“In Yoruba mythology, Egungun-Oya is a Goddess of divination. Egungun refers to the collective spirits of the ancestral dead; the Orisha Oya is seen as the mother of the Egun.”
Oya is one of the most powerful African Goddess – Deity = Orisha = Vodun. A Warrior-Queen, She is the wife of the God Shango, to whom She gave the power to create storms. Much of Oya’s power is rooted in the natural world; She is the Goddess of thunder, lightning, tornadoes, winds, rainstorms and hurricanes. A Fire Goddess, it is Oya who brings rapid change and aids us in both inner and outer transformation.
Oya is the guardian of the realm between life and death; as such, She is not only the Goddess of spirit communication, funerals and cemeteries but also the Goddess of clairvoyance, psychic abilities, intuition and rebirth. She can call forth the spirit of death, or hold it back — such is the extent of Her power. Because of Her affiliation to the dead, and Her intense knowledge of the magic arts.
Oya is both loved and feared, and for good reason: Unleashed, Oya is the Savage Warrior, the Protective Mother. She whose power sweeps all injustice, deceit and dishonesty from Her path. She will destroy villages if the need is true enough, for while She understands everything, She will only accept, act upon, and speak the truth. Oya Enin-Heyi…
Oya is the protector of women and patron of feminine leadership. Fiercely loving, She is wildly unpredictable and can change from benevolent, caring Mother to destructive Warrior in the blink of an eye. Passionate, fearless, sensual and independent, Oya is not a Goddess to be invoked lightly and must be treated with respect and care. Oya is known as a fierce warrior and strong protector of women, who call on Her to settle disputes in their favor.
As the Orisha of change, She brings down the dead wood to make room for the new, and She uses Her machete or sword to clear a path for new growth. She is believed to watch over the newly dead and assist them as they make the transition from life.She can manifest as winds ranging from the gentlest breeze to the raging hurricane or cyclone. She goes forth with Her husband during His thunderstorms. Oya is the Orisha of the Niger River, and Her violent rainstorms are said to be its source. She is worshiped not only in Africa but in Brazil, Cuba, where the Amazon is said to be Her river. Oya attributes are the sword or machete and the fly whisk, and Her animal is the water buffalo, in Whom She sometimes manifests.
Oya-Yansa is the Queen of the Winds of change. She is feared by many people because She brings about sudden structural change in people and things. Oya does not just rearrange the furniture in the house — She knocks the building to the ground and blows away the floor tiles. She is the Orisha of rebirth and new life. Goddesses such as She are referred to as Dark goddesses because. They not only pull you into the darkness guide you through the dark and turmoil, but they point you to the light of hope.
Oya is the sentinel between the realm life and death. She gives assistance and guidance to those when they make their final transition into the veils. She can either hold back the spirit of death or call it forth. Hence, She is the last breath taken. Oya also governs over the cemetery and the realm of the dead, and it is said that She entered into the lower world of Ira upon hearing that Shango died. She is known for using charms and magic…
As a Crone Goddess She is a teacher of truth and a bringer of justice. Do meditate and take in Oya’s power during the wind, rain, snow and thunderstorms, for She speak to those who listen. She cleanses that which is sullied with Her mighty broom . Oya has nine children and Her favorite number is 9.
Oya’s Symbols: Oya has a few symbols associated with her. Among them are the lightning bolt with crossed arrows, the vector or hurricane symbol, nine violet feathers carried by a spiraling wind, nine veils each of a different color, a necklace or skirt with nine colors, and a spiral wind chime made of nine ornamental spearheads. Oya’s colors vary from place to place, but the main one is purple or dark burgundy or maroon. She is also symbolized by the nine colors, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, black, white, and brown. Depending on her function at a given time, she may wear purple and orange to work a storm, dark red to motivate a group of warriors or sportsmen to work as a team, all colors to make a tornado, etc.
Offerings to Oya: Traditions vary, Oya loves eggplants, beets, red wines, and purple grapes. She also enjoys popcorn and sesame seeds, especially caramel corn or sesame candy. She likes locust beans, amala, and chickpeas too.
“To fight and stir up dust like Buffalo” was the one who cast Ifa for Hunter. They said he should make a sacrifice so that he would find a wife to marry during that year. Hunter sacrificed = Whenever her children should want to perform their annual festival, Ogun should sacrifice with them to the horn that she had pulled off and left at home as a remembrance of her when they might want to sacrifice to their heads. From that time on, her children have continued to sacrifice to the horn when they perform their annual festival. Those who sacrifice to horns in this way are the ones that we call and greet as “Children of Buffalo” until this very day.
In Egba and Egbado area, as well as many parts of Yoruba land, Odun Egungun festivals are held in communities to commemorate the ancestors. Egungun masquerade are performed during these annual or biennial ceremonies as well as during specific funeral rites throughout the year. The masquerade is a multifaceted ceremony which includes the making of offerings as well as the honoring of Ancestors for past and future aid.
Oya is the Orisha of sudden change. Drastic transformation is Oya’s rightful territory, and for this reason the Orisha is linked greatly with death. Associated with the whirlwind, tornado and lightning, Oya is the energy that can reverse luck at any moment, bringing with it either wealth and blessings, or destruction and chaos. Oya is the energy of the marketplace, where fortunes are lost and won. On the converse of loss, even from chaos all things grow – and so this Orisha is always sought out for support and blessings whenever change or something beyond our control is imminent or already occurring.
Oya is the Orisha of the warrior. An energy both fearless and knowing, Oya fights against any perceived injustice. Orisha Oya’s children have often developed stronger survival skills than most, due to having endured much suffering in life. This allows them to be familiar with the shadow side, and those aligned with Oya are often perceived to be magical. However, past trials and tribulations also enable those associated with this Orisha to express its more empathetic aspects, for Oya is the energy that will provide for an individual what will most serve them, though it may not always be what is easiest.
Shango (Alaafin Tella-Oko) in one of his journeys wanted to hunt a buffalo that turned into a beautiful woman, who he felled in love. He carried her home and his wives gave her the name of Oya, because they were not expecting their husband to return so suddenly. Oya was the beloved wife of Shango. She alone of all his wives accompanied him in his fight towards Tapa (Nupe) country his maternal home. When her husband entered the ground and disappeared, she summed up the courage to follow his example and hid among a sheep flock, helping her not to be found and to disappear. Due to the support is given to her by the Sheep, her followers are forbidden to eat Mutton (Sheep).
Nobody could see her”órá” (no see), which gave the origin name for Ira (no see). She entered into the ground at a place called Igbo-Oya in Ira. This place was founded by an Oyo hunter called Laage. It was the need to move closer to Oya’s grove that made him found the present site of Ira. Oya became a river called Odo Oya or River Niger, which is named after her. As thunder and lightning are the tribute to Shango so tornado and violent thunderstorms are attributed to Oya.
Oya is known as well as Iya Sán (Mèsán) the mother of 9 children. She was known for being always surrounded by children, but she had never born. Two swords and the horns of Buffalo (Efòn) are the representative images of Oya. The followers are distinguished by a particular kind of reddish beads which are always tied around their necks. Oya disappeared in the town of Ira Shango disappeared at Koso.