Casting the Sacred Reading the Self
The Material Culture and Storied Environment of Ifa Divination and the Holy Odu
Keywords:Ifa Odu, Orisha, divination, embodied experience, scriptures
"Casting the Sacred" examines the material culture and storied environment associated with African American engagements with the unwritten scriptures of the Yoruba Ifa tradition of West African origin, and offers a compelling case for expanding conventional notions of scriptures. This essay builds on the work of historians of religion who take a relational approach to the study of scriptures, placing the focus on the people and their engagement with sacred texts as cultural practice and system of meaning-making. Showcasing the diviner as the chief orchestrator of the storied environment, this work draws attention to the set of personal scriptures derived form Oracular utterances. It also notes the physicality of bodies, shells, divining chains, palm nuts, floor mats, and notebooks, all of which are significant aspects of "reading," a means of accessing and engaging a form of sacred knowledge which clients incorporate into their lives.
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