What is an Ebbo?

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Oshun Ebbo

Oshun Ebbo

 An ebbo is basically an offering to the Orishas.  There are many kinds of ebbo that practitioners of Vodun and west African diaspora practitioners do.

In some groups in the diaspora, some make a distinction between adimmu and ebbo, and base this on the outcome of divination.  Others say that adimmu is specifically a food offering, and ebbo involves animal sacrifice.  In still others, an adimmu is a small offering, where an ebbo is a gathering with larger offerings.  However, in some others, any offering is called an ebbo.

Various Kinds of Ebbo.

Ebbo Idupe/Ope/Lope – an offering of gratitude to the Orishas in general, or a specific Orisha who blessed or helped you.  You would give these to show awareness and thanks for your blessings, or to fulfill a promise you made to give offerings to the Orishas if they gave you a specific blessings.

Ebbo Isun/Sisun – an offering given by immolation, or burnt offering.  These are usually given to Shango, Aganju, Jakuta, and other fire oriented Orishas.  Meat, special woods, and other aromatic material can be used.  Also poems and praises and notes of thanks can be given.  Fireworks are also an option for ebbo isun.

Ebbo Iyeyun/Idanewan – an offering given by an act of kindness or donation to charity.  This is when the purpose of an ebbo is to feed or do some other kindness to their community, or to a person representative or under the guardianship of a particular Orisha.  Watering plants or feeding animals sacred to particular Orishas also counts.  It is said that when you feed an Orisha’s children, you feed that Orisha.  In places where it is still illegal to practice African belief systems, this is a common way that people manage to give offerings regardless of their situation.

Ebbo Misi – an offering given by preparing liquids sacred to certain Orishas a person needs direct bodily contact with, dedicating those liquids, and then applying  them.  Some are healing or cleansing, while others are simply applied and spilled to glorify the Orisha.

Ebbo Ti Abo – an offering given specifically to elicit protection or guardianship of an Orisha.  These are typically done for people in dangerous professions, or who are in need of some sort of psychic, spiritual, or physical shielding.

Ebbo Tito – an offering given to the Orishas one has offended, or to right a wrong.  This is done in conjunction with ebbo iyeyun to actually compensate for the damages.

There are more, depending on where one is and how things are done.  These are just some examples.  An ebbo can be a private or public event.  Usually on holidays, events are fairly public or at least Vodun friendly community wide, because the idea is to get that good energy to spread.

Do I need to be initiated to perform ebbo?

For some ebbo, you need to either be initiated or the first generation of a diaspora group, or supervised by a priest or initiate.  Some Orishas or other deities adopted by an African or diaspora community are more or less humane than others.   Some of the more humane Orishas can still be difficult to deal with energetically, or become angered if disrespected.

So formal offerings should be avoided or done under supervision.  However, both the initiated and the independent and laypersons can do most Ebbo Iyeyun at will.  Again, when you feed an Orisha’s children, you feed the Orisha.

So if you can’t go to the crossroads for Eshu, feed or give gifts to a child, an old person, or someone you recognize as a child of Eshu.  If you can’t go to the river for Oshun, do some kindness or give some money or fine perfume, jewelry, sweets, or other nice things for a beautician, fashion designer, seamstress, etc.

Helping children and the elderly glorifies Eshu.  Taking good care of yourself and making yourself and your world prettier glorifies Oshun.  Working hard and getting your hands dirty for a good cause glorifies Ogun.  Cleaning up the beach glorifies Olokun, Yemaya, Erinle, and Oshun.  Basically, there is no monopoly on doing good deeds to praise, thank, and be the hands of the Orishas in humanity.

You can also do ebbo misi or other preparations made by a serious adherent or initiate.  You are not completely unable to do anything just because you haven’t been initiated. If you are not very consistently spiritually active though, you should donate to a practitioner who is, to have offerings done on your behalf. Ile Baalat Teva does this, and most of our members are daily observant. So we can serve you, but we encourage you to find someone local to you if possible.

Some choose us because it is difficult to find someone who can serve from the area of Kemet that is known now as Egypt, so for now Israel/Palestine will do since it was a part of the kingdom at some point. We can also mummify if needed, and have Hathor and other deities’ temple sand we can deposit with the offering without violating any laws. I say this as an example of why you may want to seek out particular practitioners or houses to do your offerings. Different temples or houses or people have different specialties and features. If you’re outsourcing, you want your offerings done by the people most aligned with you and your goals.

