There is no knowledge which is not useful to the diviner

I’m cannibalizing my old blog from livejournal. I found this post that I made back in February 2012, and I wanted to share it again.


I tell those who study odu with me, “You must be well-read; there is no knowledge which is not useful to the diviner.” Fortunately, the odu are vibrant, living spiritual creatures, and when the student is earnest they lead him to those nuggets of wisdom he needs in his studies.

It happened to me today; and I thought I’d share this with you all.

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time mulling over the two odu Odí Oché (7-5) and Oché Odí (5-7) in relation to parasites. Both patterns speak of humans who are either parasites or prey, and they reference relationships that are essential and mutualistic. Likewise, both odu speak of parasitic infections and mutualistic microbes (which can go awry and become parasitic). This afternoon I was doing some light reading on my kindle. In a book I bought late last night titled The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2011) I found a wonderful essay written by Jill Sisson Quinn. It’s titled “Sign Here if You Exist,” and there was a paragraph that, eerily, expressed the concept I was contemplating perfectly:

“Most parasites do not kill their hosts. You – your living, breathing self – are evidence of this, as you host an array of parasitic microbes. Only about 10 percent of the hundred trillion cells in your body are really your own: the rest are bacteria, fungi, and other “bugs.” The majority of these microbes are mutualistic, meaning that both you and the microbe benefit from your relationship. A whopping 3.3 pounds of bacteria, representing five hundred separate species, live inside your intestines. You provide them with a suitable environment – the right moisture, temperature, and pH – and feed them the carbohydrates that you take in. They shoot you a solid supply of vitamins K and B12, and other nutrients. But some microbes, like the fungi Trichophyton and Epidermophyton, which might take up residence beneath your toenail as you shower at the gym, are parasitic – they benefit from you, but you are harmed in some way by them. In the case of these two fungi, you would experience itching, burning, and dry skin. But you’ve probably never heard of anyone dying from athlete’s foot, because it has never happened. Successful parasites – parasites that want to stay alive and reproduce – in general do not kill their hosts.” Jill Sisson Quinn in the essay Sign Here if You Exist.

When those odu fall on the mat, especially in osogbo, it’s often difficult for clients to determine who or what the parasitic infections in their lives are. That’s because parasites are successful creatures, and as Ms. Quinn wrote so eloquently, “Successful parasites – parasites that want to stay alive and reproduce – in general do not kill their hosts.” This makes our jobs as diviners all the more difficult; when those odu fall in osogbo, we know that there are parasites in the client’s life; and, those parasites want to stay alive. To do that, they have to keep the host alive. Balanced against this are those people or things that are mutualistic; while they need a host to survive, instead of just taking, they give; and what they give is essential to the client’s health and well-being. Both Odí Oché and Oché Odí demand that the client nurture so he can be nurtured, yet at the same time, he must remove from his life those ideas, thoughts, and relationships that feed off him and give nothing in return.

Divination is never a simple thing; it is a skill that demands decades of dedication and constant education. Truly, there is no knowledge which is not useful to the diviner.