Aje is a women society with a spiritual force that is thought
to be inherent in African women. Aje societies members are so powerful that they are feared and revered. AJE/ IYAMI is women
spiritual life force, ashe, which can be creative or destructive. 'The mothers' IYA L'AJE control fertility, life, prosperity
and the death. They have the capacity to destroy individuals or entire communities, that is why spiritually empowered humans
are called Aje.
AJA/IYAMI members are astrally-inclined
human beings who enforce earthly and cosmic laws, and they keep society balanced by ensuring that human beings follow those
laws or are punished for their transgressions. These women, honored as "our mothers" (iya wa), "my mother" (iya mi), and the
elders of the night, are recognized as the owners and controllers of everything on Earth. Aje's power comes from the fact
that it is considered the origin of all earthly existence.
The Gelede is mask used in the Gelede cult, which is
connected with Aje/Iyami (witches). The ceremony takes place only in the southwestern parts of Yorubaland, on both sides of
the border with the Republic of Benin (i.e. in the Egbado, Shabe, Awori, Ohori, Idaasha and Ketu Kingdoms). The purpose of
the Gelede performance is to pay tribute to the special power of women, both elders and ancestors, who are known affectionately
as "our mothers." Gelede helps human-beings through dance, mask, costume and poetry. The Ere gives you harmony and balance.
witches of Ketu are said to have founded the cult, whose purpose is to appease the spirits of witches and to utilize their
power to protect communities against malevolent forces.
The ceremonies usually take place when an important woman (from
aje linage) comes to Ketu or on the annual ritual and at funerals on the death of members and, as in Epa, the masks consist
of two parts, a mask and a superstructure. The superstructure may depict many secular motifs. Masks may be made to represent
a great member of the society or/and to teach the community.
Membership of the society is open to both sexes, but
women hold some of the most important titles. The festival is often in celebration or honor of the great mother, the ancestor
of all women and of witches- Iya Nla or (Iya Nya). When the dances are to be performed, the participants and old women gather
in the market square and pray to the spirits.
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