OYA = Guardian Between Life & Death


 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 (Ayogo).

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. Among the various female deities, Oya stands out as an orisha with which Women relate greatly to the fact that Oya was a great Warrior, courageous and fearless in life.

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  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.

Apawa – Framboyan Shakers

Oya-Yansan 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. There was Olomo, will she be able to have children on earth…
They said she should offer 18,000 cowries; many colored cloth, the meat of a Ewe (Sheep) Olomo  appeased the deities. Ifa took the meat and made a medicine for her, and she ate it. She gave birth to nine children, and she sold palm oil. The meat of the Ewe that she ate in order to bear children, she never again touched to her lips. This is why we do not eat Ewe (male or female sheep), by followers of Oya. Olomo was dancing, rejoicing, and the diviners were praising Ifa.  
Oya the wind Guidance of ancient mystery Powerful Woman that dress in thousand attires whirlwind’ that leaves bowl for hurricane that’s shakes the forest essence…  (Osa-Eleye)

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.

Oduduwa Templo Dos Orixás Brazil


In Ketu, there was an acclaimed hunter, who was the great leader of where he lived, his name was Oduleke. This hunter raised a girl born in the city of Ira; this girl was called Oya. Oduleke liked Oya very much, who made his favorite daughter, winning prominent place among the people. When Oduleke died, Oya was incredibly sad, but even in the face of sadness, She really wanted to honor Oduleke, her foster father. Oya then gathered all Oduleke’s hunting instruments and wrapped them in a white cloth. Oya prepared all the foods that Oduleke enjoyed in life and over 7 nights, Oya danced and sang in vigil, around a campfire with Oduleke’s hunting objects. With its winds, Oya took the sound of her songs to every city, calling that way, all hunters to honor Oduleke. After the seventh night, accompanied by the other hunters, Oya wrapped herself in the woods and, at the feet of a leafy tree, placed Oduleke’s hunting objects. At that point, an Agbe bird flew off objects towards the Orun. Olodumare witnessed all tribute to Oduleke. Thrilled, gave Oya the power to send everyone to die in Orun spaces. Which is why it was named Oya Mesan Orun (lady of 9 Orun).

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 ”Ora”, which gave the origin name for Ira. 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.

Elegun Oyawunmi Awosade Ajala                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            While Sango strikes and breaks things to pieces, and sets things on fire, it is Oya who will rip the roofs off of buildings and tear them down. She will uproot trees and shrubs wherever she passes. Two swords and the horns of Buffalo (Efon) 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.*Oya do not burn us with the fire that comes out of your hands. Allow us to become socially prominent, let us experience honor & rewards. Oya, do not force us to flee into the forest, do not force us to ostracize ourselves from society. May all initiates be always blessed with abundant work when the next annual festival comes, may we have the means to gather as we are today so we can perform the sacrifices again with joy may initiates do not lose their children, wives, husbands, may we succeed…Heepa Oya!!!

!! Characteristics of Oya !!  She is connected to water as tempest and rain. She is connected to air as air-in-motion, which tears rates off houses and fells trees; but her essence is fire, fire-in-motion, lighting. This relation to movement and fire make her divinity of women who lead intense erotic lives. Associated with silence, Oya “speaks” fire. Or, having come from a distant place, she doesn’t know the language of where she is as divinity of forest and hunters, she is connected to animals and spirits of wilderness. She can transform herself into an animal evoking the idea of mortal peril for rate hunter. She is linked to the first Ancestor, semi-animal, of humanity. As Queen of the dead, which she controls, she is responsible for the ritual “seating” of the male Ancestors in the trunk of the Akoko tree. Yansan represents a type of Woman that is turbulent, nervous, full of initiative. She can be, at times, combative, authoritarian, impetuous, jealous, temperamental. She represents a type of active, audacious Woman who cannot find herself in domestic work, nor – like certain Yemoja’s – in professional life. 

            **Oya-Bale wears eccentric clothes, vibrant colors, lots of jewelry. A fertile Woman, mother of many children, she loves children; but being unsuited to domestic chores, she is not always a patient baby tender. Linked as she is to winds and leaves, the God of Medicine is her lover. As Ogun’s wife, she is a Warrior-Woman. As wife of Osoosi, the hunter, she is part animal, part Woman. As wife of Shango, she is possessive and dedicated. She is the fire which empowers him.  Beautiful, even vain, exciting the jealousy of other Women, she nonetheless prefers to live isolated in the country. There, silent and secretive, she observes and perceives everything. As a river Oya is sensual and passionate.

