Oshun (known as Ochún or Oxúm in Latin America) also spelled Ọṣun, is an orisha, a spirit, a deity, or a goddess that reflects one of the manifestations of the Yorùbá Supreme Being in the Ifá oral literature and Yoruba-based religions. She is one of the most popular and venerated orishas. Oshun is an important river deity among the Yorùbá people, divine feminine, fertility, beauty and love.[1][2] She is connected to destiny and divination.[3]

Love, Beauty, Intimacy, Freshwater, Osun River, Wealth, Diplomacy
Member of the Orisha
Other namesOchún, Oxúm
Venerated inYoruba religion, Dahomey mythology, Vodun, Santería, Candomblé, Haitian Vodou
RegionNigeria, Benin, Latin America, Haiti, Cuba
Ethnic groupYoruba people, Fon people
Personal information
SpouseChangó, Erinle
Shrine to Oshun in the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove.
Abèbè, the ritual fan of Ọṣun

During the life of the mortal Oshun, she served as queen consort to King Shango of Oyo. Following her posthumous deification, she was admitted to the Yoruba pantheon as an aspect of a primordial divinity of the same name.

She is the patron saint of the Osun River in Nigeria, which bears her name. The river has its source in Ekiti State, in the west of Nigeria, and passes through the city of Oshogbo, where Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, the principal sanctuary of the deity, is located.[1] Oshun is honored at the Osun-Osogbo Festival, a two-week-long annual festival that usually takes place in August, at the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove on the banks of the river.[4][5]

Oshun is syncretized with Our Lady of Charity, patron saint of Cuba, and Our Lady of Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil. In Trinidad she is associated with St. Philomena and the Hindu deity Ganga Mai or Mother Ganges.[6][7][8]


Primordial OshunEdit

According to the Ifa Literary Corpus, Ọhṣun was the only female Irunmole (primordial spirit) sent to assist Shango to create the world by Olodumare. The other spirits that were sent began the work and ignored Ọhṣun. Ọhṣun went to her partner Shango for guidance. Although the female spirits were tempted to take matters into their own hands, they knew nothing can be done without masculine leadership. Anything they attempt to do without the male spiritual leadership would fail. Shango forced the other spirits hand to respect Oshun as they would him. Once Oshun saw the power that Shango possessed, she honored him and dedicated to serve as his wife. Through her loyalty, the Gods granted her the powers of a Goddess.[9]

Mortal OshunEdit

While still a mortal, Oshun is said to have gone to a drum festival one day and to have fallen in love with Shango. Since that day, Shango has been married to Oba, Oya, and Oshun, though Oshun is said to be his favourite.[10] Other stanzas in the Ifa Literary Corpus say that she was also married to Orunmila, who later became the Orisha of Wisdom and Divination.

It is also said that Oshun was the first woman to be referred to as an Iyalode.

Ceremonies and Ritual ColorsEdit

Oshun is the orisha of the river. Her devotees leave her offerings and perform ceremonies at bodies of fresh water such as rivers, streams and canals.

She is associated with the colours gold/deep yellow in most of the diaspora and in Nigeria, white, yellow and green. In Trinidad, she is associated with the colour pink.[11]


The abèbè is the ritual object most associated with Ọṣun. The abèbè is a fan in circular form. In Afro-Brazilian religion, it is made of brass or gold, sometimes with a mirror in the center. The abèbè (or abebé in Portuguese) is used in the rituals of Candomblé, Xangô do Nordeste, Xambá, Batuque, and Omolokô.[5]


Oxum (Ọṣun in Portuguese) is a female orixá adopted and worshiped in all Afro-Brazilian religions. She is the orixá of the fresh water of rivers and waterfalls; of wealth and prosperity; of love; and of beauty. Followers seek help for romantic problems from Oxum; the orixá is also responsible for marriage and other relationships. As the orixá of financial life, she is also called the "Lady of Gold". This referred to copper at one time for being the most valuable metal of the time. Oxum is worshiped at rivers and waterfalls, and more rarely, near mineral water sources. She is a symbol of sensitivity and is identified by weeping.[5]

The qualities or manifestations of Oxum include:

  • Iabá-Omi
  • Oxum-Abaé
  • Oxum-Abalô
  • Oxum-Abotô
  • Oxum-Akidã
  • Oxum-Apará, who is syncretized by Saint Lucy (Santa Luiza)
  • Oxum-Ioni
  • Oxum-Lobá
  • Oxum-Ninsim
  • Oxum-Pandá (Iyepòndàá or Ipondá), the mother of Logunedé, a boy orixá. Both dance to the sound of the ijexá rhythm, which takes its name from its region of origin.
  • Oxum-Timi
  • Oxum-Kare, who wears red and yellow, the color of gold. Oxum-Karé is an older, authoritarian manifestation of Oxum who is warlike and aggressive. Oxum-Kare lives with Oxóssi (Ọ̀ṣọ́ọ̀sì); offerings to Oxum-Kare must also include an offering to Oxóssi.[5]


In Candomblé Bantu Oxum is called Nkisi Ndandalunda, the Lady of Fertility and Moon. Hongolo and Kisimbi have similarities with Oxum, and the three are often confused.

