[215] Yoruba Pantheon

Completion Date: 02 August 2019
Medium: Paint & ink on cardboard
Dimensions: 30 x 40 inches

This piece shows the main Yoruba orisha (spirits) or deities.

The Yoruba people are an African ethnic group that inhabits western Africa, constituting around 44 million people in total, primarily in Nigeria.

Orisha are the human form of the spirits (Irunmọlẹ) sent by The Supreme Being (who occurs in three forms – Olodumare/Olorun/Olofi) in the Yoruba traditional account of the dawn of time.

The Irunmọlẹ are meant to guide creation and particularly humanity on how to live and succeed on Earth (Ayé). Most Orisha are said to be deities previously existing in the spirit world (Òrun) as Irunmọlẹ, while a few others are said to be humans who were recognized as deities upon their deaths due to extraordinary feats.

Orisha have found their way to most of the New World as a result of the Atlantic slave trade and are now expressed in practices as varied as Santería, Candomblé, Trinidad Orisha, Umbanda, and Oyotunji, among others. The concept of orisha is similar to those of deities in the traditional religions of the Bini people of Edo State in southern Nigeria, the Ewe people of Benin, Ghana, and Togo, and the Fon people of Benin.

The Yoruba diaspora consists of two main groupings; one of them includes relatively recent migrants, the majority of which moved to the United Kingdom and the United States after major economic and political changes in the 1960s to 1980s. The other dates to the Atlantic slave trade and has communities in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Brazil, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago, and other countries.

The Supreme being (three manifestations)

* Ọlọ́run- the Supreme Creator
* Eledumare – the ruler of the lower Heavens
* Olofi – the conduit between Orún (Heaven) and Ayé (Earth)

Metaphysical personifications or spirits

* Orunmila – spirit of wisdom, divination, destiny, and foresight
* Ori – personification of one’s spiritual intuition and destiny

Male orishas

* Aganjú – orisha of volcanoes, the wilderness and rivers
* Babalú-Ayé (Ọbalúayé) – orisha of the Earth – associated with infectious disease and healing
* Erinlẹ̀ – orisha of medicine, healing, and comfort, physician to the gods
* Èṣù – trickster, psychopomp and orisha of crossroads, duality, beginnings and balance
* Ibeji – twin orisha of vitality and youth
* Kokou – a violent warrior orisha
* Ọbàtálá – creator of human bodies; orisha of light, spiritual purity, and moral uprightness
* Oduduwa – orisha of humans
* Ògún – orisha who presides over iron, fire, hunting, politics and war
* Oko – orisha of agriculture
* Osanyin – orisha of the forest
* Oṣùmàrè – divine rainbow serpent associated with creation and procreation
* Ọ̀ṣọ́ọ̀sì – orisha of the hunt and forest
* Ṣàngó, also Shango and Changó – orisha of thunder and lightning

Female orishas

* Aje – orisha of wealth
* Ayao – orisha of air
* Egungun-oya – orisha of divination
* Mawu – creator goddess, associated with the sun and moon
* Nana Buluku – androgynous Supreme Creator
* Ọbà – first wife of Shango and orisha of domesticity and marriage
* Olókun – patron orisha of the descendants of Africans who were carried away during the Atlantic slave trade or Middle Passage
* Ọ̀ṣun – orisha who presides over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth and diplomacy
* Oxosi – orisha of the forest, the animals within it, and herbal healing
* Ọya – orisha of the Niger River; associated with wind, lightning, fertility, fire, and magic
* Yemọja – a mother goddess; patron deity of women, and the Ogun river