Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 94

c

c
c cc

c‘  ‘cc
c
cccc c cc
cccc ccc
ccc c  cc
!"#$cc!c c%ccc
&ccc c' (c
)"ccc c*c
)cc!c c!* c
))cc+c cc
!"cc,c c *c
cc& c c c
-cccc cc
c
!c.cc c/c c
c c*c
c c 'c
"
'c cc

0 1c'cc1213c0cc
c
4c1c5'cc
c
c6cc6cc#7**c'c 8ccc *$cc
c
c
cc# c+c7+$cc
c
6cc
6 cc
!"6%ccc
&6/c2*cc
)"6*cc
)6!* cc
)c)6cc
!"6cc
6 cc
"
'6cc
c
9cccc cc * 4c 4ccccc c ccc *cc8cc
*3c) 8ccc:c) 8c'ccccc:cc
c
ccc' '; c *cc * 4c 4cc 3c &ccc c'c*c
c/c'c0*;03c &ccccccc;c3cc * cc cc
c;c c'c 4c4cc5 ;cc-c)c+c c c&5) !27c! !&c# &$4c
8 c/ cc8c c; 'cc*c" 8*c cc3cc cc;c *c
%"c+ 4c&cc*ccc8'c cc c<  cc&c8c1c c'c
8*cc"*c *c c 3cc
c
9ccc' 'c c<  c c :cc
c
c cc *c cc;cc'cc c8cc+c c c c &c!4cc
c'c c cc* 4cc8c'*c c8''c c;*3c#c cc
cc1cc c$cc
c
=24c ;4ccc c2 'c2'c'c;cc*c ccc ;c
c<  3c< ccc>c c c'c;c;''cc c8 cc' ?cc
#!) !c!$3cc
c
cc c7c'1ccc cc c;c c"c00c *c8c" 8cc8ccc
;'cc cc&c4c ;4cc3c+ c ccc84c c8c 'cc
c c-c84c ccc8c c c "c cc" 'c
' ' 3cccc;c c c c 8cc c5cc 'c5cc
;c''3cc
c
c c c cc; c cc'c4c 84c'c cc c 3cc* c
*cc'c;c' ';4c 4c * c*cc cc%cccc
; '3cc
c
,cc'c8c 84ccc; c cc *cc cccc+c' 'c *ccc
c c74cc77c" "c#'$cc
c
%
c 8c c cc'*c c5*cc,''3c#&c.c! $cc
c
0<  ccc c8 c c!;3ccc c;cc<  4c c<  ccc;'c)c
;*3c=c;c cccc8 cc  3c<  cccc c &4cc8 1c
c" 8c+c c c* c8'cc>cc'c'cc**c cc'@ cc
'@ cc* cc cc cAB4BBBcc 3c<  ccc'c'c cc
* c cc'c'@ 3c<  c *c cc8c c c'4c;c
 cc'c"* c c 4c8'cc 8c;cc%3c<  c c'c cc
; ;c cc * cc8ccc2c'c* 4c'*c%" * 4ccc c c
*30cc
c
cc"c;3338cc c'"c*'c333 ccc c cc8 cc'"c; ;c"*c
'"c; ;4cc
c
<  c# c<  $cc* c c<  cc
%cc'c;''ccc
'c cc'c;''3c5cccccCBc c8 ;;c
8 83cc'cc cc* ccc;c;  3c8;c cc* cc8'cc
' c c'"c c'"c'cc3cc
c
ccc c 4c4cc c" "c#'D%'"c5 ;$3cc
c
 c c c8 cc 4c * 4c"4c* 4c84c+ 4c%" * 4c%4c"4c-  '4c
 4c  c#*;$cc8ccc cc c8cc cc  c
c84c*ccccc c+c7+cc" 8cc4ccccccc c
 c" "c#'$c 3cc
c
0'c* c@ccc&cc cc4c cc4c cc4c cc'cc
;; cE8 c'c ccc 4c4c4cc'Fc cc; 8c c'c
30cG &c

c c
Kemetic Spiritual Days
by Bouneith Inejnema Naba

New Years Day

Happy New Year! Tehuti 1st (September 11, 2005) marks the first day of the new spiritual year
under the Sidereal Calendar. The Sidereal Calendar is the calendar that was used by the entire
world before the invasion of religions and sects, and is still used throughout the world today,
especially in traditional African spiritual communities. With the new year comes a new seasonal
cycle and many traditional holy days to observe.

One who is unfamiliar with the Sidereal Calendar usually notices that the beginning of the year is
usually September 11th, the same day that the twin towers were bombed by ?terrorists? in the
USA. A coincidence? Those unfamiliar with the realities of the world will think so, but those
who are more knowledgable recognize that the timing of this event is much more than a mere
coincidence.

We wish all Rising Firefly readers a happy and prosperous new year. If you dont have your new
Sidereal Calendar, call The Earth Center at 773-722-7001 or order online at
www.theearthcenter.com. The calendar lists all important holy days as well as Gods of the weeks
and months.

Fish Day

For the last 45,000 years, humanity has been celebrating Fish Day on Tehuti 9th as a way of
symbolizing that each and every human being is equal in the eyes of Gods. According to ancient
knowledge, Tehuti 9th is the day that mankind decided not to eat any animal that walks on Earth
(his world). Instead of eating meat, all of mankind traditionally eat fish on this day to symbolize
the equality of all human beings in front of Gods - from the Pharaoh to the street-cleaner, we are
all equal!

Traditionally called the day of Sebbit, everyone eats fish with grains and vegetables. It is a day
of reconciliation between humans and animals that share the Earth (land), bleed red blood,
breathe with lungs, and have an expression of a creature that is advancing towards Gods. This
day is a spiritual fest based on initiation values and teachings. Those who do not understand the
reasons behind this important spiritual day will still benefit from practicing the Sebbit day
restrictions. Today, eat fish instead of meat, and share it with family, neighbors, friends, and
passers-by.

Day of Tehuti

The 19th of Tehuti is an extremely important day in human spirituality and history, and this day
should be honored and celebrated by all of mankind. The 19th of Tehuti is the day that humanity
decided to bring themselves out of barbarism, murder, and evil - it is the day the seventy-seven
commandments were given to us by the Gods.
The God Wsr (renamed Osiris by the Greeks), the God-father of all humans, decided to help
humanity by convincing the Gods to provide us with a blueprint of how to base our lives. After
commissioning the Gods to provide us with their rules for living a pure life, Wsr presented the
seventy-seven commandments to us as a way of helping us out of an animalistic way of life that
was based on emotion, instinct, and corruption. On this day, humanity as a whole vowed in front
of the Gods to follow the seventy-seven commandments and to be good and pure beings instead
of the barbaric and evil beings that we were before receiving this precious gift. Following the
seventy-seven commandments allowed humanity to build a world that was different from the
animals - one that was based on values, spirituality, and logic rather than on emotion, greed,
corruption, and filth.

his day is very important for every human being that considers themselves to be on a divine path,
because these commandments are what give us access to the world of the Gods. One who does
not follow the commandments will have no way to reach the Gods, as these laws are what ensure
our purity and goodness! The 19th of Tehuti is the day that human beings received
enlightenment from the Gods and should be celebrated by all.

To celebrate this day, one needs only fruit, honey, and a clean/purified body. One dips the fruit
in honey and says ?Maata is sweet, Maata is our light? or ?The truth is sweet, the truth is our
path?, or ?justice is sweet, justice is our path? or ?goodness is sweet, goodness is our path? - then
one eats the honey-dipped fruit. The seventy-seven commandments are available in poster form
and can be obtained by contacting The Earth Center.

Charm of Aishat

Aishat is perhaps the most popular Goddess in the world, although many people who worship her
do not know that it is Aishat they are worshipping. Aishat has many names, including Aissiata,
Assietou, Aicha, Setou, Ai, Aisia, Isis, Isthar, Minerva, Europ, Danae, Alcmene, Leto, Semele,
Coronis, Mary, etc. She is the Mother Goddess and the wife of Wsr, the God-father. Every
human being can look to Aishat as a mother and protector, and she has always been a helpful
Goddess with many magical powers. It is by way of Aishat?s love and magic abilities that the
God-son Heru (and thus, every human being on earth) was conceived, as Aishat brought her
husband, Wsr, back from death using her abilities.

The 6th of Penipt is dedicated to Aishat. This day is traditionally the date that paranormal or
magic powers are shown by every human being that possesses these abilities. Because Aishat
transcends geography and culture, this day is celebrated under diverse names and festivals
throughout the world, and is often seen in festivals that are dedicated to God-mothers.

The celebration of the Charm of Aishat is a happy occasion. It is a period of joy and
reconciliation between human beings and their ancestors and Gods. This celebration also gives
new initiates a chance to come close to sacred practices and beings and also exposes them to the
powerful powers that are held by those who have spent a longer time in the initiation.

If one does not reside in a place that officially celebrates this day, one can still take part in this
holy celebration. A sequence of prayers to Aishat is usually spoken, and one can practice a
meditative retreat from the rest of the world. One can also celebrate this day by fasting (not
eating, drinking, having sex, smoking, swearing, etc from sunrise to sunset) and then ending the
fast with a feast in the name of Aishat.

Sunstick Day

Penipt 23 is the day that the distance between the Earth and the sun becomes greater than the
distance in the equinoxes and the summer solstice. This time is the beginning of a dangerous
distancing of the Earth from the sun, which slows down the rotation and speed of the planet
while cooling it down. This distancing also comes with an interference of the energies from the
celestial bodies and an increase in the gravitational forces of the Earth, which have a profound
effect on the lives of Earthly beings.

These astronomical occurances affect our lives in ways that are easy to observe if one chooses to
look. The heart has a more difficult time pumping blood throughout the body due to the
increased pull of gravity, which will lead to a poor irrigation of our brain. This is why people
tend to have depressive tendencies during this period! We tend to think winter is a period of
sadness because of the lack of sunlight, but this phenenomon is really due to a physical
consequence of gravity and the fact that the Earth?s rotation has slowed down considerably.

This day is an astronomical day that is named Sunstick day because it is the date that the sun
starts moving away from the Earth. Traditional wisdom tells us that, in this period, the sun is
entering its phase of age and is getting old. The expression ?sun stick? is an analogy of an elder
using a cane or a stick to help them walk - the sun has now lost its vigor!

Death of Wsr

Wsr is an extremely important God, as he is the God-father of all human beings. He is also the
one who has given us the seventy-seven commandments, which enabled us to come out of
barbarism and corruption and be moral human beings with values and direction.

Ateeri 17th is the date that the jealous God, Seth, who is also Wsr?s brother, won a victory over
the forces of good. It is on this day that a battle between evil (Seth) and good (Wsr and Heru)
was won by evil. Seth tricked Wsr into laying in a coffin that was built especially for him, and
when Wsr got in the coffin, Seth nailed it shut and tossed it into the Nile River. The Nile took the
coffin to the sea, and Wsr was not found until many months later by his wife Aishat, who
traveled the world searching for her husband. Aishat hid his body to recruit help, but Seth found
it and cut it into fourteen pieces, which he threw into the sea.

Wsr is dead, and because he is the first God to die, he had the task of creating an eternal kingdom
of the dead. This is the kingdom that all human beings will enter when they die to be judged for
their actions. Wsr then became Wsr-Unefer, the merciful God that not only brought life to Earth,
but allowed life after death. Every judgement story from all religions is based on this original
event. We bury our dead because of our knowledge (subconscious) of the existence of the
underground World of the Dead so that the dead person?s body will not be far from where the
soul must go after death.

Aishat eventually found thirteen of the fourteen pieces of Wsrs body. She reassembled them and
resusciated her husband, setting the path for human reincarnation. This day, the 17th of Ateeri, is
considered the saddest day of mankind, because Wsr has died. This is a mourning day and a day
of sadness. One must fast from sunrise to sunset (no eating, drinking, brushing teeth, sex,
swearing, smoking, etc) and spend time for lamentations and prayers before breaking the fast
after sunset.
c c
Orishas of the Santeria (Lucumi) Religion
Echu or Elegua

The Orisha who opens our doors and our roads, he is the messenger and is always honored first
in any ceremony. Known as the Trickster, Elegua is like a mischievous child who delights in
making trouble. His colors are most often represented as red and black. Sometimes spelled
Elegba.

Ogun

If Elegua is the messenger of the Orishas, telling them of the ceremonies we are performing in
their honor, Ogun (or Oggun) is the worker. He is the owner of iron, and therefore of the knife.
No Santeria initiation can be performed without his aid. Thus, in Matanzas, he has the honor of
bringing the iyawo out of his throne and presenting him to the drums. Ogun¶s colors are most
often represented as green and black, with a little red.

Ochosi

Ochosi is the hunter, and the Orisha of justice. In Matanzas his colors are a rich blue and forest
green with a little amber.

Osun

The Orisha of personal stability, he is represented by a metal chalice topped with a rooster. ³The
Warriors´ are Osun, Elegua, Ogun, and Ochosi.

Inle

Known as the ³Doctor of Ocha,´ Inle is the owner of medicine as well as the patron of
fisherman. He makes his home where the river meets the sea. In Matanzas, Inle¶s colors are a
rich blue with some green and a little bit of yellow. Abata is Inle¶s companion, and always
received with him. Abata¶s color is clear blue.

Babaluaye

Known in Cuba as San Lázaro, Babaluaye (or Obaluaye) is the owner of infectious diseases,
particularly of those transmitted sexually, and is invoked to protect us from illness. He is
depicted as a leprous beggar on crutches accompanied by two dogs. In Matanzas province,
particularly Perico, there are many priests of Babaluaye made in the Arara style. In the Egwado
branch of the Lucumi religion, Babaluaye is generally received by a Santero from a priest of
Babaluaye and the ceremonies are conducted in the Arara style. It is a very powerful experience.

Korinkoto
Orishaoko¶s companion, Korinkoto breaks up the rocks that are unearthed as Orishaoko plows
his furrows and uses them to build the walls that protect Orishaoko¶s seedlings from animals.

Orishaoko

A pair of oxen pulling an old-fashioned plow is a common site in rural Cuba, and this is the
image associated with Orishaoko. The owner of cultivated land and all its products, he is also at
home beneath the shade of the sacred ceiba tree. Orishaoko¶s colors are a medium pink (the same
color as Yewa) and green with a little blue.

Dada

Dada is the companion of San Lázaro, who helped him when he was so ill he could not walk. He
is also the strong friend of Chango, and was present to witness Chango¶s gift of the divining
table to Orula.

Agayu

Agayu owns the volcano, the roots of the Earth. Known as the father of Chango, he shares many
of Chango¶s characteristics, including fire and the double-headed hatchet. Agayu is pictured as
carrying the Earth or Elegua on his shoulders. His colors are deep brown and milky white, with
accents in orange. Agayu¶s necklace can also include accent beads in red, yellow, light and dark
blue, green, and coral²there should be nine colors in all. In the Egwado branch of the Lucumi
religion, Agayu is made directly; whereas in Havana and the US the child of Agayu is made to
Chango with songs sung for Agayu (³oro Agayu´).

Chango

Chango (Shango) is arguably the most vibrant and forceful of the Orishas. He owns thunder and
lightning, and is the owner of the sacred Aña (his is the smallest drum, okonkolo, which marks
the rhythm for the other two drums). Chango also owns the Makagua Bembe drums. These
drums, with their driving rhythms, exemplify Chango¶s power, virility and warlike character. His
symbols are the double-headed hatchet, the sword, and the thunderstone. His colors are a balance
of fiery red and cooling white.

Obatala

Obatala was charged by Olodumare (God) with creating the Earth and humankind. For this
reason he is considered to be the first among Orishas. He is sometimes known as "the owner of
all heads," and he personifies peace and tranquility and humility. Obatala is generally depicted as
an old man (or woman, Ochan-la), but he also has a warrior aspect, known as Ayaguna. There
are many roads of Obatala, from the oldest, Ochan-la (the only female road), whose color is pure
white; to the youngest, Ayaguna, whose colors are white with a little red.

Yewa
As a young girl, Yewa was abandoned by her parents and went to live in a cave. When she was
discovered, Olofi (another name for God) took her out of her cave and blessed her. When she
grew old, she returned to the cave, and there met Death. She is the true owner of the cemtary, as
she owns the bones in the ground. Yewa¶s color is a medium pink and she lives very quietly
behind a many-colored curtain and mariwo (palm fronds strung together in a skirt).

Obba

Obba was the first wife of Chango. Oya, who was also in love with Chango, convinced her to cut
off her ear and serve it to him in his favorite dish to keep his love. When Chango saw Obba¶s
disfigurement he was so disgusted that he cast her away from him. She went to the feet of Olofi
and became his secretary. She records the life story of each individual when he or she dies. In
Matanzas, Obba¶s color is a deep brown, the same shade as Agayu and Oya, but without any of
the accent colors that those two Orishas use.

Oya

Oya is the wind and the rain. She was the second wife of Chango and his equal as a warrior. She
owns the gates to the cemetery and the marketplace, a paradigm for the world of commerce.
When a new initiate leaves the throne, Oya¶s market is the first place he or she goes. Oya¶s color
is a deep brown, like Agayu and Obba. The preferred brown bead has a thin red and black stripe
in it, although these beads are very difficult to find in Cuba. Although she is the owner of nine
colors, her necklaces only carry brown with a little red or maroon.

Ochun

Ochun (or Oshun) personifies sweetness and love, but she can also be fierce and proud. She is
the owner of the sweet water of lakes and rivers. The ultimate coquette, she has been
romantically involved with almost all of the male Orishas. It was she who lured Ogun out of his
forest to help mankind with his iron, by dancing seductively by the river and smearing his lips
with honey. In Cuba, she is identified with the Caridad del Cobre, Cuba¶s patron saint. Ochun¶s
color is yellow (or amber, in the case of Ibu Kole).

Olokun

Owner of the depths of the ocean, no one knows Olokun¶s secrets. Out of respect, in the Egwado
branch of Fermina Gomez, Olokun¶s necklace is made of light blue and clear crystal beads.

Yemaya

Yemaya is the mother of us all. She owns the seas and the oceans, and in the beginning the entire
Earth was hers. Her songs and her dances are reminiscent of the unceasing undulation of the sea,
sometimes gentle and sometimes tempestuous but always powerful. There are seven roads of
Yemaya which represent all of her aspects, from the gentle shoreline (Asesu, whose color is pale
blue) to the raging depths (Okute, the warrior aspect of Yemaya, whose colors are deep blue with
a little red and a touch of clear greenish-blue like the color of churning waves).
Orunmila (Orula)

Orunmila, often called Orula in Cuba, is the Diviner. His priests are known as babalawos (³the
father of the secrets´) and are renowned for their knowledge of the sacred stories that serve as
the foundation of the divination process.. Orula¶s colors are green and yellow.

c c
Yoruba Traditional
Religion
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:17
To examine the Yoruba religion, one must look at the entire area of Yoruba cultural existence.
Yorubas are located basically in the southwestern part of Nigeria and in some parts of Benin and
Togo. The history of the Yoruba religion seems to be somewhat of a controversial subject in
most sources that deal with this topic. There was really no mention of when the religion started
or much about the origin of the people because the beginning of their existence was always noted
as being in Ife, the center where the Yoruba people descended from heaven. Ife is said to have
been founded around a thousand years ago and there was some mention that the Yorubas might
have descended from some Middle Eastern heritage.

As far as dealing with the actual origin of the religion itself, it is only referred to as a surviving
religion of a "higher" religion. That religion is said to be from the Ancient Egyptian±Religion
otherwise known as Khamet or Kemet. Being that the language of the Yorubas is so strongly tied
to the culture there are many comparisons analyzed as to why there is a belief that Yoruba
religion has been derived from Ancient Egyptian religion. For example, in Lucas' "The Religion
of the Yorubas" word comparisons are made. Such a comparison is made with the Ancient
Egyptian God Amon: "The God Amon is one of the Gods formerly known to the Yorubas". The
Yoruba words mon, mimon, "holy or sacred," are probably derived from the name of the God"
(p.21).

Many of the sources which I encountered did not attempt to even approach the topic of the origin
of the Yorubas Orisa (Orisha). The Orisa is one of the key spiritual elements of traditional
Yoruba religion. It is an example of the many deep rooted meanings of the religion of the
Yorubas. The Orisa, according to Baba Ifa Karade's "The Handbook of Yoruba Religious
Concepts," are a series of Gods or divinities under the Yoruba's main±God, Olorun or
Oludumare. Karade also argues that there are many striking similarities between the ancient
Egyptians and the Yorubas. The Orisha are "... an expression of the principles and functions of
divine power manifesting on nature"(p.23).

