Los Orichas (Los Santos)

Each Orisha embodies three levels of existence at once:
  1. A force of nature such as wind, lightning, the earth, or the ocean.
  2. A person who once lived on this earth.
  3. A psychological archetype (e.g. a trickster, a strong woman, a warrior).
The oricha get their Aché (power) from Olofí, the great creator God of the Universe. Once he finished his work, he retired to the heavens and divided up the Universe among his sons, each of which received from his hands what belongs to him today. Olofí and Olordumare gave birth to Obatalá.

Obatalá is the first son of Olofí, the greatest of the orisha. He created man, endowed him with will and with part of his intelligence. He is the “head-maker,” the Lord of Souls. Father and mother of the orisha, god and goddess in a single body, he puts life into everything. He is one and sixteen at the same time.

Changó is the Lord of Fire, War and Thunder. He lives in the royal palm tree, from where he directs all of Heaven’s artillery. He eats fire, hurls lightning-stones and reduces his enemies to ashes. He is a handsome, arrogant black man, a reveller and a fighter with an untamed, demanding virility. The gods hate him, the goddesses are mad about him. He became the Lord of the Drums when he exchanged his gift of prophecy (divination) for his brother Orulá’s gifts of music and dancing. His mother/father, Obatalá, has built him a castle because she knows he will be King of the World. He appears on Earth in a place called Takua, but he is an eternal defector because of his fights and his affairs with women. Old black men know he was once a rich and famous war chief, a great African King. He is the father of the Congós and the Lucumí. Changó is the strongest and most popular of the Saints.

Yemayá received the rule over sea waters. Universal mother, she is fertile Femininity. She is cheerful, loves celebrations and carries herself like a queen. Her peacock-feather fan decorated with bells and shells, her sumptuous navy-blue dress is hemmed in white, like sea foam. Immensely rich, she showers with gifts her sister Ochún, whom she adores and whose children she raises.

Ochún is the Mistress of Fresh Water, Laggons and Rivers, the goddess of love and of all gentleness. She uses water as a mirror to comb her hair, to dress and make herself beautiful. She smells of flowers and cinnamon. Her arms ring with gold bangles, her hips wave, her neck is adorned with coral and amber. She goes from lover to lover, from fête to fête. And when she dances nude, with her body coated with honey, her glistening beauty enraptures men. Ochún is the joy and bliss of the world.

Elegguá is Olofí’s favorite son, for he saved him from a serious illness. “You are the smallest,” he told him, “but you will be the greatest in Heaven and Earth.” Olofí placed a pile of keys in his hands and made him Lord of the Ways. Ever since that day, Olofí has tolerated all his fancies and mischief with infinite complaisance. The greedy, gluttonous Elegguá must always be contented, for he can play with our lives at any moment. He opens and closes at his whim the gates to Heaven and Earth, to fortune and misfortune. He is the Messenger, the Mediator between men and the gods. Every religious ceremony must begin and end with a hymn to call upon Elegguá.

He is one of the four warrior orisha (Los Guerreros) who protect the believers (los santeros) who have received them. In this protective aspect, he is the Guardian (El Guardián), and in every home, his place is behind the door. However, in his evil aspect, he is Echú, the grieving soul who haunts crossroads and deserted places, which lend themselves to black magic and casting spells.

Osaín received the secret of Ewe and all the herbs were his. He kept them jealously in a calabash hung from a tree. None were left for the other gods and Changó complained to his wife, Oyé, the Mistress of the Winds. She made her skirts swirl and a fierce gust of wind blew off the calabash. The herbs were scattered. The gods got ahold of them and each one gave his a name and a virtue. Osaín, the Guardian of the Forest, watches over them. One-armed (manco), one-eyed (tuerto), lame (cojo). The terrible Lord of the Herbs knows which ones can be used to cast spells and which to free from them, which bring relief and which ones kill. He is the orisha who heals and cures.

’oño, mijito, tue’tá ma’jodío que Osaín.”

Ogún is the Lord of Metals, Minerals and War, the orisha with a body made of steel and a head of stone. He is the divine blacksmith who manufactures tools and weapons, speaks to the wind, the birds and the wild beasts. The rebel orisha, he lived in the deepest part of the forest in the trunk of a large tree, armed with his big machete, solitary and undomesticated till the day that Ochún came to get him. Possessed by an unknown force, he was not able to resist her call and danced with her. That was how the most terrible of orisha, conquered by love, came back among the men.

He is one of the four warrior orisha (Los Guerreros) who protect the believers (los santeros) who have received them.

Osún is one of the most obscure and mysterious of all the orisha. He is one of the four warrior orisha (Los Guerreros) who protect the believers (los santeros) who have received them. He is the one who alerts the santero if danger is near.

According to LadyOfLlyr@aol.com: “Osún (yoruba) [is] the power (orisa) of love [and] sensuality. She is depicted as an old woman, sad at the loss of her beauty. Alternately she may be shown as a tall, light brown skinned [woman] with the sensuality of a postitute. She is patroness of rivers and the bloodstream, and wears seven brass bracelets. She wears a mirror at her belt to admire herself, is companioned by primping peacock and cricket, and carries river water in her pot. Powerful spells are worked through this lady of opposites.”

Ochosí is the orisha of the hunt and also rules over justice and all court related matters. Ochosi’s tools are the bow and arrow. He is one of the four warrior orisha (Los Guerreros) who protect the believers (los santeros) who have received them.

Oyá is the Mistress of the Winds. She took the herbs away from Osaín by making the Wind shake the calabash where he kept them hidden. The other orisha took them.

Olordumare is … ?

Orula is … ?

Babalú Ayé is … ?

Yambambó is … ?