Warrior orishas: Elegua, Ogun & Oshosi




Eshu is lord of the detail; the minutiae of life in all their glory are his domain. From his privileged vantage point he has the knowledge and the power to understand human nature, to change destiny, and educate like no other. He is the one that governs the beginning of everything in existence and so is truly metaphysical. He is the first step on the path that may lead to riches or ruin, however this may be interpreted. He is the grand gesture and the surprising element of synchronicity. By examining and getting to know him through his peculiarities it will be evident that Eshu is not easily comprehended by clumsy metaphors or rehashed catchphrases; we will have to try another method, an investigation of the particular so as not to gloss over some of the finer points. Here we examine his nature through examples of his actions, trying to marry several distinct threads in order to expound on the tenable elements of Eshu’s countenance.

 From "Beguiling Eshu" by Martin Tsang in "Esu: Yoruba God, Power, and the Imaginative Frontiers"

Edited by Toyin Falola.  2013

Please click on any photo to see more

One of the most complex and multi-faceted deities of the Yoruba pantheon is the Orisha Ogun. Ogun is the Orisha of progress, with all of its attendant joy and pain. As a primordial force, Ogun represents the journey that humanity takes in the formation and maintenance of civilization and society. He is the technological progress that spreads civilization into uncharted territories and, at the same time, brings us closer together with greater abilities to communicate and travel. Ogun is the blood, sweat and tears of the workers who toil 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to bring comfort, protection and convenience to our lives.


Ogun’s unique blessing is the ability to turn raw material into useful goods; the ability to turn nothing into something. He is blacksmith and metalworker, craftsman and architect. This ability is not limited to the physical realm. Ogun is also the Orisha who turns ideas into reality. Progress does not always come easy. Ogun is also the Orisha of war. Wars sometimes must be fought against those who would impede growth and change. Ogun brings the death that is often a necessary or inevitable part of evolution.


As a neutral force, the gifts Ogun gives to the world are often misused by humanity. As often as technology brings healing and progress, it brings death and destruction. The same knife that can be used to dine can be used to kill. All tools and weapons are the property of Ogun, as are all modes of transportation. Ogun is often propitiated at the railroad tracks, railroads being symbols of progress and revolution. He is also propitiated in the woods, and many of his rituals symbolize Ogun’s journey from the wild into civilization. Ogun is the sacrificial knife that kills for the other Orishas... without him no other Orisha would eat. Although Elegba is offered the first sacrifice, it is actually Ogun, as the knife, who eats first.

Ode bí tolá

Ode bí tolá

Ode bí lóde


The Hunter gives birth to wealth

The Hunter gives birth to wealth

The Hunter gives birth to the wilderness





Oshosí, the elusive orisha of the hunt is also known as Ochosi in Cuba and North America and Oxossi or Ode in Brazil. He seems to have escaped (hidden from?) the attention of many Yorùbá religious ethnographers, perhaps because his cult is so exclusive and concentrated to certain geographical areas. 


Oshosí Alàlu, the, owner of the town, the one that countenances between the court of Obatalá and the world and brings the blessings of Olódùmarè. Oshosí 's worship flourished in both Cuba and Brazil. Many of his priests were taken through slavery to the Caribbean and Latin America. Kétu, the Beninois Yorùbá kingdom where Oshosí was highly venerated, was subjected to repeated attacks by Dahomey from 1789 onwards. This resulted in a proportionately high number of Oshosí's priests being enslaved and transported to the New World (Matory 1994, Smith 1988:58, Verger 1981). 

Garabato / Ogo Eshu for caminos of Elegua that take black and white. Eshu Afra is one such path. The Garabato has been decorated with charms - keys, bells, dice, a wooden mask, ojo de buey seed, mother of pearl horn, and coins.Title. 

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