The actual word "Orisha" has a deep meaning itself. For example, the word ori is the "reflective
spark of human consciousness embedded on human essense, and sha which is the ultimate
potentiality of that consciousness." This gives a strong example of how strong language is tied to
religion. This Ori is the aspect of the human that is in a sense in control of their spiritual actions.
The ori is divided into two which can be known as the ori apari and the ori apere. The ori apari
represents the internal spiritual head and the ori apere represents the sign of an individuals
personal protector. The common Orisa which seem to come up time after time are these major
ones: Obatala, Elegba, Ogun, Yemoja, Oshun (Osun), Shango (Sango), and Oya.

Each of these gods has a specific purpose when dealing with the human spirit. Each of the orisas
has a specific color and natural environment associated with them. Obatala represents the
embodiment of true purity of one's soul. Obatala is also said to represent ethical purity. Such
purity is represented by pure whiteness. There is great measure taken to carry out the importance
of this pure whiteness because the temples which worship the divinity Obatala have the color of
white in all the instruments of worship. For example, the clothing of those involved with the
worship in the temples are white. In addition, all the emblems are kept in white containers and
the ornaments are white as are the beads for the priests and priestesses. Obatala is said to be the
father of the Orisha and the divinity in charge of the carving of humans out of clay into the form
they are today. He is worshiped or appeased by his followers when they want children, revenge
for wrong doings, cures for sickness and so on.

Yemoja is the divinity that governs over all the waters or oceans. Yemoja is said to be the mother
of all the Orisha. She is the water or ambiotic fluid in the mother's womb and the breasts which
nurture a new born child. She is the Matriarchal head of the entire universe. Her natural
environment are the salt water±oceans and the lakes and the colors associated with her are blue
and crystal. There is much confusion concerning the subject matter as to who is the chief female
divinity because the different sources represent different view points on this subject matter and
this was really unclear.

Sango or Shango to non Yoruba speakers is said to be a human that was made into a deity. He
was said to be the ruler of old Oyo that was hung (legend has it that he committed suicide by
hanging himself to a tree after his failure to amass all the political powr to himself) because of
his greed for power. Sango is the god of lightning in addition to being the Orisha of drum and
dance. He is also known to change things into pure and valuabe objects. His followers come to
him for legal problems, making bad situations better, and protection from enemies. His natural
environment happens to be any place that has been struck by lightning, and the base of trees. It is
said that no god is more feared for malevolent action than sango.

Ogun is said to be the god of iron and basically everything that becomes iron. He is known for
building or clearing paths for the building of civilizations and is the divinity of mechanization.
Ogun is considered to be the holder of divine justice and truth. He is also said to be the
executioner of the world. Natural environment are in the woods, railroads, and forges.

Oya is the divinity that is associated with the death or the rebirth into a new life. She is
considered to be the wife of Sango. Oya is also known as the god of storms and hurricanes and
has power over the winds. She is also the deity that is in charge of guarding the cemetary. Osun
(Oshun) is the deity of diplomacy and all giving or unconditional love. She is a river deity
because she symbolizes clarity. She is the divinity of fertility and feminine essence. Oshun is
said to represent the strenght of feminine love and the power of motherhood. It is she who is
appeased when it comes time for a mother to give birth.

Elegba is the messenger of the deities and his major role is to negotiate between the other orishas
and the humans and is very close to all the forces of the deities. He is in charge of giving from
the humans to the divinities. Elegba is the one who tests the human souls. Even when
worhsipping other divinities, he is also worshipped because of his important role in the Yoruba
religion. Elegba can both punish and reward and is known for having great wisdom. He is also
the divinity who takes the body upon death and the divinity that saves. Although he does not
match the role exactly, he is what the western world would call the devil. Elegba is not evil.
It is particularly important to discuss the dieties because they represent such an important aspect
of Yoruba traditional religion. The Yorubas have a deep and symbolic meaning attached to each
of the divinities which is exhibited through prayer and worhsip. These divinities give the reader
some idea of the powerful belief system of the Yorubas. Many scholars or anyone not familiar
with the Yoruba system of worship which is based in the belief in more than one god, may see
this religion as "superstitious" or "pagan".

The Yorubas have many festivals to give honor and praise to the many divinities within the Orisa
system of belief. The Yoruba festivals are extremely elaborate and have much deep rooted
meaning in practice related to them. Certain Yoruba towns have certain orisas which are
honored. This is extremely important because it shows the diversity of Yoruba culture and
futhermore the facets of traditional Yoruba religion. It would be tedious and quite boring to
examine and give an account of every single festival and the villages in which they take place
because the Yoruba religion covers so many (actually all) towns in Yorubaland. The discussion
could go on forever. However, I will give one account of this widely practiced aspect of Yoruba
religion.

Among the people of Osogbo, the Orisa Osun is the center of the town¶s attention even though it
is worshipped by the people in all areas of Yorubaland. The reason for this vast diversity may be
due to the fact that there are major differences in the landscape of each of the villages where the
Yorubas settled. Each orisa has a natural environment and a different emphasis may be put on a
different orisa. For example, the reason why the people of Osogbo worship osun may be because
their town was founded near a river and osun's natural environment is in fresh rivers and lakes.
The historical legend or belief behind the worship of osun is that the people of Osogbo found it
hard to find any fresh drinking water for the village. It was the divinity osun who gave the people
of Osogbo fresh water. Osun has also been credited to give infertile women children.

In Yoruba traditional religion, life is circular. What is meant by this that in the Yoruba religion,
there is no such thing as death. Death is seen as a transition from the physical plain to the
spiriitual plain. The life cycle of the Yorubas is very complex. Before an individual is born into
the world, they choose a destiny with God (Olodumare) in heaven. The goal is to fulfil the
destiny. There is one exception, once a child is born he or she forgets the destiny he or she has
chosen. The purpose of this is for the individual to learn and gain wisdom for life in the spiritual
plain. The Yoruba traditional religion believes in predestination. It is also important to point out
that there is no hell in traditional Yoruba religion. The Yoruba believe that all of one's wrong
doings will be paid for and all good deads will be rewarded. Under the orisa system, the early
cycle of life is called "morning". Morning of one's life spans from the time of birth to the age of
fifty. It is in this time period that the individual learns and experiences life's most difficult
lessons. This also is the time when the Yorubas raise their families. The Yorubas believe that no
one is a master in any area of life until they reach age fifty. The time period from the age of fifty
until the transition into the spirit realm is called the evening. It is in this time period that
individuals enjoy life the most. By this time most Yoruba men and women would have raised
their children and have much free time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The evening is a time
period when the Yorubas prepare for their transition. Long life and family are the two most
important blessings in Yoruba religion.
The Yoruba believe that there are three types of people: achievers, people who assist achievers,
and bystanders. Whichever role one chooses dictates the type of life that the person will live. The
babalawo is the most important figure in Yoruba religion on the physical plain. His role is one of
great respect and experience. The Babalawo's training is long and indepth. It is said in some
temples of Yoruba divination that Babalawos are said to stay in their temples for seven years
before being released into the world to pracitce Orisha. The babalawo, by his knowledge and
training, is the link between the divinities and man.
c

c c
The story of Casting Obi
(coconuts)
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 17:18
There was an Awo called Biague who had a son named Adiatoto, Biague had taught this son his
only
secret. A method to cast Obi (coconut)

In the house of Biague, there lived several other children, They obeyed Biague, he feed and
clothed
them. But only Adiatoto the smallest was his son. All lived as brothers. One day Biague died,
and the
adoptive children conspired against Adiatoto, and robbed him of all his belongings. Adiatoto
experienced much difficulty.

After a time, the king of the town, Oba-Rey, wanted to find out who owned the lands that had
belonged to Biague.

He ordered his men to find this out. Many came forward and made a claim on the lands,
including the
adoptive brothers but no one could pass the test, and prove ownership.

Adiatoto heard the news that the king's men had been asking about him.
When they appeared before him, they asked him to show the secret that proved the lands had
been
passed on to him. he said: "The lands belong to me, I will go to the plaza in front of the wall and
from
there I will throw coconuts in the method my Father showed me.The coconuts will fall facing up
which is the proof that is needed. Thus is was, and the King gave Adiatoto all the lands and
belongings that had been taken from him

The coconuts (obi), have a limited role in divination


This role is limited to questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no
It should not be used to ask other more complex subjects.
The message given by consulting the Obi depends on which pieces fall facing up, and which face
down.

Alafia, the four pieces with the white mass upwards. Definitely an affirmative

Eyeife, two pieces with white mass upwards and two with the crust, this is the most firm
response

Otagua, Three pieces with white mass upwards and one with the crust. Some consider this to be
an affirmative response. Some others view it as questionable, requiring another throw to rectify.
Ocana, Three pieces with crust upwards and one with the white mass,

Ocanasorde, Four crusts, a definite negative, and requires more question to isolate and problems
that need immediate attention.
c

c c
The Story
of the Irde
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 17:17
Death (Iku) was gathering humans before there full time on earth had passed.
The Orishas worried about this, until Orumila said he would resolve this matter.

One day when Iku was busy, Orumila went and took his hammer
Iku became furious when he discovered the Hammer missing.
He rushed back to Orumila's house, and demanded the hammers return.

Orumila said, Oludumare had assigned you the task of gathering humans when thier time had
come,
but you are gathering them when you want, prior to thier predetermined death.
Iku answered, if humans do not die, the earth will die.

Orumila answered "you are not right to take humans before their time.
After a long discussion, Orumila began to see the logic of Iku's task
Orumila aggred to return the Hammer, But Iku must swear not to take any of Orumila's
children before there full time has passed.

Iku answred, When I see the Irde Ifa on a persons left wrist, I will pass over them, unless it is
there predetermined time to die. Orumila and Iku aggreed, and from this day, Ifa devotees wear
the Irde on the left wrist, as a sign of the pact between Iku and Orumila.
c

c c
A Favorite
Elegua Story
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 17:15
One day Echu began a journey wearing a hat, red on one side, white on the other. Making not a
sound he walked between two friends, one seeing the white side of his hat, the other seeing the
red. Later in the day the two friends spoke to one another about the mysterious man in the hat.
Immediately, they began to argue about the color of the hat. White! Red! The quarreling turned
to blows, as each man professed to know the right answer and demanded to be acknowledged as
the victor in the violent discussion.The Trickster Eshu chuckled at the sight and walked over to
the men, now bloodied and angry, and showed them his hat - red on one side and white on the
other.

He was delighted by the fact they would fight about something as ridiculous as the color of
another mans hat, ruining their long-standing friendship in the process. Taking pleasure in testing
the strengths and weaknesses of mankind, he provides the lesson of making the right choices in
life.

He is found at the crossroads, can see in all directions, watchs what people do, good and bad. His
punishment is swift but he is also kind.

Eshu sits at the threshold to your home, guarding the entry.


c

c c
Eshu and the four
eyed goat
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 17:15
One day Eshu heard that king Metolofi had come into possession of a goat with four eyes; two
situated on top of it's head and two others at the back. Presenting this beast to his people, the
king proclaimed that this amazing goat would be able to watch all of the people all of the time.
The goat would watch what everyone was doing, and if anyone disobeyed the king or broke the
kings laws - the goat would immediately report the event back to the king. Thus, king Metolofi
would become revered as the bringer of perfect justice to his realm.

Now Eshu became very indignant at this. He found it unacceptable that anyone should know all
of his actions, all of the time - even the king! So, Eshu declared loudly that he would be able to
act freely, without any fear of the goat reporting his actions. Eshu had a plan.

Eshu found the spirit Ifa, and made a sacrafice of a hat and four different colored pieces of cloth.
Ifa proceeded to remodel the hat and make it into a head covering with four faces; each one a
different color. Ifa then equipped Eshu with this head covering and sent him on his way.

Now, wearing the head covering, Eshu found the kings number one wife traveling on the road
between the temple and the palace and assaulted her with rude and ribald comments; even
throwing horse dung onto her dress. Many people had seen this exchange and were shocked that
anyone would be so bold and foolish to assault the kings number one wife, and in public!

The goat saw the exchange and immediately reported it to the king, but could only say that the
assailant was wearing a red head covering. The king then called together all of the people who
had seen the deed and asked them to report on who had done this - but they each described a
different colored head covering. Some said it was blue, others yellow, others white, and still
others agreed with the goat that it had been red. No consensus could be reached.

The crowd began to argue heatedly with one another. Those that saw one color called the others
liars and traitors. Some claimed the others were mad or had been in on the deed and were now
trying to cover it up. The arguing became fighting and chaos erupted in the courtyard of the king.

The king then sent his minister to the people to calm them down, and to find out who was behind
all of this trouble. While the minister was in the midst of the crowd, Eshu (again disguised in his
four colored head covering) took the opportunity to strike down the minister in front of everyone
- then slip out before he could be seized.

Again, the goat saw the deed and reported to the king that the minister had been slain, but this
time by someone wearing a blue head covering. When the king ordered that the man wearing a
blue head covering be brought forward - again the crowds began arguing and fighting bitterly
with one another.
"The murderer was not wearing blue! It was red!" cried one observer.

"No you imbecile, it was neither blue nor read; it was yellow!" cried another. And so it went
round and round with each believing his own eyes and disbelieving the report of his neighbor.

Finally, Eshu arrived without his disguise on, and called for the king to settle the matter. Surely
with such a remarkable goat the solution would be trivial. But, the king could not and was
humbled before his people. So he offered the goat up as a sacrifice to Eshu and hid his face away
his angry people and regretted his previous boasting.
c

c c
Choice of
Destiny (ori)
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 17:15
Oriseeku, Orilemere and Afuwape , These three were about to begin their earth-bound journey
from their pre-natal existence. The last rite to perform was the choice of ori (destiny). They had a
warning from Orisa-nla to go straight to the house of Ajala without changing course. The first
two did as they were told while Afuwape, the son of Orunmila decided to see his father before
making a choice. It turned out to be a good decision because in his fathers house, he met two of
his fathers divination priests who advised him to offer some sacrifice. He did, and the result was
good for him. The other two were not assisted in their choice, but Afuwape was assisted because
as a result of the sacrifice he performed, he had directions on what to do to receive favor from
Ajala, the maker and custodian of inner heads. On their arrival in the world, the other two
noticed that things were going well for Afuwape while they were having difficult times. They
reacted with a song:

Emi o mo bi olori n yan ri o


M ba lo yan temi
N go mo bi Afuwape yan ri o
M ba lo yan temi

I do not know where people with good destiny picked theirs


I would have picked mine there too
I do not know where Afuwape picked his good destiny
I would have gone there

To which Afuwape replied:

Eyin o mo bi olori n yan ri o


E ba lo yan teyin
Ibikan na la gbe yan ri o
Kadara o papo ni.

You do not know where good destiny is picked


You would have gone there for yours
We picked our destinies from the same source
Only their contents are not identical
c

c c
Yoruba
Creation
Story
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 17:14
According to Yoruba (YOUR-a-bah) mythology, the first Yoruba kings were the offspring of the
creator, Oduduwa (oh-doo-DOO-wah).

A Yoruba king's crown identifies the status of its wearer and gives the king the power to interact
with the spirit world in order to benefit his people.

A veil, a large face, and a group of birds are commonly appear on a Yoruba king's crown.

Long, long ago, Olorun (OH-low-run), the sky god, lowered a great chain from the heavens to
the ancient waters. Down this chain climbed Oduduwa, Olorun's son. Oduduwa brought with
him a handful of dirt, a special five-toed chicken, and a palm nut. He threw the dirt upon the
ancient waters and set the chicken on the dirt. The chicken busily scratched and scattered the dirt
until it formed the first dry earth. In the center of this new world, Oduduwa created the
magnificent Ife (EE-fay) kingdom. He planted the palm nut, which grew into a proud tree with
16 branches, symbolizing the 16 sons and grandsons of Oduduwa.

Oduduwa was the first ruler of the kingdom and the father of all Yoruba. Over time he crowned
his 16 sons and grandsons and sent them off to establish their own great Yoruba kingdoms. As
descendants of the sky god, these first Yoruba rulers and their direct descendants were divine
kings. Only they could wear special veiled crowns that symbolized their sacred power.
c

c c
How Orumila and
Echu meet
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 17:13
One day Orunmila decided to journey to the city of Owo. Before beginning his trip, he cast
sixteen divining nuts to see what lay ahead. Twice he cast the nuts, and twice they told him
nothing, which was odd, since Orunmila was the father of divination. But he ignored the matter,
and began his journey.

On the first day, Orunmila met Eshu, the orisha of chance, whom he greeted as a friend. On the
second day, and again on the third, Orunmila met Eshu, coming from the opposite direction. "I
am coming from Owo," Eshu said simply. Orunmila thought it very odd to have met Eshu three
times. But Eshu was rather odd in any case, and Orunmila was in a hurry to reach Owo, so he
ignored the matter.

On the fourth day, Eshu took some fresh kola fruits and left them in the middle of the trail just
outside of the city, where Orunmila would be certain to find them. Once more, Orunmila and
Eshu passed one another. This close to his journey's end, Orunmila did not feel the need to
consult his divining nuts.

Orunmila found the kola fruits, and picked them up and began to eat. As he did so, a farmer
came out onto the path. "Those kola fruits are from my tree."

"That is not possible," Orunmila said. "I found these fruits here, in the middle of the trail, and
there are no trees nearby."

But the angry farmer did not believe Orunmila, and tried to take back his fruit. In their struggle,
the farmer cut Orunmila's palm with his bush knife. Orunmila turned away from Owo, and slept
by the side of the road that night. He despaired that he would always be known in Owo as a thief,
though he had never in his life taken another man's property.

During the night, Eshu entered the house of all the people of Owo--including the Oba and the
farmer--and cut everyone's palms. The next day, Orunmila decided that he would complete his
journey. Once again, he met Eshu.

"Eshu, I always considered you a friend, but I think you have made my trip to Owo difficult."

"Quite the contrary," Eshu replied. "Enter the city without fear. If there is any trouble, I will
speak for you."

The kola farmer saw Orunmila when he entered Owo with Eshu, and he went to complain to the
Oba, who ordered the stranger brought before him. Again, the farmer accused Orunmila of the
theft.

Eshu then spoke for Orunmila, as he had promised. "This stranger has come to Owo only today:
how can he already have enemies? What evidence do you have that this man stole your fruit?"

"We struggled outside the city," the farmer said, "and I cut the palm of his hand. If he opens his
hand, we will see the evidence of his crime."

"And why should he be the only one examined?" Eshu demanded. "I am sure that many of the
people in Owo had the opportunity to steal your kola fruit. Let them be examined as well."

The Oba consented, and had all the people of Owo come forth and display the palms of their
hands. And across each one, there was a fresh red cut.

"If a cut is a sign of guilt, then all of Owo is guilty," Eshu said, and the Oba agreed, and
proclaimed Orunmila's innocence. The people of Owo brought the mistreated stranger gifts of
goats and wine and kola fruits.

And so it was that, both despite and because of Eshu's actions, Orunmila was welcomed in Owo.
c

c c
Yoruba
Creator
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 17:10
The Yoruba creator is called Olurun or Olodumare and is often assisted by the lesser god,
Obatala. In the beginning, there was only water and chaos. The supreme being sent Obatala or
Orishanla down from the sky to create some land out of the

chaos. He descended on a long chain (umbilical cord) and brought with him a rooster, some iron,
and a palm kernel. First, he put the metal on the earth and the rooster on top of that. The rooster
scratched the metal and spread it out to create land. Then he planted the palm seed and from it
grew the earth's vegetation. Olurun named earth "Ife" and the first city "Ile-Ife." Orshilana
created humans out of the earth and got Olurun to blow life into them.
Yorubaland
c

c c
Oluronbi
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 17:07
In a certain village no children had been born for many years, and the people were greatly
distressed.

At last all the women of the village went together into the forest, to the magic tree, the Iroko, and
implored the spirit of the tree to help them.

The Iroko-man asked what gifts they would bring if he consented to help them, and the women
eagerly promised him corn, yams, fruit, goats, and sheep; but Oluronbi, the young wife of a
wood-carver, promised to bring her first child.

