The complete text of Essays on Life, Art and Science

WEST AFRICAN GOD AND GODDESS (2)

                   Sculptured impression of Olorun

1. OLORUN
Also known as OLURUN, OLODUMARE
Supreme Sky God of Peace, Justice and the Yoruba way

He's the great king of the Universe and the glorious pinnacle of Yoruba mythology. But he's especially good at passing the buck. His wonderful blueprints for planet Earth were amazingly ambitious. But he prudently decided to delegate the job to someone else. It wouldn't do for the Master of All to get his hands dirty.


So he summoned OBATALA, greatest of his ORISHAS, handed over the Chicken of Creation and told him to get on with it.

This led to all kinds of embarrassing complications before life as we know it was achieved. See OBATALA's entry for the whole story.
                                                Artistic impression of Olorun

Olorun-God in the Lukumi Faith

The Supreme Being, Olorun, is the least mentioned and most worshipped force in the Yoruba religion. This seeming paradox has led to the two most common misconceptions encountered among both observers and practitioners of the religion; the first being that Olorun is a remote deity seldom honored in ceremony and the second being that Yoruba religion is pantheistic.

The concept of God in the Lukumi belief system has been referred to as "diffused monotheism."* Although this label is somewhat problematic, it is, for the most part, a valid assessment. God is singular but is worshiped through many faces or aspects. Because all things are part of God, each spirit, ancestor, and deified force of nature (Orisha) is a facet of the One. Therefore, every act of worship, whether it be directed toward the Dead, the Orishas, or even one's own consciousness (Ori), is ultimately dedicated to Olorun. The avenues may be manifold, but the recipient of worship is always the Supreme Being.

The omnipotence and omnipresence of God in our religion extends beyond spiritual forces and therefore beyond the concept of God of most monotheistic faiths. It must be understood that in the Yoruba belief system, Olorun is composed of all beings, both divine and mundane. All of the universe and its inhabitants, material and abstract, are cells in the body that is God. Olorun is present not only around everything but also in everything. This being taken into consideration, it becomes clear that all acts, in the end, affect and relate to the whole, which is God.

This concept lends itself to an entirely more complicated moral standard than one finds in Judeo-Christian faiths, in which divinity is removed or separate from humanity. When one must take into account the inherent divinity of everything, the consequences of one's actions must be much more carefully considered.

The religion has been criticized by the uninformed as being a pagan cult that does not recognize God, the Supreme Being. I must answer that we recognize nothing but God, the Supreme Being.
              Olorun
The Names of God

    Olorun (Owner of heaven--the unseen realm; olo--owner, orun--heaven)

    Olorun is the name most commonly used to refer to the Supreme Being. He/She is the owner of the invisible realm of creation that guides evolution. All spirits recognized in the religion are knowable aspects of Olorun.

    Olorun is the incomprehensible source of creation, the primal creator. Olorun is the name applied to God when referred to as the creator of the universe.

    Olodumare (One who owns the realm of never-ending possibilities; olo--owner, odu--repository of possibility, mare--from Oshumare, the serpent of infinity)

    Essentially, the names Olodumare and Olorun refer to the same force, but with slightly different shades of meaning. Olodumare refers to God in His/Her aspect as architect of continuous creation. The name describes the repository of possibility and circumstance from which each moment is born. Olodumare is the receptacle for Odu, which are the constellations of possibilities that contain all events past, present and future.

    Olofin (One who has sovereign rule)

    It must be said that Olofin was not considered an aspect of the Supreme Being among the Yoruba in Nigeria. He was originally an Orisha who was related to Odua and Obatala. Even now in the New World, Olofin is considered by many to be an extremely elevated road of Obatala.

    When the Lukumi in Cuba were reconstructing their ritual system and aligning it with the new environment in which they found themselves, they became aware that their captors viewed God as a trinity. They recognized the Father and the Holy Ghost in Olorun and Olodumare, respectively, but they had not formerly recognized a third aspect of the most high God.

    Upon examining Jesus, the other component of the Catholic trinity, they found that he was looked upon as the knowable and reachable face of a force otherwise incomprehensible. They came to associate him with Olofin, who was the highest of the Orishas and therefore the most elevated and closest to God yet still with the realm of human comprehension. The term also referred to kingship by divine right, which they also associated with Jesus.

    Within the Lukumi faith, Olofin is therefore the highest knowable aspect of divinity, the most elevated force that humans can attempt to conceptualize. He is humankind's personal God.

