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The Orishas: Oya

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The Orishas: Oya

Oya is the ruler of storms and the winds, the protector of cemeteries and the patroness of the marketplace. This fierce warrior can summon a gentle breeze or a devastating hurricane, depending on her mood. She is a lover of nature and is the goddess of the Niger River in Africa.

The tornado is her weapon of choice, but she can also be found wielding a machete next to her husband, Shango. Oya is a force to be reckoned with, as she has the ability to summon armies of the dead to protect her in battle.

She watches over cemeteries, guarding the dead with one foot in the world of the living and one in the world of the deceased. Oya is deeply connected to those who have passed over and she is said to guide those who have died through the cemetery gates to their eternal resting place. While she is known for her passion and strength, she exudes unwavering compassion for all of our ancestors.

A shrewd businesswoman, Oya oversees the transactions that take place in the markets looking out for swindlers and con artists. Her eye is keen and she is not one to be fooled. Honesty and integrity are of great importance to Oya and she will punish those who betray her.

Oya is linked to the Catholic saint, St. Theresa. Her feast day is February 2nd and her number is 9. The symbols associated with Oya are the lightning bolt, the machete, masks and gravestones. The animals connected to Oya are deer, bats, birds, insects and water buffalo.

The Image of Oya

Oya is a tall, lithe woman who wears a beautiful burgundy dress with a grass skirt woven with nine different colored cloths. She wears nine copper bracelets on her arms and her beaded eleke contains dark brown and red beads with black and white dots on them. She dances with a horse-hair whip called an iruke and her skirt flows in the breeze as she spins. You will never find Oya wearing anything black.

She wears a nine-pointed crown adorned with nine charms depicting a gourd, a scythe, a mattock, a rake, a hoe, an ax, a pick, a lightning bolt and a shovel. Her colors are purple and brown.

Offerings to Oya

Pray to Oya in times of change or discourse. If your life is in a state of upheaval, call on Oya to provide you with reassurance and stability. She has the power to sweep away any and all negativity that is blocking your path. Oya should also be a part of any ancestry ceremonies that you are conducting. She walks the line between the living and the dead and is a gateway of communication for those looking to reach their ancestors who have passed.

The most powerful time to worship Oya is during a storm. When the rain is falling, the lightning is flashing and the wind is howling, set up your altar. Begin by spreading a handkerchief on your altar table. Place a Sweep Away/Oya candle on the handkerchief. Anoint the candle with Pennyroyal oil. Set an Oya crown and Oya Laminated Prayer Card on the altar.

Oya enjoys dark colored, sweet foods. She is a fan of chocolate, eggplant, beets, purple grapes and wine. She also likes sesame seed candy, chickpeas and black beans and rice. Be sure and have some of these foods on hand to bestow upon the Orisha. Once you have presented your offerings to Oya, place them on the altar, light your candle and recite the following words:

We give honor to Oya, the Mother of Nine.
May the winds of earth and the winds of heaven
Bring me blessings and long life.

To keep Oya close to you at all times, fill a mojo bag with some Amethyst tumbled stones, some Pennyroyal herbs, your Oya Prayer Card and an Oya camino necklace. Carry the bag with you in your pocket or purse. Wearing an Oya single-beaded or triple-beaded bracelet is another excellent way to summon the strength and protection of her commanding presence.