Fasting: Do ATR Practitioners Also Fast?

Yes, practitioners of Vodun and many other African and diaspora belief systems fast.  Some are total fasts without food or water, as is done in some initiations wherein the person dies and is reborn.  Some are fasts for a specific purpose.  Some are partial fasts wherein someone will avoid food or certain types of foods for a time.  Some are long term or permanent taboos.  Some give up a certain activity for awhile as an offering.

For instance, if someone has been having financial troubles, they may limit their use of water for Oshun.  It may sound easy, but one must also stay clean and smelling and looking nice during that time.  So during their water fast, they may limit themselves to say, five liters of water per day for five days because five is sacred to Oshun, and so that they do not take a drop for granted.

One may also choose to keep the ways of a certain story or path of an Orisha for a time, or perform an activity in a way that specifically pleases an Orisha.  Taking the financial example again, one may dye some cloth yellow, green, or blue to please Oshun and Aje Shaluga, and make ritual items or something else beautiful from it.  One may do various activities or even science experiments as acts of devotion.

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Vodun F.A.Q. Can Someone Sell Me An Orisha, Djinn, Ndoki, Faery, etc?

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Smoke No.

Just no.

Nobody can sell you a spirit.  On the “food chain” of beings, humans are granted certain abilities by Nature, but the ability to buy or sell an alterdimensional being is not one of them.

Some conjurers may use the term “selling” as a sort of a short-hand for “smoothing the way for you to have access to,” but they are not actually selling you a spirit.  If they are not totally scamming you, and they actually do the work, they are just weaving a channel between you and that spirit for communication or flow of a certain energy.

An Orisha is a force of Nature.  Nobody can sell you a force of Nature.  They can initiate you into the cult of that force of Nature, or make a way to allow you limited access to a degree of energy from that force of Nature as is appropriate for a non initiate or layperson, but they can’t sell you the Orisha.

Djinn, gnomes, ndoki, faeries, elementals, and other alter-dimensional creatures can be enlisted or employed, but still not actually sold.  They will allow themselves to be utilized to a degree, so long as a human goes through the proper steps, but one must be very careful.

There is a sort of image that some conjurers choose to present to the public as one who is able to command demons and control djinn and such, and this is legitimate since it works.  However, one should realize that this image is allowed by the spirits only because it is useful to convince some people who wouldn’t otherwise, to accept help.  Many entities are fed by happiness and success, and for them it doesn’t matter so much if the humans think it is because of the powers of the conjurer or the powers of their own or of Nature.  They are just happy to help, and if it means playing the “genie”, then so be it.  It takes nothing from them.

However, it is extremely important to remember that these are extremely powerful whole beings.  They are not actually our slaves or servants.  Like a polite, very helpful, or heroic human may choose to work as a nurse, a soldier, or go into some other field of service, this does not mean they are weak or obligated.  They choose to be there for us or not be there for us.  They choose whether or not to help us or to leave us, or to destroy us.

Eshu MacutoIf you disrespect the spirits who help you, they will abandon or destroy you.  Most of the time, you are given an nkisi or another item such as a stone or ring that is a sort of anchor and bridge between that being and yourself.  These must be treated as sacred items.  Some have more endurance than others, and can be worn or carried in a pocket, but they should still be treated with respect.

If your helper requires offerings, those should be kept up to date to the best of your abilities.  You need to follow the instructions you were given very carefully, and make provisions for the case that something may happen to you, and they need to be released.

And this is just if you got an actual properly enlisted djinn, ndoki, faery, or other being.  Quite often, especially if the conjuring and maintenance was “easy”, what you may get is a mischievous or predatory, often called a dark entity that feeds on misery and unhappiness.

This is not to say that all of the positive ones are difficult to conjure.  It’s just that a big part of the “summoning” ritual is to filter out harmful entities or imposters.  Most ceremonial magicians take weeks or months to call certain entities, and still don’t always succeed.  As Brother Rahman explains in the link above, we can do a long stint of protective prayers, fasting, filtering, calling, negotiating, “commanding”, offerings, and more, and in the end…nothing.  Sometimes no spirit wants to come to assist for a particular goal.  We just have to accept that.