In due course children came to the village, and the most beautiful of all the children was the one
born to Oluronbi. She and her husband so greatly loved their child that they could not consent to
give it up to the Iroko-man.

The other women took their promised gifts of corn, yams, fruit, goats, and sheep; but Oluronbi
took nothing to propitiate. the tree.

Alas! one day as Oluronbi passed through the forest, the Iroko-man seized her and changed her
into a small brown bird, which sat on the branches of the tree and plaintively sang:

One promised a sheep,


One promised a goat,
One promised fruit,
But Oluronbi promised her child.

When the wood-carver heard the birds song, he realized what had happened, and tried to find
some means of regaining his wife.

After thinking for many days, he began to carve a large wooden doll, like a real child in size and
appearance, and with a small gold chain round its neck. Covering it with a beautiful native cloth,
he laid it at the foot of the tree. The Iroko-man thought that this was Oluronbis child, so he
transformed the little bird once more into a woman and snatched up the child into the branches.

Oluronbi joyfully returned home, and was careful never to stray into the forest again.
c

c c
Oranyan
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 17:06
Oranyan a brave and warlike King, founded the city of Oyo. As it was necessary for him to lead
an expedition to a distant part of his kingdom, he left his son in charge of the capital during his
absence.

But the King was away for such a long period that it was thought he and his soldiers must have
perished, and at last the people made his son King, and for some time he ruled them wisely and
happily.

However, Oranyan was not dead, and after many delays and hardships he again drew near to Oyo
with his few surviving followers.

As he approached the city he was startled to hear the notes of the Kakaki trumpet, which is
sounded for the King alone.

Feeling sure that nobody could be aware of his return, he asked a man working in the fields for
whom the trumpet was being sounded.

For the King, replied the man.

Yes, but which King? asked the travel-worn stranger.

Do you not know that the son of Oranyan is King, and rules over us wisely and well? His father
was killed in battle many months ago.

Desiring his sons happiness more than his own, the old King retraced his steps, and settled down
with his few friends in humble retirement in a remote part of the country. Only at Oranyans death
was his presence made known to his son.

The young Prince, now King, grieving at his noble fathers sacrifice, erected an obelisk over the
spot where he died, and the monument, which is known as the Staff of Oranyan, is still to be
seen.
c

c c
Orisha
Atributes
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:35
Obatala
Creator of Human Form, White purity, Cures illness and deformities.

Elegua
Messenger of the Orisha, Holder of Ashe (pover) among the Orisha, he is prime negotiator
between negative and positive forces in body, enforces the "law of being". Helps to enhance the
power of herbs.

Ogun
Orisha of Iron, he expands, he is divinity of clearing paths, specifically in respect to blockages or
interruption of the flow vital energy at various points in the body. he is the liberator.

Yemaya
Mother of Waters, Sexuality, Primal Waters, Nurturer. She is the amniotic fluid in the womb of
the pregnant woman, as well as, the breasts which nurture. She is the protective energies of the
feminine force.

Oshun
Sensuality, Beauty, Gracefulness, she symbolizes clarity and flowing motion, she has power to
heal with cool water, she is also the divinity of fertility and feminine essence, Women appeal to
her for child-bearing and for the alleviation of female disorders, she is fond of babies and is
sought if a baby becomes ill, she is known for her love of honey.

Shango
Kingly, Virility, Masculinity, Fire, Lightning, Stones, Protector/ warrior, Magnetism, he
possesses the ability to transform base substance into that which is pure and valuable.

Oya
Tempest, Guardian of the Cemetery, Winds of Change, Storms, Progression, she is usually in the
company of her counterpart Shango, she is the deity of rebirth as things must die so that new
beginnings arise.
c

c c
Use
of
Plants
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:35
The use of herbs and plants, called ewe in Yoruba, is of great importance. Herbs are picked for
medicinal, and the spiritual powers they possess.The population can usually obtain herbs either
by private practice or from the marketplace in town. In the Americas and the Caribbeans, Osain
based practitioners are also directed to use herbs as medicine. Here the priest, as well as devotees
alike gather herbs for medicine, baths, and religious artifacts. Because of the wide-spread
practice of Osain in the New World, Nigerians and people from other African countries have
begun to set up herbal businesses in increasing numbers. More and more indigenous herbs are
now being made accessible to devotees here in the Americas. It is said that ewe (herbs) are for
the "healing of Nations" and many health food stores provide them in powder, leaf, and capsule
form. Adherents to the traditional practices of Osain are usually advised to use herbs as medicine
before going to Western allopathic drugs for healing. There are many books written on the
subject of herbology.

Therefore, researching the possibilities of herbal use is recommended. It is best that novices seek
out divination before attempting to get and prepare herbal formulas. It is also advisable to rely on
priests and qualified herbalists to begin the healing process before getting involved with the
properties and powers of herbs yourself.
c

c c
Yoruba
Concepts
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:32
Five ancient concepts are essential to an understanding of Yoruba aesthetics.

(1) Ase means "power" or "authority". However, the meaning of Ase is extraordinarily complex.
Ase is used in a variety of contexts. One of the most important meanings is the "vital power, the
energy, the great strength of all things."11 Ase also refers to a divine energy manifest in the
process of creation and procreation. Ase invests all things, exists everywhere, and is a source for
all creative activity. Again, Ase often refers to the inner power or "life force." Ase also refers to
the "authority" by which one speaks or acts.

(2) Ori is the "inner spiritual head" in humans or "personal destiny," not mind or soul as these
terms are used in the West. But Ori can mean the enabling power that represents the potential
that life contains.

(3) Iwa can mean "character" or "essential nature." Two classifications of usage of Iwa are
generally recognized: the ontological-descriptive and the ethical evaluative. The ontological-
descriptive meaning enables one to identify the quantitative existence of a person as revealed by
their behaviour, the "lifestyle" or manner in which they exist in the world. The ethical-evaluative
meaning represents a qualitative judgment of how good or bad is their iwa.

(4) Ewa is an aesthetic term as well as an expression of iwa, a person's essential nature. Ewa
means "beauty", referring in some contexts to physical beauty of a person or object, but mostly
to the qualities of beauty of a person or object. The term can be used to describe how a work of
art captures the essential quality of the subject.

(5) Ona means "art" or it can refer to an artist's ability to create or design. In Yoruba "art" cannot
be defined outside of the context of the processes of creation, the purpose of creation, and the
skill of the artist in capturing the first two contextualities in order to produce a physical object
that embodies meaning.
c

c c
Obatala
brain, bones, white fluids of the body

Elegua
sympathetic nervous system, para sympathetic nervous system

Yemaya
womb, liver, breasts, buttocks

Oshun
circulatory system, digestive organs, elimination system, pubic area (female)

Ogun
heart, kidney (adrenal glands), tendons, and sinews

Shango
reproductive system (male), bone marrow, life force or chi

Oya
lungs, bronchial passages, mucous membranes

c c
Yoruba
Medicine
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:26
The Yoruba are one of the largest tribes in Africa, with 30 million individuals throughout the
region of West Africa. Yorubic medicine is Orisha-based medicine practiced by many other
groups in Africa, the Caribbean and others, mostly due to the slave Diaspora. ³African herbal
medicine is commonly called Yorubic or Orisha medicine on the African continent. It started
from a religious text, called Ifa Corpus. According to tradition, the Ifa Corpus was revealed by
the mystic prophet, Orunmilla, around 4,000 years ago in the ancient city of Ile-Ife, now known
as Yorubaland. The last 400 years saw individuals in the Caribbean and South America practice
the Yorubic healing system as a token of their past when the first wave of African slaves arrived
in the Americas.´. Orunmilla taught the people about the customs of divination, prayer, dance,
symbolic gestures, personal, and communal elevation. He also advised them on spiritual baths,
meditation, and herbal medicine in particular. The Ifa Corpus is considered to be the foundation
of divine herbology.
Contents

Basic Philosophies

According to A D Buckley, Yoruba medicine is similar to European medicine in that its main
thrust is to kill or expel from the body tiny, invisible "germs" or insects (kokoro) and also worms
(aron) which inhabit small bags within the body. For the Yoruba, however, these germs and
worms perform useful functions in the healthy body, aiding digestion, fertility etc. However, if
they become too powerful in te body, they must be controlled, killed or driven out with bitter-
tasting plants contained in medicines.Yoruba medicine is quite different from homeopathic
medicine, which uses medicinal ingredients that imitates pathological symptoms. Rather, in a
similar manner to mainstream European medicine, it strives to destroy the agencies that cause
disease.

Buckley claims that traditional Yoruba ideas of the human body are derived from the image of a
cooking pot, susceptible to overflowing. The female body overflows dangerously but necessarily
once a month; germs and worms in the body can overflow their "bags" in the body if they are
given too much ³sweet´ (tasty) food. The household is understood in a similar way. As germs
overflow their bag, menstrual blood the female body, and palm oil the cooking pot, so women in
the marital household tend to overflow and return to their natal homes.

As well as using bitter plants to kill germs and worms, Yoruba herbalists also use incantation
(ofo) in medicines to bring good luck (awure), for example, to bring money or love and for other
purposes too. Medicinal incantations are in some ways like the praise songs addressed to human
beings or gods: their purpose is to awaken the power of the ingredients hidden in the medicine.
Most medicinal incantations use a form of word-play, similar to punning, to evoke the properties
of the plants implied by the name of the plant.

Some early writers believed that the Yoruba people are actually an East African tribe who moved
from the Nile River to the Niger area. For example, Olumide J. Lucas claims that "the Yoruba,
during antiquity, lived in ancient Egypt before migrating to the Atlantic coast."

³With Egypt at its roots, it is therefore inevitable that African herbal medicine became associated
with magic. Amulets and charms were more common than pills as preventions or curatives of
diseases. Priests, who were from the earliest days the forefathers of science and medicine,
considered diseases as possession by evil demons and could be treated using incantations along
with extracts from the roots of certain plants. The psychosomatic method of healing disorders
used primarily by psychiatrists today is based loosely on this ancient custom.

This being said, to modern westerners the medicine practices of the Yoruba may seem to be too
magical/mystical, in fact the word medicine and magic are the same. But it must be recognized
that to the Yorubas it is a system; Yorubic medicine is not merely medicine, such as it is in
modern times, it is a medicine, the magic of a religion and a science.

Orishas in Yoruba Medicine

The Yoruba religion has a multitude of Deities, the major of which are called Orisha. Osain is
one of the most important Orisha¶s. Osain rules over all wild herbs, and he is considered the
greatest herbalist who knows the powers of all plants. In the Yoruba tribe a sort of staff is given
to the herb gatherer of the community, to make clear their position. In Africa there are so many
herbs and plants that are used in healing, that only someone trained for life can competently
perform the function. The plants and herbs of Osain have their purely medicinal value as well as
their magical value. The Osainista knows how to correctly gather the herbs and plants. Some
plants have to be gathered at certain times of the day or night. Certain plants have to have certain
prayers said to them and certain offerings made in order to correctly work. As said before there
are a multitude of Orisha¶s. In diagnosing illness each one of the orisha¶s has physical qualities
and herbal attributes, each affecting one another. See the diagrams below:

Orishas Attributes Physical Correspondences Herbs (Ewe)

Obatala Deity of Creation and custodian of the Ifa Oracle, source of knowledge. Creator of
Human Form, Purity, Cures illness and deformities. His priests are the Babalawo Brain, Bones,
White fluids of the body Skullcap, Sage, Kola Nut, Basil, Hyssop, Blue Vervain, White Willow,
Valerian

Èshù or Elegua Gateman of the Heavens. Messenger of the Orisha, he is prime negotiator
between negative and positive forces in body, enforces the "law of being". Helps to enhance the
power of herbs sympathetic nervous system All Herbs

Ogun Orisha of Iron, he is divinity of clearing paths, specifically in respect to blockages or


interruption of the flow vital energy at various points in the body, and he is the liberator. heart,
kidney (adrenal glands), tendons, and sinews Eucalyptus, Alfalfa, Hawthorn, Bloodroot, Parsley,
Motherwort, Garlic

Yemaya Mother of Waters, Primal Waters, Nurturer. She is the amniotic fluid in the womb of the
pregnant woman, as well as, the breasts which nurture. She is the protective energies of the
feminine force. womb, liver, breasts, buttocks Kelp, Squawvine, Cohosh, Dandelion, Yarrow,
Aloe, Spirulina, Mints, Passion Plower, Wild Yam Root

Ochun Sensuality, Beauty, Gracefulness, she symbolizes clarity and flowing motion, she has
power to heal with cool water, she is also the divinity of fertility and feminine essence, Women
appeal to her for child-bearing and for the alleviation of female disorders, she is fond of babies
and is sought if a baby becomes ill, she is known for her love of honey. circulatory system,
digestive organs, elimination system, pubic area (female) Yellow Dock, Burdock, Cinnamon,
Damiana, Anis, Raspberry, Yarrow, Chamomile, Lotus, Uva-Ursi, Buchu, Myrrh, Echinacea

Chango Kingly, Virility, Masculinity, Fire, Lightning, Stones, Protector/Warrior, Magnetism, he


possesses the ability to transform base substance into that which is pure and valuable
reproductive system (male), bone marrow, life force or chi Plantain, Saw Palmetto, Hibiscus, Fo-
ti, Sarsaparilla, Nettles, Cayenne

Oya Tempest, Guardian of the Cemetery, Winds of Change, Storms, Progression, she is usually
in the company of her counterpart Shango, she is the deity of rebirth as things must die so that
new beginnings arise lungs, bronchial passages, mucous membranes Mullein, Comfrey,
Cherrybark, Pleurisy Root, Elecampane, Horehound, Chickweed

Titles and Processes

An Onisegun is an herbalist, Oloogun is one of several terms for a medical practitioner, and a
Babalawo is a ceremony priest/priestess. An Oloogun practitioner in Yoruba, in addition to
analyzing symptoms of the patient, look for the emotional and spiritual causes of the disease to
placate the negative forces (ajogun) and only then will propose treatment that he/she deems
appropriate. This may include herbs in the form of an infusion, enema, etc. In Yoruban medicine
they also use dances, spiritual baths, symbolic sacrifice, song/prayer, and a change of diet to help
cure the sick. They also believe that the only true and complete cure can be a change of
³consciousness´ where the individual can recognize the root of the problem themselves and seek
to eliminate it. Disease to the Yoruba is seen as a disruption of our connection with the Earth.
³Physicians are often priests, priestesses, or high priests, or belong to a guild-like society hidden
within tribal boundaries, completely secret to the outside world. In their communities, even
obtaining an education in medicine may require becoming an initiate of one of these societies.
The world view of a priest involves training and discipline to interpret events that are indicative
of the nature of the patient's alignment internally with their own conscious and unrecognized
issues, as well as with a variety of external forces and beings which inhabit our realm and require
the inner vision and wisdom of the priest to interpret.´ The Yoruba tribe are large believers is
preventative medicine. They are obvious criticizers of modern western medicine where we try to
mask problems with drugs, rather than cure the whole of the person. According to the medicine
men of Yoruba, if we listen to our bodies they will provide us with the preparation and
appropriate knowledge we need to regain our balance with the Earth.
c

c c
Orunmila
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:24
Orunmila is an Irunmola and deity of destiny and prophecy. He is recognized as "ibi keji
Olodumare" (second only to Olodumare (God)) and "eleri ipin" (witness to creation).

Orunmila is also referred to as Ifá ("ee-FAH"), the embodiment of knowledge and wisdom and
the highest form of divination practice among the Yoruba people. In present-day Cuba, Orunmila
is known as Orula, Orunla and Orumila.

Orunmila is not Ifa, but he is the one who leads the priesthood of Ifa and it was Orunmila who
carried Ifa (the wisdom of Olodumare) to Earth. Priests of Ifa are called babalawo (the father of
secrets)

Olodumare sent Orunmila to Earth with Oduduwa to complete the creation and organization of
the world, to make it habitable for humans.

A woman will not be allowed to divine using the tools of IFA. Throughout Cuba and some of the
other New world countries, Orula can be received by individuals regardless of gender. For men,
the procedure is called to receive "Mano de Orula" and for women, it is called to receive "Kofa
de Orula". The same procedure exist in Yoruba land, with esentaye (birthing rites), Isefa
(adolesants rites) and Itefa coming of age. Worshippers of the traditional religious philosophy of
the Yoruba people all receive one hand of Ifa (called Isefa) regardless of which Orisa they may
worship or be an Orisa Priest, it is that same Isefa that will direct all followers to the right path
and their individual destines in life.

The title Iyanifa is in suspect since it is not used by either the Cuban or most of the West African
practitioners of IFA.

Among West Africans, Orunmila is recognized as a primordial Irunmole that was present both at
the beginning of Creation and then again amongst them as a prophet that taught an advanced
form of spiritual knowledge and ethics, during visits to earth in physical form or through his
disciples.
c

c c
Oshun
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:24
Oshun (pronounced [ ún]) is a spirit-goddess (Orisha) who reigns over love, intimacy, beauty,
wealth and diplomacy. She is worshipped also in Brazilian Candomblé Ketu, with the name
spelled Oxum.

Oshun is beneficient and generous, and very kind. She does, however, have a horrific temper,
though it is difficult to anger her. She is married to Chango, the god of thunder, and is his
favorite wife because of her excellent cooking skills. One of his other wives, Oba, was her rival.
They are the goddesses of the Ӑ un and Oba rivers, which meet in a turbulent place with
difficult rapids.

In Santería, Oshun (sometimes spelled Ochún or Ochun) is an Orisha of love, maternity and
marriage. She has been syncretized with the Catholic Saint: Our Lady of Charity (La Virgen de
la Caridad del Cobre), Cuba's patron saint.

She is associated with the color yellow, metals gold and copper, peacock feathers, mirrors, and
anything of beauty, her favorable day of the week is Saturday and the number she is associated
with is five. In one story, she had to become a prostitute to feed her children and the other
Orishas removed her children from her home. Oshun went insane from grief and wore the same
white dress every day; it eventually turned yellow.

According to the Yoruba elders, Oshun is the "unseen mother present at every gathering",
because Oshun is the Yoruba understanding of the cosmological forces of water, moisture, and
attraction. Therefore she is omnipresent and omnipotent. Her power is represented in another
Yoruba scripture which reminds us that "no one is an enemy to water" and therefore everyone
has need of and should respect and revere Oshun , as well as her followers.

Oshun is the force of harmony. Harmony we see as beauty, feel as love, and experience as
ecstasy. Osun according to the ancients was the only female Irunmole amongst the 401 sent from
the spirit realm to create the world. As such, she is revered as "YeYe Cari yamori yeyeo" - the
sweet mother of us all.

When the male Irunmole attempted to subjegate Oshun due to her femaleness she removed her
divine energy, called ashe by the Yoruba, from the project of creating the world and all
subsequent efforts at creation were in vain.

It was not until visiting with the Supreme Being, Olodumare, and begging Oshun pardon under
the advice of Olodumare that the world could continue to be created. But not until Oshun had
given birth to a son. This son became Elegua, the great conduit of ashe in the Universe and also
the eternal and trickster.

Oshun is known as Ya-lorde- the mother of things outside the home, due to her business acumen.
She is also known as Laketi, she who has ears, because of how quickly and effectively she
answers prayers. When she possesses her followers she dances, flirts and then weeps- because no
one can love her enough and the world is not as beautiful as she knows it could be.
c

c c
Elegua
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:24
Elegua, Eleggua also known as Eshu is an orisha, and one of the most known deities of the
Yoruba and New World traditions.

He has a wide range of responsibilities:


the protector of travellers,
deity of roads, particularly crossroads where 3 roads meet,
the deity with the power over fortune and misfortune,

Eshu is involved within the Orisha-Ifá system of the Yoruba as well as in African diasporic faiths
like Santeria/Lukumi and Candomble developed by the descendants of enslaved West Africans
in the Americas.

Eshu is sometimes identified with Saint Anthony, Saint Michael or The Child of Atocha ,
depending on the situation or location. He is often identified by the number three, and the colors
red & black, white & black, or White Red and Black

Eshu is a trickster-deity, and plays frequently tempting choices for the purpose of causing
maturation. He is a difficult teacher, but a good one. As an example, Eshu was walking down the
road one day, wearing a hat that was red on one side and black on the other. Sometime after he
departed, the villagers who had seen him began arguing about whether the stranger¶s hat was
black or red. The villagers on one side of the road had only been capable of seeing the black side,
and the villagers on the other side had only been capable of seeing the red half. They nearly
fought over the argument, until Eshu came back and cleared the mystery, teaching the villagers
about how one¶s perspective can alter a person¶s perception of reality, and that one can be easily
fooled.