Praise names for Olorun/Olodumare/Olofin:

    Alabosudaye (Extensive protector of the earth)

    This, one of the most well known praise names of Olorun, directly refutes the misconception of the Supreme Being as a remote and distant deity. As "extensive protector of the earth," Olorun is interested in the welfare of the planet and its inhabitants on the greater scale. Olorun sees and acts in relation to the big picture. This is why the events that occur in our world often baffle us. Olorun works in mysterious ways.

    Alabosunife (Extensive protector of the city of Ife)

    Ife is the Yoruba Eden, the point from which all life began. Olorun, as protector of Ife, looks after life from its source.

    Elemi (Owner of breath)

    Olorun is the only divine being who can directly give life. When an individual's body has been formed and destiny has been chosen, Olorun is the one who breaths life into their body. In addition to "breath," emi can also be translated to mean "spirit" or "life force." Olorun gives us not only the breath of life but also our soul.

    Olojo Oni (Owner of this day)

    God creates each day and each moment anew. One must never forget that regardless of which Orisha or Egun or spirit guide exerts its influence in a given day, the true owner of the world is and always will be Olorun. There is no being who is not mandated to bow to the omniscience, omnipresence, and supreme authority of God.

    Oyigiyigi Ota Aiku (The immovable stone that does not die)

    Alaye (The one who lives)

    Both of these names refer to the immortality of God. The fundamental religious belief of the Yoruba is that of continuous creation. Energy cannot be destroyed; only its form can be altered. No matter what single element of God is destroyed, whether it be an individual, a river, or an entire species, God in His/Her entirety will continue to exist and create.

    In the words of a popular Yoruba proverb: Ishe Olua kole baje o--The work of the Lord (that which God has made) cannot be brought down (can't be destroyed).

2.   ODUDUWA
                                                        Sculpture of Oduduwa
Also known as ODUA, ODUDU, ODUDUA

Last-minute Creator of the Earth after his brother failed to show up.

His mighty brother OBATALA, one of the elite of the ORISHAS, was given the task of building the Earth. To get him started, OLORUN, the God of the Sky, gave him a handful of mud, a chain, a five-toed chicken, and detailed instructions.

But like so many builders throughout history, OBATALA failed to turn up. Instead he had gone to a party.

Seeing his chance for fame and glory, cheeky little brother ODUDUWA pinched the holy building materials and attempted to jerry-build the Earth himself. It was only D.I.Y. on a slightly larger scale, he thought.

Advised by a friendly chameleon, he lowered the chain over the edge of heaven, climbed down, and tossed the lump of mud into the primeval sea. The five-toed chicken hopped onto the mud and began scratching it in all directions.

Pretty soon there was a decent size landscape and thus was the Earth born. For an amateur builder it wasn't bad. Okay, it was a bit rough around the edges and some of the mountains weren't straight, but at least the job was done on schedule. OLORUN was so pleased with ODUDUWA that he promoted him to God of the Earth, while sodden older brother OBATALA sunk into disgrace.
                             Artistic impression of Oduduwa

