Ogun awo, Olumaki, alase ajuba
Ogun ni jo ti ma lana lati ode
Ogun oni’re onile kangun-dangun ode Orun, egbe lehin
Pa san bo pon ao lana to
Imo kimo ‘bora, egbe lehin a nle a benge logbe
Ogun, chief of strength, owner of power, I salute you
Ogun dances outside to the open road
Ogun, owner of good fortune, owner of many houses in the realm of the ancestors, help those who journey
Remove the obstructions from our path
Wisdom of the warrior spirit, guide us on our spiritual journey with strength
Homage to Ogun, the bleeding of the flesh wound
Homage to Otarigidi, Ogun’s Godmother
Homage to Omobowu and Ewiri-Maje, Ogun’s wives
OGUN is primal energy. The word Ogun, with the appropriate tonal changes, can be translated to mean war, inheritance, medicine and perspiration. Ogun is that force of nature that keeps matter in motion. Once god gives a being life, it is Ogun who sustains that organism. Ogun is the sustainment of life. Without Ogun, the universe, as we know it, would not exist. He controls one quarter of the universe and although he cannot exist of himself, he is so important in the scheme of things, that all of the ORISHA are dependent on him for their existence.
Ogun is one of the oldest of Orisa in the Yoruba pantheon. Ogun’s symbol is the knife. It is because of this that a major contradiction arises. Ogun eats first, because the knife is the first thing to taste blood in any sacrifice. It is said that ESU/LEGBA must eat first, and in ritual feasts and bloodless offerings, he is presented his food first. However, in blood offerings it is Ogun, the only one allowed to take a life, who eats first, and it is because of him that the other Orisa can be fed blood. Although Ogun lives in iron, and one of his symbols is iron, his essence, energy, existed long before iron was created.
Ogun is the father of metamorphosis, because with his great strength and with the aid of intense heat, he transforms carbon into diamonds, sandstone into marbles, and marble into gneiss. The cauldron is symbolic of a womb, a mine, the primordial abyss, and the tools which kept inside it are used by Ogun to fashion or shape whatever potential riches are inside.
Ogun is the God of War, Energy and Metal. Ogun keeps matter in motion. Ogun is the sustainer of life. Ogun lives in the knife, and with it, clears a path for man. Ogun is the force within your computer. Ogun is technology. Ogun is the force of gravity, the force of attraction. Ogun represents the tools that shape man, bringing out a person’s potential, enhancing one’s life. Ogun controls life and death. Ogun is our heart beat and the final contraction during birth. Ogun is auto accidents and gun wounds. Ogun is the warrior, hunter and farmer. Ogun is the God of loyalty and life-long friendships. Ogun is the master of secrets, skills, crafts, professions and creations. In Cuba he is Saint Peter. In Brazil he is Saint George. Ogun clears obstacles that get in the way of spiritual growth.
Ogun’s favorite animal is the dog. Ogun likes all dogs but his favorite is the black dog. He favors it because of its faithful and devoted, because of the way it hunts. The dog is known as man’s best friend. Ogun represents all occupations in which cutting instruments are used. Ogun is called upon to remove the obstacles in our path. Ogun helped the divinities to survive in their initial settlement on earth and to effect harmony among themselves as they struggled with new and unforeseen circumstances. Ogun is the Orisa of barbers, doctors, butchers, etc., any occupation that uses knives or blades, or iron tools.
OGUN Oni’ re ni je aj’a,
OGUN ikola a je `gbin,
OGUN gbena-gbena`oje igi ni i je!
pa si’le ps s’oko.
Laka aiye OGUN ko laso,
moriwo l’aso OGUN.
Ire kii se ile OGUN,
emu lo ya mu ni’be.
OGUN, the owner of Ire, eats dog,
OGUN of circumcision, eats snail,
OGUN of carvers, saps the juice of trees!
He kills in the house and kills on the farm.
He who covers the world, OGUN had no cloth,
Palm frond is the cloth of OGUN.
Ire is not the home of OGUN,
he just stopped there to drink palm wine.
Ogun has character, personality and status. He is not afraid to be himself. Like iron, he is rigid, self assured, and unyielding. Because he is untiring, deliberate and focused, he accomplishes all that he sets out to do. He is strength, but used creatively. Ogun is very creative. Children of Ogun, when trying to figure out how to accomplish something will always think of the physical first. They like to use their hands and their strength. Others marvel at the untiring energy of his children. Ogun sees and makes his own way. He is economy in action; no wasted motion, catch only what you are going to eat. Ogun is the champion of laborers everywhere, the first union boss.
In another post, I told the story of Ogun killing an entire village, and his subsequent move to the bush. This story speaks to his capacity for destruction and unrestrained bloodlust. There is another itan that tells of how at the beginning of creation the Orisa came upon impenetrable brush. Ogun cut a path through the bush. This story speaks to Ogun as the mover of things, evolution, progress. We pray to Ogun to remove obstacles from our paths, both spiritual and material. It also speaks to his life as an outcast.