The veneration Eshu is widespread in the New World, as well as in Africa, and he is venerated
under many different names and attributes:

Exu de Quimbanda: The Exu who is the messenger of the deities in Candomble is not Exu de
Quimbanda. Exu de Quimbanda has a few similarities in how he is worshipped, such as in the
colours he likes, but he is an entirely different entity, originating among the people of Angola,
not the Yoruba of Nigeria. While the Exu de Candomble is an Orisha, the Exu of Quimbanda is
like a Lordly or Kingly Spirit, and unlike the Candomble Orishas, he can be ³bought´ or
³controlled´ by the Quimbanda practitioner to go and do many sorts of deeds, while the
Candomble Exu must only be petitioned. Exu de Quimbanda is a Nkuru, a spirit of the forest,
while Exu of Candomble is a universal elemental spirit, the spirit of the crossroads and the divine
messenger. The similarities between the two are that they both respond to red and black, they
both are fed on the road, and they both are very tricky. Beyond that the similarities cease.

* Eleggua: Ellegua is another name used among Lukumi for Eshu.


* Legba: In Vodou, Papa Legba is the intermediary between the divine and humanity, while
Kalfu is his Petro manifestation. Eshu also resembles the Voudon loa Simbi who is both the god
of magic and the intermediate between humanity and Papa Legba.

* Lucero: In Palo Mayombe, Lucero (also Nkuyo\Mañunga\Lubaniba) is the deity of balance and
guidance through paths.

* Esu: In Yorubaland, this is an energy that rose out of the Yangi (sacred red rock) and allows
people to communicate with the Irunmole, Orisa, Orunmila, and so on. Is the oldest Esu. Also
important in the African diaspora.
Elegua, or Eleguara (Elegua-Bara), often called Esbu, is the same phallic divinity who was
described in the volume on the Ewe-speaking Peoples. The name Elegua seems to mean, "He
who seizes" (Eni-gba), and Bara is perhaps Oba-ra, "Lord of the rubbing" (Ra, to rub one thing
against another). Eshu appears to be from shu, to emit, throw out, evacuate, The propensity to
make mischief, which we noted as a minor characteristic of the Ewe Elegua, is much more
prominent in the Yoruba god, who thus more nearly approaches a personification of evil. He is
supposed always to carry a short knobbed club, which, originally intended to be a rude
representation of the phallus, has, partly through want of skill on the part of the modellers of the
images, and partly through the growing belief in Elegua's malevolence, come to be regarded as a
weapon of offence. Because he bears this club he has the title of Agongo ogo. Ogo is the name of
the knobbed club, and is most probably a euphemism for the phallus; it is derived from go, to
hide in a bending or stooping posture. The derivation of agongo is less easy to determine, but it
seems to be from gongo, tip, extremity.

The image of Elegua, who is always represented naked, seated with his hands on his knees, is
found in front of almost every house, protected by a small hut roofed with palm-leaves. It is with
reference to this that the proverb says: "As Eshu has a malicious disposition, his house is made
for him in the street" (instead of indoors). The rude wooden representation of a phallus is planted
in the earth by the side of the hut, and is seen in almost every public place; while at certain
festivals it is paraded in great pomp, and pointed towards the young girls, who dance round it.

Elegua, in consequence of the bargain he made with


Ifa, receives a share of every sacrifice offered to the other gods. His own proper sacrifices are, as
among the Ewe tribes, cocks, dogs and he-goats, chosen on account of their amorous
propensities; In ancient time on very important occasions a human victim was offered. In such a
case, after the head has been struck off, the corpse is disembowelled, and the entrails placed in
front of the image in a large calabash or wooden dish; after which the body is suspended from a
tree, or, if no tree be at hand, from a scaffolding of poles. Turkeybuzzards are sacred to Elegua
and are considered his messengers, no doubt because they devour the entrails and bodies of the
sacrifices.

There is a noted temple Lo Elegua in a grove of palms near Wuru, a village situated about ten
miles to the east of Badagry. The market of Wuru is under his protection, and each vendor
throws a few cowries on the ground as a thank-offering. Once a year these cowries are swept up
by the priests, and with the sum thus collected a slave is purchased to be sacrificed to the god. A
slave is also sacrificed annually, towards the end of July, to Elegua in the town of Ondo, the
capital of the state of the same name. Elegua's principal residence is said to be on a mountain
named Igbeti, supposed to be situated near the Niger. Here he has a vast palace of brass, and a
large number of attendants.

Circumcision among the Yorubas, as among the Ewes, is connected with the worship of Elegua,
and appears to be a sacrifice of a portion of the organ which the god inspires, to ensure the well-
being of the remainder. To circumcise is dako (da-oko) da, to be acceptable as a sacrifice, and
oko, the foreskin. Circumcision is ileyika, or ikola, the former of which means "the circular
cutting" (ike, the act of cutting, and ikeya, a circuit), and the latter, "the cutting that saves" (ike,
the act of cutting, and ola, that which saves). Except among the Mohammedans there is no
special time for performing the rite of circumcision, it being fixed for each individual by Ifa,
after consultation, but usually it is done early in life. No woman would have connection with an
uncircumcised man. A similar operation is performed on girls, who are excised, by women
operators, shortly before puberty, that is, between the ages of ten and twelve years.

As is the case in the western half of the Slave Coast, erotic dreams are attributed to Elegua, who,
either as a female or male, consorts sexually with men and women during their sleep, and so
fulfils in his own person the functions of the incubi and succubi of mediaeval Europe.
c

c c
Yemaya
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:22
Yemaja is an orisha, originally of the Yoruba religion, who has become prominent in many Afro-
American religion. Africans from what is now called Yorubaland brought Yemaya and a host of
other deities/energy forces in nature with them when they were brought to the shores of the
Americas as captives. She is the ocean, the essence of motherhood, and a protector of children.

Yemaya is a mother goddess; patron deity of women, especially pregnant women; and the Ogun
river. Her parents are Oduduwa and Obatala. There are many stories as to how she became the
mother of all saints. She was married to Agayu and had one son, Orungan, and fifteen Orishas
came forth from her. They include Ogun, Olokun, Shopona and Shango. Other stories would say
that Yemaya was always there in the beginning and all life came from her, including all of the
orishas.

Her name is a contraction of Yoruba words: ³Yeye emo eja´ that mean ³Mother whose children
are like fishes´. This represents the vastness of her motherhood, her fecundity and her reign over
all living things.

Yemaya is celebrated in Ifá tradition As Iemanja Nana Borocum, or Nana Burku, she is pictured
as a very old woman, dressed in black and mauve, connected to mud, swamps, earth. Nana
Buluku is an ancient god in Dahomey mythology.
Before her amour with the hunter, Odudua bore to her husband, Obatala, a boy and a girl, named
respectively Aganju. and Yemaya. The name Aganju means uninhabited tract of country,
wilderness, plain, or forest, and Yemaya, "Mother of fish" (yeye, mother; eja, fish). The
offspring of the union of Heaven and Earth, that is, of Obatala and Odudua, may thus be said to
represent Land and Water. Yemaya is the goddess of brooks and streams, and presides over
ordeals by water. She is represented by a female figure, yellow in colour, wearing blue beads and
a white cloth. The worship of Aganju seems to have fallen into disuse, or to have become
merged in that of his mother; but there is said to be an open space in front of the king's residence
in Oyo where the god was formerly worshipped, which is still called Oju-Aganju-"Front of Aga-
nju."

Yemaya married her brother Aganju, and bore a son named Orungan. This name is compounded
of orun, sky, and gan, from ga, to be high; and appears to mean "In the height of the sky." It
seems to answer to the khekheme, or "Free-air Region" of the Ewe peoples; and, like it, to mean
the apparent space between the sky and the earth. The offspring of Land and Water would thus
be what we call Air.

Orungan fell in love with his mother, and as she refused to listen to his guilty passion, he one day
took advantage of his father's absence, and ravished her. Immediately after the act, Yemaya
sprang to her feet and fled from the place wringing her hands and lamenting; and was pursued by
Orungan, who strove to console her by saying that no one should know of what had occurred,
and declared that he could not live without her. He held out to her the alluring prospect of living
with two husbands, one acknowledged, and the other in secret; but she rejected all his proposals
with loathing, and continued to run away. Orungan, however, rapidly gained upon her, and was
just stretching out his hand to seize her, when she fell backward to the ground. Then her body
immediately began to swell in a fearful manner, two streams of water gushed from her breasts,
and her abdomen burst open. The streams from Yemaya's breasts joined and formed a lagoon,
and from her gaping body came the following:-- Dada (god of vegetables), Chango (god of
lightning), Ogun (god of iron and war), Olokun (god of the sea), Olosa (goddess of the lagoon),
Oya (goddess of the river Niger), Oshun (goddess of the river Oshun), Oba (goddess of the river
Oba), Orisha Oko (god of agriculture), Oshosi (god of hunters), Oke (god of mountains), Aje
Shaluga (god of wealth), Shankpanna (god of small-pox), Orun (the sun), and Oshu (the moon).
To commemorate this event, a town which was given the name of Ife (distention, enlargement, or
swelling up), was built on the spot where Yemaya's body burst open, and became the holy city of
the Yoruba-speaking tribes. The place where her body fell used to be shown, and probably still
is; but the town was destroyed in 1882, in the war between the Ifes on the one hand and the
Ibadans and Modakekes on the other.

The myth of Yemaya thus accounts for the origin of several of the gods, by making them the
grandchildren of Obatala and Odudua; but there are other gods, who do not belong to this family
group, and whose genesis is not accounted for in any way. Two, at least, of the principal gods are
in this category, and we therefore leave for the moment the minor deities who sprung from
Yemaya, and proceed with the chief gods, irrespective of their origin.

In Brazil
The goddess is known as Yemanjá, Iemanjá or Janaína in Brazilian Candomblé and Umbanda
religions.

The Umbanda religion worships Iemanjá as one of the seven orixás of the African Pantheon. She
is the Queen of the Ocean, the patron deity of the fishermen and the survivors of shipwrecks, the
feminine principle of creation and the spirit of moonlight. A syncretism happens between the
catholic Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes (Our Lady of the Seafaring) and the orixá Iemanjá of the
African Mithology. Sometimes, a feast can honor both.

In Salvador, Bahia, Iemanjá is celebrated by Candomblé in the very day consecrated by the
Catholic church to Our Lady of Seafaring (Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes). Every February 2
thousands of people line up at dawn to leave their offerings at her shrine in Rio Vermelho.
Offering to IemanjáSmall boat with Iemanjá image, flowers and gifts
Offering to Iemanjá
Small boat with Iemanjá image, flowers and gifts

Gifts for Iemanjá usually include flowers and objects of female vanity (perfume, jewelry, combs,
lipsticks, mirrors). These are gathered in large baskets and taken out to the sea by local
fishermen. Afterwards a massive street party ensues.

Iemanjá is also celebrated every December 8 in Salvador, Bahia. The Festa da Conceição da
Praia (Feast to Our Lady of Conception of the church at the beach) is a city holiday dedicated to
the catholic saint and also to Iemanjá. Another feast occur this day in the Pedra Furada, Monte
Serrat in Salvador, Bahia, called the Gift to Iemanjá, when fishermen celebrate their devotion to
the Queen of the Ocean.

Outside Bahia State, Iemanjá is elebrated mainly by Umbanda religion.

On New Year¶s Eve in Rio de Janeiro, millions of cariocas dressed in white gather on
Copacabana beach to greet the New Year, watch fireworks, and throw flowers and other
offerings into the sea for the goddess in the hopes that she will grant them their requests for the
coming year. Some send their gifts to Iemanjá in wood toy boats. Paintings of Iemanjá are for
sale in Rio shops, next to painting of Jesus and other catholica saints. They portray her as a
woman rising out of the sea. Small offerings of flowers and floating candles are left in the sea on
many nights at Copacabana.

In São Paulo State, Iemanjá is celebrated in the two first weekends of December in the shores of
Praia Grande city. During these days many vehicles garnished with Iemanjá icons and colors
roam from the São Paulo mountains to the sea littoral, some of them traveling hundreds of miles.
Thousands of people rally near iemanjá statue in Praia Grande beach.

In Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul State, at February 2, the image of Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes
is carried to the port of Pelotas. Before the closing of the catholic feast, the boats stop and host
the Umbanda followers that carry the image of Iemanjá, in a syncretic meeting that is watched by
thousand of people in the shores.

Haiti

She is venerated in Vodou as LaSiren.

In Santería, Yemayá is seen as the mother of all living things as well as the owner of all waters.
Her number is 7 (a tie into the 7 seas), her colors are blue and white (representing water), and her
favorite offerings include melons, molasses (´melaço´ - sugar cane syrup), whole fried fishes
and pork rinds. She has been syncretized with Our Lady of Regla.

Yemaja has several caminos (paths). At the initiation ceremony known as kariocha, or simply
ocha, the exact path is determined through divination. Her paths include:

* Ogunte: In this path, she is a warrior, with a belt of iron weapons like Ogun. This path lives by
the rocky coastliness. Her colors are crystal, dark blue and some red.
* Asesu: This path is very old. She is said to be deaf and answers her patrons slowly. She is
associated with ducks and still or stagnant waters. Her colors are pale blue and coral.
* Okoto: This path is known as the underwater assassin. Her colors are indigo and blood red and
her symbolism includes that of pirates.
* Majalewo: This path lives in the forest with the herbalist orisha, Osanyin. She is associated
with the marketplace and her shrines are decorated with 21 plates. Her colors are teals and
turquoises.
* Ibu Aro: This path is similar to Majalewo in that she is associated with markets, commerce and
her shrines are decorated with plates. Her colors are darker; indigo, crystal and red coral. Her
crown (and husband) is the orisha Oshumare, the rainbow.
* Ashaba: This path is said to be so beautiful that no human can look at her directly.

In the Kongo religions, such as Palo Mayombe, Palo Monte, Kimbisa and Briumba, she is known
as Mà Lango, or Madré D¶Agua²Mother of Waters.
c

c c
Ogun
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:22
Ogun is a primordial Orisha whose first appearance was as a hunter named Tobe Ode. He is said
to be the first of the Orisha to descend to the realm of Ile Aiye (the earth) to find suitable
habitation for future human life. In commemoration of this one of his praise names (Oriki), is
Osin Imole or the ³first of the primordial Orisha to come to Earth´. Ogun was most likely first
worshiped by the Yoruba people of West Africa. He is worshiped in places like Ekiti, Oyo and
Ondo States. He is believed to have (wo ile sun) which means to sink into the ground not to die,
in a place named Ire-Ekiti. Through out his entire life he fought for the people of Ire.
Ogun is the god of iron and of war, and, like Chango, is also a patron of hunters. Iron is sacred to
him, and when swearing by Ogun it is usual to touch an iron implement with the Ilorgue. The
name Ogun seems to mean "One who pierces" (gun, to pierce, or thrust with something pointed).
He is specially worshipped by blacksmiths, and by those who make use of iron weapons or tools.
Any piece of iron can be used as a symbol of Ogun, and the ground is sacred to him because iron
ore is found in it. He is one of those who sprang from the body of Yemaya.

The usual sacrifice offered to Ogun is a dog, together with fowls, palm oil, and minor articles of
food. A proverb says, "An old dog must be sacrificed to Ogun," meaning that Ogun claims the
best; and a dog's head, emblematic of this sacrifice, is always to be seen fastened up in some
conspicuous part of the workshops of blacksmiths. In ancient times on very important occasions,
however, a human victim was offered, and, as in the case of a sacrifice to Elegua, the entrails are
exposed before the image and the body suspended from a tree. The victim is slain by having his
head struck off upon the stool of Ogun, over which the blood is made to gush. The reason of this
is that the blood is believed to contain the vital principle, and therefore to be an offering,
particularly acceptable to the gods.

This belief appears to be common to most barbarons peoples; the Israelites held it, and blood was
considered to be so peculiarly the portion of their national god, that the blood of all animals
slain, whether for sacrifice or food, had to be presented as an offering, no one being allowed to
eat it under pain of death.

When war has been decided upon, a slave is purchased at the expense of the town, or tribe, and
offered as a sacrifice to Ogun, to ensure success. The day before that on which he is to be
immolated, the victim is led with great ceremony through the principal thoroughfares, and
paraded in the market, where he is allowed to say or do anything he pleases (short of escaping
his impending fate), may gratify his desire with any woman who takes his fancy, and give his
tongue every licence. The reason of his being thus honoured for the twenty-four hours before
being sacrificed, is that it is believed he will be born again and become a king; and, after the
head has been struck off, the corpse is treated with the greatest respect by all.

The priests of Ogun usually take out the hearts of human victims, which are dried, reduced to
powder, then mixed with rum, and sold to persons who wish to be endowed with great courage,
and who drink the mixture. The reason of this is that the heart is believed to be the seat of
courage and to inherently possess that quality; and that when the heart is devoured or swallowed
the quality with which it is inspired is also taken into the system.

In Dahomey mythology, Gu is the god of war and patron deity of smiths and craftsmen. He was
sent to earth to make it a nice place for people to live, and he has not yet finished this task.

In Santería and Palo Mayombe, he has been syncretized with Saint Peter.

In the religious tradition of the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé, Ogun (as this Yoruba divinity is
known in the Portuguese language) is often identified with Saint George, for example in the state
of Rio Grande do Sul. However, Ogun may also be represented by Saint Sebastian, as it is often
done in the northeast of the country, for example in the state of Bahia. Officially Saint Sebastian
is the patron saint of the city of Rio de Janeiro, state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. According to
anthropologist Luiz Mott, Saint Sebastian is also considered by many homosexuals, especially
those belonging to the lower and marginalized classes.

In all his incarnations Ogoun is a fiery and martial spirit. He can be very aggressively
masculine²much like the spirit Shango²but can also rule the head of female, or effeminate
male initiates to whom he takes a liking. He is also linked with blood, and is for this reason often
called upon to heal diseases of the blood.

In the cult of Orishas, he appears in other aspects, such as Ogun Akirun, Ogun Alagbede, Ogun
Alara, Ogun Elemona, Ogun Ikole, Ogun Meji, Ogun Oloola, Ogun Onigbajamo, Ogun Onire,
Ogun-un, Onile, the latter being a feminine incarnation.

In Other Countries

In Hiati, Ogun is a loa and orisha, who presides over fire, iron, hunting, politics and war. He is
the patron of smiths and is usually displayed with his attributes: machete or sabre, rum and
tobacco.

Ogun is the traditional warrior and seen as a powerful deity of metal work, similar to Ares and
Hephaestus in Greek mythology and Visvakarma in Hindu mythology, he is represented with
Saint George in Brazil. As such Ogun is mighty, powerful, triumphal, yet also exhibits the rage
and destructiveness of the warrior whose strength and violence can turn against the community
he serves. Perhaps linked to this theme is the new face he has taken on in Haiti which is not quite
related to his African roots, that of a powerful political leader.

He gives strength through prophecy and magic. It is Ogun who is said to have planted the idea,
led and given power to the slaves for the Haitian Revolution of 1804. He is called now to help
people obtain a government more responsive to their needs.

Ogun comes to mount people in various aspects of his character, and the people are quite
familiar with each of them. Some of these aspects are:

Ogun the wounded warrior. He assumes a Christ-figure pose which the people know well from
their Christian associations.
* Ogun Feraille. He gives strength to the servitors by slapping them on the thighs or back.

* Ogun Badagris. He may lift a person up and carry him or her around to indicate his special
attention and patronage. To all the aspects of Ogoun there is the dominant theme of power and
militancy.

