Orishas are deities that reflect the manifestations of Olodumare (God). They are emissaries of God, forces of nature. Each individual manifest an attribute of these forces within their consiciousness, therefore displaying knowingly or unknowingly which Orisha is their Guardian. In other words we are all children of Orishas. We in the west are used to hearing about Angels and we have no problem with that, in fact it fills us with joy, warmth and happiness to call upon Gods angels to come and assist us in whatever. It is the same with Orisha only more personal, and that the language used is different in connection with the deity upon our Ori which is our head. It is through our head (ori) that we manifest the Orishas, and we can communicate with them through divination,offerings and prayers. Orishas were sent to earth by Olodumare (God) to assist man and to align things so that we can put them in the right prospective (order), this is the way I have precieved it from my point of view. They were here from the time of creation, and may be called by many names depending on time and place, they are intermediaries to God, much like Jesus is to the christians and Mohammed is to muslims.
Whenever there is a problem a Babalawo (priest of Orunmila) is consulted for the proper solution. Orunmila who is also refered to as Ifa (which is the divination system used by Bablawos and owned by Orunmila), knows everything. The story is that when man is being prepared to be sent to earth they chose their own destiny in the sight of God (Olodumare) and it is witnessed by Orunmila, so he knows what the destiny of every living human being is, what problems they will face while on their journey on earth and what is the solution to those problems, hence the importance of divination, where Orunmila can be accessed through his Ifa system of divination.
Obatala is known as father of creation, he was given the task by God to mold man from clay, he is known as the kindly father, he represents peace and is the owner of all our heads, he is old and very wise, his color is white. He is a very helpful Orisha and is highly respected by all.
Esu (Eshu) is the Orisha closest to God, He is owner of the earth and of the cross roads that represents the cross roads of life and the connection to God. Nothing can be done without his permission, by order of God!. His role is that of a police man. he creates chaos in order to bring forth balance. He must be propitiated first on all occasions. He is very much misunderstood and he loves it that way,
Ogun is the diety that represents Iron, in nature iron is found as a natraul element, Ogun is a great warrior and clears the way for human being in life with his machete, so that we are able scale over obstacles that may come before us. His color is green. He is in constant company with Esu. He is the Orisha that rules over technology.
Osun is owner of the sweet waters, the river, streams, brooks and lakes. She is the Orisha who represents fertility and love, and also wealth, everyone loves Osun after all who can survive without water?. She loves honey, sweet-smelling perfumes, powder and jewelry. She is beautiful and sensuous, passionate and strong. Her children are amongst the greatest diviners. She is liquid honey and nobody tastes honey and frown. Osun is the water we drink, she is the water that bathe us and keeps us cool. She is the most popular Orisha and is loved by all. Who can survive without water?, the world could not exist with Osun. Osuns children in Africa wears white and are always beautifully attired in sequins and lace, she is Orisha with the comb, and her children are very artistic and inventive. Outside of Africa her color is yellow. She brings good things. She is mysterious and sharp, loving and gentle, slightly hard to figure out. She is protective and strong and will never allow her children to be shamed. I am a child of the great mother Osun, true owner of Obara Meji which she sahres with Sango!! Oore Ye Ye Osun O!!!! (hail to the mother Osun!)
Yemoja/Olokun represents the ocean (in Africa (Nigeria), Yemoja and Olokun are river deities and are seperate deities, however, it is said that Yemoja and Olokun accompanied her children through the ocean to the diaspora, and therefore is worshipped there in the ocean). The top of the ocean is Yemoja which is a feminine energy and the bottom represents Olokun which is a masculine energy. Yemoja is sister to Osun and loves all her children and protects them fiercely. Yemoja is protector of children and pregnant women she is very compassionate but when she is crossed her rage is uncontrollable. She is big mommy!. (when I was pregnant with my last child and going through hell with the wicked baby father, I dreamt Yemoja coming out of the ocean and saying to me “pray and call upon me seven times and I will help you, and she surely did). Olokun has all the wealth of the world in the bottom of the ocean with him, Tsunamis are attributed to Olokun being angry with us. Their colors are blue and white.
Sango represents lightning and thunder. He is the Only Orisha that was once mortal man and was made Orisha by God after his death which was by suicide. He was king of Oyo state Nigeria. He was loved by all, but was a known womanizer, having his wife and several concubines, he is one of the most popular Orishas besides Osun. I personally have a crush on Sango for lots of reasons. He is very masculine and an unbeatable warrior. His color is red.
Oya, Sango’s natural wife is Orisha of the winds. She represents tornadoes, and she owns the gates of the cemetary (owner of the cemetary according to Lucumi tradition, not said so in Africa, but I figure because cemetary equals death and death equals change and she is the Orisha of wind, tornado, and change, this may be where all of this configures). Oya is a fierce warrior and she walks before her husband Sango, that is why the wind is heard before lightning and thunder. She brings about swift changes, some good and some that will make you take a deeper look into your life and adjust it to allow you to grow. Her color is maroon. Oya like Osun and Yemoja wears a mask and is very mysterious. At initiation she sometimes will grab the head of any of these two Orishas children., especially that of Yemojas.
These are only a few of some of the Orishas, and just a small explanation of their attributes. I will be slowly introducing you to them as they are very much a part of ALL our lives, not only those in Africa. We have just forgotten them, but THEY have not forgotten us.
Old age does not come in just one day…..Yoruba Proverb