**Ancestral Waters of Life…
To understand Olokun nature we need to look at the nature of the bottom of the sea, a vast mostly unexplored dark habitat. The deep sea floor is a seemingly hostile environment and yet life thrives down there. In fact scientists believe that there is more life in the dark abyss of the Earth’s oceans than in all of the tropical rain forests put together.
Like her world, so is Olokun the Keeper of Secrets. Anything that falls to the bottom of the sea floor remains intact forever more, never to be laid eyes on by anyone other than herself and her underwater children. Olokun is believed to hold the secrets of the past, the present and the future. She knows all and guards that knowledge well. Olokun holds the key to the mystery of exactly what happened to their Ancestors on those fateful journeys across the Atlantic. Many didn’t make it and thus entered the Realm of Olokun. Olokun is all-knowing, She is the Keeper of Wisdom and Divination. She is the Goddess of the Unknown -Darkness – Realm of Dreams & Unconscious.
Olokun is the Goddess of Death: Her Domain is the Graveyard of the Earth, cold and dark nature being the perfect environment for the suspended animation of Spirits. Olokun is also the Goddess of Rebirth and Renewal: At the bottom of the deep sea from Her Dark Watery Womb new life springs forth every moment, contributing to a vast and incredibly adaptive ecosystem. Olokun is associated with great riches, She is said to be a Goddess of Wealth and Abundance. Women pray to Her to conceive a child as well as for good health and worldly possessions.
Olokun is often depicted as a beautiful black Mermaid. One of the animals that symbolize Olokun is the mudfish… The Goddess Olokun is also linked to the red coral, a beautiful red gem-like colony of tiny animals that are joined together through the skeletons of their dead ancestors. As corals grow they form reefs which purify the water, provide shelter for other sea creatures and encourage the growth of wildlife habitats beneath the sea.
***In the New World: Especially amongst the Lukumi people in Cuba, Olokun and Yemaya are seen as different aspects of the same Goddess. Yemonja at the surface of the ocean is exposed to sunlight and the pull of the Moon. She is the Goddess’s life-giving and nurturing side, while Olokun in Her impenetrable abyss is the Goddess’s mysterious, dark and unknowable aspect.
When we speak of the Ancestral Waters of Life , we speak of waters that has a form of Natural consciousness that flows and nourishes, that incubates and feeds and the essence of Maternal caring that relates to the protection of children.
Omi Orun – Ancestral Waters: The idea of heavenly waters may seem symbolic to us but yet holds the ring of truth since the most commonly found substance is hydrogen particles throughout the universe . Science agrees that the combination of earth and water is what created the womb of all living creatures on the earth in consequence of the union of these elements.
The Olokun was given the title and name of the combined words OloOkun – Owner of the Oceans of Ode Aye – Earth. As well is her representation of water and birth and in fact a principal part of the human spirit of consciousness as well as it makes up part of our bodies. Throughout time and most Ancient religions of the east a Female dominate deity took hold of the Title of the owner of the great oceans of earth.
When Olokun is angry she causes the sea to be rough and stirs up a raging surf upon the shore; and it is she who drowns men, upsets boats or canoes, and causes shipwrecks.
Olokun Sea Goddess – The owner of all the riches under the oceans, the greatest Bead maker, the most powerful Deity whose mantles are the rolling waves of sea water, is a most beautiful divinity to behold. Her long, braided hair flows with the waves of the undulating waters, her ebony dark skin glistening like priceless pearls under the motion of ceaseless seas.
Olokun heard about the plan to establish human abodes on earth, and became angry. She was fully prepared to turn down the request to use earth for the human project mainly because she was already using the space for her Bead-making studio. She made Beads of all colors and shapes, but her favorite Bead was the indigo colored, tubular shaped segi bead, so luminously dark that it seems to capture light within its luxurious entrails. It was her love for Bead making that caused her to move her seat to the depth of the ocean, which nobody wanted at that time. But after she succeeded in taming and ruling the vast ocean, after she salted it and stocked it with priceless jewels, after she had transformed the vast and empty space into a home for herself, they began to plot behind her back to take her space from her and turn it into a general home to lodge humans. She found the human project totally unacceptable if it would be at the expense of her own studio work of Bead making.
It was totally unacceptable for the divinities to take her sanctuary away from her, and populate it with strangers. She sat down in a reflective mood in the midst of her vast collection of Beads. She calmly picked up some of the most colorful and exquisite Beads ever made, and slowly rubs the warm gems against her dark brown skin. She would not give up her craft, she resolved. She would fight for every cup of water in the vast ocean of the earth. It was clear to Olokun that they chose earth because she had developed it so artistically that nobody could take their eyes away from it. But they also thought that she had no fighting power. It was only if the power of the others overwhelmed her that she was going to surrender.
Olokun & The Chameleon… Her secret contact in heaven informed her that they were sending the Chameleon to her. She considered that to be a sign of their contempt for her because they could not be sending a more inferior fellow as an emissary. She knew that every act is a sign of another thing. They were telling her that she was ugly, slow and contemptible, and the chameleon would be a clear deliverer of the message. They were telling her that she was beholding her own reflection in the mirror when she saw the Chameleon riding the Snail as a horse. Right before her eyes, she saw the Chameleon climb down from the back of the Snail. To her astonishment, the skin of the Chameleon glister with a lustrous light that radiated around it. Olokun, to her surprise, wanted to touch it, but she quickly checked her impulsive spirit.
She went into her chambers and began to attire herself in her gorgeous garments, woven in multicolored patterns, using different yarns and textures. She then looked for various combinations of Beads, both brilliant and dull Beads, large and slim, round and angular shaped gems, and she wore them. She then reappeared before the Chameleon, to show off herself, and display how beautiful she looked. “As usual, you are the most elegant and attractive being alive,” the Chameleon said to her, when she came out looking exceedingly beautiful in her attires. But even as the Chameleon spoke, it began to transform, and its skin began to reflect the splendor of the color of Olokun attires. The only exception is that the mirror even looked more splendid than the original, which puzzled Olokun.
Olokun thought about these things and decided that they were too bizarre for her to deal with. Certainly, things have changed in Heaven, and they were no longer as they used to be, if the ugly Chameleon could look so beautiful, and the Snail could be as swift as a horse… She decided that she had underestimated the power of the forces of Heaven. She told the chameleon “I want no trouble from those who sent you here. But you cannot take all of my space. Tell those who sent you that you can have some of the planet, which you may turn into solid ground for human habitation. But I will still continue to reign over the larger portion covered by the waters.”
***Olokun however remembered her word, because one’s word is what is most important. And her word remained that she consented to the establishment a human colony here on earth. So she has to honor and keep her word, for that is the nature of her own graceful character. At one time She was the Goddess of all Waters and all of the Oceans, for Her name means Owner of Oceans – Lord of the Sea. Today, especially amongst the New World Yorubas, Olokun is generally associated with the dark and cold bottom of the sea.
==Both Olokun & Mami Wata use mirrors which represent water and is used as a vehicle into the other world. White Kaolin (Efun) is used for the Olokun while Talcum powder is used for the Mami Wata.
The worship of Olokun deity in Benin may be because the land of the living is surrounded by limitless water into which all rivers flow and that human souls must cross these waters “Olokun realms” either to be born or depart on their way to the spirit world after death.
Reference Sources: Zaquanix De King = Soul Of Africa Museum = Mami Wata – Olokun Togo/Benin = Farinade Olokun = Silvestra