His possessions can sometimes be violent. Those mounted by him are known to wash their hands
in flaming rum without suffering from it later. They dress up in green and black, wave a sabre or
machete, chew a cigar and demand rum in an old phrase ³Gren mwe fret´ (my testicles are cold).
Often this rum is poured on the ground then lit and the fumes pervade the peristyle. The sword,
or much more commonly, the machete is his weapon and he often does strange feats of poking
himself with it, or even sticking the handle in the ground, then mounting the blade without
piercing his skin.
c

c c
Oshosi
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:22
Oshosi is the deity or Orisha of the forest, and one of the three warrior orishas "Ibori" in Yoruba.
Oshosi is a hunter, and his role as an often solitary figure in the wilderness lends him another
role as a shaman. Oshossi is connected with all hunter cultures as well as the caboclos in Brazil
know as the spirits of the native American dead, as well as the nature spirits of the forest. Oshosi
is most important to the people of Brazil in Candomblé (a Latin American religion derived from
the traditional spiritual practises of the Yoruba people of West Africa), as the Amazon Rainforest
brings this element to the fore[citation needed] in Candomblé more than it is found in its cousins,
the island religions of Cuban Santeria and Haitian Voudoun.

During the period in which the majority orisha venerators in Latin America were slaves to
Catholic Europeans, Oshosi came to be identified with Saint Sebastian in the Rio de Janeiro area
of Brazil. San Sebatian is most often depicted tied and shot full of arrows, which led to his
association with the hunter orisha. He is alternately depicted as Saint George in the Bahia region,
and in Cuba, he is identified with Saint Norbert.

Oshosi is the patron Justice, Hunters, Master of all air attacks, The true "GPS", and prayed to
when devotees are looking for Justice or something, a job or a house for example. He also is the
patron of those who work with animals, dogs in particular.
c

c c
Osun
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:21
Osun Duru Ganga la Bosi

Osun is a small staff that is packed with magical substances that acts as a person's personal guard
or watchdog. Many people say that he is your spiritual head, or the foundation for your higher
self or Orí. He is lidded and sealed metal cup with a stem and is about 9 inches tall. on top of the
lid is a metal rooster - the symbol for Osun. Hanging from the lip of the cup's lid, are four jingle
bells hanging from little chains. Osun is supposed to be placed in a high place in the house -
preferably above the initiate's head with the rooster facing the front door, so that he can watch for
danger. He is supposed to remain upright at all times, and if he ever falls over, it is an indication
that something very bad has either been thrown at the initiate or is on it's way to harm the
initiate. Osun should be immediately turned upright and the primary godparent should be notified
of what happened. This is the scaled down modern version of the original that was found in
Africa.
c

c c
Oya
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:21
Oya is the Goddess of the Niger River. She is seen in aspects of warrior-goddess of wind,
lightning, fertility, fire and magic. She creates hurricanes and tornadoes and guards the
underworld.

Her full name is Oya-Yansan, which means "mother of nine." In Brazil, in candomble she is
generally saluted with the phrase "Èpa heyi!. while in Cuban-derived Yórùbá traditions, the
faithful often salute her by saying "Hekua hey Yansa."

She is closely associated with many Orishas, but most especially Shango/Changó, Oggun, Oba
(Obba), Yewá/Euá and Ochún/Oxum. Oyá is also called "the one who puts on pants to go to
war" and "the one who grows a beard to go to war". As the Spirit of the Wind, Oya manifests in
Creation in the forms as sudden and drastic change, strong storms, and the flash of the
marketplace. Oya's representation of wind, creation, and death is not as arbitrary as it may seem.
Oya has a sister named Ayao that is received by her initiates.

Oya has been syncretized in Santeria with the Catholic images of Our Lady Of Candelaria (Our
Lady of the Presentation) and St. Theresa. Her feast day is February 2.

In Brazilian Umbanda she is represented by Saint Barbara.


c

c c
Obàtálá
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:20
through the power of God, the Supreme Being, (called by various names in the Yoruba language
such as Olodumare, Eledumare, Olofin-Orun, Eleda, and Olorun), made human bodies, and
Olorun (God) breathed life into them. Obàtálá is also the owner of all ori or heads. Any orisha
may lay claim to an individual, but until that individual is initiated into the priesthood of that
orisha, Obàtálá still owns that head. This stems from the belief that the soul resides in the head.

According to legend Obatala created "defective" (handicapped) individuals while drunk on palm
wine, making him the patron deity of such people. People born with congenital defects are called
'eni orisa': literally, "people of Obatala". He is also referred to as the orisha of the north. He is
always dressed in white, hence the meaning of his name, Obatala (King or ruler of the white
cloth). His worshippers strive to practice moral correctness as unblemished as his robe.

In Candomblé, Obatalá (Oxalá) is the oldest "Orixa funfun" ("white deity"), referring to spiritual
purity and pure light, both physically and symbolically as in the "light" of consciousness). In the
Bahia State (Brazil), Obatala has been syncretized with Our Lord of Bonfim and is the subject of
a large syncretic religious celebration, the Festa do Bonfim, which takes place in January in the
city of Salvador.

In Santería Obàtálá has been syncretized with Our Lady of Mercy.

According to mythical stories Obatala is the eldest of all orisha and was granted authority to
create the earth. Before he could return to heaven and report to Olodumare however, his rival
Oduduwa (also called Oduwa, Oodua, Odudua or Eleduwa), often described as his younger
brother, usurped his position by taking the satchel and returning to heaven. A great feud ensued
between the two that is re-enacted every year in Ile Ife, Nigeria. Ultimately, Oduduwa and his
sons were able to rule without Obatala's consent.

In Yoruba theology, Obatala must never be worshipped with palm wine, palm oil or salt. His
worshippers may eat palm oil and salt, but never taste palm wine.

Oluwa Aiye or Oluwa Aye - Lord of the Earth

Alabalase - He who has divine authority

Baba Arugbo - Old Master or Father

Baba Araye - Master or Father of all human beings (lit. citizens of the earth)

Orisanla (also spelt Orisainla, Orishanla or Orishainla) or Oshanla - The arch divinity
c

c c
Chango
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:20
Often known as Xangô or Shangó in Latin America and the Caribbean, and also known as Jakuta
is perhaps the most popular Orisha;
he is a Sky Father, god of thunder and lightning.

Chango was a royal ancestor of the Yoruba as he was the third king of the Oyo Kingdom.
The Oyo Kingdom was sacked and pillaged as part of a jihad by the Islamic Fulani Empire. All
the major initiation ceremonies (as performed in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela for the last
few hundred years) are based on the traditional Shango ceremony of Ancient Oyo. This
ceremony survived the Middle Passage and is considered to be the most complete to have arrived
on Western shores. This variation of the Yoruba initiation ceremony became the basis of all
Orisha initiations in the West.

The energy given from this Deity of Thunder is also a major symbol of African resistance against
an enslaving European culture. He rules the color red and white; his sacred number is 6; his
symbol is the oshe (double-headed axe), which represents swift and balanced justice. He is
owner of the Bata (3 double-headed drums) and of music in general, as well as the Art of Dance
and Entertainment.
Contents
Chango, the god of thunder and lightning, is, next to Obatala, the most powerful god of the
Yorubas; he was the second to spring from the body of Yemaya. His name appears to be derived
from shan, "to strike violently," and go, "to bewilder;" and to have reference to peals of thunder,
which are supposed to be produced by violent blows. He has the epithet of Jakuta, "Hurler of
stones," or "Fighter with stones" (Ja, to hurl from aloft, or ja, to fight, and okuta, stone); and
stone implements, which have long ceased to be used in West Africa, are believed to be his
thunderbolts.

The notion we found amongst the Ewes that a birdlike creature was the animating entity of the
thunderstorm has no parallel here, and Chango is purely anthropomorphic. He dwells in the
clouds in an immense brazen palace, where he maintains a large retinue and keeps a great
number of horses; for, besides being the thunder-god, he is also the god of the chase and of
pillage. From his palace, Chango hurls upon those who have offended him red-hot chains of iron,
which are forged for him by his brother Ogun, god of the river Ogun, of iron and of war; but this,
it should be observed, is seemingly a modern notion, and the red-hot chains furnished by Ogun
have a suspicious resemblance to the thundefbolts of Jupiter, forged by Vulcan. The Yoruba
word for lightning is mana-mana (ma-ina, a making of fire), and has no connection either with
iron (irin) or a chain (ewon); while the name Jakuta shows that Chango is believed to hurl stones
and not iron. The iron-chain notion, therefore, appears to have been borrowed from some foreign
source, and, moreover, not to yet have made much progress. The Oni-Chango, or Priests of
Chango, in their chants always speak of Chango as hurling stones; and whenever a house is
struck by lightning they rush in a body to pillage it and to find the stone, which, as they take

it with them secretly, they always succeed in doing. A chant of the Oni-Chango very commonly
heard is, "Oh Chango, thou art the master. Thou takest in thy hand thy fiery stones, to punish the
guilty and satisfy thine anger. Everything that they strike is destroyed. Their fire eats up the
forest, the trees are broken down, and all living creatures are slain;" and the lay-worshippers of
Chango flock into the streets during a thunderstorm crying, "Chango, Chango, Great King!
Chango is the lord and master. In the storm he hurls his fiery stones against his enemies, and
their track gleams in the midst of the darkness." "May Chango's stone strike you," is a very
common imprecation.

According to some natives, Oshumare, the Rainbow, is the servant of Chango, his office being to
take up water frorn the earth to the palace in the clouds. He has a messenger named Ara,
"Thunder-clap," whom he sends out with a loud noise. A small bird called papagori is sacred to
Chango, and his worshippers profess to be able to understand its cry.

Chango married three of his sisters: Oya, the Niger; Oshun, the river of the same name, which
rises in Ijesa and flows into the water-way between Lagos and the Lekki lagoon, near Emina; and
Oba, also a river, which rises in Ibadan and flows into the Kradu Water. All three accompany
their husband when he goes out, Oya taking with her her messenger Afefe (the Wind, or Gale of
Wind), and Oshun and Oba carrying his bow and sword. Shaugo's slave Biri (Darkness) goes in
attendance.

The image of Chango generally represents him as a man standing, and is surrounded by images,
smaller in size, of his three wives; who are also represented as standing up, with the palms of
their hands joined together in front of the bosom. Oxen, sheep, and fowls are the offerings
ordinarily made to Chango, and, in ancient times on important occasions, human beings. His
colours are red and white. He is consulted with sixteen cowries, which are thrown on the ground,
those which he with the back uppermost being favourable, and those with the back downward the
reverse. He usually goes armed with a club called oshe, made of the wood of the ayan tree,
which is so hard that a proverb says, "The ayan tree resists the axe." In consequence of his club
being made of this wood, the tree is sacred to him.

The priests and followers of Chango wear a wallet, emblematic of the plundering propensities of
their lord, and the chief priest is called Magba, "The Receiver." As amongst the Ewe tribes, a
house struck by lightning is at once invaded and plundered by the disciples of the god, and a fine
imposed on the occupants, who, it is held, must have offended him. Persons who are killed by
lightning may not, properly speaking, be buried; but if the relations of the deceased offer a
sufficient payment, the priests usually allow the corpse to be redeemed and buried. Individuals
rendered insensible by lightning are at once despatched by the priests, the accident being
regarded as proof positive that Chango requires them. A common idea is that Chango is subject
to frequent outbursts of ungovernable temper, during which he thumps and bangs overhead, and
hurls down stones at those who have given him cause for offence.

The foregoing are, with the exception of the myth of the fiery chains, the old ideas respecting
Chango; but on to them are now rapidly becoming grafted some later myths, which make
Chango, an earthly king who afterwards became a god. This Chango was King of Oyo, capital of
Yoruba, and became so unbearable through rapacity, cruelty, and tyranny, that the chiefs and
people at last sent him a calabash of parrots' eggs, in accordance with the custom that has already
been mentioned; with a message that he must be fatigued with the cares of government, and that
it was time for him to go to sleep. On receiving this intimation, Chango, instead of allowing
himself to be quietly strangled by his wives, defied public opinion and endeavoured to assemble
his adherents; and, when this failed, sought safety in flight. He left the palace by night, intending
to endeavour to reach Tapa, beyond the Niger, which was his mother's native place; and was
accompanied only by one wife and one slave, the rest of his household having deserted him.
During the night the wife repented of her hasty action, and also left him; so, when in the morning
Chango found himself lost in the midst of a pathless forest, he had no one with him but his slave.
They wandered about without food for some days, seeking in vain for a path which would lead
them out of the forest, and at last Chango, left his slave, saying, "Wait here till I return, and we
will then try further." After waiting a long time, the slave, as his master did not appear, went in
search of him, and before long found his corpse hanging by the neck from an ayan-tree.
Eventually the slave succeeded in extricating himself from the forest, and finding himself in a
part of the country he knew, made his way towards Oyo, where he told the news.

When the chiefs and elders heard that Chango had hanged himself they were much alarmed,
fearing that they would be held responsible for his death. They went, in company, with the
priests, to the place where the slave had left the body, but were unable to find it, for it was no
longer on the tree. They searched in every direction, and at last found a deep pit in the earth,
from which the end of an iron chain protruded. They stooped over the pit and listened, and could
hear Chango talking down in the earth. They at once erected a small temple over the pit, and
leaving some priests there to propitiate the new god, and establish a worship, returned to Oyo,
where they proclaimed: "Chango is not dead. He has become an orisha. He has descended into
the earth, and lives among the dead people, with whom we have heard him conversing." Some of
the townspeople, however, being ignorant and foolish, did not believe the story, and when the
criers cried, "Chango is not dead," they laughed and shouted in return, "Chango is dead. Chango
hanged himself." In consequence of this wicked conduct, Chango came in person, with a terrific
thunderstorm, to punish them for their behaviour; and, in order to show his power, he killed
many of the scoffers with his fiery stones, and set the town on fire. Then the priests and elders
ran about -among the burning houses, shouting, "Chango did not hang himself. Chango has
become an orisha. See what these bad men have brought upon you by their unbelief. He is angry
because they laughed at him, and he has burned your houses with his fiery stones because you
did not vindicate his honour." Then the populace fell upon the scoffers and beat them to death, so
that Chango was appeased, and his anger turned away. The place where Chango descended into
the earth was called Kuso, and soon became a town, for many people went to dwell there.

Perhaps this myth really does refer to some former King of Oyo, though why such a king should
usurp the functions of the thunder-god, is not at all clear. It is inconsistent in part, for it makes
the chiefs and elders alarmed at the suicide of Chango, because they feared to be held
responsible for his death; yet they would have been equally responsible had he complied with
established custom, and committed suicide when he received the parrots' eggs they sent him. The
fact of the ayan being sacred to the god Chango, no doubt caused that tree to be selected for the
legendary suicide of the king Chango; and the iron chain which protruded from the hole in the
ground was probably suggested by the notion of red-hot chains of lightning. As we have said,
this myth is rapidly becoming blended with the older ones, and, in consequence of these events
having taken place at Kuso, Chango has the title of Oba-Kuso, "King of Kuso."

Another myth makes Chango the son of Obatala, and married to the three river goddesses Oya,
Oshun, and Oba, but reigning as an earthly king at Oyo. The story relates that one day Chango
obtained from his father Obatala a powerful charm, which, when eaten, would enable him to
vanquish all who opposed him. Chango ate most of the medicament, and then gave the rest to
Oya to keep for him; but she, as soon as his back was turned, ate the rest herself. Next morning
the chiefs and elders assembled at the palace as usual, to judge the affairs of the people, and each
spoke in his turn; but when it came to Chango's turn to speak, flames burst forth from his mouth,
and all fled in terror. Oya, too, when she began to scold ber women in the palace, similarly
belched forth flames, so that everybody ran away, and the palace was deserted. Chango now saw
that he was, as a god, inferior to none; so calling his three wives to him, and taking in his hand a
long iron-chain, he stamped on the earth till it opened under him, and descended into it with his
wives. The earth closed again over them, after they had gone down, but the end of the chain was
left protruding from the ground.

This myth well exemplifies the confusion that has now been created in men's minds between the
thunder-god proper and the demi-god, the result being a kind of compound Chango, possessing
attributes of each. The Chango of this story resembles in his marital relations the thunder-god,
but the descent into the earth with the iron chain, the end of which is left above ground, is like
the legendary descent of the deified king, and is probably only another version of the same event.
It is probable that contact with Mohammedans has had something to do with the invention of this
myth. The genii, as we read of them in the "Arabian Nights," are frequently described as
breathing forth flames to destroy their opponents; and a descent into the earth, which opens when
stamped upon, is a mode of exit often found in the same collection. These ideas do not appear to
be ones at all likely to have arisen spontaneously in the negro mind, and we find nothing of the
sort in the groups cognate to the Yoruba. Moreover, a thunder-god must, from the very nature of
his being, live above the eaxth amongst the clouds; and to make him descend into the bowels of
the earth, is to place him in a situation where he could not exercise the functions of his office.
These remarks equally apply to the following myth.

Since his descent into the earth with his three wives at Oyo, Chango has often come back to the
world. One day, when down in the earth, he quarrelled with Oya, who had stolen some of his
"medicines;" and she, terrified at his violence, ran away, and took refuge with her brother the
Sea-God (Olokun). As soon as Chango discovered where she had gone, he swore a great oath to
beat her so that she would never forget it. Next morning he came up from below with the Sun,
and, following him in his course all the day, arrived with him in the evening at the place where
the sea and sky join, and so descended with him into the territories of his brother Olokun. The
Sun had not knowingly shown Chango the road across the sky to Olokun's palace, for Chango
had been careful to keep behind him all the time, nearly out of sight, and to hide when the Sun
looked round.

When Chango reached Olokun's palace and saw his wife Oya there, he made a great noise and
commotion. He rushed towards her to seize her, but Olokun held him; and while the two were
struggling together Oya escaped, and ran to bide with her sister Olosa (the Lagoon). When
Olokun saw that Oya had gone he released Chango, who, now more furious than ever, ran after
his wife cursing and threatening her. In his rage he tore up the trees by their roots, as he ran
along, tossing them here and there. Oya, looking out from her sister's house, saw him coming
along the banks of the lagoon, and, knowing that Olosa could not protect her, ran out again, and
fled along the shores towards the place where the Sun goes down. As she was running, and
Chango coming behind, roaring and yelling, she saw a house near at hand, and, rushing into it,
claimed protection of a man whom she found there, whose name was Huisi. She begged Huisi to
defend her. Huisi asked what he, a man, could do against Chango; but Oya gave him to eat of the
"medicines" she had stolen from her husband, and he, being thus made an orisha, promised to
protect her. As Chango approached, Huisi ran from his house down to the banks of the lagoon,
and tearing up a large tree by the roots, brandished it in the air, and defied Chango. There being
no other tree there, Chango seized Huisi's canoe, shook it like a club, and the two weapons,
striking together, were shattered to pieces. Then the two oiishas wrestled together. Flames burst
from their mouths, and their feet tore great fissures in the earth as they dragged each other to and
fro. This struggle lasted a long time without either being able to gain the mastery, and at last
Chango, filled with fury at being baffled, and feeling his strength failing, stamped on the earth,
which opened under him, and he descended into it, dragging Huisi down with him. At the
commencement of the combat, Oya had fled to Lokoro; she remained there, and the people built
a temple in her honour. Huisi, who had become a god by virtue of the "medicine" he had eaten,
also had a temple erected in his honour, on the spot where he had fought with Chango.

In this myth Oya steals the medicine and gives it to Huisi; in the former one she also stole it, but
ate it herself. In each case it caused flames to burst from the mouth.

Legends of Chango

Chango was the fourth king of Oyo in Yorubaland, and deified after his death; mythologically,
he (along with 14 others) burst forth from the goddess Yemaya¶s body after her son, Orungan,
attempted to rape her for the second time. of course there are several myths regarding the birth
and parentage of Chango. He is a major character in the divination literature of the Lukumi
religion. Stories about Chango¶s life exemplify some major themes regarding the nature of
character and destiny. In one set of stories Chango is the son of Aganju and Obatala. As the story
goes, Obatala, the king of the white cloth was travelling and had to cross a river. Aganju, the
ferryman and god of fire, refused him passage. Obatala retreated and turned himself into a
beautiful woman. He returned to the river and traded his/her body for passage.

Chango was the result of this uneasy union. This tension between reason represented by Obatala
and fire represented by Aganju would form the foundation of Chango¶s particular character and
nature. In further patakis Chango goes in search of Aganju, his father, and the two of them play
out a drama of conflict and resolution that culminates with Chango throwing himself into the fire
to prove his lineage. All of the stories regarding Chango revolve around dramatic events such as
this one. He has three wives; his favorite (because of her excellent cooking) is Oshun, a river
goddess. His other wife, Oba, another river goddess, offered Sango her ear to eat. He scorned her
and she became the Oba River, which merges with the Oshun River to form dangerous rapids.