THE SACRED TEMPLE OF ONIRA: Oya Onira temple in the city of Ira Nigeria, it is said that within this temple there is a pot of sacred water, in which people go in search of this sacred water for healing diseases, spells and witchcraft, which is most impressive according to one of the janitors of the House of Goddess of Wrath that this water never runs out, it was never put water in this pitcher for decades and not even her ancestors told her that they already had to restore the water in this pitcher, it’s always in the same amount.. The whole world has visited this holy temple and they say there is a kind of enchantment or magic, a very strong energy feels when entering the temple. According to the janitor also told that near this temple there is an arm of the Niger River where you can’t enter for the water is very hot. This river belongs to Goddess Onira meaning Oni (Queen) Ira (city where Onira was born) or be Queen of Ira.

Brief History of Ira  Town: But when one considers the fact that Oya, the famous wife of Sango the fourth Alaafin of Oyo came from this place, one would note that it is a very old Yoruba settlement. The name Ira-Fere came about as a result of his using magical power to disappear and reappear suddenly later. Whenever he was not found in his hut, people would say ”O ra fere ni, o feree yoju na (He has just disappeared, he would soon appear again). When Oya left Oyo at the demise of Sango Alaafin, she decided to come home to her birthplace Ira-Fere. It was a sad event for the Ira-Fere people that Sango died because they wouldn’t know Oya’s fate after Sango.  The hunters and other elderly people that later went to the spot noted that the paraphernalia on the ground surrounding a hole belonged to Oya and concluded that ”Ibi ti Oya ra si niyi (This is the spot into which Oya disappear). Oya was deified and became an object of worship. Laage would come from Ira-Fere to worship Oya on the spot she had suck into the ground and a shrine had been built. The area is known as ”Igbo Oya” (Oya’s grove) till today. When Laage became very old and the distance between Ira-Fere and Igbo-Oya was too much for him, he consulted with his people and moved to the present site which is not far from Igbo Oya. ”Fere” was dropped from the name of the place they left, and ”Ira” is retained till today. 

According to the Sacred Orisa Dida = Erindinlogun & Oral history

            The Mythical Oya Oriiri or Araka (Orisa) came from Ikole Orun during the time of Igba Iwase  (Beginning of the World) in the Era of Oodaye * The historical Oya (Human) known as well as Iyasan Akanbi, a native of Ira * Oya Oriiri is her name in Orun, due to her likeness to wear a lot of clothes * Oya Araka is another name in Orun, due to her capacity to see the heaven and the earth at the same time * Oya Oriiri in Orun is very import among the divinities, due to her position in Egbé Orun * Oya Oriiri had not the intention to leave the Orun * Oya Oriiri left the Orun with  other divinities, due to her love for Ogun her husband in heaven, who left Orun into the earth * Oya Oriiri left the Orun into the earth, but always returned back to the Orun to have meeting with her Egbé Orun society * The historical Oya known as Iyasan Akanbi lived together on the earth with Ogun until they fought, because of the mysterious meetings, which made Oya to leave Ogun * Ago Egungun Oya received from her Egbe Orun society in heaven one cloth with 22 eyes and 2 Buffalo horns to wear it in the earth every time she wished to join the society in heaven.

Oya used to hide the Egungun in the Ants house  (Obobo) * The hunter Olukosi Epe found the Oya Egungun in the bush and took to it his house, where he lived with his wife and children * Oya by returning from Orun into the earth, she could not find her Egungun anymore and the rain falling that day allowed her to see and followed the footsteps reaching Olukosi Epe house * Oya Iyasan = Iya Mesan, the mother of 9 children Oya married Olukosi Epe and born 9 children from him, that is why she is called as Iyasan * During a fight between Oya and the other wife of Olukosi Epe, her secret about the hidden Egungun was revealed and furious Oya (Human) turned into a Buffalo and killed the other wife with the children * Oya (Human) left the 2 Buffalo horns  to her own children in order to be called anytime they would be in need and abandoned them by disappearing into the forest * Sango the loved husband One day in the forest Sango saw a buffalo, which he wished to hunt, but it turned to a beautiful woman and Sango felled in love *Oya married Sango, she was his most loved wife and gave her the access to handle his thunder stone (Edun ara) * After Sango disappear into the earth, Oya decided to return back to Nupe forest, where she came from and transformed herself into a river known Niger river-Odo Oya dividing it into 9 arms * Oya loves to eat a vegetable called Isapa * Oya  eats Egbo (boiled white corn) * Ram is a taboo for Oya

Reference Sources:  Ifafonahanmi Fatoogun = Maike Figueredo Gomes = Google Search/Photo = Wikipedia = Aafin Iya Omi Ase  Osun = Judith Gleason = Jinho Piper Ferreira = Ikoodide


11 thoughts on “OYA = Guardian Between Life & Death”

  1. Eric Hudson = Your wisdom is such a helpful resource for those of us in trying to go deeper into our culture. Again, thank you, I wish you a year of powerful and positive transformations.

