The Orixa Oxossi

There are many religions that feature hunters and providers. In Candomble, it’s no different. Oxossi is the Orixa that’s most commonly associated with the hunt and providing food, and is thus known as the God of Prosperity. However, like the other Orishas, Oxossi has some human failings, and can end up being the Orixa who is the father of waning or lack of provision.

Oxossi’s primary personality traits include lightness, cunning, wisdom and so on. Also, you might be surprised to know that Oxossi is not just about things like hunting and providing. He also loves the arts, and just about everything associated with that realm, be it sculpting, music composition, dance, etc.

Ceremonies & Offerings

Believe it or not, Oxossi is the one Orixa who is considered to have a partner, Ogum, who is Oxossi’s brother. They complement each other so well.

However, the focus is chiefly on Oxossi for now.

Concerning the veneration of Oxossi in Africa: such practices are essentially gone over there, but they are thriving in Brazil. Oxossi’s ceremonial  day is Thursday, and the foods usually offered him are pigs, axoxo, corn and coconut. Parades that are thrown for Oxossi often show him with his bow, arrows, shield and animal tail, which is often a symbol of leadership. He is thought to not only hunt animals and provide food, but also to hunt good energies and positive influences, and represents overall dynamism and optimism.

By contrast, despite his inherently active nature, he has a passive nature that is on the lazy side, and in reality, it is this indolent side that has his brother prodding him to learn hunting skills.

Oxossi’s colours are green, blue and bright red, with green being the most common. His personality is affable, altruistic, selfless and friendly, though he is also known to be rather tense and austere. Because he carries a bow, naturally, archery is one of his symbols, as is an ox horn that lets out a sound that translates to “Lord, hear my voice.”

Finally, Oxossi tends to be syncretistically connected with St. Sebastian in the Rio de Janeiro region, and Saint George in the Bahia area.

Oxossi isn’t quite as famous as, say, Yemanja or Omolu, but he is no less venerated, especially in Brazil, since he has three specific feast dates: Corpus Christi, April 23rd and January 20th. If you connect with the forest, and have a love for the arts, chances are, you might have a connection with Oxossi.

Candomble From Brazil: Its History and Faith

Candomble From Brazil: Its History and Faith

Candomble is often seen as a strange and unfamiliar religion, but to those who know its cousins, one of which is the Yoruba-based Santeria—which hails from Cuba—Candomble will feel vaguely familiar.

Candomble is an African-Brazilian tradition that, over time, absorbed many Catholic tenets. The word “Candomble” means “dance of the gods” and is a religion practised by “povo do santo” or “people of the saint.” While this religion is mostly from Brazil, it has over two million followers, primarily in countries such as Uruguay, Venezuela, and Argentina.

Candomble—a History

Candomble was founded in the 19th century in Salvador, Bahia, where the first temple was raised. In all actuality, however, the religion is essentially a “creolisation” of Yoruba, Fon and Bantu beliefs from West Africa. From the mid-1500s to 1888, Candomble had been influenced by the African priests who, despite being slaves, continued to teach their mythology and culture while blending in parts of Catholicism and indigenous American traditions.

Later on, Candomble practitioners were violently persecuted for their faith by the Roman Catholic church, right up till the 1970s where the ban on Candomble was repealed and the police were allowed public ceremonies.

Faith

Candomble has its roots in Yoruba, Fon and Bantu beliefs. Followers of Candomble believe in a supreme being named Oludumare, who’s served by lesser beings called “orishas,” or “orixas” in Portuguese. Candomble is an oral tradition, so there are no scriptures to follow, and music and dance are very important to Candomble’s adherents, as music and dance allow them to be possessed by the orishas.

Another interesting aspect of the Candomble faith is that it is not a dualistic religion, meaning practitioners don’t believe in the concepts of “good” or “evil,” but rather they believe that each person has a specific destiny that they must fulfil to their greatest capacity, whatever it might be.

That said, they believe each practitioner has a tutelary, or guiding, orisha which controls the practitioner’s destiny and is that person’s protector. In Candomble rituals, orishas are presented with offerings from the vegetable, animal or mineral kingdoms.

There are other entities that belong to the Candomble religion: the voduns of the Fon and Ewe (Jeje) nations, as well as the nkisis that come from the Bantu tribe.

Because of its blend of various forms of African tradition and aspects of Catholicism, Candomble has a rich history and form of spirituality well worth exploring fully.

Bead Necklaces And Their Colours In Candomble

Bead Necklaces And Their Colours In Candomble

Just as the orixas (“orishas”) are an integral part of the Candomble religion of Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, so, too are the colourful bead necklaces of the practitioners.

In many religions, certain items have specific spiritual meaning. It is no different with Candomble. The bead necklaces that are commonly worn are considered an outward manifestation of their orishas. Whenever these beads are consecrated, either by blood sacrifice or are run through a sacred herbal bath, the necklace shares in what’s called the axe’ (“ah-shay”), or the spiritual force that permeates everything.

But it’s not just the beads themselves that mean something when consecrated. When devotees learn of their guiding orishas, they will wear necklaces representing the orisha or orishas that guide them, the beads in the same colours as that particular orisha.

Additionally, when the beads become consecrated, and with the proper offering, the beads don’t just represent the divine spirits, they become those spirits, just as the Candomble practitioners become possessed of their orishas while dancing.

This sort of consecrated empowerment allows the necklaces to be protective talismans for the wearer, but they can also harm the owner. This emphasises the level of responsibility required just by owning the beads. In short, blessed and consecrated bead necklaces require a level of devotion and solemnity that ordinary jewelry does not.

The Colours of the Beads

As mentioned before, each orisha is said to choose its devotee, and passes power to that chosen person, finding a way to communicate that this is the spirit belonging to that particular individual, that that individual has the right, the power to wear the specific colour of beads, and is in the right state of mind and heart to worship and make offerings.

Each colour range, such as greens, blues, whites, yellows, reds, black and so on, belongs to an aspect of nature, of the natural force of things, emphasising Candomble’s focus on seeking to harmonise and blend with nature, the Orishas embodying and representing the powers of the wind, sun, earth, fire and water.

So to the casual onlooker, the multiple strands of coloured beads made of clay, glass and perhaps plastic are just that: multiple strands of beads. But to the Candomble practitioner who is forever devoted to their orisha, the strands of consecrated colours are much more than ordinary strands. They are a connection to their spirituality, to the earth, to the orishas themselves.

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