Oshun 10 - ashesanteriaThe Multidimensional OSUN (Oshun, Ochun, Oxum)
By Awo Dino

I dedicate this work to all our beautiful black (and brown) sisters here at destee.com, and throughout the Diaspora. Our Mothers, who have toiled relentlessly, who have suffered silently, who have carried a people on their backs for 400 years. Hopefully, Osun can inspire you to keep it moving, with confidence and positive energy; that when you look at your sister, you see yourself, and you love yourself. From Myself and all the brothers, we love you, our sisters, our Mothers. Ase.

Iba Osun sekese
Praise to the Goddess of Mystery
Latojoku awede we ‘mo
Spirit that cleans me inside out
Iba Osun Olodi
Praise to the Goddess of the river
Latojoku awede we ‘mo
Spirit that cleans me inside out
Iba Osun ibu kole
Praise to the Goddess of Seduction
Latojoku awede we ‘mo
Spirit that cleans me inside out
Yeye kari
Mother of the Mirror
Latojoku awede we ‘mo
Spirit that cleans me inside out
Yeye ‘jo
Mother of Dance
Latojoku awede we ‘mo
Spirit that cleans me inside out
Yeye opo
Mother of Abundance
O san rere o
We sing your praises

The child of Ife where the sun rises
The mother who gives a bounteous gift
The tender hearted one
The source of water
The child of Ijesa
The water to whom the King prostates to receive a gift

Yeye O, Osun, Osun O, aare me Osun waa se kumara!
(chant to be sung to Osun, inviting her to come)

Most people, when they think of Osun, think of Her as a river Goddess, a fertility Goddess, or [Venus]. However, She is much, much, more than that. Osun is central to Yoruba thought and praxis. Her power is multidimensional.

Osun means “source.” Form the word “orisun.” The source of a river, a people, of children, of wealth, of life. Osun represents the perpetually renewing source of life. As the elemental power of water, it is she that makes life possible. Osun is the child-giving and curative power of water. She is the “blue river,” the birth canal. Osun is also the owner of Eerindinlogun – sixteen cowrie divination. She is also the source and condition of political power, as leader of the Aje’ (the Mothers, Iyami Osoronga). As such, she is a founder of the Ogboni Society, the counsel of elders that bestow kingship.

Like Esu, she can change at will. She can be the loquacious and beautiful young flirt who succeeds by killing you with kindness, or the deadly serious old woman, owner of the “spiritual eye” (mystical power); she can be rich or poor, loving or vengeful. She is the Benevolent Mother and the fierce warrior. She heals with her cool waters and destroys indiscriminately with her raging floods. She is the creator of children, fertility squared, yet she is the leader of vengeful spirits who will take any child away at the drop of a hat. She is the fierce defender of her children (priests and priestesses). She cries when she is happy, and laughs when she is sad. To accentuate her dual natures (Yoruba is heavy on dualities, polarities etc), Osun carries a brass cooling fan in one hand and a brass cutlass in the other. Strength and compassion; brass and honey.

In Lucumi, there are five different caminos or roads of Ochun. These are distinctively different Ochuns, each with their own narratives, rituals and songs. There Ochun Yeye Moro, the beautiful dancer, Ochun Ololodi, the diviner, Ochun Ibu Kole, the powerful buzzard (Aje’), etc. But there is only one Osun, a dynamic, multifaceted Orisa.

In Yorubaland, Orisa serve as the glue that holds communities together. Each town or city has a founding narrative that includes the founding Orisa and intertwines facts, myths and metaphor. These mythistories create “community-ship,” which is at least as strong as the larger sense of citizenship. Ijesa country in Osun State, Nigeria, is the center of Osun worship. It is the place of the largest annual Osun festival. People come from all over the world to attend the festival and be blessed and/or healed by the sacred waters of the Osun river at the city of Osogbo. In the Osogbo mythhistory, it is said that a prince (Olarooye) from Ilesa, went out to found a new city due to a water shortage in Ilesa. He set out with his buddy, a hunter named Timehin, and they led the expeditionary group in search of a water source. They came upon the Osun river. To make a long story short, they settled there with the blessing and protection (she single handedly ran off the invading Tapa – warriors from the north) of Osun. Here is an invocation given at the start of the annual Osun festival by the Oba:

Ala’de’koju’, I am calling on you
Hail my Beloved Mother Aladekoju
The Beloved one from the town of Efon Ekiti
Hail the powerful Mother Aladekoju
The descendent of the one who uses the crown made of brass
The one who dances with the jingling brass
My Wondrous Mother!
Who owns plenty of brass ornaments in the town of Efon
She moves majestically in the deep water
Oh spirit, Mother from Ijesaland
The land of the tough and brave people
Men who would fight to secure their wives
Even to the point of killing themselves
Along with their wives if everything fails
Hail the Great Mother Osun
Whose whole body is adorned with brass
She joins the Owa (Ijesa Oba) to celebrate his festival
She shares her holy day with Sango
My confidante
She waits at home to assist barren women to bear children
Osun has plenty of cool water to cure diseases
Death to the Tapa
Osun adorns her whole body with Edan
With the shining brass as a lantern at night
She very quickly moves around the house
To fetch her sword, ready for battle
Hail the Mother, Osun Osogbo
My mother the marvelous cook
My mother, who makes succulent akara, olele and ekuru
Those who refuse to hail my Mother
will be denied tasteful bean cakes and corn cakes
my Mother who provides bean cake for the Efon people
When my Mother wakes up, she prepares food for her household
My Mother will then proceed to the kolanut stall
As she trades in kolanut
She is also carrying her corn to the mill to grind
At the same time, she is also dyeing clothes by the sideway
There is no task my Mother cannot do
She even keeps a stable for rearing horses!
My Mother lives in the deep water
And yet sends errands to the hinterland
Aladekoju, my Olodumare (supreme goddess)
Who turns a bad Ori (destiny) into a good one
Osun has plenty of brass ornaments on her shelf
Orogun, Orogungunnda,
The favorite wife of Orunmila
The owner of the indigo pigeon
In vivid colors of the rainbow,
Her image appears brightly dressed on the riverbank
Aladekoju, the owner of the mortar made of brass
Osun fights for those she cares about
Eniyan do not want us to eat from a china plate
Ogbonmele, do not allow the evil world to change our good
Fortune into a bad one
Do not let the wicked overcome us
Once, Osun was plucking medicinal leaves
Osanyin was also plucking his own leaves
Before Osanyin turns around,
Osun had taken Osanyin’s leaves from the grinding stone
Only Osun can mold my Ori
So that it becomes as strong as a rock
Osun Osogbo, I greet you
Osogbo Oroki emerges from afar off,
And the crowd in the market went wild with joy
The Oba’s Beloved Water, do not forget me
Osun who stands on the hill
And beckons at the kolanut seller in the market to bring kolanut
Ladekoju stands on the river bridge
And calls to the seller of honey in the market
She beckons at the palm wine seller to bring her wine
The palm wine sells at an exorbitant price;
But my Mother does not buy overpriced goods
The mighty water is rushing past
It is flowing to eternity

Osun, as leader of the Aje’ (Iyami), is much involved in the politics of kingship. The king’s crown is topped by a bird, symbol of the eleiye, “owners of birds,” the Aje’. The Oba rules at the discretion of the Mothers and under their watchful eye. Medicines that activate the King’s spiritual potency, his ase, are placed inside the crown. It is said these medicines are so powerful the mere sight of them would leave him blind. In Cuba, she is the patron saint, “La Caridad Del Cobre.” It is said that she appeared and led the fight for independence. In Brazil, the rhythms of Carnaval are Ijesa rhythms. She has been behind black movements in Cuba and Brazil. A piece of Oriki illustrates her masculinity, bravery and prowess, and her dual nature as both benevolent Mother(Osun is a cool Orisa like Obatala, Osanyin etc. as opposed to hot Orisa like Ogun and Sango) and punishing Warrior:

Obinrin gb’ona Okunrin n sa
The woman who blocks the road (by flooding it) and causes men to flee
O tori ogun O da rungbon si
Who keeps her beard (warrior masculinity) because of war
Agegun s’oro
One, who in fury, causes mayhem and chaos
Ogbamugbami, obinrin ko see gbamu
The powerful and huge woman who cannot be attacked
Eegun gbadagba ti i gbe ti i ji fon bi erin
Mighty Masquerade (ancestor) whose way it is to trumpet on awakening like the elephant
Akeke orisa, Ijesa Osore
Scorpion Orisa, Ijesa woman from Osore
Ijesa mo f’osi na mi, omo oro l’Efon
Ijesa woman, don’t strike me with your left hand, Child of Wealth at Efon

Many Odu speak to Osun as the Benevolent Mother, who bestows money and riches on people. An example can be found in Odu Irete Obara. Osun had gone to a poor Ifa priest named Ojiyaomegun when she was childless. Ojiyaomegun’s work made it possible for her to have children. Osun wanted to reward him and his two apprentices, Ifon, ifa priest of Ido, and Duuru, Ifa priest of Liki. So, she took money, beads and expensive clothes to Ojiyaomegun and his apprentices, but Ojiyaomegun was not around. She waited a very long time, but he didn’t show up. So she left gifts with the apprentices and went home. She ordered her servants to dig a deep pit (along the river bank), and put Ojiyaomegun’s gifts there. That is why we have oriki which contain the words:

Osun alade okin
Osun, Goddess with fantastic crown of peacock plumage
Ooni ‘mole odo
Goddess of the river
Oore yeye Osun
Hail the benevolent mother Osun
O wa yanrin, wa yanrin
She who digs up sand, digs up sand
Kowo si
And keeps money there (for her omo – children)
Yeye o, a fi ide re omo
Oh beloved Mother, you pamper children with brass (riches)
Oyeye ni mo eni ide kii sun
Wise one, owner of brass who never sleeps (eternal energy)
E gbe’nu imo fi ohun t’ore Ota were were ni ti Osun
You live with wisdom and give it away freely (through eerindinlogun)
Osun k’e k’owo t’emi fun mi o
Osun, please give me my own money
E ma ri owo t’emi mo yanrin
Do not bury my money in the sand
Ore Yeye O!
Oh! Thank you dear Mother!

In the above opening invocation for the Osun festival by the Oba, one of the stanzas says, “only Osun can mold my Ori.” We know that Ajala Mopin is the molder of heads as he works with Obatala in the molding of humans, so what is Oba referring to? Osun provides the water that Obatala (and Ajala Mopin) uses to smooth the clay with which he molds human beings. Osun’s traditional occupation is hair-plaiting, which is a mark of honor to Ori. The hair plaiting style of Osun is similar to the pattern weaved into the making of Ile-Ori, house of Ori, a cowrie covered structure that serves as a shrine, or pot to one’s Ori. The oriki stanza, “Osun owner of the beaded hair comb for beautiful women” alludes to Ori. This aspect of Osun is often overlooked, but is important to her role as owner of sixteen cowrie divination (eerindinlogun, or dilogun), and the efficacy of ebo (no divinity can bless one without the consent of his/her Ori).

Odo gbogbo l’agbo
All rivers are Osun’s medicine

Obatala molds the body, Ajala Mopin molds the head, Olodumare supplies the breath . Osun supplies the water, Thus Osun is integral to human creation itself. The Osun pot contains stones (ota Osun) from the Osun river. Alongside the pot is a special pot for water drawn at dawn (before anyone else gets there) from a spring and containing one of the stones. This water is called Agbo and is used for healing, fertility, security, success, protection, progress, etc. In the Diaspora we use oriki and ese Odu to invoke the spirit of Osun in the water.

