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Fa, a divination practiced in Dahomey, is similar to that of Ifa in that it also involves making patterns after passing nuts from one hand to another. One myth says the god Mawu sent two messengers to men telling them everyone should know his own fa, that is, the saying Mawu composes at the time he creates the individual. Knowledge of his fa enables the man to discern Mawu's will for him and to know which of the lesser divinities the supreme being wishes him to worship.

The divine messengers chose one man and taught him to divine fa by throwing sixteen kola nuts from one hand to the other and tracing the pattern formed when they fell to the ground.

In another myth Fa is personified as a god. He lived at the summit of a palm tree, in the sky, and had sixteen eyes. Each morning Legba, the god's messenger and servant, would climb the tree and ask Fa how many eyes he wished to have opened. Fa signified his wishes by dropping nuts into Legba's hand, two nuts if he want one eye opened one nut if he wanted two opened. Later Mawu gave Fa the keys of the sixteen doors of the future and if his diviners used the nuts aright the opened Fa's eyes and revealed the correct door for the inquirer. (Fon myths, Dahomey) A.G.H.


Savil, Sheila. Pears Encyclopedia of Myths and Legends. "Western and Northern Europe, Central and Southern Africa." London. Pelham Books Ltd. 1977. pp. 162-164

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