ODUDUWA, THE ANCESTOR OF THE CROWNED YORUBA KINGS

Oduduwa, phonetically written as Odùduwà, and sometimes contracted as Odudua, Oòdua, is generally held among the Yoruba to be the ancestor of the crowned Yoruba kings.
Several legends concerning the origin and ancestry of Oduduwa abound in Yoruba and Benin mythology. The Yorubas believe he is the father of the Yoruba’s and progenitor of all Yoruba Oba's and the Oba of Benin. The Benin believe that he is a Benin prince called EKALADERHAN who was banished by his father, the Ogiso of Benin. His name, the Benins claim, is derived from 'Idoduwa", a Benin word meaning fortune's path, symbolizing the painful exile from his ancestral home. In support of this, they claim, Oduduwa's son Oranmiyan later returned to Benin to rule the Empire around 1,000 AD. Oduduwa is believed to have had several sons (16 in number) who later became powerful traditional rulers of Yoruba land, most notably Alafin of Oyo, Oni of Ife, Oragun of Ila, Owa of Ilesha, Alake of Abeokuta and Osemawe of Ondo. Yoruba tradition holds that Oduduwa fled from Mecca to Ile-Ife, bringing with him the Ifa religion which was under persecution in Mecca. He established it firmly in Ile-Ife and founded the Ogboni cult to protect the ancient customs and institutions of his people. The Oduduwa shrine is still worshipped today in Ile-Ife as the cradle of Yoruba culture.
Oral history of the Oyo-Yoruba recount the coming of Oduduwa from the east, sometimes understood by Muslim sources as the "vicinity" or direction of Mecca, but more likely signifying the region of Ekiti and Okun sub-ethnics in northeastern Yorubaland/central Nigeria. A strong theory among the Yoruba is that Oduduwa came from the region of Egypt or Nubia and may have been fleeing from religious persecution or invasion, possibly coinciding with the Greek invasion and colonization of Egypt in the 4th century BCE. Oduduwa is presumed to have entered the Ekiti-Yoruba and Okun-Yoruba region. This region is near the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers, and is where the Yoruba language is presumed to have separated from related ethno-linguistic groups like Igala, Igbo, and Edo
oduduwa
he Ife oral traditions, on the other hand, tell that Odùduwà was the son of the supreme god Olodumare or Olorun, and was sent by him from heaven to create the earth. (Another version of this myth ascribes these episodes to Obatala, casting Oodua, as an usurper).
Descending from the heavens via a chain let down to Ile Ife, Obatala brought with him a cockerel, a pigeon, and a calabash full of dirt. After throwing the soil upon the waters, he set the cockerel and pigeon on the pile of dirt that, in turn, scratched and scattered it around to create the rest of dry land that became the Earth's surface.
Odùduwà  subsequently became one of the first kings of Ife, and then sent his sons out with crowns to rule over all of the other Yorùbá kingdoms, which is why all royal Yorùbá lineages claim direct descent from Odùduwà and refer to the Ooni of Ife as first among equals (popularly rendered in the Latin phrase primus inter pares in Nigeria).
Ile Ife continues to be considered the spiritual capital of the Yoruba.
see here for further insight:http://orishada.com/wordpress/?page_id=29 
And kindly take your time to read Naiwu Osahon`s scholarly work on "Oduduwa  Controversy":http://www.edofolks.com/html/osahon_oduduwa_controversy.htm

3. Oya: Lady of Storms

 Fantastic Demi-Goddess of Practically Everything

One of the most impressive ORISHAS, her corporate portfolio includes a range of essential public services such as Weather, Funerals and Lung Disease. She is also an expert marketing professional. Hence this free publicity.

As you might imagine, she has a very colorful personality, favoring rainbow hues plus black and burgundy. After a hard day's work she likes a drop of red wine. Particularly on her special day, Wednesday. And she deserves it; one of her specialist duties is looking after mucous membranes and bronchial passages. You would never think it to look at her.

OYA is not averse to a bit of strong-arm stuff and has had a few conflicts with SHANGO and YEMAYA. She also keeps in touch with the dead and is a good ancestor guide.

All this and she has found time to be the mother of nine and keep them away from the glare of publicity. They don't make Goddesses like this any more.
                                                                   mages by Danilo Lejardi at Lejardi.com
 Oya is the orisha or storms and changes. She is a much feared orisha due to her powers as she can create a storm so powerful that she can destroy towns upon towns. The winds, tornadoes and lighting are at her every command. Oya also known as Xansa, Oya Yansa (Mother of Nine) was the wife of Ogun before Shango took her away from him. Oya is said to be a lovely tall amazonic woman who is dressed in a wine color dress with a belt that holds a grass skirt with 9 different color cloths. Oya is also the owner of the market place where she would go and sell her goods to maintain her children. Oya's main home or domain is the cemetery. Now a lot of people say or believe that she is the owner of the cemetery. That's all not true. Oya is the gatekeeper. She stands at the cemetery gates and she lets the dead into the cemetery where her sisters Obba and Yewa tends to the body.

Oya is a great warrior who loves to go to battle alongside her husband Shango. Stories say the Oya would put on a pair of pants and grow a beard just to fight like a man at war. Oya has a younger sister named Ayao who is the orisha that resides in the clouds in the sky. It is Ayao that gives her sister Oya the ability to take the spirits of the dead to go fight alongside her which makes up her powerful army.

Oya has brought down many men, many towns and many lands. But as a warrior she protects her children with a strong look and with her destruction she brings changes. Whenever there is a storm that brings destruction, change is needed to rebuild. Sometimes the land is expanded for new homes or new business. That's Oya. She has helped all the orishas in one time or another. As well she has feuded with the orishas at one time or another. Oya is the one that convinced Obba to cut her ear to feed to Shango. Oya is the one that brought down Osain’s gourd where he kept most of his secrets of the herbs.