Ase gbere wa aye
The one who unexpectedly comes into the world
Omi lo maa gbaa
Will be admitted by water
Arinrin gbere lo sode orun
The one who slowly goes back into heaven
Omi lo maa gbaa
Will be received by water
Omi l’abuwe
It is water that we bathe with
Omi l’abumu
It is water that we drink
Enikan ki I b’omi sota
No one makes an enemy of water

In the following itan from Odu Ose’tura, we are introduced to the real power of Osun. When Olodumare sent the first Irunmole (God’s task force) down to earth, he sent 16 male Orisa and Osun. In accordance with Olodumare’s instructions, they started to set up the world, but they didn’t include Osun in any of their activities. The result was that everything they did was a total failure. Rain did not fall, women were barren, illness prevailed, there was bitterness and restlessness all over the world. The sixteen male Orisa went back to Olodumare to find out what was going on. They said they were living on earth in accordance with the instructions of Olodumare, but nothing they did was good. Olodumare asked them if they had included Osun in all they were doing. They said no, they hadn’t bothered with her; after all, she’s just a woman.

Olodumare ni danidani l’oun, oun e e dani leemeji
Olodumare said that he was the Creator, but he would never create any person or thing twice
O ni e pada sohoun, o ni e ree be e, ko maa yin lowo si nkan. O ni gbogbo nnkan yin o si maa gun.
He told Orunmila to go back to his colleagues and that all of them should go and beg Osun for forgiveness, so that she would agree to to be involved in their affairs. He assured them their affairs would then be good.

So the sixteen male Orisa went and begged Osun for forgiveness, but she didn’t yield until Orunmila made his personal appeal. She said:

E maa be ori yin ateledaaa yin pe oyun ti n be ninu oun yii, koun o bi I l’okunrin, nnkan yin oogun. Amo toun ba bi I lobinrin, e kangun.
“Begin to beg your Ori and your Creator, so that the fetus which is in my womb be delivered as a male child.”

She assured them that if it was a male child, their matters from then on would be straight, but if it was a female child, war would begin in earnest. Obatala used his powers to peer into Osun’s womb, and saw that it was a girl. He (Obatala is androgynous) pointed his ado asure at her womb and commanded that the fetus change into a male. Orisanla was the first to hold the baby when born. Then Orunmila, the father, carried the baby and named him Osetuura, who became Odu Ose Otura, the Odu that imparts ase and invokes Esu.

They said, “If someone is pounding yams without the knowledge of Osun, his or her pounded yam will not be smooth. If someone is preparing oka without involving Osun in it, the oka will not come out fine. We will involve Osun in whatever we do. We will involve Osun in all our deliberations. Our Great Mother, who must be present at every important deliberation.”

A fimo jo t’Osun
We will involve Osun in all are deliberations
Agberegede, ajuba
Ajuba Agberegede
A d’ifa fun Osun Sengesi

Agberegede, ajuba
Ajuba Agberegede
Divined for Osun Sengesi
Olooya yun
Owner of the hair comb decorated with iyun
O gbe koko
When she was in a secret place
O n bebo Irunmole e je
She spoiled the ebo of other divinities
Ta ni en rubo
Who is performing ebo
Ti o ke selebo
Without involving the owner of ebo?
Osun Ewuji
Osun, whose other name is Ewuji,
A kunle
We are all on our knees
A be o
We are all begging you
E wole fobinrin
Let us all kneel and prostrate before women
Obinrin lo bi wa
We are all born by women
Ka too deniyan
Before we become recognized as human beings

Nothing moves without Osun!! Ore yeye O! Ogun can’t even begin his evolutionary work without Osun.

Osun completes the Female-Male principle in the universe. Osun as aesthetic beauty, a reminder of the wonders of creation, and all that is good in the universe. Osun the fertility goddess, protector of children, soothing healer, bestower of wealth. Osun as Leader of the Iyami, and the potential for destruction. She can destroy at “night,” with the awesome power of the eleiye, or during the “day,” with the awesome power of the flood. Osun as fierce warrior, defender of her people, leader of revolutions and revolts. The Water Goddess, the perpetually renewing source of life. Osun transforms through water and through the “blue canal,” the mystery of birth. Osun, from Orisun “The Source.”

