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.


  • Camara, Louis, 1996. Le choix de l'Ori: conte. Saint-Louis: Xamal.
  • Gbadegesin, Segun, 2003. 'Ènìyàn, The Yoruba Concept of a Person', in P.H. Coetzee and A.P.J. Roux (eds) The African Philosophy Reader (2nd ed.), 175-191. (This study originally appeared under the same title in Gbadegesin, Segun, 1991. African philosophy: Traditional Yoruba philosophy and contemporary African realities. New York: Peter Lang, 27-59.)
  • Makinde, M.A. 1985. 'A Philosophical analysis of the Yoruba concepts of Ori and human destiny', International Studies in Philosophy, 17, 1, 54-69.
  • Ifaloju, A. 2007. ' Ori - The Divine Container of Destiny, Character & Potential, Seed of the Creator ', Ifa Speaks, blog article, Yoruba concepts of destiny & purpose Presented at University of Habana, Cuba - Dept of Anthropology 2007, during sessions teaching traditional Ifa worship - International Ifa Training Institute conference Ifa Speaks Articles.

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