Orixas: Nature Gods

Ossain-received_1066113386766934-mdOne of the most important aspects of the Candomble religion from Brazil are the group of orixas, or “orishas” that are honoured and revered with ritual offerings.

Orishas serve the supreme being Oludumare, and are considered powerful nature gods, who were originally the ancestors of the Yoruba, Fon and Bantu people, among other tribes. Other Yoruba-based religions also honor the orishas, so if you’ve done any reading about other such paths, Candomble might seem familiar to you.
Each orisha has the power to control a specific aspect of nature, and each orisha also has a favourite meal, drumbeat, day of the week, and a particular ceremonial greeting.

There are many orishas, but here are four, just for example:

1) Yemanja/Iemanja: Queen of the oceans and mother of all orishas. Protects all fishermen. Her special day is New Year’s Eve, where devotees ask blessings of Yemanja, placing white flowers by the shore. Her dance emulates the waves from whence she comes, and her colours are blue, white and green.

2) Exu: Like an orisha-style version of the god Mercury, Exu is responsible for communications between the gods, humans and ancestral beings, and has the power to create calm or chaos. Therefore, he is the first orisha to be presented with an offering at all rituals. He is the most human-like of all the orishas: neither fully good nor fully bad, and his colours are red and black.

3) Oxossi: He is the orisha god who protects the creatures of the forest, and hunters who hunt to eat, but does not look with favour on those who kill unnecessarily. He is the king of the Ketu nation, and dances aggressively as if hunting with his bow and arrow and his colours are blue and green.

4) Ossaim: He’s the god of the sacred force of leaves. A healer, he knows the powers of the leaves, and his dance emulates the action of picking leaves from the plants and trees and placing them in his pouch to pass over those who need bodily purification. His colour is green and his special day is Saturday.

There are many other orishas, each of them holding a particular power of nature. The world of these being is vast and fascinating, yet also quite accessible to those who seek light and encouragement in their lives, as well as a way to connect with the powers of nature.

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