Orisha

  • Elegba

    The Spirit of the Divine Messenger, the Lord of the Crossroads, He Who Owns All Doors and Roads in this World. He is the intermediary between the Orishas and mankind, and stands at the intersection of humanity and the Divine. He opens all paths of communication, both mundane and Heavenly.

    His ofrenda contains coconut, tobacco and sweet, sugared rum.

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  • Obatala

    The King of the White Cloth, King of the Orishas, the First Among Equals. He is the King of Power, and his weapon is wisdom. He is the essence of honored maturity, wisdom through age and experience, purity of intention, virtue, humility, tolerance, judicious use of power, the knowledge of what is truly right and wrong, the moral code, and the obligation to do what is right. Obatala is the Creator God, who first fashioned mankind from clay; thus, he is also the first sculptor and potter. The human head itself is Obatala’s creation, and it is through it that he grants us the ability to discern genuine morality as opposed to oppressive, mistaken and arrogant self-righteousness. His is not the falsehood of societal boundaries, His Truth is the understanding of one’s own character and the obligations that we all have to our world, our Gods, and one another. He is the Benevolent Judge, calm and lucid, and he governs rational deliberation. His color is white, as His spirit is free from any soil or stain, and His energy radiates sanctified purity, great wisdom, happiness and internal peace. He is associated with cloth, as that was one of His gifts to mankind. The aspects of Obatala are symbolized by the chameleon, boa constrictor, elephant, gorilla, and snail. Obatala is the Lord of Laughter, for it is through wisdom that one may see the joy in life, and through laughter we are able to see the follies of mankind not with cynicism and derision, but with humor, compassion and understanding. Obatala’s Laughter helps soothe the pain of life’s rigors, and takes the sting out of the harshest of life’s lessons. Obatala’s ofrenda is soft, white and pure: milk, coconut meat, shea butter and cool, refreshing water.

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  • Shango

    The Wrath of God, the Most Beautiful Lord of Lightning, the Owner of All Palaces. He is the illumination of a lightning strike in the night sky, and is the retributive strike of the rightful king. Shango punishes those who are not living up to their responsibilities. He gives insight to the truth in all circumstances, and is the essence of the thrill and excitement in life that makes every day worth living. To love Shango is to live life to the fullest, no matter what pains the world inflicts upon you. He is Wrath, and his lightning bolts and gouts of fire remind all of his strength and power. It is said that Lord Shango only speaks to his children once; when the God illuminates an answer for you, you had best understand with no further questions. Shango is trial by fire, the honing and refinement of the spirit, the ability to distinguish between truth and lies. He is a dual-faced God: King and Exile, miser and philanthropist, just and ruthless, honest and devious. Shango is the Lord of Persuasion, and his glib tongue can intimidate, coerce, sway and seduce. He is quick wit, articulate words, and the ability to think on one’s feet. He is the King that can incite and enflame the masses with the power of his speech. His words are the sensual murmurs of the lothario, the slick wheedle of the grifter, the convincing argument of the barrister, the dangerous charm of the pimp, the inspiration of the warrior general, and the invigorating exhortations of the monarch. The Roar of Shango is a Universal Truth. Shango governs all professions that cater to the needs and weaknesses of the people. He is the absolute and perfect Male creature, and the rain that falls to earth is His blessed, sublime semen, giving life to the world. His abundant seed washes the land and replenishes Earth’s seas, rivers and oceans. He sneers at cowardice, and demands that all of his children have daring spirits, strength of will, nerve and *balls*. Courage is of the utmost importance, as it empowers us to face adversity with dignity and enables us to act decisively and with resourcefulness. Live, don’t simply exist. Shango’s gifts make it possible for us to find the shortest distance between two points, wring out the best from every situation, recover from every seeming loss and every defeat, and defy all odds to reach our goals. He teaches us wily strategies, masterful tactics, and shows us the value of friendship and camaraderie. His is the comfortable, casual friendship found in just hanging out and having a good time with the guys. Shango is Challenge, the concept of finding the best parts of yourself through conflict and adversity. Shango’s weapon is the double-headed axe, and His animals are the black cat and the leopard.

    The Master of Lightning’s ofrenda contains red apples, banana, chili pepper, coconut, pineapple, pomegranate and sugar cane.

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  • Yemaya

    Lady of the Ocean, Queen of Mothers, Mother of the Children of the Fishes. She is the River of Life, the ocean is her womb, and she is the mother of many of the Orishas. Yemaya shares the oceans with her lover / brother / son / brother-self, Olokun, and She governs the uppermost part of the waters where the sun’s rays mingle with Her waters to promote life and growth. Yemaya is everlasting, She is motherhood, the universal drive for the survival of a species, the procreative urge, the instinct of a mother protecting her young, and She is the governess of all life on Earth. She is the Most Fruitful of Women, and both She and Olokun are the protectors and benefactors of those who wish to conceive. Yemoya, being the mother of Shango, also has jurisdiction over rain and snow. She has seven roads and seven manifestations, all corresponding to the Seven Seas. She is the blood that pumps through our veins, and the sound of our blood rushing through our bodies is Her lullaby. She is in constant motion, never resting, ever vigilant and though she may seem calm on the surface, there is always activity within Her waters. The Great Mother possesses breathtaking beauty, patience and a gentle hand, yet She is also fearsome, temperamental, moody and stern. She nurtures her children, but She is also a disciplinarian. She is symbolized by the fish, mermaid, seagull, wharf rat, ibis, vulture and duck, and She shares the beauty of the peacock feather with Oshun. Her ofrenda is a bounty of melons and grapes, strewn with the petals of the flowers of motherhood, draped with sea mosses.

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