The Sacred Twins – Ibeji 

Ibeji is also known as Ibelli, Ibryi, Meji, Melli, and Jimaguas. They are twins but the Ibeji are identified as one Orisha. ‘Ibi’ accurately means born and ‘eji’ means two. Twins are considered to be very sacred among the people of Yoruba. They have the highest rate of twin births, about 5% whereas the rest of the world has a twin-birth percentage of 0.5%. The Ibeji and all twins of this world are considered to have one soul in two bodies. The Ibeji are believed to be the original twins born on this earth and are said to be the orishas of joy, glee, and mischief. The Gemini twins in astrology are also said to be related directly to the Ibeji. The Ibejis parents are, namely, Chango and Oshun.

An Orisha is Avoided

A traditional Pataki tells us the story of how Oshun was shunned when she gave birth to twins. This is because at that time giving birth to twins was deemed unusual. Only animals could give birth to multiple and the same looking babies. She was labeled as a witch and ousted from the community. Oshun, because she was afraid of being shunned, pushed the Ibeji out of her home and rejected being their mother. Thus began Oshun’s depressive spiral, leading to a loss of wealth, stability and sanity.

The Ibeji were adopted by Oya who was an Orisha as well. Oya loved children but was unfortunately barren and could not bear children. She had had only one pregnancy which was stillborn. Anyone who receives and worships the Ibeji is known to be blessed with joy, happiness, and abundance. A Cuban Pataki even says that the Ibeji drove the devil and misfortune away by driving them insane with their bewitched drums.

The Twins

The Ibeji are named Kehinde and Taiwo. The firstborn is named Taiwo and the second born is named Kehinde. Kehinde literally means ‘the one who comes after’. Taiwo literally means ‘the first to touch the surface’ or ‘the one who gets the first taste of the world’. Legends say that Kehinde is the firstborn. This is because Kehinde sends Taiwo out first to be born to check whether the conditions and situations of the Earth are normal.

The Kehinde is said to have authority over the first-born twin which is why Kehinde is considered to be the first child. When the first child (Taiwo) is born, it cries. The crying delivers a spiritual message to the other twin. The cry carries the message of whether the situation is normal or not. If not, Kehinde may decide not to come out. Both of the twins may either decide not to continue and live their life or there may be one stillbirth. Kehinde is also known as ‘omg gbegbon’. This literally means ‘the elder who came out last.’

11 is Important

Number 11 is considered to be the number of the Ibeji. This is because the twins are complimenting as well as opposing forces. One Ibeji holds the human personality and the other holds the spiritual personality.

Learn more about Santeria and the Orishas with Lucumi: The Ways of Santeria

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