But this should tell you, they choose, not us.

Fetishes, Enchanted Rings, and Observance Kits

Related to the article on symbols, and the other on elekes, it is important to discuss three dimensional objects as well. Though someone can’t sell you a whole actual spirit, some translation issues may lead to some posers thinking this because some legitimate priests and mages do sell or receive donations for building fetishes and other enchanted items. Because in African spirituality, the item would not merely represent the spirit but embody it once it is activated or through nature (such as stones from holy rivers) the dynamism of the Ori or Ba of the person who built it, or ceremony.

So one cannot sell you Eshu, but they can sell you an Eshu (fetish). The question is then should they?

That depends on a few things.

  • Are you from the same or a very similar tradition as the person selling or receiving donations to build you the fetish?
  • Related to the above, are you already observant to the deity embodied in the fetish? If it’s not of a deity but of a helper, are you already observant to other related spirits, or well trained enough to deal with them?
  • Are you ready for the responsibility involved with keeping or wearing the objects?

Because of the relative universality of many spiritual concepts, any sincere spiritually observant person is usually able to handle a fetish if they are well instructed and ritually pure according to its culture and pantheon. Problems start when someone will sell things to any and everybody who asks with no regard for where the item is going, or when people receive items from distributors or builders who are corrupted or have an agenda other than providing you means of observance or help.

It is not wrong to sell someone a fetish or to buy a fetish if you are not skilled enough artistically to build one yourself. There are whole egbe of craftpersons in Africa who make fetishes of metal, wood, and holy art. No one in their right mind however, is going to sell a fetish to someone who is unlikely to care for them properly. When buying them, one should be aware of how such things are made.

Makes you think, does it not? There are hundreds or thousands of fetishes and sacred items in European museums whose infused be-ings have not been respected, fed, or tended to properly in decades to hundreds of years. So brutal wars are breaking out in which spiritually, nothing is solved. They keep falling for the same cultural weakness inherent in “white” supremacy, even in places where people would not have been considered “white” really. Neo nazi groups keep popping up again and again, and it is the lowest hanging fruit for any psy ops sabotage of any of their armies or police.

Whether psychologically or spiritually, it is pretty safe to say that the idea of property rights over other people’s cultural artifacts and sacred items, along with the idea that somehow being European would excuse their neglect, at least feeds that weakness. The spirits don’t care. They know everyone is descended from Africa, so there is no excuse.

Now, you don’t want to have this problem on an individual level either. If someone has sold you a ring who needs feeding monthly, you’d better feed that monthly. If someone sold you an acorn with a forest spirit to keep you safe while pleasure hiking, and they require a roasted chicken every two weeks, you’d better give that. Take these things seriously.

If you’re going to buy a fetish or enchanted items or an observance kit from someone, know who they are before you do. Nobody is perfect, and we don’t tend to judge people by friendliness or something, but whoever you buy things from at least needs to know what they are doing. Also, if you see too much in an observance kit that is mass produced and not handmade, that is a bad sign. Even if it is handmade, but it doesn’t look like it could endure actual ceremonial use, that is another bad sign.

Be aware that like a symbol, a fetish can carry energy that is harmful to you. Sometimes people will buy something for protection from someone corrupt, and it will turn out that it was harboring hostile beings. Scary as it may be, it’s the lucky ones whose natural protections and power gained through observance makes it an actual fight so these hostile energies are detected. The unlucky ones will keep some enemy in their home and on their altar, and feed it for years before figuring out that it was the cause of a lot of their misfortunes.

So be careful, and empower yourself with knowledge so that you know what you’re looking at.

Blessings and Ashé!

 

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Orisha Oko (Okko)

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Orisha Oko

Oko

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.

ardenoko02In 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 VegetablesOko 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 recipe:

  • 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.

Oko Oil.

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, kaolin clay powder, 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.

Solutions: How to Avoid Negative Cultural Appropriation of African and Diaspora Belief Systems

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Hof Dor, Israel

Hof Dor, Israel

Lately, there has been some buzz in the community about cultural appropriation of African belief systems.  We’ve talked a lot about the problem, and I think it’s time we addressed some realistic solutions.  The global spiritual community has always shared information, but the speed has increased dramatically since the internet.  Sometimes speed isn’t such a good thing when one is dealing with ideas that can take many years to grasp, even for someone who belongs to the culture in which it arose.

