ORISHA An Orisha (also spelled Orisa and Orixá) is a spirit that reflects one of the manifestations of Olodumare (God

) in the Yoruba spiritual or religious system. This religion has found its way throughout the world and is now expressed in several varieties which include Anago, Oyotunji, Candomblé and Lucumí/Santería. These varieties or spiritual lineages as they are called are practiced throughout areas of Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Mexico and Venezuela. As interest in African indigenous religions (spiritual systems) grows, Orisa communities and lineages can be found in parts of Europe and Asia as well. While estimates vary, there could be more than 100 million adherents of this spiritual tradition worldwide. Beliefs and Rituals The Orisha are multi-dimensional beings who represent the forces of nature. They have attributes and stories similar to the stories and attributes used to describe the ancient Greek and Roman pantheons. To the the followers of Santeria, however, the Orisha are not remote divinities; on the contrary, they are vibrant, living entities who take an active part in everyday life.[1] The Orisha faith believes in an ultimate deity, Olorun or Olodumare, who is removed from the day-to-day affairs of human beings on Earth. Instead, adherents of the religion appeal to specific manifestations of Olodumare in the form of the various Orisha. Ancestors reverence and culture-heroes can also be enlisted for help with day-to-day problems. Faithful believers will also generally consult a geomantic divination specialist, known as a babalawo or Iyanifa, to mediate on their problems. This practice is known as Ifa, and is an important part of life throughout West Africa and the rest of the world. UNESCO, the cultural and scientific education arm of the United Nations, declared Ifa a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005. An important part of the traditional Yoruba faith depends on proper alignment and knowledge of one's Ori. Ori literally means the head, but in spiritual matters is taken to mean an inner portion of the soul which determines personal destiny and success. Ase, which also spelled “Axe,” “Ashe,” or “Ache,” is the life-force that runs though all things, living and inanimate. Ase is the power to make things happen. It is an affirmation that is used in greetings and prayers, as well as a concept about spiritual growth. Orisha devotees strive to obtain Ase through Iwa-Pele or gentle and good character, in turn they experience alignment with the Ori or what others might call inner peace or satisfaction with life. ESHU is the messenger god, acting as a link between humans and the Yoruba deities (Orishas). He is also the benevolent trickster, using his tricks to teach mankind valuable lessons, and is the patron of roads, opportunities, healers and magicians. This god can be as giving as he can be cruel, therefore he was always the first to be honored during rites and ceremonies. In some traditions, he is associated with the devil (Candomble in Brazil) while in others he is the one who protects the home against dangers (Santiera), and his effigy is kept near the front door. He is also known as Eleggua. IFE is the Yoruba word for the earth, named by the creator Orisha Obatala. OBATALA is the creator of the earth and mankind in most Yoruba creation stories. He is the patron of mankind, and more specifically of the deformed, whom he created while in a drunken stupor.

OLORUN is the ruler of the sky and the father of the other Yoruba gods (Orishas), and the god of peace, purity, harmony and justice. In some cultures he is seen as an androgynous figure, representing the male and female principles in heaven and earth or even a female goddess. According to some traditions, Obatala owns everything which is white on earth: snow, air, clouds, bones and the brain. He is also known as Yansan, or Ogus in other branches of the Yoruba tradition. OLODDUMARE is the main creative force for the Yoruba, much like a modern concept of God. OLOKUN is the god of the sea, and lives in a vast underwater palace with humans and fish as servants. In some traditions this god is also seen as female. ORISHA is the Yoruba word for god. OSHUN is the goddess (Orisha) of love and pleasure, beauty and diplomacy. She is very generous and loving to man but also has an extraordinary temper, which is difficult to sway. However, in most cases she teaches mankind to overcome their difficulties through kindness and negotiation. She is also associated with money. ORUNMILA is the oldest son of Obatala and the god of prophecy. He instructed Obatala on how to create the earth. OYA is the female warrior goddess of the Yoruba tradition and the fierce Orisha of wind, fire and thunder, as well as the patron of change. When enraged she creates tornadoes and hurricanes, and is the guardian of the gates of death. SHANGO was once the mortal fourth king of Yoruba, but after his death became immortalized as a powerful Orisha of storms and thunder. Shango's storms are both devastating and cleansing. YEMALLA is the mother goddess of the sea and the moon, as well as the patron of fertility and women's issues. She gives and sustains life lovingly but, like the sea itself, is equally dangerous when in a foul mood. Yemalla is also mysterious and the keeper of ancient secrets and memories

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