She also had a feud with her sister Yemaya in which she does not eat ram anymore. At one time she did but due to that disagreement she doesn’t anymore. Let me clear something. Oya and Yemaya are not enemies. The only dilemma between them is the ram. It is said that one day Shango was eating with his mother Yemaya and Oya and with his court and Oya saw that he was giving all of his attention to his mother and Oya became very jealous. Oya saw that Shango gave his mother Yemaya first bite of the ram and since that day, Oya said she will never eat it again. One of Oya’s characteristics is the wind that causes hurricanes. Hurricanes come off the coast of Africa where her town is and logically, a hurricane needs the assistance and strength of the ocean to come on shore to bring change.
           "Oya" (c) Hrana Janto:http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=3988511051603684451#editor/target=post;postID=5257947505629758834

Pataki of Oya

Chango was at a party one day having the time of his life. Chango was drinking and dancing like no ever. He was swaying his hips and showing all his sexual masculinity. His crown was kept firm on his head as every moment he did, it did not move. That was to show all that he is truly Chango, a king. Everyone in the party was enjoying Chango and was cheering him on. The great king of Oyo kept on drinking and did not realize that some of his enemies were outside of the party noticing Chango.

The party was dying out and Chango decided to leave the function. He went around the room giving his good bye to everyone. He was eyeing some of his mistresses that were there to see if they would go home with him. Chango staggered to one of the corners of the party where his enemies were hiding. Within a minute, his enemies grabbed him and tied him up. No one in the party saw and Chango was taken to a cell where his enemies kept him.

Days passed by and Chango was no where to be found. Oya who was married to Ogun already had left Ogun and had a fling with Chango. Oya also did not hear anything from Chango. She did notice that Chango had left his pilon (a wooden pillar that Chango sits on) and his mortar (where Chango hides his secrets) in her house. Oya grew very weary and was worried about Chango. But besides her worries Oya was very inquisitive and wondered what was so special about Chango’s pilon and mortar. She moved the red cloth that was covering his pilon and mortar and saw nothing special about it. When she touched the mortar she noticed that it had a gleam to it. Inside the mortar there was some kind of clear liquid that vibrated. She looked closer and an image started to form in the liquid.

In the image in the mortar was the face and body of Chango. Oya saw that Chango was being held captive by his enemies. She saw that he was locked in a cage fit for a dog and his enemies were surrounding the cage making mockery of him. Oya looked harder into the mortar and saw that Chango was in a rage but he couldn’t do anything because he didn’t have his oshé and his powers. Oya grew upset and lighting sparks started to form in her hair. She yelled up in the sky and called for a centella (lighting) to come and help her and she would ride it to find Chango. With that the image of Chango’s face reflected in the liquid and Oya grabbed the liquid and put it to her lips, as in to kiss the face of her loved Chango.

In that instant Oya’s lips and mouth started to burn her furiously. She staggered back and forth wondering where the heat was coming from. She ran outside of her house to where she had a well to grab some water. The water did not do anything to ease the pain. She finally opened her mouth as she could not stand the burning sensation and when she did a huge fireball came from her mouth. Everywhere she turned and screamed out, fire was released from her mouth and everything was burned on fire. At this moment a centella crackled in the sky and fell right to her feet. Oya screamed and stepped onto the centella. The centella rose to the sky and Oya was standing on it and the centella proceeded to take her to where Chango was held captive.

In a second the centella was above the place where Chango was kept and when the centella started to come down, Oya who was riding it screamed a war cry and fire was released from her mouth. Another centella came from the sky that broke the locks that were holding Chango. When Chango’s enemies saw Oya coming down on a centella breathing fire they all ran for cover. Chango was wondering how was he released and when he ran outside he grabbed his oshé and he saw his mistress Oya standing in the fields surrounded by centellas that crackled around her and that she was breathing fire. Chango was reluctant to run the other way because he never saw Oya in this state. Oya sent another centella to grab Chango and he to was standing on a centella alongside with Oya. Chango started to throw thunderbolts with the help of his oshé while Oya was throwing lighting and fire upon the enemies of Chango as they rose into the sky together.

