The orishas are the emissaries of Olodumare or God almighty. They rule over the forces of nature and the endeavors of humanity. They recognize themselves and are recognized through their different numbers and colors which are their marks, and each has their own favorite foods and other things which they like to receive as offerings and gifts. In this way we make our offerings in the manner they are accustomed to, in the way they have always received them, so that they will recognize our offerings and come to our aid.
The orishas are often best understood by observing the forces of nature they rule over. For instance, you can learn much about Osh?n and her children by watching the rivers and streams she rules over and observing that though she always heads toward her sister Yemay? (the Sea) she does so on her own circuitous route. Also observe how the babbling brook and the flash flood reflect her changeable moods. As you observe the orishas at work in the world and in your own lives you will gain a better understanding of them and their ways. Yes, they are complex, but no more so than any other living being such as you or I. We are also blessed from time to time in the religion with the opportunity to meet the orishas face to face during a bemb? where one or more of their priests will be mounted.
The Mounting of the Horse:
Trance Possession In La Regla Ocha
Trance possession is an important part of our religion. During a bemb? or drumming party for the orishas an orisha may be persuaded to join the party by entering the body of one of the priests consecrated to that orisha. This is referred to as the person being 'mounted' by the orisha or that the orisha has 'come down' from heaven to be with us. The songs, rythms and dances are actually calculated to entreating the orishas to come down so that we may be blessed by their counsel, cleansings and their sheer presence. When an orisha decides to use one our bodies for a time it is, of course, a cause of great joy for us.
The orishas only rarely mount an aleyo or person who has not been initiated as a priest, and then usually only to point this person out as a person who needs to be initiated as a priest(ess) in the religion. It is not forced on people nor is it a thing of evil such as portrayed in movies like "The Exorcist" nor does anyone spit pea soup. If someone is not ready, the orisha will be gently persuaded to leave until the person is initiated and prepared for such an event. And anyone who has experienced being 'touched' or actually mounted will tell you the profound feelings of joy and wisdom that accompany the presence of these great spiritual beings known as orishas.
Forum: Witchcraft ? Post Preview: #168
Elegba (also referred to Eleggua or Eleggu?)is the owner of the roads and doors in this world. He is the repository of ash?. The colors red and black or white and black are his and codify his contradictory nature. In particular, Elegba stands at the crossroads of the human and the divine, as he is childlike messenger between the two worlds. In this role, it is not surprising that he has a very close relationship with the orisha of divination, Orunmila. Nothing can be done in either world without his permission. Elegba is always propitiated and always called first before any other orisha as he opens the door between the worlds and opens our roads in life. He recognizes himself and is recognized by the numbers 3 and 21.
Og?n is the god of iron, war and labor. He is the owner of all technology and because this technology shares in his nature, it is almost always used first for war. As Elegba opens the roads, it is Og?n that clears the roads with his machete. He is recognized in the numbers 7 and the colors green and black.
Oshosi is the third member of the group known as the Guerrero's or Warriors, and is received along with Elegba, Og?n and Osun in order to protect the Guerrero's initiate and to open and clear their roads. Oshosi is the hunter and the scout of the orishas and assumes the role of translator for Obatal? with whom he has a very close relationship. His colors are blue and yellow.
Obatal? is the kindly father of all the orishas and all humanity. He is also the owner of all heads and the mind. Though it was Olorun who created the universe, it is Obatal? who is the creator of the world and humanity. Obatal? is the source of all that is pure, wise peaceful and compassionate. He has a warrior side though through which he enforces justice in the world. His color is white which is often accented with red, purple and other colors to represent his/her different paths. White is most appropriate for Obatal? as it contains all the colors of the rainbow yet is above them. Obatal? is also the only orisha that has both male and female paths.
Oy? is the ruler of the winds, the whirlwind and the gates of the cemetery. Her number is nine which recalls her title of Yans? or "Mother of Nine" in which she rules over the egun or dead. She is also known for the colors of maroon, flowery patterns and nine different colors. She is a fierce warrior who rides to war with Shang? (sharing lightning and fire with him) and was once the wife of Og?n.
Osh?n rules over the sweet waters of the world, the brooks, streams and rivers, embodying love, fertility. She also is the one we most often approach to aid us in money matters. She is the youngest of the female orishas but retains the title of Iyalode or great queen. She heals with her sweet waters and with honey which she also owns. She is the femme fatale of the orishas and once saved the world by luring Og?n out of the forests using her feminine wiles. And,in her path or manifestation of Ib? Ikol? she saved the world from drought by flying up to heaven (turning into a vulture in the process). Ikol? means Messenger of the House (of Olodumare). For this reason all who are to be initiated as priests, no matter what orisha rules their head, must go to the river and give account of what they are about to do. She recognizes herself in the colors yellow and gold and her number is five. Peacocks and vultures are hers and we use them often to represent her.
Yemay? lives and rules over the seas and lakes. She also rules over maternity in our lives as she is the Mother of All. Her name, a shortened version of Yey? Omo Eja means "Mother Whose Children are the Fish" to reflect the fact that her children are uncountable. All life started in the sea, the amniotic fluid inside the mother's womb is a form of sea where the embryo must transform and evolve through the form of a fish before becoming a human baby. In this way Yemay? displays herself as truly the mother of all. She, and the root of all the paths or manifestations, Olokun is the source of all riches which she freely gives to her little sister Osh?n. She dresses herself in seven skirts of blue and white and like the seas and profound lakes she is deep and unknowable. In her path of Okutti she is the queen of witches carrying within her deep and dark secrets. Her number is seven for the seven seas, her colors are blue and white, and she is most often represented by the fish who are her children.
Perhaps the most 'popular' of the orishas, Shang? rules over lightning, thunder, fire, the drums and dance. He is a warrior orisha with quick wits, quick temper and is the epitome of virility. Shang? took the form of the fourth Alafin (supreme king) of Oy? on Earth for a time. He is married to Obba but has relations with Oy? and Osh?n. He is an extremely hot blooded and strong-willed orisha that loves all the pleasures of the world: dance, drumming, women, song and eating. He is ocanani with Elegba, meaning they are of one heart. When sees the quickness with which lightning makes short work of a tree or a fire rage through an area, one has witnessed the temper of Shang? in action. Though he traded the Table of If? to Orunmila in exchange for the gift of dance, his children have an innate ability for divination. To acknowledge the greatness of this king, all in the religion raise up on the toes of our feet (or rise out our chairs if we are sitting) at the mention of his name. His colors are red and white and he recognizes himself in the numbers four and six. He is most often represented by a double headed axe.
Orunmila is the orisha of wisdom and divination. He was the only orisha allowed to witness the creation of the universe by Olorun and bears witness to our destinies in the making as well. This is the source of his title of Eleri Ipin or "Witness to Destiny in its Creation". His priests, the babalawos or "Fathers of the Secrets" must devote themselves entirely to the practice of divination and the accompanying arts. Through the Table of If? his priests unfold the secrets of the universe and the secrets of the unfolding of our lives. His colors are green and yellow which reflect Orunmila's relationship with Osay?n (the secrets of the plant world) and with Osh?n, who is his apetev? with whom he has an extremely close relationship. Orunmila is wisdom and Osh?n is knowledge, for wisdom without knowledge is useless, and one who has knowledge without wisdom is merely a danger to themselves and others.