Orisa Osun, The Source

One of the most popular Orisas amongst the 401 gods of the Yoruba people, Osun (Oshun) is revered and worshipped as a river goddess in control of divinity, femininity, fertility, beauty, and love, likewise connected to destiny and divination. History records Osun as one of the wives of Sango (Shango) of Oyo, with some, putting her as his favorite over the famous goddess of winds and storms, Oya.

Osun is noted to be the patron saint of the Osun River in Nigeria which bears her name and has its source in Ekiti State but passes through the city of Osogbo, where the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is located. The Grove is the key Sanctuary of the deity and, a two-week-long annual festival that takes place in August happens at the Grove on the banks of the river.


One of the popular stories told by the Ifa Literary Corpus mentions Osun as a mortal who fell in love with Shango alongside Oba and Oya, also said to be his favorite. Other stories mention she was also married to Orunmila, who later became the Orisha of Wisdom and Divination.  It is also said that Osun was the first woman to be referred to as an Iyalode.

A multidimensional goddess, she is known as the "Source". The source of a river, a people, of children, of wealth, and life. She represents the renewing source of life. She is also the child-giving power of water. Owner of sixteen cowrie divination (Eerindinlogun), Osun is also Odo Aro, “blue river”, the birth canal where the ori is developed. She is also the source and condition of political power, as leader of the Aje (the Mothers, Iyami). As such, she is a founder of the Ogboni Society, the council of elders that bestow kingship.

Orisa Osun symbolizes all aspects of feminine sexual nature. She is Iwa Wundia (Virginity); the fruit ripening on the vine - approaching its readiness to satisfy the hunger and the senses of the one who is so fortunate as to taste her sweetness. She is Iwa Obinrin (Womanhood); embodying all of the Feminine and Masculine attributes of a mature sentient being, and providing the only canvas upon which the male can outline his accomplishments as a man; she is the 'mirror' that reflects the male to himself. If the male fails to respect, nurture, elevate, support, and protect the woman and the fruit of her womb, he has succeeded only in diminishing himself.

 Osun is also Pansaga Obirin (the Temptress, Prostitute) - who through her pleasures, can tempt man to risk the throne that he has, or inspire him to seize the throne of another. When the Ase became self-aware and gave birth to Olodumare, and when Olodumare experienced the first emotion, Love - the aspect of the Ase that is Orisha Osun was ‘born’.

Just like Esu, she can also change at will. She can be the talkative and attractive 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.

Although Orisha Obatala is the Lord of the Secrets of Balance and Equality, and the Owner of the Mysteries of the Feminine and Masculine Principles, it is Orisha Osun who is the Owner of the Forces of Attraction, Ibadana (Affinity), between the male and the female. Although Yemoja is the Owner of the Mysteries of Motherhood, it is Osun who manipulates the sexual nature not only of the 'god seekers', but of all creatures and creations. As the river's journey is ultimately towards the ocean, the affinity between male and female creations is ultimately towards reproduction.

She is the Compassionate Mother and the ferocious 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 (Aje) 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, Osun carries a brass cooling fan in one hand and a brass cutlass in the other. Strength and compassion; brass and honey.

The entire abdominal area is sacred to Oshun, and for that reason, women who wish to bear children propitiate the orisha to help them achieve their desires. But childbearing is only one of Oshun's concerns. The orisha is also responsible for all abdominal illnesses and operations. Orisha Oshun is Oluwa Awo Inu Didun Ipilese (the Owner of the Mysteries of the Pleasure Principle). Oshun is the orisha of unconditional love, receptivity, and diplomacy. Oshun is associated with honey because it (honey) is both pleasing to the senses and has great powers of healing.

Osun is the orisha of the river. Her devotees leave her offerings and perform ceremonies at bodies of fresh water such as rivers, streams, and canals. She is associated with the colors white, Yellow, Gold, and sometimes coral.


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