They both arrived at Oya’s place safe and Chango was still in amazement of Oya’s actions. He told her that the only one who knew the secret of him throwing aiña (fire) was him and that secret was kept with his pilon and mortar. Oya turned to her lover and told him that she looked into his mortar and tasted the secret that he had there. Chango was upset that she discovered his secret but he was grateful that she saved him. From that day when Chango goes into battle, his mistress Oya goes in alongside him fighting.

Oya’s feast day is February 2nd. She is associated with Our Lady Teresa and Our Lady of Candelaria. Her number is 9 and all its association. Her color is maroon or a dark wine. Oya also takes 9 other colors that are her children. Those children make up the rainbow and they live in the skies making the crown of the orisha Ochumare. She is the queen of the dead. Oya is the official secretary of Olofi. She knows when life is being born and when life is dying. She is the air we breathe everyday. Oya stands at the cemetery gates and she marks down every body that comes through the gates of ile iku (cemetery). In the house of the priest, Oya lives in a brown or wine color tureen where her secrets and mysteries are kept. Some houses have her with water and some do not. I believe she shouldn’t be with water. The only time I put water on her is to calm her down when she is upset and to refresh her. She also takes an iruke that she uses to clean the dead and clean new paths.

Her crown is made up of copper in which that is her main metal. All of her tools and weapons are made up of copper. Oya’s sacrificial animals are black female goats, hens, pigeons and guinea hens. Oya’s children are very outgoing and strong willed people. There are very spiritual individuals at they have the gift if used correctly, to communicate with the dead. She is initiated on the heads of her followers in which is a lengthy and mysterious procedure. Her ceremonies are one of the most gorgeous due to all of the many colors that are used. Her zarasa (the throne of the dead) is made up of multiple plates that are placed for the dead. These plates range from 29 all the way to 209 plates of different offerings to the dead of her initiate and the spirits that her initiate collects to walk alongside her.

Oya is the owner of the mask as she at times is wearing one. Some people say that no one can stand to look at the face of Oya because it is too horrific to look at. I don’t believe so. I believe that she is a beautiful woman; she just doesn’t like to be messed with or fooled with. She is good to use to take masks off of people who you believe that are being two faced with you. She is also good to use when one wants change in their lives. She is a good healer but she loves to defend and be at war when war is present.

Ayao

Ayao is the younger sister of the orisha Oya. Ayao is said to reside high in the clouds of the sky or at the top of the cieba tree. She is said to sit there and help guard the spirits that pass through her clouds to reside at the kingdom of Olofi. Ayao is an orisha that is given to the children of Oya. Now any priest or priestess can receive Ayao. Her secrets are kept in a tureen that is kept high in the house of the priest. This orisha can never touch the ground as her ceremonies are done on top of a table. It is said that when an initiate of Oya is performing their consecrating birth, the spirits that they pick up are tended by Ayao. When Oya is getting ready for battle she calls her sister Ayao who releases those spirits to aide Oya in battle. She is not initiated on the heads of anyone.
Source:http://agolaroye.com/Oya.php

4. YEMAYA
                 Artist impression of Yemaya
YEMAYA
Also known as IAMANJIE, YEMANJA, YEMONJA, YEMAYAH
The Mother of Water and Childbirth

Her stylish blue and crystal skirts billow in wave-like motions. One of the ORISHAS, she is a sensuous, slow-moving figure, just like the water she represents. Very calm and soothing for birthing situations. But she has a curious aversion to salt — so she will float over the ocean but not in it.

