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10 Questions and answers about Oyá Yanza in Santeria

Yanza Santeria

📷 Photos courtesy of Lázaro Martínez @lachyowen, dancer of the company Raíces Profundas

Much is written about Oyá and it is that when talking about her there are not enough adjectives to describe her, because of her power in the Yoruba religion and the great blessings we receive from her hands, her deity is venerated with great faith.

Let's learn more about the power of the Orisha Oyá iyansa

En the Yoruba Pantheon Oyá It is the female Orisha that symbolizes the air and the energy of the dark forces related to Ikú (death), therefore it has great power over the Eggun (dead).

She governs and lives at the gates of the cemeteries, she also owns the markets.

In Santeria, Oyá Yanza is a highly respected Orisha because she is a great warrior who fights in wars alongside Oggun, the owner of iron, and Shango, the master of thunder.

He is an assistant (feisita) of Olofin and Orunmila, the great diviner and interpreter of Ifá.

1. What does your name mean in Yoruba?

Its name comes from the Yoruba:

  • Oyá (Olo: means owner – Oyá: means darkness).

It is also known as Yanzá (Iyansa) from Yorubá:

  • Iyámsa (Iyá: means mother – Omó: means children- mesá: it is nine).

2. How is the power of Oyá In nature?

The three domains of Oyá Yanza are:

  1. Spark,
  2. wind and
  3. storm.

When Oyá She is serene, she is presented as a hard-working, sensitive, tender and concerned woman, but when she is angry and furious she is fearsome, she can be very cruel like a hurricane or a tornado.

  • With her great strength, she causes storms, strong hurricane winds and lightning bolts.
  • He dominates the four winds together with Elegguá, Orunmila and Obbatalá.
  • the messenger of Oyá is the wind (Alef).
  • Oyá represents the air we breathe (Afefé), a fundamental element of our existence.

3. How do you dress Oyá Iyansa?

Oyá She is dressed in a saya or skirt with 9 stripes of different colors except black.

He also usually wears a yagua dress (dry fiber from the royal palm) and wears a turban with nine-color ribbons on his head.

4. What are the attributes that represent it?

in their representations Oyá It has attributes like:

  • Iruke (tool made from black horsetail hair),
  • 9 copper bangles,
  • a sword,
  • various colored scarves,
  • a copper crown,
  • a guadaña,
  • a hoe,
  • an ax and
  • many tools of work and war.

His tureen is made of clay and has 9 Carmelite Otá (stones) that must be collected in the river.

5. What is your number?

The number that identifies you is 9 and its multiples. That is why his offerings are often given in these amounts.

6. With which Catholic Saint is it syncretized and what is its day of celebration?

Its syncretism in Cuba is double, in some holy houses it is syncretized with:

  • The Virgin of Candelaria (celebration date on February 2) and
  • Saint Teresa of Jesus (October 15).

7. What are your colors?

The colors that represent it are:

  • the Carmelites,
  • brown,
  • Red wine,
  • various flowery designs.

In reality, in the Yoruba religion they identify her as the "mother of nine", which is why she is characterized by nine colors except black, she is the one who governs 9 Egguns.

8. How are your religious necklaces in the Osha Rule?

Their Elekes (necklaces) are 1 Carmelite bead with black and white stripes for every 9 Carmelite beads (brown).

In some Osha houses they are made from lilac beads with yellow stripes or alternating 9 white and 9 black beads.

9. How do you greet Oyá Yanza in Santeria and what is its meaning?

Your children greet by supporting the body on the ground on one side, always alternating the elbow, first on the left side and then the right, and they must say:

  • Jekua Jey Yanza Oyá bi Ikú which means: Oyá that gave birth, Oyá that punishes.

He is greeted and called with a pod from the flamboyant tree.oyán (Delonix regia tree).

10. What are the offerings you like to receive?

You can offer fruits almost always earthy and ocher colors, especially:

  • The eggplant,
  • the sweet potato,
  • fruits like Indian banana, coconut, and grapes
  • face Bean Balls,
  • eggplant rice,
  • corojo butter,
  • toasted corn.

In ceremonies and sacrifices chickens, guinea fowl, pigeons and goats are immolated. 

If you wish to make an offering to Oyá, we share some rituals:

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