I thought I would write something about a class of spiritual entities that found in YTR (Yoruba Traditional Religion).
The Irunmale (aka Irunmole) are personified forces and are akin to the gods of classical Greek and Roman mythology. These beings were the original cohort that came from heaven and were placed in their respective nomes in Yorubaland before becoming transferred our during to travel and, of course slavery. Ogun, Obatala, Oya, Eshu, Yemaya and Oshun (who we must never forget lol) are all irunmale.
The Irunmale should be contrasted with the Orisha as the orisha are deified ancestors. Hence Oshossi, Odudua, Soponna, Ayagunna are all orisha. The Orisha correspond to the mighty men of old. TO add to the confusion there are deities like Orunmila and Shango who are said to occupy both camps depending on who you speak to in Yorubaland.
Does the distinction between Irunmale and Orisha matter? I would say “Yes” because language and terminology matters. A bread knife is not a saw!
Does the distinction between Irunmale and Orisha matter operationally? I would say “no” because the distinction is largely academic in terms of practice. Atr present many priests seem to happily bundle the two into as “Orisha”.
The Aje seem to be different class of Irunmale. They seem to have no priesthood and no initiations as seen in Yorubaland. They seem to have an oral link via the reason for the Cuban Pinaldo ceremony which is an invention.
Anyone commenting about the Aje that does not have an initiate’s connection to Yoruba traditional elders is talking sensationalist rot.
In the Late 90s a number of con artists started to sell Iyami Aje pots to gullible fools who wanted to perform sorcery. These were simple ridiculous.
I asked my friend and mentor Oloye Adelekan of Lagos about the Iyami. He explained that “Iya mi” means “My mother”. Aje means “Witch”. Witches are predominantly female and are headed by females. He also warned me that “We do not call that name”. The appellation “Osorongo means “Sorceress”. In all cases the Aje are active at night and can manifest (I am told) as black Birds. I have a theory that they represent the pre patriarchal religion of the most ancient Yoruba.
My YTR Babalowos who have mentored me informed me that “We do not flex on the witches and they do not flex on us”. In short, a YTR Babalawo will not start any S**t with the Witches and hope they do not start with them.
YTR oral tradion states that the first humans killed a child of the Aje and hence they have hated all humanity. If needed they must be appeased. It is therefore difficult to pact with them and I would say impossible. As Irunmale they seen to be on the non human end of the continuum and just do not think like us (IMO).
I had a GF who wanted a reading back in the day and I knew something was bothering her. I took her to my friend Babalawo L’anre and we had a reading. During the reading pointed to her stomach and said something in Yoruba that was in an odd dialect. It transpired that unbeknownst to me my GF was having stomach pains and had been having them for a few weeks. L’anre said that she should save some of her food for the witches and I should take the food to the foot of a tree and leave it without looking back. I asked why I should do this and not her and he replied because I am a true son of Ochossi.
The simple act of sharing reduced her symptoms.
There is another side to the Witches as they are said to be honoured during the Gelede festivals. I do not know much about the inner workings but we should note that this festival did not get transferred to the Americas and is still a Yoruba traditional practice.
Recently someone approached me about repeated sighting of seeing old women in trees. I thought of the Iyami but they did not turn up for a reading so IDK.