YEMAYA is also a Moon Goddess and the number seven has special significance for her.
Yemaya lives and rules over the seas and lakes. She also rules over maternity in our lives as she is the Mother of All. Her name, a shortened version of Yey Omo Eja means "Mother Whose Children are the Fish" to reflect the fact that her children are so numerous that they are uncountable. As modern sciences has theorizes and ancient cultures have known, life started in the sea. As an embryo we all spend the first moments of our lives swimming in a warm sea of amneotic fluid inside our mother's womb. We must transform and evolve through the form of a fish before becoming a human baby. In this way Yemaya displays herself as truly the mother of all, since she is the seed of all the paths or manifestations. Joined with Yemaya in the Yoruba tradition is Olokun, the source of all riches and unfathomable power. Yemaya dresses herself in seven skirts of blue and white and like the seas and profound lakes she is deep and unknowable, but also caring and nurturing. In Candomble, Santeria and Ifa Yemoja is considered the ultimate matriarch symbol. Yemoja embodies all characteristics of motherhood, caring and love. This maternal source of divine, human, animal, and plant life is most widely symbolized by the ocean. However, in Yoruba land, Yemonja is the deity of the Ogun river, which is the largest river within the territory of the ancient Yoruba. In the new world Yemonja is the deity of the top part of the ocean and has incorporated many of the characteristics of Olukun. In all cases Yemoja represents the birthplace of life on earth. In ancient Yoruba river was the largest, most powerful body of water; therefore belief held that in the rivers was life spawned. As Africans of the Ifa religion came in contact with the ocean during their forced migration to the New World, Yemoja evolved with greater proportions, and consequently, the ocean became her symbol, the womb of the world. As a result of the middle passage Yemonja became one of the most prominent and worshipped deity in the New World. For instance in Brazil, specifically in the African derived religion, Candomblé, Yemaya is considered a national deity and savior for having protecting their ancestors during the middle passage. Among the Orisha, she is the mother of the most powerful orishas including: Shango (God of thunder and lightening), Ogun (God of iron), Oya (goddess of the winds) and many others. Interestingly some of her orisha children did not endure the middle passage or were simply left behind in Yoruba land. In general these lesser children of Yemonja were more obscure, or location specific so that when Africans in the New World consolidated their orisha many of these smaller orisha were forgotten or blended with other, more powerful orisha. As a result of the middle passage, Yemoja changed from goddess of the great Ogun river to goddess of the ocean. With the forced infusion of Catholicism and the resulting sycrentism of African religions, Yemanya has been canonized in the form of the Virgin Mary. In the Gelede Cult Yemaya is considered the ultimate female power. In general Yemaya's ocean domain is confined to the top layer which contains the most life and is universally considered the womb of life. The origin of Shango, Oya, and Ochun can easily traced back to the ocean. As water evaporates from the ocean surface because of the sun's heat, it rises and forms clouds. Winds (Oya) carry theses clouds across the land. These clouds transform into thunderheads and lightening providing rain for everything to live. This rain is then brought back to the ocean via her daughter, Ochun. Although barely noticed and perhaps incorporated within Yemanya is her male counterpart, Olukun. Indeed without Olukun much of Yemanya power would not be known.



YEMONJA / OLUKUN
In Yoruba culture Yemonja is directly linked to a male energy- Olukun. According to Niemark, both orisha compliment each other. Where Yemonja is worshipped as being caring and motherly, Olukun balances her strong feminine powers with his steadfast male energy. In Santeria and Candomblé Olukun and Yemonja have been separated into two orisha. In both religions Yemonja has a much stronger following. A possible explanation for Yemonja's popularity is the strong connection with the ocean and the Africans who were brought over. In any case, according to Niemark, a Yoruba priest, " There is great danger in separating the characteristics of the single Yemonja/Olukun; quite simply, each half is incomplete. (pg. 117)" According to the Ifa religion those who connect solely with Yemonja tend to be passive and easily taken advantage of. Interestingly the opposite can be said for those who connect too strongly or exclusively with Olukun. Niemark uses Joan of Arc as an example of a person too connected to the Olukun aspect of Yemonja/Olukun.
Olukun is the orisha who resides in the dark depths of the ocean underneath Yemonja who stays within the upper layer of the ocean. While Yemonja is associated with life, fertility and creation, Olukun is respected for his ominous power that has no perceived limits or boundaries. In the Ifa tradition, Olukun is connected with wealth, and untold treasures. Therefore the ominous energy and power of Olukun balances the motherly and compassionate qualities of Yemonja. Properly combined and respected, these two orisha unite to form Yemonja/Olukun. United Yemonja/Olukun offer enormous protection, love and unlimited energy. An Ifa myth told by Niemark illustrates this dynamic duality:


...Orunmila, who, during a time when the water orisa were said to be angry with men, was informed in a dream to go to the ocean shore and offer sacrifice. Others had been afraid to approach the awesome angry ocean energy, but Orunmila did as instructed. After he had offered sacrifice, a huge wind began to whip the ocean in to mountainous waves. Suddenly one wave, so huge that it blotted out the sky and sun, rose directly in front of Orunmila. He was afraid that he would be swept away to his death by it. Instead of sweeping him away, however, the wave hovered directly over his head and then seemed to settle gently to the shore at his feet. As the water receded back in to the ocean, Orunmila looked down to see mounds of pearls and precious stones left by the water. Once again, the orisa had been appeased and humankind had been rewarded. (pg. 117) 


