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Encyclopedia > Orisha

An Orisha (also spelled Orisa and Orixá) is a spirit that reflects one of the manifestations of Olodumare (God) in the Yoruba spiritual or religious system. This religion has found its way throughout the world and is now expressed in several varieties which include Anago, Oyotunji, Candomblé and Lucumí/Santería. These varieties or spiritual lineages as they are called are practiced throughout areas of Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Mexico and Venezuela. As interest in African indigenous religions (spiritual systems) grows, Orisa communities and lineages can be found in parts of Europe and Asia as well. While estimates vary, there could be more than 100 million adherents of this spiritual tradition worldwide. [citation needed] Generally speaking, an orisha is a type of spirit. ... The mythology of the Yorùbá is sometimes claimed by its supporters to be one of the worlds oldest widely practised religions. ... Various Religious symbols, including (first row) Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Bahai, (second row) Islamic, tribal, Taoist, Shinto (third row) Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Jain, (fourth row) Ayyavazhi, Triple Goddess, Maltese cross, pre-Christian Slavonic Religion is the adherence to codified beliefs and rituals that generally involve a faith in a spiritual... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... His Royal Highness, Oba Efuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi (born Walter King) (5 Oct. ... Ilê Axé Iya Nassô Oká - Terreiro da Casa Branca Candomblé is an African religion practiced chiefly in Brazil but also in adjacent countries. ... Lucumi, a Yoruba word meaning friends, is a common name for the Yoruba religion, also referred to as Santeria. ... World map showing the location of Europe. ... World map showing the location of Asia. ...


Beliefs and Rituals

The Orisha are multi-dimensional beings who represent the forces of nature. They have attributes and stories similar to the stories and attributes used to describe the ancient Greek and Roman pantheons. To the followers of Santeria, however, the Orisha are not remote divinities; on the contrary, they are vibrant, living entities who take an active part in everyday life. The Orisha faith believes in an ultimate deity, Olorun or Olodumare, who is removed from the day-to-day affairs of human beings on Earth. Instead, adherents of the religion appeal to specific manifestations of Olodumare in the form of the various Orisha. Ancestors reverence and culture-heroes can also be enlisted for help with day-to-day problems. Faithful believers will also generally consult a geomantic divination specialist, known as a babalawo or Iyanifa, to mediate on their problems. This practice is known as Ifa, and is an important part of life throughout West Africa and the rest of the world. UNESCO, the cultural and scientific education arm of the United Nations, declared Ifa a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005. An important part of the traditional Yoruba faith depends on proper alignment and knowledge of one's Ori. Ori literally means the head, but in spiritual matters is taken to mean an inner portion of the soul which determines personal destiny and success. Ase, which is also spelled “Axe,” “Axé,” “Ashe,” or “Ache,” is the life-force that runs though all things, living and inanimate. Ase is the power to make things happen. It is an affirmation that is used in greetings and prayers, as well as a concept about spiritual growth. Orisha devotees strive to obtain Ase through Iwa-Pele or gentle and good character, in turn they experience alignment with the Ori or what others might call inner peace or satisfaction with life. In Yorùbá mythology, Olorun is the Sky Father (though occasionally androgynous or female), and a god of peace, purity and harmony. ... In Yoruba mythology, Oloddumare is a creative force that drove the establishment of existence and the entire universe. ... Geomancy (from the Latin geo, Earth, mancy prophecy) is a method of divination to interpret markings on the ground or how handfuls of dirt land when you toss them. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Iyanifa. ... Iyanifa is a Yoruba title that denotes a Priest of The God or Orisha of Wisdom Orunmila (IFA). ... Ifá is a system of divination that originated in West Africa among the Yoruba people. ... UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is a specialized agency of the United Nations established in 1945. ... The foundation of the U.N. The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate co-operation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress and human rights issues. ... Map showing the Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage by country designation as of 2005: red (countries with 4 designations), orange (3), yellow (2) and green (1). ... Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Orisha in the New World