It is very important that diaspora practitioners, who sometimes have the western tendency to be a bit focused on maintaining identity in a way that Africans in their ancestral homelands don’t have to worry about, understand the way others learn about the Vodun.  If you are multi generation legacy, the way you learned is not the only way or the only legitimate way.  For some, this is a journey they began as an individual, or their legacy may be only one or two generations deep, or may have been secret.

In some cases, someone may have been called/contacted by a Vodun, Orisha, Lwa, or other African flavor of Energy/Spirit even though they are practicing a non African faith.  In some, they find that African ideas fill in some space in their belief system that others don’t.  Sometimes, it’s just a matter of liking an idea and incorporating it into their practice.  These aren’t necessarily bad, but can turn bad if they are misinterpreting something, and don’t have the guidance to correct it.

Heritage, Tradition, and Innovation.

A great artist, Pablo Picasso once said that one should learn the rules so that one can break them like an artist.  Though African spirituality tends to be more like a science no matter where in Africa it is from, one should learn the traditions well before taking it upon one’s self to deviate from them.  For this reason, if you are not a practitioner of west or central African belief systems, but were called nonetheless, or you are incorporating Spirits whose relational identities were crystallized in Africa into your belief system, you should take it upon yourself to contact a priest/ess in or from Africa.

All of us in the diaspora with the option and any level of respect, have connections with priests and practitioners in Africa.  All of us.

Be aware that most traditions were local and based around families, clans, and villages, and that the people and geography and climate were important and unique.  What is a blessing in one place may be an abomination in another, as far as general practice, but at the more esoteric level, many things start to merge.  You will do well to be in touch with someone aware enough and deep enough in actual practice, to advise and guide you even though you are far from their local area.

Even if you don’t intend to fully commit to an African belief system, it is important to have this line of communication to avoid doing things that may be disrespectful or just imbalanced or nonsensical.  If, for instance, you are Wiccan, and you like Yemaya, that is all good, but if you want to get the most positive energy from that, you should ask Eshu to open the way for you to speak to Yemaya.  There is no Yemaya without Vodun, and in Vodun, we (generally) call to Eshu (or the Gate Keeper by another name) before we contact other Orishas.  There are many good reasons for this that a priest/ess would be able to explain to you in detail.

We keep in touch with those in the Motherland so that even if our ways are quite different, we stay within certain bounds of sanity and soundness.

Now, using the Yemaya example again, once you understand why you should ask Eshu to open the gate first, and the ways to go about this, you may think of ways to do this “seamlessly” in a Wiccan ceremony or observance.  This is an innovation, and it is okay.  Just get some feedback from your African guides, and perhaps discuss this with others who are doing something similar.

Once you know the traditions, you can understand how to deviate from them in a respectful way.  Respectful deviation is far, far away from negative cultural appropriation.  It is good innovation, and nobody should have a problem with it, though some will anyway.

Doing it Wrong

The wrong way to go about appropriation/incorporation is to steal bits and pieces of practices without any regard for their cultural origins, or to claim titles specific to certain organizations without actually earning them.

It is the habit of many neopagans to call themselves priests and priestesses of whatever deities they like.  We don’t do this in African systems.  To be a priest/ess of a deity, you must pass through the initiations and rise through the ranks of the cult of that deity.  There is no way around this.  The first members of this deity’s cult may have had to go it alone, but once it was established, it became a matter of community.

This does not mean that you are not permitted to worship an Orisha.  Some today are running around telling people that they are not entitled to worship or mention Orisha because they have not been initiated, but this is just a bald faced lie.  The Orishas are forces of Nature, and all living beings live in the same Nature.  Atheists call it “ocean”, and we call it Olokun.  It doesn’t matter what it is called, it is what it is.  Thing is, if you’re going to utter the name Olokun in reverence, you must respect the fact that the name and its legends come from west Africa.  Part of that respect is respecting the priesthood unless or until the day comes that the priesthood no longer respects Olokun, and I don’t see this happening anytime soon.

