Orisha Oko is in charge of agriculture, and owns all cultivated land. He is also a judge in many matters, including but not limited to witchcraft and the benevolence or malevolence thereof.
In the diaspora, where most of our practice has been labelled malevolent “witchcraft” by the misinformed, we depend on him to learn to use our gifts sanely and appropriately.
His sacred colors are red and white in some traditions, red and white with a little blue in others, and light pink and blue or blue and white or red and blue in others still. The pattern these colors are usually arranged in is striped or plaid, or alternating.
His sacred number is 2 or 7. He is strongly connected to Obatala, Yemaya, the Ibeji, Ogun, and Oshun. Traditions vary as far as their relation.
In altars, shrines, and rituals, he is embodied in an iron rod, by a sword thrust into the ground, by two coconuts each painted red and white, and by the plow. In some cases, people have represented him with a balance scale, or balanced objects.
His taboo is salt and saltwater because too much of it ruins the ground for vegetables.
He is depicted with a large set of genitalia, especially giant testicles which plow the ground, producing fertile crops as he walks by.
He is the star of the yearly yam harvest festivals in many African communities. These take place usually in August or September. It is a good deed to be extremely generous in all ways during the festival. Generosity brings prosperity. During the festival, “rain makers” who are priests and other gifted people who are specialists at bringing rain help to make the festival, and are rewarded well for this. Vegetable dishes are cooked in the homes and establishments of adherents, and given out to the public.
All witches or actively spiritual people who are worshiping Orisha but operating outside the confines of the African priesthood, should respect and give offerings to Orisha Oko. This will ensure that you will stay in the appropriate energy and shows that you concede to the judgement of Nature, and have no illusions of somehow operating outside of Nature. Surely, if you screw up, Nature will do what she does anyway, but observance of Oko keeps you aware of where the boundaries are.
Food Offerings to Oko
Oko loves just about any kind of vegetable, but it is more meaningful and will help you more to give him things that are locally grown in season. In places where yams are grown, it is a big deal to give him the newly harvested yams, but if you live in an area wherein the apple harvest or cactus fruit harvest or corn harvest is a big deal, then this is what you should give him during those harvest times. Other times of the year, it is good to give him what is in season then.
On the other hand, it is a good idea to, at least during the time the yam festivals are going on in Africa, give him some yams or at least sweet potatoes then to express your awareness of your origins. Some starchy root vegetable should be given at least.
Vegetable salads, stews, steamed vegetables, and fritters are all good offerings to Oko. I have gotten good results from occasionally offering red and white fruits and vegetables, such as red delicious apples, and radishes.
Incense Offerings to Orisha Oko
Many materials are used in observance of Orisha Oko, but charcoal in judicial proceedings, is used to mark the guilty. So whatever you burn for Oko should result in ashes that are good for the Earth.
You can use the charcoal when you burn incense, to represent your wrongdoings, and the action of burning incense to symbolize your hope that your wrongs or inappropriate behavior will at least somehow feed some goodness or appropriateness.
With Oko, it is not a good idea to substitute loose incense on charcoal for sticks or cones unless you are sure they are made with natural ingredients.
- a spoon of Eshu incense
- a handful of myrrh or frankincense
- a handful of red sandalwood (camwood)
- a pinch of chalk
- a pinch of red dirt or red clay powder
- a pinch of powdered yam, sweet potato powder, or potato flakes
- a pinch of sugar
Mix these and crush them to your desired consistency. Pass the finished container through the smoke of Eshu incense, and give the first dose to Eshu. Then it is ready.
Any cold pressed or gently extracted vegetable oil is sacred to Oko, but since some prefer something a little fancier, here is a recipe for something he’d like.
In one bottle put:
- 3 drops of Eshu oil
- 2 heaping teaspoons red sandalwood powder
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
In another bottle put:
- 3 drops of Eshu oil
- 2 heaping teaspoons chalk or eggshell powder
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
These are a pair, so you should consecrate them in Eshu incense smoke in the same incident. Then close the bottles and give them a good shake. Wrap them in a red and white cloth, and let them sit in a cool, dark place for 3 months.
When you are giving observance to Oko, or when you have a serious conflict or dilemma to settle, put some of the white oil on the hand you write with or that side of your head, and the red oil on the other.
You can also make an ointment using a solid oil such as coconut oil or shea butter for this.