The literal translation of Ọ̀ruńmìlà is (Ọ̀run ni o mọ ati la) only heaven knows the way to salvation. The history of Ọrunmila is very controversial. In one of the stories, according to the Yorùbá oral tradition from Ilé-Ifè, Ọrúnmìlà was the second of the Yorùbá supreme beings said to have been jointly responsible for the creation of the world. The other two supreme beings are, in order, Odùduwà and Òrìsànlà. Odùduwà was said to have been responsible for the general foundation of the earth and for furnishing the materials that were used in the creation of the earth, namely iron, clay and so on. Another story said that Ọ̀ruńmìlà was born of a Nupe tribe and he was a miraculous child. He used to display extraordinary and amazing powers that earned him recognition and respect. He later attracted many followers. All this attention and fame caused the Muslims to hate him, and they eventually conspired against him and drove him out of the tribe. Ọ̀ruńmìlà then crossed the Niger River and started walking southward. Ọ̀ruńmìlà stopped in many places along the way. Wherever he stopped, he established a group. He would teach them and practice Ifa with them. Some of the places where Ọ̀ruńmìlà stopped and practiced Ifa were, Adó Èkìtì, Ọ̀wọ̀, Benin, Ìjèṣà, Obòkun and so on. That is why we praise Ọ̀ruńmìlà (Erinmi nílé Adó) the Hippopotamus at the town of ado (Eriǹmì lóde Ọ̀wọ̀) the Hippopotamus at the town of Ọwọ (Sikisiki l ode Iṣẹri) the big element of the town of Iṣẹri.

Another story about Ọ̀ruńmìlà is that he was born at Òkè Ìgẹ̀tí in Ilé Ifè. He later had his residence at Òkèọlọ́bọ̀ now Òkè Ìtasẹ̀ in Ifẹ̀. The story said that in the beginning Ọ̀ruńmìlà was very poor and he had to beg for a leaving. One day in his sleep he was endowed by special wisdom and the knowledge of healing and divination and he woke up with a bracelet around his wrist. When he woke up he remembered everything from his dream, and as he began to practice he began to get good results. More people began to know about Ọ̀ruńmìlà. Kings and chiefs began to send for him and he became famous. Ọ̀ruńmìlà began to have a lot of followers and people who wanted to learn from him. They made him the head among them, called Olúwo; meaning the head of those who knows the secret of life.

Ọ̀ruńmìlà initiated many of his followers in to the mysteries of Ifá divination and the art of healing. Before his death he gave his followers the sixteen knots from the sacred palm tree at Òkètasẹ̰̀ called àgbọnmìrèguń. He taught them how to do divination and told them that if they ever wanted to consult and talk to him after he was gone, they must use the sixteen pal nuts called Ikiń to consults with him. When Ọ̀ruńmìlà died he was deified. Up until today the main Yorùbá divination system is based on Ifá and the whole of ancient Yorùbá culture is based on the guidance from Ifá. In the past every Yoruba consult Ifa before making any major decision.