In the diaspora, there are priests and priestesses within their specific systems.  In this case, they will add which temple or group in which they serve as a priest or priestess, so as to avoid confusion with the temples in Africa.   The ranks may not imply what they would in Africa though.  In some groups, being a priest/ess may mean that they have begun service to the community, and may still be in a phase of training, whereas in other groups, they have passed through the highest initiation for one of more deities.  African systems are alive, and new groups develop all the time.

It is wrong to treat Vodun and other very alive African belief systems as if they are dead, and nobody knows what they should be doing.  It is very much alive, and for anyone in the world with internet, guidance is just a click away.

It is also wrong to attempt to force African belief systems to fit Christian or western “hippie” sensibilities.  Though we do believe that one’s beliefs affect one’s behavior and energy, and therefore one’s life, there is no thought policing in Vodun.  We do not insist that everyone think the same or behave the same or according to the same set of rules and taboos.  Not only do traditions and pantheons vary from place to place, but what is a good deed and what is a “sin” or unwise or negative action varies from head to head.  Sometimes person to person as well.

We believe that all of Nature deserves respect, not denial, and that things that are negative or evil should be coped with honestly.  The “white light” way is not and should not be universal. Conflict feels like an unfortunate aspect of life, but life could not exist without it.  Your body must draw air in and out in order for you to survive.  Sometimes a person must kill in order to protect themselves and their loved ones.

One of the hardest things some of us have found in teaching non Africans and over-assimilated Africans, is getting them to understand that some things others can do and get away with, that they cannot, and vise versa.  What is sweet for one may be bitter to another.  What would depress or degrade one may uplift and exalt another.  There is no one way for everybody.

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List of African/Yoruba Orishas (Archive and work in progress)

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This is a sort of an expansion on someone else’s work.  The original post is here: http://www.abibitumikasa.com/forums/showthread.php/55468-Comprehensive-list-of-all-401-orishas-%28ako%CC%81jo%CC%A3po%CC%A3%CC%80-oru%CC%81ko%CC%A3-a%CC%80wo%CC%A3n-o%CC%80ri%CC%80s%CC%A3a%CC%80-mo%CC%A3%CC%81kanle%CC%81ni%CC%81rinwo%CC%81%29

…so you can see why I would want to archive the content.  There is also a character encoding problem.

If anyone would like to add to this list, please feel free to post.  Mind you, this is a list specifically of Orishas from Yoruba and associated African traditions.  If you have an addition that has thusfar been exclusive or nearly so, to a specific group or region but allows for others outside to give observance, please make that clear.

If you would like to browse the list of deities from all areas of west to central Africa and the diaspora, click here.

Eshu/Alagbara/Elegbara/Alagba
Gender: Male
Numbers: 3, 4, multiples of 3
Colors: Black and red or black and white
Domain: Gates, boundaries, borders, crossroads.  Known as the gate keeper between the Orun and the Aye (spirit and physical realms) and the seen and unseen.
Attributes:  Both a protector and a trickster, he can both cause and prevent accidents or misfortune.  He is the master of luck, and can open doors or close them.
Important Notes:  Eshu is served first, except in cases of blood offerings when by default of using a weapon, Ogun is served first.  It is also a good idea to begin any Orisha project or craft by giving some reverence to Eshu first.

Aara
No information found.  Seems to be associated somehow with Oduduwa.

Aasa
Gender: Female
Domain: A river in Nigeria.
Important notes: One of the wives of Lagbonna in a story in which she, Osun, and Yemaya/Yemoja shared the same husband, and he turned them into rivers because of their jealousy and constant fighting.

Adihe
Gender: ?
Domain: Law and Justice
Important Notes:  Said to appear in the form of a chicken, embodied in a bamboo or like material staff and mat, punishes people who come to the king or judge with exaggerated complaints.

Aginju
Gender: Male
Sacred Number: 6
Sacred Color: Red, hot red, red and gold
Embodiments/Symbols: double bladed axe (oshe), obsidian
Domain: Wilderness, wastelands, untouched Nature, volcanoes, the unexplored or uncharted lands, places that man can’t go, places that neither man nor other animals can go, things that man can never know or perceive, freedom, revolution
Associations: Husband of Yemoja, husband of Oshun, father of Shango
Important Notes: Aginju (also known as Aganju) is a very primal force, and may seem rather inhumane, but we all need him to survive.  He is the fire in the belly of the Earth, and part of the mechanism that helps us mammals to be warm blooded.