Yoruba were brought to the Americas during the Atlantic Slave Trade, along with many other ethnic nationalities from West, Central, and parts of East Africa. Yoruba religious beliefs are among the most recognizable African-derived traditions in the Americas, perhaps due to the comparatively late arrival of large numbers of Yoruba in the Americas and the conglomerative and spiritually tolerant nature of the faith. The Orisa faith is often closely aligned to the beliefs of the Gbe ethnic nationalities (including Fon, Ewe, Mahi, and Egun), and there has been centuries of creative cross-fertilization between the faiths both in Africa and in the Americas. In many countries of the African diaspora, Yoruba and Gbe beliefs have also influenced and become influenced by Catholicism, and faiths that originate in the Kongo-Angolan cultural region of West-Central Africa. These include Palo in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, Umbanda in Brazil and, according to some sources, the Petro rites of Haitian Vodou. World map showing the Americas CIA political map of the Americas The Americas are the lands of the Western hemisphere or New World consisting of the continents of North America[1] and South America with their associated islands and regions. ... The Atlantic slave trade was the trade of African slaves by Europeans that occurred in and around the Atlantic Ocean. ... The Gbe languages (pronounced ) form a cluster of about 20 related languages stretching across the area between eastern Ghana and western Nigeria. ... Fon is a major West African ethnic and linguistic group in the country of Benin or Dahomey, and southwest Nigeria, made up of more than 2,000,000 people. ... The Ewe people are a people of southern Ghana, Togo and Benin. ... The Mahi are a people of Benin. ... For other uses, see Diaspora (disambiguation). ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      The Roman Catholic Church or Catholic... Palo, or Las Reglas de Congo are a group of closely related denominations or religions of largely Bantu origin developed by slaves from Central Africa in Cuba. ... Umbanda is a religion that blends Catholicism, Kardecist Spiritualism, and Afro-Brazilian religions . ... Petro loa are a family of loa in Haitian Voodoo. ... Voodoo redirects here. ...

Santeria (or Lukumĺ) is a set of related religious systems that use Catholic saints as a mask to hide traditional Yoruba beliefs. Saints and other Catholic religious figures are used as disguises for Orishas. This practice of syncretization was used to allow the indigenous Yoruba beliefs to survive in the new world. Lukumí or Regla de Ocha, most widely known as Santeria, is a set of related religious systems that fuse Catholic beliefs with traditional Yorùbá beliefs. ... General definition of saint In general, the term Saint refers to someone who is exceptionally virtuous and holy. ...


The Orisha pantheon include Shango, Olokun, Ifá, Yemanja, Osun, Obatala, Oshun, Ogun, Ochosi, Oko, Soponna, Oya and Esu/Legba, among countless others. In the Lucumi tradition, Osun and Oshun or Ochun are different Orishas. Oshun is the beautiful and benevolent Orisha of love, life, marriage, sex and money while Osun is the protector of the Ori or our heads and inner Orisha. The Yoruba also venerate their Egungun, or Ancestors, Ibeji, god of Twins (which is no wonder since the Yoruba have the world's highest incidence of twin births of any group). In Yorùbá mythology, Shango (Xango, Shango), or Changó in Latin America, is perhaps the most popular Orisha; he is a Sky Father, god of thunder and lightning. ... Olokun is considered the patron orisa of the descendants of Africans that were carried away during the Maafa, or what is sometimes referred to as the Transatlantic Slave Trade or Middle Passage. ... Ifá is a system of divination that originated in West Africa among the Yoruba people. ... In Yorùbá mythology, Yemaja is a mother goddess; patron deity of women, especially pregnant women; and the Ogun river (the waters of which are said to cure infertility). ... In Yoruba mythology, Oshun (or Oschun) is a spirit-goddess (Orisha) who reigns over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth and diplomacy. ... In Yoruba mythology, Obàtálá (alternatively Obatala) was a creator god; he made human bodies, and his father, Olorun (husband of Olokun), breathed life into them. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Ochun. ... Ogum In Haitian Vodun and Yoruba mythology, Ogoun (or Ogun, Ogum, Ogou) is a loa and orisha, who presides over fire, iron, hunting, politics and war. ... Oxossi, (alternately Ochossi or Oshossi, Osawsi) is the orixa of the forest, and one of the three Guerrero, or warrior orixas Ibori in Yourba. ... In Yoruba mythology, Oya, is the Goddess of the Niger River. ... Eshu represented in concrete with his features made with cowrie shells. ... Egungun is a part of the Yoruba Pantheon of divinities. ... The orisha Ibeji is the protector of twins in Yoruba mythology. ... The Yoruba (Yorùbá in Yoruba orthography) are a large ethno-linguistic group or ethnic nation in Africa; the majority of them speak the Yoruba language (èdèe Yorùbá; èdè = language). ...

