Oshun, also known as Oxum and Ochún, is a supreme being or Orisha of the Yoruba people – the largest ethnic group of southwestern Nigeria. In the Yoruba religion, she’s also called the river goddess and is commonly associated with fresh and sweet waters, love, purity, prosperity, fertility, and beauty.
She’s the most prominent and venerated of all the Orishas but is considered to possess some human traits as well, such as perseverance, but also vanity.
What is the Yoruba Faith?
The Yoruba faith was developed by the people of Benin and Nigeria, and it consists of various rituals such as dancing, singing, as well as healing ceremonies. The Yoruba people believe that when we are born, we are assigned with one Orisha, which means the owner of our head, that accompanies us throughout our lives and acts as our protector.
In some parts of the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America, the seven Orishas are worshiped. They’re also called The Seven African Powers and include:
It’s believed that we have the same personality traits as our Orisha.
Myths About the Oshun Goddess
In many Yoruba myths and stories, Oshun is described as the savior, protector, mother and nurturer of sweet things and humanity, and the keeper of spiritual balance.
Oshun as a Creator of Life
In one of the myths, Oshun has a key role in the creation of life on Earth and humanity. Olodumare, the Yoruba supreme god, sent seventeen Orishas down to Earth to try and populate it. They were all male deities except Oshun and failed to complete the task. They needed the female deity to help them revive the Earth. She agreed to assist them, and by delivering her powerful, sweet, and fertile waters, she brought life back to our planet, including human beings and other species. Therefore, she’s considered the goddess of fertility and life, and without her actions, life on Earth wouldn’t exist.
Oshun’s Sacrifice and Determination
Unlike the supreme creator god, Orishas liked living among the people on Earth. One time, the Orishas decided to stop obeying Olodumare because they thought they could run the universe without him. As punishment, Olodumare withheld the rains, drying up the lakes and rivers. Without the waters, all life on Earth was dying. The people begged the Orishas to save them. The Orishas knew that it was they who had angered the supreme god, not the humans, so they tried to summon him and bring back the rain. Since Olodumare was sitting far up in the heavens, he couldn’t hear them.
Oshun then turned herself into a peacock to try and reach him. The long journey exhausted her, and her beautiful and colorful feathers started to fall off as she was passing the sun. But the determined Oshun continued flying. Once she reached the supreme god’s home, she fell in his arms as a vulture.
Touched by her determination and bravery, Olodumare nurtured and healed her. Ultimately, he allowed her to bring the rains back to Earth, saving humanity. He also appointed her the messenger and the only mean of communication between his house and the rest of the world.
Oshun’s Sensuality and Beauty
It’s believed that Oshun had many husbands and lovers. One of her marriages that is the most prominent and the most commonly discussed is the one to Shango, the Yoruba deity of the sky and thunder. Due to her sensuality and beauty, she was also Olodumare’s favorite Orisha.
A Contradictory Myth
In contrast to the previous myth where the goddess is the creator who gives life to Earth, other myths portray her as the one who takes
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