The Yoruba typically turn to a babalawo (diviner) when seeking advice or faced with an illness. An opon Ifa is a object that forms part of the divination ensemble. It, along with an iroke Ifa, agere Ifa, palm nuts and a number of other objects, are used to invoke the god Orunmila (also called Ifa, the god associated with wisdom, knowledge and divination) during divination processes.
During the divination process, a babalawo spreads a layer of wood flour (iyerosun - created by termites) across the surface of the opon Ifa. 16 sacred palm nuts (or a divination chain - opele Ifa) are shaken to reveal wisdom and communication from Orunmila. These verses (odu) are then transferred onto the dusted tray, translated and recited by the babalawo for the client to reflect upon and take action.