Lastly, Oya was Chango¶s third wife, and stole the secrets of his powerful magic.
The story of Chango and Oba carries the familiar refrain, ³all that glitters is not gold´. As has
been stated Chango had three wives, Oba, his first and legitimate wife, Oya, his second wife, and
Oshun his concubine. At that time and in that place they would live in a compound. In that
compound, Chango had his own house and each wife had her own house surrounding his. He
would then visit his wives in their houses to eat and to sleep with them. Oba noticed that when
Chango went to the house of Oshun he would eat all of the food that she prepared for him but
when he came to her home he would just pick. Oba, wanting a closer relationship with her
husband, decided to ask Oshun how she kept Chango so happy. Oshun, being asked this, was
filled with resentment. As children of the first wife, Oba¶s children would inherit Chango¶s
kingdom. Her children would not have nearly the same status, being born from his concubine.
She decided to play a trick on Oba, out of jealousy. She told Oba that many years ago she had cut
a small piece of her ear off and dried it. From this she made a powder she would sprinkle on
Chango¶s food. As he ate it, she told Oba, Chango would desire the food and Oshun all the more.
Oba, excited by this information, ran home to prepare Chango¶s amala, his favorite meal. Once it
was done she decided that if a little piece of Oshun¶s ear produced such an effect her whole ear
would drive Chango mad with desire for her and he would forget Oshun forever. She sliced off
her ear and stirred it into Chango¶s food.

When Chango came to eat he sat down and began eating without looking at his dish. When he
finally glanced down he saw an ear floating in the stew. Chango, thinking Oba was trying to
poison him, drove her from his house. Oba ran from the compound, crying, and fell to earth to
become a river, where she is still worshipped today. As an Orisha she is the patron of matrimony
and is said to destroy marriages that abuse either partner.

Worship of Chango

The religious ritual of Chango was possibly designed in order to help the devotees of Sango gain
self-control. Historically, Chango brought prosperity to the Oyo Empire during his reign. After
deification, the initiation ceremony dictates that this same prosperity be bestowed upon
followers, on a personal level. According to Yoruba and Vodou belief systems, Chango hurls
bolts of lightning at the people chosen to be his followers, leaving behind imprints of stone axe
blade on the Earth¶s crust. These blades can be seen easily after heavy rains. Worship of Chango
enables- according to Yoruba belief- a great deal of power and self-control. Chango altars often
contain a carved figure of a woman holding a gift to the god with a double-bladed axe sticking
up from her head. The axe symbolizes that this devotee is possessed by Chango. The woman¶s
expression is calm and cool, for she is expressing the qualities she has gained through her faith.
The orisha, or gods, are Yoruba ancestors or incarnate natural forces. Some of them are ancient,
created in the beginning of time by the Great God, Ollorun. Orisha may be considered natural
forces such as rivers, mountains, stones, thunder, or lightning. There are two categories of Orisa,
which are grouped according to personalities and modes of action. This group of gods mostly
consists of males, but there are a few females. Chango¶s wife, Oya is also included as a ³hot
Orisa´. She is the queen of the whirlwind. This Orisa tends to be harsh, demanding, hostile and
quick to anger. Other ³hot Orisa´ include Ogun, god of iron and Obaluaye, lord of pestilence.
The second category of Orisa are the Orisa funfun²³the cool, temperate, symbolically white
divinities´. These are the gentle, calm, and mellow Orisa. They include: Obatula/Orisonla, the
divine sculptor; Osooli/Eyinle, lord of hunting and water; Osanyin, lord of leaves and medicine;
Oduduwa, first king of Ile Ife.

Orisa are divine but also deified ancestors of Yorubaland. Chango fits both of these descriptions,
for his is not only the embodiment of thunder, but also a hero of the Oyo Empire.

The ibori is the symbol of a person¶s inner spiritual essence or individuality known as iponri.
The ibori is cone shaped and repeats throughout Yoruba culture. The top of an ibori is called the
oke iponri. This tip is made from the person¶s placenta and symbols of deities or ancestors. The
deity, Sango, is represented by lightning and thunder.

Worship in different Countries

Chango is worshipped in Haitian Vodou, as a god of thunder and weather; in Brazilian


Candomblé Ketu (under the name Xangô); in Umbanda, as the very powerful loa Nago Shango;
in Trinidad as Shango God of Thunder, drumming and dance ; and in Cuba, Puerto Rico and
Venezuela - the Santeria equivalent of St. Barbara, a traditional colonial disguise for the Deity
known as Changó.

In art, Chango is depicted with a double-axe on his three heads. He is associated with the holy
animal, the ram, and the holy colors of red and white.
c

c c
Orisha
Herbs
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:19
Obatala
Skullcap, Sage, Kola Nut, Basil, Hyssop, Blue Vervain, White Willow, Valerian

Elegua
All Herbs

Oshun
Yellow Dock, Burdock, Cinnamon, Damiana, Anis, Raspberry, Yarrow, Chamomile, Lotus,
Uva-Ursi, Buchu, Myrrh, Echinacea

Yemaya
Kelp, Squawvine, Cohosh, Dandelion, Yarrow, Aloe, Spirulina, Mints, Passion Flower, Wild
Yam Root

Ogun
Eucalyptus, Alfalfa, Hawthorn, Bloodroot, Parsley, Motherwort, Garlic

Oya
Mullein, Comfrey, Cherrybark, Pleurisy Root, Elecampane, Horehound, Chickweed

Shango
Plantain, Saw Palmetto, Hibiscus, Fo-ti, Sarsaparilla, Nettles, Cayenne
c

c c
Yoruba Traditional
Religion
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:17
To examine the Yoruba religion, one must look at the entire area of Yoruba cultural existence.
Yorubas are located basically in the southwestern part of Nigeria and in some parts of Benin and
Togo. The history of the Yoruba religion seems to be somewhat of a controversial subject in
most sources that deal with this topic. There was really no mention of when the religion started
or much about the origin of the people because the beginning of their existence was always noted
as being in Ife, the center where the Yoruba people descended from heaven. Ife is said to have
been founded around a thousand years ago and there was some mention that the Yorubas might
have descended from some Middle Eastern heritage.

As far as dealing with the actual origin of the religion itself, it is only referred to as a surviving
religion of a "higher" religion. That religion is said to be from the Ancient Egyptian±Religion
otherwise known as Khamet or Kemet. Being that the language of the Yorubas is so strongly tied
to the culture there are many comparisons analyzed as to why there is a belief that Yoruba
religion has been derived from Ancient Egyptian religion. For example, in Lucas' "The Religion
of the Yorubas" word comparisons are made. Such a comparison is made with the Ancient
Egyptian God Amon: "The God Amon is one of the Gods formerly known to the Yorubas". The
Yoruba words mon, mimon, "holy or sacred," are probably derived from the name of the God"
(p.21).

Many of the sources which I encountered did not attempt to even approach the topic of the origin
of the Yorubas Orisa (Orisha). The Orisa is one of the key spiritual elements of traditional
Yoruba religion. It is an example of the many deep rooted meanings of the religion of the
Yorubas. The Orisa, according to Baba Ifa Karade's "The Handbook of Yoruba Religious
Concepts," are a series of Gods or divinities under the Yoruba's main±God, Olorun or
Oludumare. Karade also argues that there are many striking similarities between the ancient
Egyptians and the Yorubas. The Orisha are "... an expression of the principles and functions of
divine power manifesting on nature"(p.23).

The actual word "Orisha" has a deep meaning itself. For example, the word ori is the "reflective
spark of human consciousness embedded on human essense, and sha which is the ultimate
potentiality of that consciousness." This gives a strong example of how strong language is tied to
religion. This Ori is the aspect of the human that is in a sense in control of their spiritual actions.
The ori is divided into two which can be known as the ori apari and the ori apere. The ori apari
represents the internal spiritual head and the ori apere represents the sign of an individuals
personal protector. The common Orisa which seem to come up time after time are these major
ones: Obatala, Elegba, Ogun, Yemoja, Oshun (Osun), Shango (Sango), and Oya.

Each of these gods has a specific purpose when dealing with the human spirit. Each of the orisas
has a specific color and natural environment associated with them. Obatala represents the
embodiment of true purity of one's soul. Obatala is also said to represent ethical purity. Such
purity is represented by pure whiteness. There is great measure taken to carry out the importance
of this pure whiteness because the temples which worship the divinity Obatala have the color of
white in all the instruments of worship. For example, the clothing of those involved with the
worship in the temples are white. In addition, all the emblems are kept in white containers and
the ornaments are white as are the beads for the priests and priestesses. Obatala is said to be the
father of the Orisha and the divinity in charge of the carving of humans out of clay into the form
they are today. He is worshiped or appeased by his followers when they want children, revenge
for wrong doings, cures for sickness and so on.

Yemoja is the divinity that governs over all the waters or oceans. Yemoja is said to be the mother
of all the Orisha. She is the water or ambiotic fluid in the mother's womb and the breasts which
nurture a new born child. She is the Matriarchal head of the entire universe. Her natural
environment are the salt water±oceans and the lakes and the colors associated with her are blue
and crystal. There is much confusion concerning the subject matter as to who is the chief female
divinity because the different sources represent different view points on this subject matter and
this was really unclear.

Sango or Shango to non Yoruba speakers is said to be a human that was made into a deity. He
was said to be the ruler of old Oyo that was hung (legend has it that he committed suicide by
hanging himself to a tree after his failure to amass all the political powr to himself) because of
his greed for power. Sango is the god of lightning in addition to being the Orisha of drum and
dance. He is also known to change things into pure and valuabe objects. His followers come to
him for legal problems, making bad situations better, and protection from enemies. His natural
environment happens to be any place that has been struck by lightning, and the base of trees. It is
said that no god is more feared for malevolent action than sango.

Ogun is said to be the god of iron and basically everything that becomes iron. He is known for
building or clearing paths for the building of civilizations and is the divinity of mechanization.
Ogun is considered to be the holder of divine justice and truth. He is also said to be the
executioner of the world. Natural environment are in the woods, railroads, and forges.

Oya is the divinity that is associated with the death or the rebirth into a new life. She is
considered to be the wife of Sango. Oya is also known as the god of storms and hurricanes and
has power over the winds. She is also the deity that is in charge of guarding the cemetary. Osun
(Oshun) is the deity of diplomacy and all giving or unconditional love. She is a river deity
because she symbolizes clarity. She is the divinity of fertility and feminine essence. Oshun is
said to represent the strenght of feminine love and the power of motherhood. It is she who is
appeased when it comes time for a mother to give birth.

Elegba is the messenger of the deities and his major role is to negotiate between the other orishas
and the humans and is very close to all the forces of the deities. He is in charge of giving from
the humans to the divinities. Elegba is the one who tests the human souls. Even when
worhsipping other divinities, he is also worshipped because of his important role in the Yoruba
religion. Elegba can both punish and reward and is known for having great wisdom. He is also
the divinity who takes the body upon death and the divinity that saves. Although he does not
match the role exactly, he is what the western world would call the devil. Elegba is not evil.
It is particularly important to discuss the dieties because they represent such an important aspect
of Yoruba traditional religion. The Yorubas have a deep and symbolic meaning attached to each
of the divinities which is exhibited through prayer and worhsip. These divinities give the reader
some idea of the powerful belief system of the Yorubas. Many scholars or anyone not familiar
with the Yoruba system of worship which is based in the belief in more than one god, may see
this religion as "superstitious" or "pagan".

The Yorubas have many festivals to give honor and praise to the many divinities within the Orisa
system of belief. The Yoruba festivals are extremely elaborate and have much deep rooted
meaning in practice related to them. Certain Yoruba towns have certain orisas which are
honored. This is extremely important because it shows the diversity of Yoruba culture and
futhermore the facets of traditional Yoruba religion. It would be tedious and quite boring to
examine and give an account of every single festival and the villages in which they take place
because the Yoruba religion covers so many (actually all) towns in Yorubaland. The discussion
could go on forever. However, I will give one account of this widely practiced aspect of Yoruba
religion.

Among the people of Osogbo, the Orisa Osun is the center of the town¶s attention even though it
is worshipped by the people in all areas of Yorubaland. The reason for this vast diversity may be
due to the fact that there are major differences in the landscape of each of the villages where the
Yorubas settled. Each orisa has a natural environment and a different emphasis may be put on a
different orisa. For example, the reason why the people of Osogbo worship osun may be because
their town was founded near a river and osun's natural environment is in fresh rivers and lakes.
The historical legend or belief behind the worship of osun is that the people of Osogbo found it
hard to find any fresh drinking water for the village. It was the divinity osun who gave the people
of Osogbo fresh water. Osun has also been credited to give infertile women children.

In Yoruba traditional religion, life is circular. What is meant by this that in the Yoruba religion,
there is no such thing as death. Death is seen as a transition from the physical plain to the
spiriitual plain. The life cycle of the Yorubas is very complex. Before an individual is born into
the world, they choose a destiny with God (Olodumare) in heaven. The goal is to fulfil the
destiny. There is one exception, once a child is born he or she forgets the destiny he or she has
chosen. The purpose of this is for the individual to learn and gain wisdom for life in the spiritual
plain. The Yoruba traditional religion believes in predestination. It is also important to point out
that there is no hell in traditional Yoruba religion. The Yoruba believe that all of one's wrong
doings will be paid for and all good deads will be rewarded. Under the orisa system, the early
cycle of life is called "morning". Morning of one's life spans from the time of birth to the age of
fifty. It is in this time period that the individual learns and experiences life's most difficult
lessons. This also is the time when the Yorubas raise their families. The Yorubas believe that no
one is a master in any area of life until they reach age fifty. The time period from the age of fifty
until the transition into the spirit realm is called the evening. It is in this time period that
individuals enjoy life the most. By this time most Yoruba men and women would have raised
their children and have much free time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The evening is a time
period when the Yorubas prepare for their transition. Long life and family are the two most
important blessings in Yoruba religion.
The Yoruba believe that there are three types of people: achievers, people who assist achievers,
and bystanders. Whichever role one chooses dictates the type of life that the person will live. The
babalawo is the most important figure in Yoruba religion on the physical plain. His role is one of
great respect and experience. The Babalawo's training is long and indepth. It is said in some
temples of Yoruba divination that Babalawos are said to stay in their temples for seven years
before being released into the world to pracitce Orisha. The babalawo, by his knowledge and
training, is the link between the divinities and man.
c

c c
The Warriors / Los
Guerreros
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:16
The Guerreros (warriors) are a set of orishas that an initiate receives usually after having
received their Elekes and it is usually an indication that the person is on their way to Kariocha.
The warriors consist of Elegba, Ogún, Ochosi and Osun. The warriors are received in a person's
life in order to protect them, strengthen their spiritual framework, teach them the importance of
hard work and to open their spiritual road.

This is strictly a Lukumí initiation in that it evolved out of the environment that the Lukumí
people were subjected to when they were brought to the new world as slaves. Originally, in the
motherland, these orishas were worshipped and propitiated in communal outdoor shrines that
belonged to the entire village or tribe. The exception would have been Elegba, which was
received as an Eshu (a stone) by individuals when they were crowned, along with their crowning
orisha. Elegba's shrine was a large stone or collection of stones, Ogún's shrine contained his iron
implements, Ochosi's included animal horns and the like, and Osun was a special staff that was
much taller than today's version and it was kept outside the home, staked into the ground - yet its
function is still preserved in the modern version. All of the modern warriors are usually kept
behind the front door, near the front door or facing the front door - indicating their importance in
opening a person's spiritual path, protecting the home from negativity and intruders, and still
hinting at their closeness to the outdoors.

The modern Lukumí version evolved because the tribes of Lukumí people were split up and
intermixed with other tribes and there was no possible was of having an outdoor public shrine at
which offerings could be given without making it known to the slave masters. Thus each
individual was to receive their own Elegba - which consisted of an otán (stone) and usually a
cement head packed with magically charged substances that is essentially used like Elegba's
tools with which he can affect the physical and spiritual worlds. Here is a typical depiction of an
Elegba to the right. But Elegbas vary from road to road, and each is unique and personal to the
initiate in its own way. Usually Elegba that is received with the warriors is not a complete Elegba
in that he does not have diloggún shells - usually these are added and empowered at the
Kariocha. (But I have heard of ilés where they give diloggún with the warriors version of Elegba,
but the diloggún are not yet fully empowered to speak.)

Ogún that is received in the warriors set is actually a smaller, less complete version of Ogún.
This does not mean that Ogún is less effective, merely that he still has room to grow. He is
received in an iron cauldron, with his otán, his tools that quite literally look like the tools that a
blacksmith or a warrior would use and other iron implements. He does not usually come with
diloggún either - these are usually received either in a separate ceremony, or at the time of
Cuchillo. Inside of Ogún's cauldron living with him, is Ochosi (his best friend or brother
depending on which version of the legend you have heard.) Ochosi is also received in a very
scaled down form, with the warriors. He is merely a metal crossbow that is empowered and lives
within Ogún's pot. Ochosi is received in complete form, in a separate ceremony. Often when
Ogún is made full - by giving him diloggún and feeding him four legs, Ochosi is given full at the
same time. Often this occurs at Cuchillo if it has not yet been done for an individual to that point.

Osun is a small staff that is packed with magical substances that acts as a person's personal guard
or watchdog. Many people say that he is your spiritual head, or the foundation for your higher
self or Orí. He is lidded and sealed metal cup with a stem and is about 9 inches tall. on top of the
lid is a metal rooster - the symbol for Osun. Hanging from the lip of the cup's lid, are four jingle
bells hanging from little chains. Osun is supposed to be placed in a high place in the house -
preferably above the initiate's head with the rooster facing the front door, so that he can watch for
danger. He is supposed to remain upright at all times, and if he ever falls over, it is an indication
that something very bad has either been thrown at the initiate or is on it's way to harm the
initiate. Osun should be immediately turned upright and the primary godparent should be notified
of what happened. This is the scaled down modern version of the original that was found in
Africa. There are human-sized Osuns but they are received for different purposes and in a
separate initiation.

The warriors, when received into a home for the first time, or when the initiate moves into a new
home, have to go through a special ebbó called the ebbó de entrada (the offering of entry.) This
involves eyebale to Elegba, Ogún, Ochosi and Osun at the door to the house (Shilelekun.) This
not only empowers and strengthens the door to the house for protection, but it also strengthens
the presence of the warriors in that home and in effect lets them know that it is their new home
and they are bound to protect it from any enemies or negativity. The initiate is then to tend to his
new orishas in his home by cleaning them from time to time, coating them lightly with epó (palm
oil), and a bit of honey, offering them rum, and occasionally cigar or a candle. Some ilés offer
candies to Elegba, or fruits and toys. In my ilé we do not give candy to Elegba until he has
completed something for us, as a reward.

Now that the initiate has received Elegba, the orisha can guide them spiritually, open their
psychic senses and their doors to evolution and in general assist them through life. Many ilés call
the initiate an Aborisha (follower of the Orishas) after having received the warriors.
c

c c
Yoruba
Religious
Figures
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:14
In Yoruba society, religion is equally important as politics and kinship. Religion is a part of
Yoruba daily life. Yoruba religion is monotheistic, meaning that a single God (Olodunmare)
rules over the universe, with several hundred lower deities, Orishas, who are personified aspects
of nature gods and ancestral spirits. Even though there are over a thousand, there are at least four
hundread and one recognized Orisas in the Yoruba pantheon. Some of the most important Orisas
are: Ogun, the god of iron and war; Sango, the god of thunder; Obatala, the god of arch divinity
of Yorubaland; Elegba, the god of crossroads; Yemoja, the goddess of the oceans and otherhood;
Oya, the goddess of the winds, the whirlwinds, and the gates of the cemetery; and Osun, the
goddess of love and fertility.

Orisas are best understood by observing the forces of nature they rule over and the endeavors of
humanity. They can be natural phenomena, such as mountains, hills, and rivers. They can also be
recognized through numbers and colors which are their marks. The devotees to each orisa can
usually relate their past to their respective god. The deities are worshipped either annually or at
fixed times.

