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What are the Orishas and Oshas? 10 Characteristics of the Yoruba Pantheon

What are the Orishas

The Orishas or Oshas they are deities who govern the forces of nature and the affairs of humanity. In the Yoruba pantheon, the Orishas are in charge of organizing them.

According to the Yoruba, each person is born with a purpose, an end and a destiny in life, but various circumstances often alter it, and it is the deities who guide us in universal disorder.

Religious meaning of the terms Oshas and Orishas

In relation to the terms Oshas and Orishas:

  • The Oshas are the deities that are placed in a specific position of the human body as important as the head during the initiation "to become holy" and
  • the Orishas They are the ones that are placed on one shoulder or in both hands.

All these Oshas and Orishas welcome and guide the believer of the Osha-Ifá religious system as a son, with whom they communicate through the mediation of the oracle and the priests.

Being related to nature and the human, these Oshas and Orishas are very similar to man in their virtues and defects.

Their Patakíes (Yoruba stories and legends) report that they have earned enough merit to receive attention before the other lesser deities.

Yoruba hierarchy of deities in the Pantheon

The Orishas also have hierarchies within the Yoruba pantheon, although they are all powerful and have important functions.

Along with the other minor and major Orishas, ​​the main deities of the pantheon that are Obatalá, Yemayá, Oshún, Shangó, Eleguá, Oggún and Orula, are the spirits of nature whose task is to help fulfill the mission of Men on Earth. .

These 7 African powers or powers are made up of deities that are main within the Yoruba pantheon.

Which are invoked as a unique force to help believers in those cases in which there is an extreme need or urgency, because their union is strong.

They can be divided into major and minor warriors and deities, according to their degree of spirituality, characteristics and powers.

The Elder Orishas:

These Orishas, ​​for example, are represented by all those deities that can be crowned in the Kari Osha ritual (become a saint) and also be guardian angels.

The opposite of the lesser Orishas that are not crowned.

The Minor Yoruba deities:

On the contrary, these are all those Orishas who are not guardian angels and cannot be crowned in the Kari Osha ritual.

Unlike the older Orishas that are crowned.

All the Orishas, ​​be they major or minor, possess powerful energies, which allow the sustenance of men on earth, they are providers of:

  • Air,
  • food,
  • water and
  • all the vital energy we need to exist.

The Yoruba Warriors:

There are four deities, which are:

  • Eleguá the owner of the road,
  • Oggún the master of iron,
  • Oshosi the vigilante and
  • Osun the watcher of the heads.

They are the first to be received by any initiate and can only be delivered by the highest ranking priests.

Eleguá, the first in the Osha

In the Osha initiation, the Elegguá power directs the life of the initiate, so we can deduce the role that Elegguá plays in the search for balance and harmony.

And it is that Eleguá is the messenger of the Orishas, ​​the mediator between human beings and deities, the communicator between the real world and the world beyond.

The warrior who opens and closes the roads.

He is the owner of our destiny, as well as of the mountains, since he is the warrior who defends those who walk the paths of life.

Curiosities and characteristics of the Orishas

  1. Each orisha is related and represented with nature and the human, that is why their defects and virtues are very similar to those of man.
  2. The orishas are divinities who govern and guide the purposes of humanity and the energy of nature.
  3. The powers of the Orishas are equal, standardized according to the role established for each one, becoming a set of forces that govern the universe.
  4. It should be noted that almost all the orishas were kings of the Yoruba nation in life, great warriors and reformers of civilization.
  5. The most popular orishas of Cuban Santeria, as in ancient Greek traditions, were mortal beings that for some reason became divine beings, deified by their people by virtue of notable acts in life.
  6. The orishas can vary, depending on the realm in which they are worshiped since who can be a feminine divinity in one realm, can be masculine in another, that is why a deity can have different paths, but they never lose their essence and the characteristics that each one possesses.
  7. In the Yoruba religion it is believed that we are all children of Yemayá, the queen of the sea, because being in the mother's placenta we swim for 9 months.
  8. The santeros believe that each person has their pre-established destiny before being born and that the orisha has the task of supervising the fulfillment of that destiny.
  9. Within the Yoruba religion, the Ifá oracle is used to consult the message or word of the Orishas before any decision that has to be made and that is of great relevance to life.
  10. Regarding dogma and doctrine, traditional religion has its pillars in:
  • The belief in reincarnation,
  • the spiritual evolution of souls and
  • the final rest of the same in the Orun (plane or spiritual world).

Learn more about Santeria and the Orishas:

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