Divining the Self

A Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness

By (author) Velma E. Love

Hardback - £43.95

Publication date:

25 October 2012

Length of book:

160 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271054056

Divining the Self weaves elements of personal narrative, myth, history, and interpretive analysis into a vibrant tapestry that reflects the textured, embodied, and performative nature of scripture and scripturalizing practices. Velma Love examines the Odu—the Yoruba sacred scriptures—along with the accompanying mythology, philosophy, and ritual technologies engaged by African Americans. Drawing from the personal narratives of African American Ifa practitioners along with additional ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Oyotunji African Village, South Carolina, and New York City, Love’s work explores the ways in which an ancient worldview survives in modern times.

Divining the Self also takes up the challenge of determining what it means for the scholar of religion to study scripture as both text and performance. This work provides an excellent case study of the sociocultural phenomenon of scripturalizing practices.

“Well-crafted case studies like Divining the Self are important contributions to the process of bringing religious studies into compatibility with the lived religious and scriptural practices of participants. Traditionally, scholars have focused on the text itself to find meanings based on words and concepts in order to claim religious relevance. This study looks beyond print and inscription by focusing on an influential oral and (relatively recently) written corpus in use among a participant population that outnumbers many ‘mainline’ Christian denominations.”

—Grey Gundaker, Duane A. and Virginia S. Dittman Professor of American Studies and Anthropology, College of William and Mary