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The Magic of the Seven African Powers

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The Magic of the Seven African Powers

The Seven African Powers are made up of seven Orishas, revered figures in Santeria. These came to the United States and elsewhere through the African diaspora, as enslaved people tried to maintain ties to their ancestral religion. Modern descendants of the African diaspora continue to turn to these powers today.

Who are the Orishas?

The Orishas are more than human, but not quite gods themselves. They originated with the Yoruba people, who have a primary creator God: Olodumare. The Orishas act as demi-deities, or in a capacity similar to Archangels. There's no real equivalent to this in English, so they are simply called "Orishas," or, occasionally, "deities."

Who are the Seven African Powers?

The Seven African Powers are the seven most powerful and popular Orishas. These are Elegua, Yemaya, Oshun, Chango, Obatala, Oya (sometimes Orunmila or Ochossi), and Ogun. They are found in several different religions and traditions that descend from the African diaspora, including Santeria, Candomble, Hoodoo, and Arara.

The Powers themselves are:

Elegua. He rules the crossroads, the messenger between worlds, and opens and closes roads for humanity. Elegua acts as a psychopomp (someone who guides the spirits of the dead) and protector of travelers, living or dead. As the messenger between the realms, all prayers must pass through him before reaching any other Orisha. He is sometimes syncretized with Saint Anthony, Saint Lazarus and Saint Peter. His favorite offerings are tobacco, rum, candy, toys, and spicy foods.

Yemaya. She is the Orisha of the sea and motherhood. She is a nurturing presence that provides support in times of crisis, and is often called out to for fertility, spiritual growth, feminine sexuality, and all things related to caring and mothering. She protects children and women, especially those suffering from neglect or abuse. She is sometimes syncretized with Black Madonna of Regia and Stella Maris. Her favorite offerings are perfume, shells, jewelry, fish, watermelon, coconut cake, molasses, and pomegranate.

Oshun. Oshun is the Orisha of love, beauty, and rivers, similar to Aphrodite or Venus in other religions. She is called upon for guidance in matters related to love, desire, divination, romance, magic, and all things that flow -- water, milk, honey, and so forth. She is sometimes syncretized with Catherine of Alexandria and Our Lady of Charity. Her favorite offerings are mirrors, perfume, oils, fans, honey (only if it has been tasted first), river stones, amber, and yellow or orange fruits and vegetables.

Chango. He is the Orisha of lightning, power, passion, and virility. He is called upon for justice, protection, and matters related to strength and dignity. He is sometimes syncretized with Saint Jerome and John the Baptist. His favorite offerings are liquor, sugar, copper, red foods, and spicy foods.

Obatala. He is the eldest of the Orishas, and creator of humanity. He is gentle, patient, and rules over legal matters, serenity, and peace. Obatala also protects those who are blind, deaf/Deaf, or living with birth defects. He is sometimes syncretized with Jesus Christ. His favorite offerings are powdered eggshell, sugar, water, milk, shea butter, rice, and white flowers -- do not offer him alcohol!

Oya. Oya is a female warrior. She is the rival of Yemaya and Oshun, and rules communication between the living and the dead, the winds, secrets, spirits, cemeteries, and shapeshifting. She is sometimes syncretized with Saint Barbara and Teresa of Avila. Her favorite offerings are flowers, starfruit, plums, red wine, bean fritters, eggplants, and purple grapes.

Ogun. Ogun is a protective father figure and the Orisha of weaponry, tools, and iron. He is an Orisha who can heal and harm, and rules over alchemy, ironworking, weapons, and oaths. He also protects those who have a battle ahead of them, orphans, and the homeless. He is sometimes syncretized with Saint James the Great, Saint Peter, John the Baptist, and the Archangel Michael. His favorite offerings are cigars, rum, wine, red palm oil, red candles, metal, metal tools, chains, weapons, red beans, and spicy foods.

Calling Upon the Seven African Powers

Before you ask them for aid, it is important to understand and respect the culture and people that brought the Orishas to the rest of the world. Approach them with reverence. While you do not have to descend from the Yoruba people to ask the Seven African Powers for aid, if you do not respect them or their people, they will not respect you.

It is also important to understand each Orisha's likes, taboos, and rivalries. Some must never be called upon at the same time (except for as the Seven African Powers). Some have offerings that they hate. Know these things, so you can avoid mistakes.

You can call upon these powerful entities for help with spiritual growth, connecting to your inner strength and power, and removing obstacles in your life. There are many ways to do this:

The Seven African Powers rule over all things humans need -- including love, fertility, power, justice, healing, and opportunity. They are helpful when you have a great need, or want to cover your bases and bring in all of the blessings you can.