Partial List of Orishas

  • Babalu Aye - deity of disease and illness.
  • Eshu (Ellegua, Exú, Esu, Elegba, Legbara, Papa Legba) - messenger between human and divine, god of crossroads, also a phallic and fertility god. Eshu is recognized as a trickster and child like while Eleggua is Eshu under the influence of Obatala
  • Nana - female deity of creation, sky mother, associated with the moon.
  • Obatala (Obatalá, Oxalá, Orixalá, Orisainlá) - father of orishas and humankind
  • Ogoun (Ogúm, Ogum, Ogou) - deity of iron, war, labour, and technology (e.g. railroads)
  • Olorun (Oldumare) - creator of the universe, sky father
  • Orunmila - deity of wisdom, divination and foresight
  • Oshun (Oshún, Ọṣun, Oxum, Ochun, Osun, Oschun) - goddess of rivers, love, fertility, and art
  • Oxossi (Oxósse, Ocshosi, Osoosi, Ochosi) - hunter and the scout of the orishas
  • Oya (Oyá, Oiá, Iansã, Yansá, Iansan) - goddess of wind, hurricanes, and underworld gates
  • Shango (Shangó, Xango, Changó, Chango, Nago Shango) - warrior god of thunder, fire, sky father
  • Yemaja (Imanja, Yemayá, Jemanja, Yemalla, Yemana, Yemanja, Yemaya, Yemayah, Yemoja, Ymoja, Nanã, La Sirène, LaSiren, Mami Wata) - divine mother goddess, divine goddess of the sea and Mother of mankind
  • Ozain (Osain) - He owns the Omiero, a holy liquid consisting of many herbs, liquid through which all Saints and ceremonies have to go through. Ozain owns the herbs, is a natural healer.
  • Agayu - Father of Shango he is also said to be shango's brother in other stories, Agayu is said to be the orisha of volcanoes and the desert.
  • Osun - ruler of the head, Ori

Further reading

  • John Mason, Black Gods - Orisa Studies in the New World
  • John Mason, Olokun: Owner of Rivers and Seas ISBN 1-881244-05-9
  • John Mason, Orin Orisa: Songs for selected Heads ISBN 1-881244-06-7
  • Lydia Cabrera, El Monte: Igbo-Nfinda, Ewe Orisha/Vititi Nfinda ISBN 0-89729-009-7
  • [Chief Priest Ifayemi Elebuibon], Apetebii: The Wife of Orunmila ISBN 0-9638787-1-9
  • [J. Omosade Awolalu], Yoruba Beliefs & Sacrificial Rites ISBN 0-9638787-3-5
  • Baba Ifa Karade, The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts
  • William Bascom, Sixteen Cowries
  • David M. O'Brien, Animal Sacrifice and Religious Freedom: Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah
  • James T. Houk, Spirits, Blood, and Drums: The Orisha Religion of Trinidad. 1995. Temple University Press.
  • Raul Canizares, Cuban Santeria
  • Robert Farris Thompson, Flash of the Spirit

John Mason was the name of two prominent figures in colonial New England prior to 1640: Sir John Mason (1503-1566), British diplomat and spy. ... John Mason was the name of two prominent figures in colonial New England prior to 1640: Sir John Mason (1503-1566), British diplomat and spy. ... John Mason was the name of two prominent figures in colonial New England prior to 1640: Sir John Mason (1503-1566), British diplomat and spy. ... Lydia Cabrera (May 20, 1899 - September 19, 1991) was a Cuban anthropologist and poet. ... James T. Houk is an associate professor of religion and anthropology at Our Lady of the Lake College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. ... Robert Farris Thompson (1932 — present) is the Colonel John Trumbull Professor of the History of Art at Yale University. ...

External links

  • Irunmole: sharing perspectives on Ifa and Orisa
  • Ijo Orisa Asaforitifa: a community of West African Ifa/Orisa Tradition of Nigeria and Benin Republic
  • OrishaNet: A website written by a Lucumi high priest (Babalawo)
  • The Palo and Lukumi Organization - Website written by Lukumi Orisha-Ifa High Priest, aka: Babalawo
  • Ile Orunmila Temple
  • List of Orishas
  • Orisha descriptions
  • Orishas information and Santeria directory

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