    Timo Gutierrez = Thank you so much brother for you kind wise words.

    Fataah Ewe = Thanks for this Baba. Attunement to Oya is of great value in personal alignment. She will want us to come correct.

    Henry Martinez = Greetings and Blessing Yagbe Awolowo Onilu! We must look to our Ancestors to what they represented and align ourselves again. Today’s World needs that alignment that Women bring. It is part of the balance. I thank you for sharing and the Enlightenment. With your Blessing I would like to share. Amor y Paz

  2. To me Oya is not the fun loving female goddess, but a fierce brimming with power entity which holds back until the right time. Her timing is perfect, although I feel she does not work things on my time. Ha, if only she would! Regardless, if the timing is right with the energy movement and one chooses to get swept up in the change, good settles after the storm. I see how so much turmoil is churned up for those who ask for change. Instead of moving with it, sometimes they fight it and fail to take the chance that would provide them with great reward. Much of the energy which encourages one to fight back is from false frames of thought which one holds on to. If one could just be open to whatever comes their way and ride the wave of change, growth and new beginnings will always be on their path. To me, Oya is both violent and calm. She holds our past loves and drives us forward to grow. She fights for me and protects. Her change is sweet like the soft rain, and devastating like the flood.

  3. Thank u for this. As a child I was always fascinated by the dead, so much so that I always wanted to work with the dead. For about 15-18 years I kept applying and re-applying to work as a funeral director but never made the cut. Earlier in this year I came into the knowledge of Oya and acknowledged her essence within me and I’m happy to say after all those years of trying I FINALLY landed my dream job as a Funeral Director (yayyy me) as I move forward I am looking forward to learning more about Oya and using her essence to execute my duties in my chosen field.

  4. To learn about my self is a wonderful thing in this world at this time and point in my life. I have a more fuller understanding of my clairvoyance psychic ability and my re=birthing as a change to a better life now that i know who i am as a medium with OYA as my mother.

    1. hey there my name is Jason,,iam from aruba can you teach me more about Oya yansa she’s my protector and i would love to know more about her let me know if you willing to i would love that i would send you picture abou my altar thnx bye.

  5. I cried while reading this. I’ve always been fascinated by the number 9. I was born on the 9th of may 1993 which makes my life path number,9. My mom lost 8 children before me and I was the 9th and first child to stay. Her labour was from Friday to Sunday and it took 7 doctors to bring me out. I’ve had a really hard life and I’ve always been termed strange. I now know who I am. I still can’t stop crying. I’ve had dreams that starts with people chasing me and asking who I am and I always reply with I am RED! surprisingly they stop chasing and let me go like they are scared. Thank you for this

    1. RED means you have the Mantle and Gift of Oya/Aje, that through your words/spoken incantations you can kill and destroy people. Being a Daughter of Oya aka Aje, there are 3 Mantles Red, Black and White. RED=Death/Killing, BLACK=Curses and WHITE=Blessings/Healings.
      Daughters of Oya are known as Aje which are Ancestral Witches/Wise Women, modern times called Priestesses, Oracle/Seer, Prophetess/Intercessors, Spiritual Advisor/Psychic with ability to do Spiritual Work or Spell Casting and provide Spiritual Counseling/Intuitive Insight.

  6. Alafia, my name is Eyinlade,Tiwalade Nijonu, I Am a child of the great Ma’a Oya, since from birth Oya has been with me, I can see Dead people and dam near talk to them, Oya is my Mom for a long time I use to wonder why I can see the dead, when I Embark upon the tradition of Ifa it was then My height of challenge and Skills came to my head Ori, as well as my spirit to continue moving forward in getting Egungun knowledge still on my journey path way home away from home Ase.

  7. How dynamic and vast are the powers of Oya! Thank you, Yagbe, for this clear and dramatic description of Oya. I could see Oya’s movements as I read your words.

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