Spiritual Cleansing in Ifá: Bribing Away Evil Spirits

Should Oyekun Iwori surface as the main odu (sign) in an Ifá reading, you may want to resort to the spiritual prescription that my oluwo (godfather), who is also a Babalawo, advised for me: bribing away the evil spirit or spirits currently wreaking havoc in your life. Mind you, this odu is a marker of serious negativity, and battling it requires a major cleansing in addition to the magical working I’m about to describe, but this latter activity is a necessary prequel that will hopefully give you a better sense of control as you prep for the major cleansing (rompimiento in Lukumí) that needs to happen immediately afterwards.

Strangely, in the wee hours of the morning of the day that Ifá would diagnose the evil spirit responsible for my life situation of Oyekun Iwori, I actually had a nightmare of the evil spirit and saw it up close. I found myself in a horrific landscape featuring a dilapidated farmstead, and I was being pursued in dimly lit corridors built of rotting wood. My pursuer was the evil spirit I would later come to name as an eggun buruku, one of the malefic spirits of the human dead known in Yoruba lore.

Chillingly, the spirit took the guise of a red-haired little girl of perhaps eight years of age, one with a grotesquely distorted face (with eyes set way far apart on the face almost like a hammerhead shark’s), and “she” was given a mallet by other evil spirits (disguised as the child’s grandparents, except I didn’t see their faces) with which to crush my skull. The evil spirit-as-child swung the mallet at me, grinning foully. At one point I stopped running and turned around to face the waist-high horror. I shouted something at it in defiance and it was actually the sound of my own shouting in real life that snapped me out of the nightmare. I glanced over at the nightstand clock: 3:13 a.m. Soaked in sweat and shaking, I leapt out of bed and went to the temple room and immediately began to do a banishing ritual.

Of course I told my godfather about the nightmare as soon as the Ifá reading had Oyekun Iwori diagnose my recent spate of problems. My godfather said that evil spirits, when they know they’re about to be defeated, try to summon one last major effort to immobilize us through fear. My nightmare was proof of that and it served to be a good omen for me. I would be bringing “the big guns” to this bout of spiritual warfare and the evil spirit(s) knew it and tried to deflect its fear/their fear by making me too scared to act instead. Not gonna work, el cabrón! We would be doing a major cleansing that would invoke none other than Olorún, the Creator God in Yoruba cosmology, and calling down His lightning from Heaven to smite all the evil that sought to entrap me.

Ponto rescado_Olorun

Photo I took of the ponto rescado my godfather traced with cascarilla at the remote site where we were to evoke the Lightning of Heaven from Olorún. Eshu, depicted at the bottom, transmits this request to the Creator on my behalf. Photo (c) Anna Applegate 2017.


Before this rompimiento was to begin, I was to first try to bribe away the evil spirit(s) on my own, and it is this magical working that I’ve been given permission to describe and share with others, initiates and aleyo (outsiders) both. As a vegetarian who has not literally touched meat in over 25 years, I can say with full honesty that I find this spell to be gross in terms of its tactile aspects, but the results are well worth any squeamishness anyone might experience.

Go to a grocery store–I recommend Hispanic ones–and buy a package of stewing beef and a bottle of red palm oil if you don’t already have the latter (all Ifá practitioners need to have it in their homes; it’s used as a blood substitute in devotional offerings. You can buy sustainably sourced palm oil; mine comes from Ghana). From your kitchen cupboards or from your local Dollar Store, get a cheap all-white bowl (not plastic) that you won’t mind tossing away afterwards.

Go to your bathroom and bring your bowl, bottle of palm oil, and package of stewing beef with you. Strip naked. Here’s the gross part: Mix the red palm oil into the raw beef and then begin to blot yourself from head to toe; cover as much surface area of your naked body as possible, including the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands. Once you’ve finished blotting yourself, place all the meat chunks back into the white bowl. Balance the bowl on the edge of your bathtub. Similarly, stand with your right foot on the edge of your bathtub and begin to pray. Pray to your Guardian Orisha, pray to your Powers to make this sacrifice acceptable and for the cleansing to have its intended effect of permanently removing the evil spirit from your life. Once you’ve finished, step in the shower and soap and shampoo your hair as normal.

Upon exiting, let the water droplets air dry; this can be time-consuming so make sure you have enough time allotted for this to happen. Suffice it to say, it’s best to have this ritual completed before sundown, which is when evil spirits are thought to stir and gain power. Once your skin is dry and your hair is relatively dry, put on either all-white or light-colored clothes.

Take the bowl with palm oil-stained beef chunks and walk clockwise around your home. (As I’ve noted before, in Ifá, clockwise movement is meant to seal energy; counter-clockwise movement opens energy.) Throw pieces of meat one at a time while addressing the evil spirit(s), saying, “For the one(s) trying to take a bite out of me, take a bite out of this instead.” This kind of bribing away of spirits is common in African Diaspora Traditions. There’s an acknowledgement that spirits (of the dead, chiefly) hostile to the living can’t help but be what they are; there’s no stopping an evil spirit from feeding when it wants to feed, in other words. You just want to ensure that you don’t unintentionally become its meal if it attaches itself to you, so the “bloody” (palm oil) stewed beef chunks serve as a viable alternative when dispersed in this manner.

If your neighbors or other people happen to be out and about, don’t let that discourage you from walking the circuit of your home and tossing pieces of this bribe to the eggun buruku. I was very lucky that my normally congested cul-de-sac was wholly devoid of people from the surrounding condo buildings and houses when I did my walk around my home. Eshu kept them away!

You may want to follow this magical working with a cleansing of the inside of your home, which I’ve written about here.

May the wisdom of your own Orí, the destiny that resides in your own head, lead you away from false paths and missteps that can result in encounters with evil spirits. May Olorún infuse your life with the light of His ashé, and may Eshu shut all doors to that which tries to harm you. Ashé! Ashé!

Maferefun, Eshu! Maferefun, Olorún!










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