Si lo, si lo, silo ni ma se aye
Dugbe dugbe a gba ode oorun keke
Ipe npe ju a si kun fe je
Paranganda ni da fomo odo
Abiri, abihun a simu Orisa
Mo ri faaji re
On the days when Ogun is angered
There is always disaster in the world
The world is full of dead people going to heaven
The eyelashes are full of water
Tears stream down the face
A bludgeoning by Ogun causes a man’s downfall
I see and hear, I fear and respect my Orisa
I have seen your bloody merriment
Ogun is stickler for justice. Children of Ogun feel the need for justice, and find it very difficult to ignore injustice. He is truth. In Yorubaland, Ogun’s symbol, iron, is used voluntarily in courts of law for the taking of oaths by witnesses to affirm that the truth will be told (like we do with the bible). No one who believes in Orisa, would dare lie after swearing to tell the truth on Ogun. When Ifa speaks of truth, it does not mean some idealistic vision of the way things should be. Ogun searches for the truth about the way things really exist in the world.
Ogun nurtures and protects the oppressed. Ogun is an outcast and protects society’s outcasts. He makes sure that wealth is shared. He is looked to as a protector who will promptly respond to the appeals of the oppressed in there encounter with an unjust fate. He is looked to for protection within society, from injustice and without from outside enemies. However, Ogun’s hot temper makes him a dreaded figure. While he protects the innocent, the poor, victims of military attack, he inflicts pain on others; the deceitful, the rich who don’t share, and one’s enemies in warfare. Ogun is a solitary figure who lives alone in the forest. Ogun’s undergarments are red, signifying his furious nature, but on top of this he wears Mariwo, palm fronds. Palm fronds have supernatural connotations, and “soften” Ogun’s image. They symbolize cool, restrained behavior.
I pay homage to Ogun Lakaaye, a divinity worthy of worship
Ogun, who had two very sharp cutlasses, sharp as fire
He used one for clearing an area for making a farm in the forest
The other he used to cut a path through the forest from one place to another
The type of clothing that Ogun wore,
On the day he made his descent from the hill to the plain,
I know very well
He wore a flame red coverlet over a blood red tunic
Mariwo yeyeye Ogun aso; Alagba de o
Swirling palm fronds are Ogun’s garment; The Honored One arrives
Ogun as the god of iron is most interestingly seen in the elaborate ritual attending the establishment of a smelter. The smelter constitutes a shrine to Ogun, and its flames are sacred. In the powder that ignites the furnace, the smelters mark the Odu that incarnates Ogun – Ogunda Irete. Ogun’s Odu talks of victory, and success in the face of danger, which speak to the occupation of a smelter who strives to be victorious in creating quality iron, while playing with fire. The smelter straddles the furnace and sacrifices a rooster while chanting invocations, pours the blood over the Odu that was marked in the powder while igniting the furnace and chanting all the secret names of fire. He then spits what he has been chewing; ataare pepper and kolanut on the fire as further chants are said. The chewing of ataare pepper and kolanut activate or fortify “ofo ase” the power of the word. In the saliva of the smelter is his essence, connecting his ase with the Orisa. Through the smelter ritual, humans shape, control and change raw power into socially useful power, reliving the triumph and tragedy of Ogun.
Iba Ogun, Oniporin Aye’
Iba Ogun, Oniporin Orun
Iba Agbaagba me ta iporin
Igba iwa se
Ogun da kete ni popo
O rawo agada ibeje ibeje
Ina giri giri ninu ada
Oorun giri giri oke
Ina sunsu ari je
Oorun sunsu asun lolubo
Ina giri giri inu ada
Akuko rebe rebe Ogun fun o ree!
Kirin o po!
Kirin o jina
Wonron, wonron, wonron!
Homage to Ogun, the iron smelter of the world
Homage to Ogun, the iron smelter of heaven
Homage to the three patriarchs, iron smelters when existence began
Ogun put on a big straw hat in an open place
He spun the sword as a warning, as a warning!
The blazing fire in the furnace
The sun shining brightly above
Fire cooks the yam so it is edible
The sun cooks the yam so it wilts (rendering it inedible)
Blazing fire in the furnace
Here is the red-red rooster which Ogun presents to you!
So let the iron be well-smelted
Let the iron be well heated
To ring well and long!
Ogun’s sacred objects
Ogun pot (iron cauldron)
With seven tools (mentioned earlier)
And Ogun stone
Ogun’s ileke (bead necklace). Ogun’s ileke is a good example of how ideas and objects crossed over the Atlantic and were in many cases altered and then find there way back to Afrika and alter the original source. Ogun;s beads were red in Yorubaland, but became black and green in the Diaspora. Now, if you get his beads in Afrika, they are black and green.
Three railroad ties
Slag from a blacksmith’s shop
Any iron artifacts
For offerings Ogun eats gin, rum, nuts, snail, cola nuts, orogbo, corn, roasted yam, and cooked beans with hot peppers. He loves palm oil and palm wine.