Olodumare, also known as Olorun, is the central force of the Yoruba traditional religion. He is
said to have established land and given life and breath. Myths say that Olodumare asked
Orisanla's brother, Oduduwa to descend from the sky to create the first Earth at Ile-Ife. Then,
sixteen other orisas came down from heaven to accomplish the task of creating human beings to
live on Earth. All the Orishas are said to have transcended from Olodunmare.

Ogun is the god of iron and war. Blacksmiths, warriors, and all who use metal in their profession
are said to be patrons of this orisa. Ogun also presides over deals and contracts; in fact, in
Yoruba courts, devotees of the faith swear to tell the truth by kissing a piece of iron or a machete
that is sacred to Ogun. The Yoruba consider Ogum fearsome and terrible in his revenge. A
legend that illustrates Ogun's importance tells of the orisas trying to carve a road through a deep
jungle. Ogun was the only one with proper implements for the task and won the right to be king
of the orisa. He did not want the position though, and it went to Obatala. Ogun is identified by
the colors green and black.

Sango, the god of thunder, rules over lightning, thunder, fire, drums, and dance. Sango's storms
and lightning being a purifying moral terror with bodlness. He is a hot blooded and strong-willed
orisa with a quick temper and wit. His colors are red and white, which resembles his virility. One
myth about Sango tells of when he ruled as the fourth king of the ancient Yoruba. He had a
charm that could cause lightning, with which he inadvertently killed his entire family. To be
forgiven for his sins, he hanged himself, and became deified. He tried to exceed his own limits
and thereby destroyed what he cherished most. Sango's devotees regard him as the embodiment
of great creative potential. His dedication to power over life is evident in his shrines.
Obatala is the god of arch divinity of Yorubaland. Known as the "King of the White Cloth",
Obatala represents the spiritual unity and interrelationship of all things. He is known to be the
creator of the world and humanities. Obatala is the source of purity, wisdom, peacefulness, and
compassion. Everything on Earth that is pure belongs to him. As the sculpture-god, Obatala has
the responsibility to evolve human bodies. He is responsible for the normal and abnormal
characteristics. Therefore, the Yorubas say that human deformities are often a result of his errors.
A pregnant woman who speaks negatively of Obatala is likely to have a defective child. These
children are called Eni Orisa, or the children of Obatala. His followers appeal to him for
children, the avenging of wrongdoing, and the cure of deformities.

Elegba (Eleggua) is the god of crossroads, meaning he is the owner of opportunity and the roads
and doors into the world. He is a child-like messenger between the orisas and human beings.
Without his approval, nothing could be done. He is always honored first before any other orisa
because he opens the doors between the worlds and opens the door for life. He is said to be the
force in nature who brings magic into reality. Devotees give offerings and honor to him on
mondays and on the third day of every month. With his child-like behavior he is known as a
trickster, yet his tricks are simply opportunities to learn lessons. His colors are red, white, and
black which exemplify his contradicting nature.

Yemoja (Yemalla) is the goddess of the sea, moon, and motherhood. Her name, a shortened
version of Yeye Omo Eja means "Mother Whose Children are the Fish" reflects the fact that her
children are unaccountable. She is said to be the mother of many Orisha, generous, and giving.
All life started in the sea, the amniotic fluid inside the mother's womb, is a form of sea where the
embryo must transform and evolve through the form of a fish before becoming a human baby.
She represents the mother who gives love, but does not give her power away. Yemalla also owns
the collective, subconsciousness. Her worship is indeed ancient and annual or at fixed times.

Sopona (Shokpona), the god of smallpox, apparently became an important god in the smallpox
plagues that were transmitted by various inter-tribal wars; the Yoruba also blamed Sopona's
wrath for high temperatures, carbuncles, boils, and other diseases that resemble small-pox
symptoms. Sopona once terrified some Yoruba so greatly that they feared to say his name;they
used instead such names as Elegbana ("hot earth") and A-soro-pe-leerun ("one whose name it is
not propitious to call during the dry season"). Priests of Sopona wielded immense power; it was
believed that they could bring the plague down on their enemies, and in fact the priests
sometimes made a potion from the powdered scabs and dry skin of those who died from small-
pox. They would pour the potion in an enemy's house or a neighboring village to spread the
disease. Today, however, smallpox has been all but eradicated; the priests of Sopona have lost
power and the cult has all but vanished.
c

c c
Shigidi
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:14
Shigidi, or Shugudu, is deified nightmare. The name appears to mean "something short and
bulky," and the god, or demon, is represented by a broad and short head, made of clay, or, more
commonly, by a thick, blunted cone of clay, which is ornamented with cowries, and is no doubt
emblematic of the head.

Shigidi is an evil god, and enables man to gratify his hate in secret and without risk to himself.
When a man wishes to revenge himself upon another he, offers a sacrifice to Shigidi, who
thereupon proceeds at night to the house of the person indicated and kills him. His mode of
procedure is to squat upon the breast of his victim and "press out his breath;" but it often happens
that the tutelary deity of the sufferer comes to the rescue and wakes him, uponwhich Sbigidi
leaps off, falls upon the earthen floor, and disappears, for he only has power over man dur ing
sleep. This superstition still lingers among the negroes of the Bahamas of Yoruba descent, who
talk of being "hagged," and believe that nightmare is caused by a demon that crouches upon the
breast of the sleeper. The word nightmare is itself a survival from a similar belief once held by
ourselves, mare being the Anglo-Saxon mære, elf or goblin.

The person -who employs Shigidi, and sends him out to kill, must remain awake till the god
returns, for if he were to fall asleep Shigidi would at that moment turn back, and the mission
would fail. Shigidi either travels on the wind, or raises a wind to waft him along; on this point
opinions differ. The first symptom of being attacked by Shigidi, is a feeling of heat and
oppression at the pit of the stomach, "like hot, boiled rice," said a native. If a man experiences
this when he is falling asleep, it behoves him to get up at once and seek the protection of the god
he usually serves.

Houses and enclosed yards can be placed under the guardianship of Shigidi. In order to do this a
hole is dug in the earth and a fowl, sheep, or, in ancient times with exceptional cases, a human
victim was slaughtered, so that the blood drains into the hole, and is then buried. A short, conical
mound of red earth is next built over the spot, and an earthen saucer placed on the summit to
receive occasional sacrifices. When a site has thus been placed under the protection of Shigidi,
he kills, in his typical manner, those who injure the buildings, or who trespass there with bad
intentions.
c

c c
Dada
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:14
Dada, more properly Eda, or Ida, is the god of New-born Babes and Vegetables. The name
appears to mean natural production, anything produced or brought forth by natural process. Dada
is represented by a calabash ornamented with cowries, on which is placed a ball of indigo. He is
one of those who came from the body of yemaya.
c

c c
Shankpanna
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:13
Shankpanna, or Shakpana, who also came from the body of yemaya, is the Small-pox god. The
name appears to be derived from shan, to daub, smear, or plaster, which probably has reference
to the pustules with which a small-pox patient is covered, and akpania,[1] a man-killer,
homicide. He is accompanied by an assistant named Buku,[2] who kills those attacked by small-
pox by wringing their necks.

Shan-kpanna is old and lame, and is depicted as limping along with the aid of a stick. According
to a myth he has a withered leg. One day, when the gods were all assembled at the palace of
Obatala, and were dancing and making merry, Shankpanna endeavoured to join in the dance, but,
owing to his deformity, stumbled and fell. All the gods and goddesses thereupon burst out
laughing, and Shankpanna, in revenge, strove to infect them with small-pox, but Obatala came to
the rescue, and, seizing his spear, drove Shankpanna away. From that day Shankpanna was
forbidden to associate with the other gods, and he became an outcast who has since lived in
desolate and uninhabited tracts of country.

Temples dedicated to Shankpanna are always built in the bush, at some little distance from a
town or village, with a view to keeping him away from habitations. He is much dreaded, and
when there is an epidemic of small-pox the priests who serve him are able to impose almost any
terms they please upon the terrified people, as the price of their mediation, To whistle by night
near one of Shankpanna's haunts is believed to be a certain way of attracting his notice and
contracting the disease. As is the case with Sapatan, the small-pox god of the Ewe tribes, who
have perhaps adopted the notion from the Yorubas, flies and mosquitos are the messengers of
Sbankpanna, and his emblem is a stick covered with red and white blotches, symbolic, it seems,
of the marks he makes on the bodies of his victims.
c

c c
Olosa
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:13
Olosa (oni-osa, owner of the laaoon) is the goddess of the Lagos Lagoon, and the principal wife
of her brother Olokim, the sea-god. Like her husband she is long-haired. She sprang from the
body of yemaya.

Olosa supplies her votaries with fish, and there are several temples dedicated to her along the
shores of the lagoon, where offerings of fowls and sheep are made to her to render her
propitious. In ancient times when the lagoon is swollen by rain and overflows its banks she is
angry, and if the inundation is serious a human victim was offered to her-, to induce her to return
within her proper limits.

Crocodiles ate Olosa's messengers, and may not be molested. They are supposed to bear to the
goddess the offerings which the faithful deposit on the shores of the lagoon or throw into the
sedge. Some crocodiles, selected by the priests on account of certain marks borne by them, are
treated with great veneration; and have rude sheds, thatched with palm leaves, erected for their
accommodation near the water's edge. Food is regagularly supplied to these reptiles every fifth
day, or festival, and many of them become sufficiently tame to come for the offering as soon as
they see or hear the worshippers gathering on the bank.
c

c c
Olarosa
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:12
Olarosa (?Alarense, helper) is the tutelary deity of Houses. He is represented as armed with a
stick or sword, and his image is found in almost every household guarding the entrance. His
office is to drive away sorcerers and evil spirits, and to keep elegua from entering the house.
c

c c
Olokun
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:11
OLOKUN (oni-okun, he who owns the sea), "Lord of the Sea," is the sea-god of the Yorubas. He
is one of those who came from the body of yemaya.

As man worships that from which he has most to fear, or from which he hopes to receive the
greatest benefits, the inland tribes pay little or no attention to Olokun, who is, however, the chief
god of fishermen and of all others whose avocations take them upon the sea. When Olokun is
angry he causes the sea to be rough and stirs up a raging surf upon the shore; and it is he who
drowns men, upsets boats or canoes, and causes shipwrecks.

Olokun is not the personally divine sea but an anthropomorphic conception. He is of human
shape and black in colour, but with long flowing hair, and resides in a vast palace under the sea,
where he is served by a number of sea-spirits, some of whom are human in shape, while others
partake more or less of the nature of fish. On ordinary occasions animals are sacrificed to
Olokun, but when the condition of the surf prevents canoes from putting to sea for many days at
a time, In ancient times a human victim was offered to appease him. It is said that such sacrifices
have been made in recent times, even at Lagos, by the people of the Isaleko quarter, who are
chiefly worshippers of Olokun. The sacrifice was of course secret, and according to native report
the canoemen used to watch by night till they caught some solitary wayfarer, whom they gagged
and conveyed across the lagoon to the sea-shore, where they struck off his head and threw the
body into the surf.

A myth says that Olokun, becoming enraged with mankind on account of their neglect of him,
endeavoured to destroy them by overflowing the land; and had drowned large numbers when
Obatala interfered to save the remainder, and forced Olokun back to his palace, where he bound
him with seven iron chains till he promised to abandon his design. This, perhaps, has reference to
some former encroachment of the sea upon the low-lying sandy shores, which are even now
liable to be submerged at spring-tides.[1]

Olokun has a wife named Olokun-su, or Elusu, who lives in the harbour bar at Lagos. She is
white in colour and human in shape, but is covered with fish-scales from below the breasts to the
hips. The fish in the waters of the bar are sacred to her, and should anyone catch them, she takes
vengeance by upsetting canoes and drowning the occupants. A man who should be so ill-advised
as to attempt to fish on the bar would run a great risk of being thrown overboard by the other
canoemen. Olokunsu is an example of a local sea-goddess, originally, as on the Gold Coast at the
present day, considered quite independent, being attached to the general god of the sea, and
accounted for as belonging to him.
c

c c
Orisha
Oko
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:11
Orisha Oko (oko, farm, garden, plantation) is the god of Agriculture, and is one of those who
sprang from the body of yemaya. As the natives chiefly depend upon the fruits of the earth for
their food, Orisha Oko is much honoured. There is scarcely a town or village that has not a
temple dedicated to him, and he has a large number of priests and priestesses in his service.

Although his first care is to promote the fertility of the earth, he is also -the god of natural
fertility in general, for he is a phallic divinity, and his image is always provided with an
enormous phallus. He thus resembles Priapus, who, although a phallic deity, was, apparently,
primarily a garden-god, who fostered and protected crops. (Catullus, xix. xx.; Tibullus, I. i.)

An emblem of Orisha Oko is an iron rod, and honey bees are his messengers. It is probably with
reference to his phallic attributes that he has the title of Eni-duru- "the erect personage." One of
his functions is to cure malarial fevers, to which those who disturb the soil in the process of
cultivation are particularly liable.

There is an annual festival to Orisha Oko, held when the yam crop is ripe, and all then partake of
new yams. At this festival general licence prevails, the priestesses give themselves
indiscriminately to all the male worshippers of the god, and, theoretically, every man has a right
to sexual intercourse with every woman he may meet abroad. Social prejudices have, however,
restricted the application of this privilege, and it is now only slave-girls, or women of the lowest
order, who are really at the disposal of the public, and then only if they are consenting parties. At
this festival all kinds of vegetable productions are cooked and placed in vessels in the streets, for
general use.
c

c c
Olorun
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:11
Olorun is the sky-god of the Yorubas, that is, he is the deified firmament, or personal sky.

Nyankupon and Nyonmo thunder and lighten as well as pour out rain, but Olorun, like the Ewe
Mawu, does not wield the thunderbolt, which has become the function of a special thunder-god,
and he consequently has suffered some reduction in importance. The name Olorun means
"Owner of the Sky" (oni, one who possesses, orun, sky, firmament, cloud), and the sky is
believed to be a solid body, curving over the earth so as to cover it with a vaulted roof.

Olorun is considered too distant, or too indifferent, to interfere in the affairs of the world. The
natives say that he enjoys a life of complete idleness and repose, a blissful condition according to
their ideas, and passes his time dozing or sleeping. Since he is too lazy or too indifferent to
exercise any control over earthly affairs, man on his side does not waste time in endeavouring to
propitiate him, but reserves his worship and sacrifice for more active agents. Hence Olorun has
no priests, symbols, images, or temples,

and though, in times of calamity, or affliction, whjen the other gods have turned a deaf ear to his
supplications, a native will, perhaps, as a last resource, invoke Olorun, such occasions are rare,
and as a general rule the god is not worshipped or appealed to. The name Olorun, however,
occurs in one or two set phrasesor sentences, which appear to show that at one time greater
regard was paid to him. For instance, the proper reply to the morning salutation, "Have you risen
well?" is O yin Olorun, "Thanks to Olorun;" and the phrase "May Olorun protect you" is
sometimes heard as an evening salutation. The former seems to mean that thanks are due to the
sky for letting the sun enter it; and the latter to be an invocation of the firmament, the roof of the
world, to remain above and protect the earth during the night. Sometimes natives will raise their
hands and cry, "Olorun, Olorun!" just as we say, "Heaven forbid!" and with an equal absence of
literal meaning.

Olorun has the following epithets:--

(1) Oga-ogo (Oga, distinguished or brave person; ogo, wonder, praise).


(2) Olowo (ni-owo) "Venerable one."
(3) Eleda (da, to cease from raining), "He who controls the rain."
(4) Elemi, "a living man," literally "he who possesses breath." It is a title applied to a servant or
slave, because his master's breath is at his mercy; and it is in this sense also that it is used to
Olorun, because, if he were evilly, disposed, he could let fall the solid firmament and crush the
world.
(5) Olodumaye or Olodumare. The derivation of this epithet is obscure, but it probably means
"Replenisher of brooks" (0lodo, possessing brooks). We find the same termination in Oshumaye
or Oshumare, Rainbow, and in Osamaye or Osamare, Water Lily, and it is perhaps compounded
of omi, water, and aye, a state of being.alive.

It may be mentioned that, just as the missionaries have caused Nyankupon, Nyonmo, and Mawu
to be confused with the Jehovah of the Christians, by translating these names as "God," so have
they done with Olorun, whom they consider to be a survival from a primitive revelation, made to
all mankind, in the childhood of the world. But Olorun is merely a nature-god, the personally
divine sky, and he only controls phenomena connected in the native mind with the roof of the
world. He is not in any sense an omnipotent being. This is well exemplified by the proverb
which says, "A man cannot cause rain to fall, and Olorun cannot give you a child," which means
that, just as a man cannot perform the functions of Olorun and cause rain to fall, so Olorun
cannot form a child in the womb, that being the function of the god Obatala, whom we shall next
describe. In fact, each god, Olorun included, has, as it were, his own duties; and while he is
perfectly independent in his own domain, he cannot trespass upon the rights of others.
c

c c
Aje
Shaluga
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:10
Aje Shaluga is the god of Wealth, and confers riches on his worshippers. The name appears to
mean either "the gainer who makes to recur," or "the sorcerer who makes to recur." (Aje,
sorcerer; aje, earner, or gainer, and shalu, to recur.) His emblem is a large cowry. One proverb
says, "Aje Shaluga often passes by the first caravan as it comes to the market, and loads the last
with benefits;" and another, "He who while walking finds a cowry is favoured by Aje Shaluga."
The large cowry, emblematic of Aje Shaluga, has no value as. a medium of exchange, the small
white cowries being alone used for that purpose. He is the patron of dyes and of colours
generally. He came from the body of yemaya.
c

c c
Odudua
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 16:09
Odudua, or Odua, who has the title of Iya agbe, The mother who receives," is the chief goddess
of the Yorubas. The name means "Black One" (dit, to be black; dudit, black), and the Yoruba
consider a smooth, glossy, black skin a great beauty, and far superior to one of the ordinary
cigar-colour. She is always represented as a woman sitting down, and nursing a child.

Odudua is the wife of Obatala, but she was coeval with Olorun, and not made by him, as was her
husband. Other natives, however, say that she came from Ife, the holy city, in common with most
of the other gods, as described in a myth which we shall come to shortly. Odudua represents the
earth, married to the anthropomorphic sky-god. Obatala and Odudua, or Heaven and Earth,
resemble, say the priests, two large cut-calabashes, which, when once shut, can never be opened.
This is symbolised in the temples by two whitened saucer-shaped calabashes, placed one
covering the other; the upper one of which represents the concave firmament stretching over and
meeting the earth, the lower one, at the horizon.

According to some priests, Obatala and Odudua represent one androgynous divinity; and they
say that an image which is sufficiently common, of a human being with one arm and leg, and a
tail terminating in a sphere, symbolises this. This notion, however, is not one commonly held,
Obutala and Odudua being generally, and almost universally, regarded as two distinct persons.
The phallus and yoni in juxtaposition are often seen carved on the doors of the temples both of
Obatala and Odudua; but this does not seem to have any reference to androgyny, since they are
also found similarly depicted in other places which are in no way connected with either of these
deities.

According to a myth Odudua is blind. In the beginning of the world she and her husband Obatala
were shut up in darkness in a large, closed calabash, Obatala being in the upper part and Odudua
in the lower. The myth does not state how they came to be in this situation, but they remained
there for many days, cramped, hungry, and uncomfortable. Then Odudua began complaining,
blaming her husband for the confinement; and a violent quarrel ensued, in the course of which, in
a frenzy of rage, Obatala tore out her eyes, because she would not bridle her tongue. In return she
cursed him, saying "Naught shalt thou eat but snails," which is the reason why snails are now
offered to Obatala.

Odudua is patroness of love, and many stories are told of her adventures and amours. Her chief
temple is in Ado, the principal town of the state of the same name, situated about fifteen miles to
the north of Badagry. The word Ado means a lewd person of eithersex, and its selection for the
name of this town is accounted for by the following legend. Odudua was once walking alone in
the forest when she met a hunter, who was so handsome that the ardent temperament of the
goddess at once took fire. The advances which she made to him were favourably received, and
they forthwith mutually gratified their passion on the spot. After this, the goddess became still
mora enamoured, and, unable to tear herself away from her lover, she lived with him for some
weeks in a hut, which they constructed of branches at the foot of a large silk-cotton tree. At the
end of this time her passion had burnt out, and having become weary of the hunter, she left him;
but before doing so she promised to protect him and all others who might come and dwell in the
favoured spot wliere she had passed so many pleasant hours. In consequence many people came
and settled there, and a town gradually grew up, which was named Ado, to commemorate the
circumstances of its origin. A temple was built for the protecting goddess; and there, on her feast
days, sacrifices of cattle and sheep are made, and women abandon themselves indiscriminately to
the male worshippers in her honour.
The Yoruba
Kingdom
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:50
The ancient King Oduduwa had a great many grandchildren, and on his death he divided among
them all his possessions. But his youngest grandson, Oranyan, was at that time away hunting,
and when he returned home he learned that his brothers and cousins had inherited the old King¶s
money, cattle, beads, native cloths, and crowns, but that to himself nothing was left but twenty-
one pieces of iron, a cock, and some soil tied up in a rag.