Osun is the embodiment of women’s mystical power, the real power in Yoruba cosmology. The ability to control physical and spiritual forces, to create life through procreation, and the sustenance of life, are considered to be the ultimate power in the Yoruba worldview. It is this secretive power, that men can never understand, that has driven men to try and control women throughout the ages. It is the power of the Iyami.

Iyami Osoronga
My Mysterious Mother, Osoronga
Vulture who kills without sharing
Olokiki oru
The dominant force at midnight
Ajedo eniyan ma bi
One who devours human livers without vomiting
Eyi tii lo nigbaoja bat u
One who vacates only when the market closes
A-le mo loju ala wiriwiri
One who terrifies in dreams

Another facet of Osun energy (no, she ain’t done yet!) is her ownership of Eerindinlogun, sixteen cowrie divination, the “seeing eyes” of Orisa. Osun priestesses are the best diviners, hands down. Another Itan from Odu Ose’Tura tells the story of how Osun became the owner of sixteen cowrie divination. We learn much about Osun’s intimate connection with Ifa divination in her own right, as well as through her son, Osetuura.

Osun was married to Orunmila, the prophet, and keeper of the oracle. He was leaving town on business, and told Osun to tell his many clients that he would be back in a couple of weeks. Well, Osun, being Osun, got tired of sending away all of Orunmila’s clients so she figured out his divination system and started divining for his clients! So when Orunmila comes home, he finds his house full of people; “What’s going on!” “We’re waiting for Osun to divine for us,” he was told. “Say what!” So he was angry with her for a little while, but no one stays angry at Osun for long. He was actually quite amazed with her ability to learn so quickly. Orunmila then gave Osun the eerindinlogun and told her that from then on, she would own the cowrie system and he gave her the oracle. Osun shared her knowledge with other Orisa, starting with Obatala.

Although Osun receives the Eerindinlogun system from Orunmila and he created it, another verse of Odu Ose’Tura tells how this system of divination received its own ase from Olodumare, thus making it independently Osun’s. Every sixteen years, Olodumare would subject the earthly diviners to a test, to find out whether they were telling lies or the truth to their clients. When Orunmila finished his turn divining for Olodumare, Olodumare said, “Who’s next?” Orunmila said, “She is.” Olodumare asked if this woman (Osun) was a diviner at which point Orunmila answered, “Yes, she is.” Olodumare asked, “Who is this one?” Orunmila explained how he had given her eerindinlogun. When Osun divined for Olodumare, she hit on all those things in his mind. But she did not say it in full. She mentioned the gist, but she didn’t tell the root of the matter, like Ifa. Olodumare said, “It’s all right.” He further said that even though she did not go into details, he, Olodumare, gave his assent to it. He added, “From today on and forever, even if what eerindinlogun says may not be detailed, anybody who disbelieves it would see the consequences instantly. It must not wait until the following day.” This is why the predictions of eerindinlogun come to pass quickly, even though the stories might not be impressive.

Bi eerindinlogun se gba ase Lodo Olodumare nu un
That is how eerindinlogun received Ase directly from Olodumare

Before the diviner starts the divination process, she pays homage to Onile, the Earth diety, pointing to the ground, and to Iyami (eleiye) pointing to the sky.

Ibaa yin o!
Your Worship!
Eyin l’awo,
You are the custodians of mysteries
Emi l’ogberi
I am ignorant
E f’oro yii han mi o
Reveal this secret to me
E ma f’ire pe ‘bi
Do not reveal good instead of evil
E ma f’ibi pe ‘re o
Do not reveal evil instead of good

The connection between Osun and Esu is interesting. Esu controls the Ajogun, malevolent spiritual beings. Osun is the leader of the Aje, even more feared than the ajogun. Yet both are capable of bestowing the greatest of blessings; Esu bestows ase, and Osun fertility. As revealed in Odu Ose’tura, the Odu that incarnates Esu and contains much information about Osun, Osun is Osetuura’s mother. Like Esu, she has a central role in the maintenance of creation. Aje’, also known as Iyami, are powerful. Olodumare has committed the universe to their care. He has given them power and authority over its affairs. They strongly hold the universe together. They maintain the order in the world. Osun is not only one of them, she is their leader. Osun, through the Iyami, and Esu, preside over ebo, and support or empower the efficacy of herbal preparations and ritual elements. Osun is a complex, dynamic, and powerful energy. Osun, wife of Orunmila and subsequently Sango, spirit who cures with water, one of the founders of the Ogboni society, partner of Orunmila in the establishment of the Ifa corpus, and fertility Goddess.

