I recovered somewhat from the initial shock of the year in white, I began to write regularly in my journal. I recorded people’s reactions to me and my responses to them. I noted the internal changes I sensed and the external changes I found difficult, wonderful, frustrating, liberating, and transformational.

A month into my year in white, I made the trip back to the West Coast for another godsister’s ocha ceremony. As the most recent initiate of my Santeria godmother, I was required to accompany my godsister on the trono (throne) during part of the seven-day ritual, just as one of my godsiblings had attended me. In transit to my madrina’s house, I wrote the following in my journal:

As I was buying water and chocolate at the airport kiosk, the cashier said to me, “My cousin did that; the whole white thing.”

I noticed her possibly Cuban appearance and I smiled.

“But she’s little,” the clerk continued, gesturing to indicate a small child.

Not knowing what to say, I smiled again and thought about how in some multigenerational communities today it’s not uncommon for children to undergo the priestly initiation.

I wondered how different my experience would have been with the year in white if I had been raised in the religion. I also noticed the careful way the cashier had spoken, choosing words that carried no stigma or even any cultural or religious reference easily identifiable to an outsider.

Such a positive interaction with a cultural insider was much more comfortable than most of my dealings with strangers. Only two days before, in the mechanic’s shop, I endured a more typical exchange:

Holding a coupon, I stepped up to the guy with a nametag.

“Are you a chef?” the mechanic labeled “Larry” queried enthusiastically. I hadn’t yet come up with a good response to this common question.

“No,” I said. “I’d like the 75,000 mile service.” I just wanted to get my car in the queue so I could complete my business in a timely fashion.

Mami Wata

Or consider the interaction I had with a middle-aged woman while waiting for the elevator as I was leaving the laundromat in the basement of my building:

“That’s a lot of whites!” she exclaimed, waving her hand toward the large laundry basket I set down.

“Yes,” I said.

“I mean that’s really a lot of whites!” she persisted enthusiastically. “I don’t think I’ve ever had that many.”

I considered what and how much to tell her.

I settled on: “It’s all I wear lately.”

“Well, it’s a great time of year for it,” she opined.

I made some sort of noise indicating agreement and I wondered how things would change in the cooler months. Would I be noticed more because my fashion was out of season? Or would people around me have become used to my appearance by then?

Journal entries like these helped me process the everyday adventure and drudgery of the year in white.



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