At that time the whole earth was covered with water, on the surface of which the people lived.

The resourceful Oranyan spread upon the water his pieces of iron, and upon the iron he placed
the scrap of cloth, and upon the cloth the soil, and on the soil the cock. The cock scratched with
his feet and scattered the soil far and wide, so that the ocean was partly filled up and islands
appeared everywhere. The pieces of iron became the mineral wealth hidden under the ground.

Now Oranyan¶s brothers and cousins all desired to live on the land, and Oranyan allowed them
to do so on payment of tribute. He thus became King of all the Yorubas, and was rich and
prosperous through his grandfather¶s inheritance.
c

c c
The
Great
Flood
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:49
Yoruba:

A god, Ifa, tired of living on earth and went to dwell in the firmament. Without his assistance,
mankind couldn't interpret the desires of the gods, and one god [Olokun], in a fit of rage,
destroyed nearly everybody in a great flood. [Kelsen, in Dundes]

In the beginning was only the sky above, water and marshland below. The chief god Olorun
ruled the sky, and the goddess Olokun ruled what was below.

Obatala, another god, reflected upon this situation, then went to Olorun for permission to create
dry land for all kinds of living creatures to inhabit. He was given permission, so he sought advice
from Orunmila, oldest son of Olorun and the god of prophecy.

He was told he would need a gold chain long enough to reach below, a snail's shell filled with
sand, a white hen, a black cat, and a palm nut, all of which he was to carry in a bag.

All the gods contributed what gold they had, and Orunmila supplied the articles for the bag.
When all was ready, Obatala hung the chain from a corner of the sky, placed the bag over his
shoulder, and started the downward climb. When he reached the end of the chain he saw he still
had some distance to go. From above he heard Orunmila instruct him to pour the sand from the
snail's shell, and to immediately release the white hen. He did as he was told, whereupon the hen
landing on the sand began scratching and scattering it about.

Wherever the sand landed it formed dry land, the bigger piles becoming hills and the smaller
piles valleys. Obatala jumped to a hill and named the place Ife. The dry land now extended as far
as he could see. He dug a hole, planted the palm nut, and saw it grow to maturity in a flash. The
mature palm tree dropped more palm nuts on the ground, each of which grew immediately to
maturity and repeated the process. Obatala settled down with the cat for company.

Many months passed, and he grew bored with his routine. He decided to create beings like
himself to keep him company. He dug into the sand and soon found clay with which to mold
figures like himself and started on his task, but he soon grew tired and decided to take a break.
He made wine from a nearby palm tree, and drank bowl after bowl. Not realizing he was drunk,
Obatala returned to his task of fashioning the new beings; because of his condition he fashioned
many imperfect figures.

Without realizing this, he called out to Olorun to breathe life into his creatures. The next day he
realized what he had done and swore never to drink again, and to take care of those who were
deformed, thus becoming Protector of the Deformed.
The new people built huts as Obatala had done and soon Ife prospered and became a city. All the
other gods were happy with what Obatala had done, and visited the land often, except for
Olokun, the ruler of all below the sky. She had not been consulted by Obatala and grew angry
that he had usurped so much of her kingdom. When Obatala returned to his home in the sky for a
visit, Olokun summoned the great waves of her vast oceans and sent them surging across the
land.

Wave after wave she unleashed, until much of the land was underwater and many of the people
were drowned. Those that had fled to the highest land beseeched the god Eshu who had been
visiting, to return to the sky and report what was happening to them. Eshu demanded sacrifice be
made to Obatala and himself before he would deliver the message.

The people sacrificed some goats, and Eshu returned to the sky. When Orunmila heard the news
he climbed down the golden cahain to the earth, and cast many spells which caused the flood
waters to retreat and the dry land reappear. So ended the great flood.
c

c c
Numbers
in Yoruba
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:49
1 ení
2 èjì
3 èta
4 èrin
5 àrún
6 èfà
7 èje
8 èjo
9 èsán
10 èwá
c

c c
Wed Dec 8 2010 02:25:16
Yoruba Orisha and the syncretized
Catholic Saint
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:48
Olorun/Olofi, God the Creator
Obatala -- Our Lady of Mercy *
Oddudua -- Saint Anne, Saint Claire *
Aganyu -- Saint Joseph
Yemaya -- Our Lady of Regla, Virgen de la Regla
Orungan -- The Infant Jesus
Chango -- Saint Barbara *
Oya -- Our Lady of La candelaria and St. Theresa *
Oshun -- Our Lady of Charity, La Caridad del Cobre *
Ochosi -- Saint Isidro
Oggun -- Saint Peter *
Babalu-Aye -- Saint Lazarus *
Eleggua -- Holy Guardian Angel and The Child of Atocha *
Orunla -- St. Francis of Assisi *
c

c c
Wed Dec 8 2010 02:26:38
Tribal
Marks
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:47
A King named Chango sent two slaves to a distant country on an important mission.
In due course they returned, and he found that one slave had achieved successfully what he had
been sent to do, while the other had accomplished nothing. The King therefore rewarded the first
with high honours, and commanded the second to receive a hundred and twenty-two razor cuts
all over his body.
This was a severe punishment, but when the scars healed, they gave to the slave a very
remarkable appearance, which greatly took the fancy of the King¶s wives.
Chango therefore decided that cuts should in future be given, not as punishment, but as a sign of
royalty, and he placed himself at once in the hands of the markers. However, he could only bear
two cuts, and so from that day two cuts on the arm have been the sign of royalty, and various
other cuts came to be the marks of different tribes.
c

c c
Orisa
Oko
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:46
ORISHA OKO was a poor hunter, solitary save for his fife and his dog. If ever he lost his way
out in the fields or the forest, he would begin to play some plaintive melody on his fife, and the
sounds would lead the faithful dog to his side to guide him home.

He earned a meagre living by trapping in his nets guinea-fowls on the land of rich farmers, but
because of his solitary life and his habit of silence, he was respected as a man possessed of secret
knowledge which he did not care to divulge.

As years went by, he grew too old for hunting, and took up his residence in a cave. People now
thought him more mysterious than ever, and came to him for advice about the future, so that in a
short time he won great renown as a soothsayer. From far and near people came to consult him,
and in this way he managed to live very comfortably.

In those days witchcraft was punished by death, and it became the custom in the country that
anyone suspected of the evil art should be dragged to Orisa Oko¶s cave. If the soothsayer found
him innocent, he led him forth by the hand, but if he were judged guilty, his head was cut off and
thrown to the waiting crowd by the demon Polo, which Orisa Oko kept in the cave.

This went on until the old hunter¶s death. His followers now wished to continue the practice, and
so they hid in the cave a very strong man to act as the demon Polo. When anyone accused of
witchcraft was brought to the cave, his head was usually cut off and thrown out as before.

However, it once happened that a very tall and muscular man was suspected of magic arts, and
his accusers succeeded in dragging him to the cave. A large crowd waited with eagerness to learn
the result. What was their dismay to see the head of the supposed ³demon´ come rolling out of
the cave, for the strong man had proved too much for him, and soon reappeared unharmed and
triumphant

The people were indignant to learn how they had been deceived, and from that day the cave of
Orisa Oko was deserted.
c

c c
Destiny
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:46
The Yoruba (Nigeria) believe that the success or failure of a man in live depends on the choices
he made in heaven before he was born. If a person suddenly becomes rich, they will say that he
chose the right future for himself, therefore poor people must be patient because even if they
have chosen the right life, it may not have arrived yet. We all need patience. The word ayanmo
means 'choice', and kadara means 'divine share for a man'; ipin means 'predestined lot'.
The Yoruba believe that there is a god, Ori, who supervises people's choices in heaven. Literally,
ori means 'head' or 'mind', because that is what one chooses before birth. If someone chooses a
wise head, i.e. intelligence, wisdom, he will walk easily through life, but if someone chooses a
fool's head, he will never succeed anywhere. Ori could be considered as a personal god, a sort of
guardian angel who will accompany each of us for life, once chosen. Even the gods have their
Ori which directs their personal lives. Both men and gods must consult their sacred divination
palm-nuts daily in order to learn what their Ori wishes. In this way, Ori is both an individual and
a collective concept, a personal spirit directing each individual's life, and also a god in heaven,
who is feared even by Orunmila.
In heaven, there is a curious character called Ajala, a very fallible man whose daily work is
fashioning faces (ori) from clay. Sometimes he forgets to bake them properly, so they cannot
withstand the long journey to earth prior to the beginning of life; especially in the rainy season
the clay might be washed away and there would be a total loss of face!
c

c c
Creation
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:45
In the beginning was only the sky above, water and marshland below. The chief god Olorun
ruled the sky, and the goddess Olokun ruled what was below. Obatala, another god, reflected
upon this situation, then went to Olorun for permission to create dry land for all kinds of living
creatures to inhabit. He was given permission, so he sought advice from Orunmila, oldest son of
Olorun and the god of prophecy. He was told he would need a gold chain long enough to reach
below, a snail's shell filled with sand, a white hen, a black cat, and a palm nut, all of which he
was to carry in a bag. All the gods contributed what gold they had, and Orunmila supplied the
articles for the bag. When all was ready, Obatala hung the chain from a corner of the sky, placed
the bag over his shoulder, and started the downward climb. When he reached the end of the chain
he saw he still had some distance to go. From above he heard Orunmila instruct him to pour the
sand from the snail's shell, and to immediately release the white hen. He did as he was told,
whereupon the hen landing on the sand began scratching and scattering it about. Wherever the
sand landed it formed dry land, the bigger piles becoming hills and the smaller piles valleys.
Obatala jumped to a hill and named the place Ife. The dry land now extended as far as he could
see. He dug a hole, planted the palm nut, and saw it grow to maturity in a flash. The mature palm
tree dropped more palm nuts on the ground, each of which grew immediately to maturity and
repeated the process. Obatala settled down with the cat for company. Many months passed, and
he grew bored with his routine. He decided to create beings like himself to keep him company.
He dug into the sand and soon found clay with which to mold figures like himself and started on
his task, but he soon grew tired and decided to take a break. He made wine from a nearby palm
tree, and drank bowl after bowl. Not realizing he was drunk, Obatala returned to his task of
fashioning the new beings; because of his condition he fashioned many imperfect figures.
Without realizing this, he called out to Olorun to breathe life into his creatures. The next day he
realized what he had done and swore never to drink again, and to take care of those who were
deformed, thus becoming Protector of the Deformed. The new people built huts as Obatala had
done and soon Ife prospered and became a city. All the other gods were happy with what Obatala
had done, and visited the land often, except for Olokun, the ruler of all below the sky.
c

c c
Wed Dec 8 2010 02:29:45
Why People cry God save
the King
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:45
King Chango was acquainted with many deadly charms, and he once happened to discover a
preparation by which he could attract lightning.

He foolishly decided to try the effect of the charm first of all on his own palace, which was at the
foot of a hill.

Ascending the hill with his courtiers, the King employed the charm: a storm suddenly arose, the
palace was struck by lightning and burnt to the ground, together with Chango¶s whole family.

Overcome with grief at having lost his possessions, and above all his sons, the impetuous King
resolved to retire to a corner of his kingdom and to rule no more. Some of his courtiers agreed
with him, and others tried to dissuade him from the plan; but Chango in his rage executed a
hundred and sixty of them²eighty who had disagreed with him, and eighty who had agreed too
eagerly!

Then, accompanied by a few friends, he left the place and started on his long journey. One by
one his friends deserted him on the way, until he was left alone, and in despair he decided to put
an end to his life, which he rashly did.

When they heard of the deed, his people came to the spot and gave him an honourable funeral,
and he was ever afterwards worshipped as the god of thunder and lightning. So, among all the
Yorubas, when people see the flash of lightning followed by the sullen roar of thunder, they
remember Chango¶s rage after the destruction of his palace, and exclaim: Kabo Kabiosile ³Long
live the King!´
c

c c
Alphabet
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:44
Yoruba Alphabet and English Equivilant

a English word 'ahh'


b English word 'bee'
d English word 'dee'
e English letter 'a'
ę Yoruba e English sound of 'e' in 'let'
f English word 'fee'
g English sound of 'g' in 'get'
gbVery 'hard sounding' 'b'. listen
h English word 'he'
i English letter 'e'
j English letter 'g'
k English word 'key'
l English word 'lee'
m English word 'me'
n 'nee'
o English letter 'o'
yoruba o English sound 'au' as in word 'fault'
p Very hard-sounding 'p'. listen
r 're'
s English word 'see'
Yoruba s English word 'she'
t English word 'tea'
u English sound of 'oo' in word 'loose'
w English word 'we'
y English word 'ye'
c

c c
Wed Dec 8 2010 02:32:15
Ibeji -
Twins
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:43
³There was a farmer who was known everywhere as a hunter of monkeys. Because his fields
produced good crops, monkeys came from the bush and fed there. The monkeys became a
pestilence to the farmer. He tried to drive them away. But they came, they went, they returned
again to feed. The farmer could not leave his fields unguarded. He and his sons took turns
watching over the fields. Still the monkeys came and had to be driven away with stones and
arrows. Because of his desperation and anger the farmer went everywhere to kill the monkeys.
He hunted them in the fields, he hunted them in the bush, he hunted them in the forest, hoping to
end the depredations on his farm. But the monkeys refused to depart from the region, and they
continued their forays on the farmer¶s crops. They even devised ways of distracting the farmer
and his sons. A few of them would appear at a certain place to attract attention. While the farmer
and his sons attempted to drive them off, other monkeys went into fields to feed on corn. The
monkeys also resorted to juju. They made the rain fall so that whoever was guarding the fields
would go home, thinking µsurely the crops will be safe in such weather.¶ But the monkeys fed
while the rain fell. When the farmer discovered this he built a shelter in the fields, and there he or
one of his sons stood guard even when water poured from the sky. In this contest many monkeys
were killed, yet those that survived persisted. The farmer had several wives. After one of them
became pregnant, an Y Y, or seer, of the town of Isokun came to the farmer to warn him.
He said, µThere is danger and misfortune ahead because of your continual killing of the
monkeys. They are wise in many things. They have great powers. They can cause an Y (born
to die-after birth) child to enter your wife¶s womb. He will be born, stay a while, and then die.
He will be born again and die again. Each time your wife becomes pregnant he will be there in
her womb, and each time he is born he will stay a while and then depart. This way you will be
tormented to the end. The monkeys are capable of sending you an Y. Therefore do not drive
them away anymore. Cease hunting them in the bush. Let them come and feed.¶

The farmer listened, but he was not persuaded by what the adahunse had told him. He
went on guarding his fields and hunting monkeys in the bush. The monkeys
discussed ways of retaliating for their sufferings. They decided that they would
send two abikus to the farmer. Two monkeys transformed themselves into abikus
and entered the womb of the farmer¶s pregnant wife. There they waited until the
proper time. They emerged, first one then the other. They were the original twins
to come among the Yorubas. They attracted much attention. Some people said,
µwhat good fortune.¶ Others said, µIt is a bad omen. Only monkeys give birth to
twins.¶
As the twins were abikus they did not remain long among the living. They died and
returned to reside among those not yet born. Time passed. Again the woman
became pregnant. Again two children were born instead of one. They lived on
briefly and again they departed. This is the way it went on. Each time the woman
bore children they were ibeji, that is to say, twins. And they were also abikus who
lived on a while and died.
The farmer became desperate over his succession of misfortunes. He went to consult a
diviner at a distant place to discover the reason for his children¶s constantly dying.
The diviner cast his palm nuts and read them. He said, µYour troubles come from
the monkeys whom you have been harassing in your fields and in the bush. It is
they who sent twin abikus into your wife¶s womb in retaliation for their suffering.
Bring your killing of the monkeys to an end. Let them eat in your fields. Perhaps
they will relent.¶ The farmer returned to Isokun. He no longer drove the monkeys
from his fields, but allowed them to come and go as they pleased. He no longer
hunted them in the bush. In time his wife again gave birth to twins. They did not
die. They lived on. But still the farmer did not know for certain whether things
had changed, and he went again to the diviner for knowledge. The diviner cast his
palm nuts and extracted their meaning. He said, µThis time the twins are not
abikus. The monkeys have relented. The children will not die and return, die and
return. But twins are not ordinary people. They have great power to reward or
punish other humans. Their protector is the ÷ Y
 . If a person abuses or
neglects a twin, the orisa Ibeji will strike such a person with disease or poverty.
He who treats the twins well will be rewarded with good fortune.¶ The twins are
pleased with life, good luck and prosperity will come to their parents. Therefore,
do everything to make them happy in this world. Whatever they want, give it to
them. Whatever they say to do, do it. Make sacrifices to the orisa Ibeji. Because
twins were sent into the world by the monkeys, monkeys are sacred to them.
Neither twins nor their families may eat the flesh of monkeys. This is what the
palm nuts tell us.¶ When the farmer returned to Isokun after consulting the diviner
he told his wife what he had learned. Whatever the twins asked for, the parents
gave it. If they said they wanted sweets they were given sweets. If they said to
their mother, µGo to the marketplace and beg alms for us,¶ the mother carried
them to the marketplace and begged alms. If they said, µdance with us,¶ she
carried them in her arms and danced. They all lived on. The farmer¶s other wives
also gave birth to twins. Prosperity came to the farmer of Isokun and his family.
He was fortunate in every way.´
c

c c
Story of
Santeria
Written by IfaBite
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 12:49
What is Santeria, there is really no one definition. It is a religion and a way of life that was
brought to the new world by African slaves. Slaves kidnapped from the African coast, or sold to
slave traders, by other Africans. Brought to the new World to work in the sugar plantations that
dotted the coasts of the Americas and the Caribean islands. They also provided the manpower to
build palaces, streets, fortresses and churches. The master masons taught the African Slaves to
reproduce every European detail. They could sculpt wood and stone with great ability, and they
were also excellent weavers.

These Men and Women brought a rich culture, and the oral traditions of their forefathers. These
people carried with them their own spiritulism, including a tradition of possession trance for
communicating with the ancestors and deities, the use of animal sacrifice and the practice of
sacred drumming and dance.

Their languages were banned, and so was their religion. They were forced to adopt Catholicism
by the Spaniards, the French and the Portugese; they were forced to seek a substitute for their
spirituality in the images of the new religion. In Cuba the Yorubas became Lucumi and Santeria
became their religion and the black slaves prayed both to Saint Barbara and Chango and asked
favors to Saint Anthony or the Holy Child of Atocha, the personifications of Elegua. Since the
first day of slavery and Santeria, the Caribbean identity has always had this spiritual duality. A
prayer to a Catholic Saint was also a prayer to an African Deiety.

In the Caribbean, Spanish Catholic missionaries were more tolerant of native systems than in
Protestantism. It was a know tactic for these missionaries to incorporate local beliefs and festive
days, and interweave them with Catholic scripture. A tolerance given to potential new devotees,
But denied to European Catholics, And slaves in the other English, and Dutch colonial territories
that where predominately Protestant. In those settlements the following of Biblical rules and
rigid religious mandates were more strickly enforced. This was also true in Central America.

During Catholic feast days the slaves were allowed to display a religious fervor that was further
reinforced by the beat of the drums. Masters and slaves mingled in celebrations that had Catholic
Saints dancing to African rhythms.

So what is Santeria, it resembles many things, not only the ways of the Yoruba of Nigeria, but
also the teachings of many of the tribes along the western coast of Africa. Teachings from the
Kongo, secrets from Togo, Benin and Ghana all became interwoven into the Santeria tapestry.

In many ways, the Cuban traditions are more complex and encompassing than that in any one
region, tribe or country of Africa. In this sense Cuba and the Americas due to the mingling of
different beliefs and traditions is the New World of Santeria.
c