This necklace was made in honor of the Orisha Oya, ruler of storms, feminine strength and athletics, women’s martial arts, change, and endurance. She is the third and most favorite wife of Shango even though she was neither the most beautiful nor the most fawning. She represents balanced womanhood, and at the same time, loyalty to one’s partner through thick and thin, without regard to one’s own safety or convenience. She is the spirit of female honor.
One of her tools is the mask. There are varying beliefs around this. Some say she uses the mask because she is so frightening to look at that people would die if they saw her face. Some say she uses it because she is so incredibly uniquely beautiful that if she walked around with her face exposed, nothing would get done because everyone would be entranced. Some say that the mask represents the ability of strong women to conceal their true feelings when there are hard times…the ability to be others’ rock or consistency despite the trials of life and disaster.
In the mother who makes a dollar out of fifteen cents, feeds a family on meager means, and trains her children to have dignity no matter how poor they are, there is Oya.
This necklace was made while I was feeling in awe of my own mother’s brave face. Even though she is a more European oriented Christian and doesn’t understand Mami Wata or my need to return to it, she is one of the strongest women I know. This necklace would be an excellent gift for the strong woman in your life, or for yourself if you are the one who needs bravery in the face of adversity.