CHARACTERISTICS and SYMBOLS of YEMONJA OLUKUN
One transcendental theme carried from the Ifa religion throughout Cuba, Brazil and the New World is the personification of African gods. Each orisha has unique characteristics, both good and bad, that manifest in human life. The aforementioned story illustrates the deep, powerful anger of Olukun offset by the caring and generous attitude of Yemonja. Those individuals who associate with Yemonja/Olukun exhibit these characteristics. Some other characteristics associated with Yemonja/Olukun are:


love for children
a very strong temper which is slow to erupt
a sincere caring feeling for others
ability to see other perspectives
very domestic
very protective of offspring
attraction for streams, oceans, and lakes
able to forgive easily
a calm attitude
money comes easily and without worry
emotional well being is most important
very caring and comforting
a quiet sense of sensuality

By exploring Yemaya's symbol as the ocean we notice these characteristics. The tides represent Yemaya desires to protect and nurture all her children, by rocking the world as if it were a cradle. The tides demonstrate that Yemaya is "sometimes still, sometimes violent." Since Yemaya is considered the greatest mother there is no surprise that she is very sexual. The motion of the tides is reflective of her seductive hips which she moves side to side. In many cases she is portrayed as having large buttocks and healthy hips. This duality of beauty and destructive power illustrates the widely held view that Yemaya represents the dynamic play of opposites. Yemaya is very moody and protective. Since nothing can resist water she is also respected for her strength. Yemaya drowns those who hurt her children.
Besides the fish, peacocks with their beautiful blue iridescent feathers and ducks also represent Yemaya. Blue is her color and those who worship Yemaya wear a necklace of clear and blue beads. In addition to a necklace, those who worship Yemaya wear a blue dress complete with seven layers to represent the seven seas. In a Yemaya ceremony everyone dances in a circle and the altar is in the form of a circle. A circle represents the eternal cycle of life. Both the half moon and a star are symbols of Yemaya to show that her beauty can't be represented by just one heavenly body. Since Yemaya is very vain, she appreciates jewelry, perfume, and flowers. Anything that come from the sea is a symbol of Yemaya. It is said that her axé, her energy comes through rocks and shells from the sea.


source:http://www.swarthmore.edu/Humanities/ychirea1/yemaya.html


5. BABALU-AYE


 Also known as BABALUAYE
Spirit of Healing

One of the ORISHAS, he will do his best against infections and epidemics. At the moment his most pressing problem is AIDS, which he is constantly being asked to cure. Unfortunately, like most doctors, BABALU-AYE is overworked and understaffed.

He is represented as a beggar in sackcloth and walks with the aid of crutches. He has a dog by his side. A small bag filled with corn is slung across his chest. In Santeria he is represented by Saint Lazarus, who came back from the dead. He is a most powerful Orisha and can give wealth, health and prosperity to his followers. He is usually associated with smallpox, leprosy and other skin diseases. In modern times, he is associated with AIDS and people pray to him to spare them.
 
It is said that Babalu Aye was punished by Olofi for laying with a woman on a Holy Day and thus violating the sacred. He was killed and only brought back to life by the pleading of Oshun. In anger Babalu Aye is quick and terrible, a most formidable enemy. His number is seventeen and his colors lavender, black and brown. He is dressed in burlap adorned by many cowry shells
 Babalu Aye is the Orisha name for St. Lazarus, who is commonly referred to as the father of the world.
BabaluAye is the Orisha who governs epidemics and heals infectious diseases.
Though originally associated with smallpox, many of today's worshippers appeal to BabaluAye for healing from HIV/AIDs. His colors are brown, black, and purple. His number is 17. His symbols are two dogs and crutches. He is portrayed dressed in burlap. He is offered white wine, popcorn, sesame seed candy, and a variety of grains, beans, and seeds.
Many Cubans hold a vigil starting the night of December 16th. They get together and light candles and make offerings to Babalu Aye and wait for him to arrive at midnight. Come midnight they ask for San Lazaro to watch over them and keep them and their families safe and healthy.
I am not an overtly religious person but one of the two items of jewelry I wear - the other being my wedding ring - is a gold medallion of the image above that my grandfather gave me before he passed away. And to be completely honest, sometimes I really do feel like someone's watching over me and protecting me. Gracias, Primo.
The song made famous by Desi Arnaz - and the reason for this blog's name - is actually a tribute to San Lazaro, Babalu Aye. 
further elaborate information here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babalu_Aye







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