Ajaye, Olofin
Gender: Generally regarded or referred to as male, although being an aspect of Olodumare, they are all-gendered
Domain: Ashe, energy, life force, vitality, procreation, spark of creation
Important Notes:  This part or aspect of Olodumare gives the Orishas their power, and does not speak directly to humans anymore, except the Ancestors of the first generation.  He created the boundary between the Orun and the Aye, which Eshu now balances and guards.  Now, in order to tap into the Ultimate Olodumare’s Source, we must go through Eshu and meditate on Olorun.

Aje Shaluga
Gender: Depends where and who you ask
Sacred Number: 5 or 7
Sacred Colors: Blue, green, yellow, amber, gold, off-white
Embodiments/Symbols: Cowrie shells
Domain: Wealth, currency and real valuable materials/property specifically, rivers
Associations: Husband/wife of Oshun, Wife of Olokun depending where one is from
Important Notes: He/She is said to be very generous and have a big heart, and will save those who are in dire financial straits who petition him/her with sincerity.

Ara
Gender: Group, male and female
Sacred Colors: Black and yellow
Embodiments/Symbols: Bees nesting in shade trees, a beehive on a odan tree, an angry swarm of bees
Associations: Familiars of Shango
Important Notes: The Ara are deities of thunder, closely tied to Shango.  They may be the “death from the skies” aspect of lightning strikes.

Ayelala
Gender: Female
Sacred Colors: Red and white, red
Embodiments/Symbols: Red or white cross, red or white X
Domain: Justice, fairness, anti-corruption, fair use of power or strength
Important Notes: Ayelala is a venerated and deified Ancestor.  In her material life, she was a slave girl who was sacrificed in place of an adulteress.  She promised that when she died, she would become a guardian of truth and justice, and strike with death, people who broke grave promises and used their power unjustly.  Though her origins are the Ilaje in Ondo state in Nigeria, she is worshiped today as far as Benin because indeed, she does strike down the unjust enemies of those who go to her for help.  Photos of those she has striken are posted outside her temples.

Dagbe, Idagbe, Dangbe
Gender: Androgynous
Sacred Colors: Rainbow, Shiny or “oil slick” black
Embodiments: Black python
Domain: Lifespan, Immortality, Endurance, Permanence or Temporalness
Important Notes: Came directly from the sea, and is the venerated Ancestor of the royal family of the Savi Hweda.  As the legends and tales of his-her blessings spread, s-he became a more widely worshiped Orisha/deity of duration.

Ogun, Ogoun
Gender: Male
Sacred number: 3, 4
Sacred Colors: Combination of red, black, and green; black and green; iron/gunmetal black
Symbols/embodiments: Tools, Weapons, three legged pot or cauldron perhaps with a chain around it filled with tools according to one’s local traditions
Domain: Earth, metal, gifts from the Earth, technology, creativity, inventiveness, practical intelligence, weapons and the use of weapons, warfare and strategy, industry, labor, work
Important notes: Ogun is one of the most important Orishas to the Yoruba people.  He is to be thanked for a lot of what makes a prosperous and civilized life possible and comfortable.  Click here for an excellent essay on Ogun by Awo Fa’lokun Fatunmbi.

Yemoja, Yemaya
Gender: Female
Sacred number: 7
Sacred colors: Blue, combination of blue and white, sea or river blue/green, transparent blue or blue-green, pearlescent
Symbols/embodiments: Boats, anchors, shells, fish, boating or seafaring equipment, pearls, river opals
Domain: Rivers, water
Important notes: In west Africa, some places she is regarded as the general river owner/embodiment, and some places, the mother of all life on Earth.  Some places give more prominence to Olokun.  What you should do depends on what your ancestry is, what traditions you follow, or where your soul leads you.

 

(to be continued)

You may notice that some of these are a bit different to what you’re used to seeing.  So as not to repeat what others have already written about extensively, here is a page on clarifications about the difference in practice and beliefs between Ifa and related belief systems in Africa and the diaspora.

Often times, ignorant people create strife between Ifa/Orisha practitioners, claiming that if something isn’t done according to their (diaspora) ways, they’re not doing it right.  If they understood how people in Africa manage to coexist and share and exchange information and community spirit despite the differences, perhaps they would learn to do so as well.