In Candomblé Ketu Oxum is the deity of fresh water; the patron of gestation and fecundity; and receives the prayers of women who wish to have children and protect them during pregnancy. Oxum also protects small children until they begin to speak; she is affectionately called "Mamãe" ("Mama") by her devotees.[5]

Plants associated with Oxum in Brazil are aromatic, sweet, an often yellow, reflecting the qualities of the Orixá. They include mints (Lamiacaea). Oxum is associated with the folha-de-dez-réis (Hydrocotyle cybelleta), a plant of the pennywort family. Many species are brilliant yellow, reflecting Oxum's association with gold and wealth. She is also associated with folha-da-fortuna, or Kalanchoe pinnata.[12]


Iron chalice of Osun, one of Los Guerreros (the warriors) -- a quartet of protective deities or Orichás (including Eleggua, Ogun, Ochossi and Osun) in Santería religion. The chalice is an early warning system - if it falls danger is near.

Osun (Ozun) is another major Orichá distinct from Oshun in the Santería religion of the Caribbean (Cuba and Trinidad) brought over by West African slaves during the transatlantic slave trade. Traditionally, Osun is an agent of the other Orichás, protecting the orí (head) of Santería practitioners. He is syncretized with Saint John the Baptist.[13]

Violín for OchunEdit

A violín is a type of musical ceremony in Regla de Ocha performed for Ochún. It includes both European classical music and Cuban popular music.[14]


  1. ^ a b Murrell, Nathaniel Samuel (2009). Afro-Caribbean Religions: An Introduction to Their Historical, Cultural, and Sacred Traditions. Temple University Press. ISBN 9781439901755.
  2. ^ Coleman, Monica A. (2006). "African American Religion and Gender". In Pinn, Anthony B. (ed.). African American Religious Cultures. p. 501. ISBN 9781576074701.
  3. ^ Monaghan, Monaghan (2014). Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines. New World Library. p. 15. ISBN 9781608682188.
  4. ^ Martine, Ife. "A Yoruba Festival Tradition Continues: 50 Incredible Photos Celebrating The River Goddess Oshun". OkayAfrica.com. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e Lopes, Nei (2004). Enciclopédia brasileira da diáspora africana. São Paulo, SP: Selo Negro Edições. p. 505. ISBN 8587478214.
  6. ^ Thompson, Robert Farris (1983). Flash of the Spirit. Vintage Books. p. 79.
  7. ^ Lum, Kenneth Anthony (2013). Praising His Name In The Dance: Spirit Possession in the Spiritual Baptist Faith and Orisha Work in Trinidad, West Indies. Routledge. p. 123. ISBN 9781136766305.
  8. ^ Dabydeen, David; Samaroo, Brinsley (1996). Across the Dark Waters: Ethnicity and Indian Identity in the Caribbean. Macmillan Caribbean. p. 96. ISBN 9780333535080.
  9. ^ Kumari, Ayele (2013). Iyanifa: Women of Wisdom. uSA: maat Group. p. 40. ISBN 978-1500492892.
  10. ^ Matory, J. Lorand (2005). Sex and the Empire That Is No More: Gender and the Politics of Metaphor in Oyo Yoruba Religion. Berghahn Books. ISBN 9781571813077. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  11. ^ Stewart, Dianne M . (2006). "Women in African Caribbean Traditions". In Skinner, Rosemary Kelly; et al. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America: Women and religion: methods of study and reflection. Indiana University Press. p. 120. ISBN 9780253346865.
  12. ^ Alexiades, Miguel (2009). Mobility and migration in indigenous Amazonia : contemporary ethnoecological perspectives. New York: Berghahn Books. ISBN 9781845455637.
  13. ^ Olupọna, Jacob O. K, and Terry Rey. Òrìşà Devotion As World Religion: The Globalization of Yorùbá Religious Culture. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008. Print, pg.395.
  14. ^ [1] A VIOLIN FOR OCHÚN-WITH REGGAETON! By Johnny Frías. Cuba Counterpoints, Nov 2016

Further readingEdit

  • Ajiabde, G. Olusola. Negotiating Performance: Osun in the Verbal and Visual Metaphors, Bayreuth, Working Papers, 2005.
  • Afolabi, Kayode. Osun Osogbo - Sacred People and Sacred Places, Charleston 2006.
  • Badejo, Diedre, Oshun Seegesi: The Elegant Deity of Wealth, Power, and Femininity, Asmara 1996.
  • De La Torre, Miguel A., "Dancing with Ochún: Imagining How a Black Goddess Became White," in Black Religion and Aesthetics: Religious Thought and Life in Africa and the African Diaspora, Anthony Pinn, ed., Cambridge University Press, pp. 113–134.
  • Fakayode, Fayemi Fatunde, Osun: The Manly Woman, Athelia Henrietta Press 2004.
  • Murphy, Joseph M.; Sanford, Mei-Mei. Osun Across the Waters: A Yoruba Goddess in African and the Americas. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.
  • Probst, Peter, Osogbo and the Art of Heritage : Monuments, Deities, and Money. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.
  • Popoola, S. Solagbade, Ikunle Abiyamo: It is on Bent Knees that I gave Birth. Asefin Media Publication, 2007
  • Akalatunde, Osunyemi, Ona Agbani: The Ancient Path: Understanding And Implementing The Ways Of Our Ancestors . Createspace, 2005
  • Oshun The Poet, "Flow Like Oshun: Book of Haikus". Createspace, 2018

External linksEdit