Daily Myth:Yoruba: Oya



Yoruba people are an ethnic group from West Africa, more specifically the southwestern part of Nigeria. They are one of the largest ethnic group in Africa. They have their own language and their own religion (obviously). They have their own pantheon that is interesting and fun to research. So, today we will talk about one of the major Goddesses: Oya.

As always, some of these pictures are hard to find their names, or artists who made them (some may be unknown). So if anyone knows, please tell me so that I can reference them correctly.


Oya by Dylan Meconis (2012) find ’em on flickr

Quick note: The Yoruba believe that there is one major Goddess named Olorun. She is one source of everything in nature and the gods are all manifestations of her on earth. The other beings are actually spirits or deities. So, Oya is an aspect of this Goddess. I will still call her Goddess, but keep that in mind.

Oya is the Goddess of Wind, Fire, Lighting, and Magic. She is also the personification of the warrior-spirit. She has some really interesting epithets, like “the one who puts pants on to go to war” or “one who grows a beard to go for war.”

She is the manifestation of the wind,  creating huge hurricanes. Oya is said to be the spirit of tornadoes (she reminds me of Saci), creating them by twirling her skirt around when she dances. She is also the creator or lightening (her husband, Shango,  is the spirit and creator of thunder and the God of Storms). And most forms of natural destruction are tied to her. She is the deity of Change as well as the cause of Chaos.

To make her even cooler, she is the guardian to the gates of the Underworld. She is often found at the doorways of cemeteries, where she leads people to the underworld. This connects back to her role of change, as she delivers people through the transition of life to afterlife. She can also be seen as a fertility Goddess. Often Gods and Goddesses tend to house some sort of duality to their divinity. In this case, she does bring about life in the sense of afterlife so it makes sense to connect her to life.

Her favorite offering is the eggplant (I just thought that was cute and interesting to share).



Oya represent female strength and power. She is a warrior and producer of changes in life. She is a protective and fierce force. She has been described has using the winds like a sword, and as someone able to wrap herself in fire. Since she is the lightening and her husband the thunder, she leads him into battle. She has been described as wearing every possible color, except black.


Oya by Lucumi Santeria

She is heavily associated with rivers, mostly the major rivers of the people (like the Niger or Amazon, for those Yoruba people who were brought over to Latin America).

Though she is fierce she is still seen as a kind Goddess. She is both life and death. She represents gentle winds and strong tornadoes. She represents female power as both a gentle motherly woman and an untamed destructive power.

She is also accomplished at hunting. And like Artemis, the Greek Goddess of Hunting, she is identified as the deity of the moon. Her sacred animal is a water buffalo (some say she transforms into this animal), because of its horns that are shaped like a crescent moon.

As the Goddess of Wisdom she is associated with wisdom, and the guardian of the unborn. She herself is mother to nine children.

Want to know more about Oya: then check out this website: http://yorubareligion09.blogspot.com/2012/02/oyayansan.html


-Blog Barista


Oya: female empowerment

Oya: female empowerment

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