Mo ke mogba lodo omi!
I cry for deliverance through water!

To understand Osun is to know the intelligence, vitality, caring, and nourishing abilities of womankind. Long-suffering, cheated, overlooked, and overworked, but always committed to the survival of humanity. Besides signifying wealth, brass never rusts, it is eternal. In Osun we have the embodiment of wealth, prosperity, love, beauty, elegance, sexuality and sensuality and a divinely sanctioned feminist. Ase.

Omi o!
Oh sacred water!
Ota o!
Oh sacred stones!
Edan o!
Oh sacred Edan (symbol of Ogboni)
E kore Yeye Osun o
All hail the Benevolent Mother

Osun Foods
Eko – a corn product made from ogii powder.
Yanrin and tete – Osun’s favorite vegetables
Adiye agagda – fowl with the feet tied together
Eyin adiye – chicken egg
Oti sekete – corn wine
Yellow and orange fruits (pumpkins, bananas, oranges, mangos), vegetables and flowers

Sacred implements
Osun pot – containing five consecrated stones, among other things
Agbo pot – containing Osun’s blessed water
Osun’s ileke
Brass bracelets
Brass bells
Osun carving
Peacock crown
Brass fan
Brass cutlass


Mbe, mbe ma Yeye
Exist, exist always, Mother
Mbe, mbe l’Oro
Exist, exist always in our tradition
Osun Awuraolu
The Spirit of the River, Turtle Drummer
Serge si elewe roju oniki
Open the path of attraction, Mother of Salutations
Latojoku awede we mo
Cleansing Spirit that cleans me inside out
Eni ide ki su omi o san rere
The maker of brass does not pollute the water
Alose k’oju ewuji o san rere
We are entitled to wear the crown that awakens all pleasure
Alode k’oju emuji o san rere
We are entitled to wear the crown that awakens all pleasure
O male o dale o san rere
The Spirit of the Earth that wanders freely
Mo juba o mo juba o
Ase, ase, ase o!

*The material in this paper was derived from multiple sources, including but not limited to, the book “Osun Across the Waters.”

Source: http://destee.com/index.php?threads/the-multidimensional-osun.58962/

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11 thoughts on “Oshun

  1. Kushite Prince August 30, 2014 at 6:15 pm Reply

    Wow! What a beautiful pic at the top of the page! Really beautiful! 🙂

  2. thesevenminds August 30, 2014 at 6:30 pm Reply

    Thanks. I took this pic from ashe santeria, but I will look for the original pic from CK and replace it to make the Goddess shine even better. 🙂 There will be more Oshun (and Ogun) posts.

    • Kushite Prince August 30, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      That would be great if you could find it. It is truly a gorgeous photo!

  3. thesevenminds August 30, 2014 at 6:57 pm Reply

    It is on my long long (really long) to-do list. 🙂

  4. ~meredith August 31, 2014 at 1:26 pm Reply

    I think this is beautiful. Wow. Thanks. ~m

  5. thesevenminds August 31, 2014 at 4:12 pm Reply

    Thanks, Meredith. 🙂

  6. Lilith Dorsey (@LilithDorsey) August 31, 2014 at 4:52 pm Reply

    Alafia! Ori yeye o! Many blessings from this daughter of Oshun, I’m excited to see more pix !

  7. thesevenminds August 31, 2014 at 4:55 pm Reply

    Thanks, Lilith. Ori Yeye O! There will be more pictures and articles on Oshun and Ogun in September. Ashe.

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