Oshun — West African, Afro-Latino, and Afro-Caribbean, Love Goddess — by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
“Oshun is beneficent and generous, and very kind. She does, have a malevolent and tempestuous temper, although it is difficult to anger her.”
“Oshun has excellent cooking skills.”
The Ifa Literary Corpus
Across the ancient world’s many civilizations, love was usually a goddesses’ domain. In the Mediterranean Aphrodite and Venus were the love goddesses of the Greek and Roman pantheons. Egypt had the goddess Isis. In the Middle East, love was personified by the goddesses Ishtar and Astarte. In West Africa, the Yoruba people believe in a love goddess by the name of Oshun. Today being St. Valentine’s Day and with this also being Black History Month, I thought this would be a perfect time to write about Oshun West Africa’s Love Goddess.
I first heard of Oshun while doing research on Afro-Caribbean religions (Black Kos) and later through some conversations about orisha with our own Denise Oliver Velez who is a practitioner of an Afro-Caribbean religion. Because of the forced migrations of West African people through the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Oshun was widely worshiped and venerated throughout the New World in the folk religions of African slaves and later through their descendants (especially in Brazil, Cuba, and Colombia).
Oshun (known as Ochún or Oxúm in Latin America), is an orisha, a spirit, 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 also an important river deity among the Yorùbá people of Nigeria and Benin. She is the divine feminine, fertility, beauty and love. She is connected to destiny and divination.
In Yoruba religious traditions, god and goddess are often famous kings, queens, and wise people, whom after their deaths are considered the reincarnation of primordial spirits. Thus most Yoruba gods and goddesses are both a mixture of historical figures and divine beings of creation. This rather unique mixture of the historical and the divine is a hallmark of the Yoruba.
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 of gods as an aspect of the primordial divine spirit of the same name. Legends tell that spirit Oshun was taught the art of divination with cowrie shells, cards, tarots, visions, possessions, songs, chants and meditations by her father Obatala, the first of the gods. She then brought the teaching of divination, mysticism, agriculture and culture to mortals. Oshun is known as the mother of the fishes of the seas and the birds of the forest. Oshun is said to be the protector of the poor and the mother of all orphans. It is Oshun who fulfills their needs in this life. She is associated with the colors gold/deep yellow in most of the diaspora and in Nigeria, white, yellow and green. In Trinidad, she is associated with the color pink
Among the Yorubas of West Africa, She is also known as Yalode, the mother of things outside the home or the mother of wealth, due to her business acumen. She is also known as Laketi, “She who responds”, because of how quickly and effectively she answers prayers.
As I mentioned early, because of the force migrations of West African people to the Americas through the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Oshun was widely worshiped and venerated throughout the New World in the folk religions of African slaves. Oshun became syncretized (combining of different religious beliefs) with Our Lady of Charity, patron saint of Cuba, and Our Lady of Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil. In Trinidad and Tobago she became associated with St. Philomena and the Hindu deity Ganga Mai or Mother Ganges.
Oshun is also the “patron saint” of the Osun River in Nigeria, which is named after her. The river has its source in the west of Nigeria, and passes through the city of Oshogbo, where Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, the principal sanctuary of the goddess, is located. Oshun is honored on the banks of the river, at the Osun-Osogbo. The Festival is a two-week-long annual festival that takes place in August at the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove.
The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is a dense forest on the outskirts of Osogbo town, western Nigeria. During the pre-colonial period, similar sacred groves were common in areas where the Yoruba lived. Over time, these sacred groves were either abandoned or shrank in size, the exception being the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove.
The grove contains 40 shrines, 2 palaces, as well as many sculptures and works of art. Due to its unique status, the Osun-Osongbo Sacred Grove was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005.
Legends tell that while Oshun was still mortal, on one fateful day she went to a drum festival and fell in love with the mighty god-king Shango. From that day forward, Shango was married to Oshun as well as the goddesses Oba and Oya. But Ifa mythology states that Oshun was Shango favourite. 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 (elder god).
The Ifa Literary Corpus (the traditional oral stories and proverbs now written in text), also states that Ọshun was the only female Irunmole (primordial spirit) sent to assist Shango to create the world by Olodumare. The other males spirits that were gathered began to work but ignored Ọshun. Feeling disrespected Ọshun went to her partner Shango for guidance. Shango forced the other spirits to respect Oshun as they would him. Once Oshun saw the power that Shango possessed, she honored him and dedicated herself to serve as his wife. Through her loyalty, the Gods granted her the powers of a Goddess.
Shango is the Yoruba the storm god. He was also married to Oya, the goddess of the winds and tempests. There are many interesting legends about the romantic, passionate inter rivalry that existed between Oshun and Oya. In fact the confluence of two rivers at a grand rapids in the west of Nigeria is named after Osun and Oya, due to the intimidating turbulence that marks their intersection.
But Oshun is infamous for humiliating Oba's her other rival co-wife in one of the most well-known tales associated with the Orisha. Historian William Bascom's identified several unusual variations of it, but the most popular myth found in West Africa, Brazil, and Cuba has Oba cutting off her ear to serve to her husband Shango as food, because Oshun has convinced her this will secure Shango's attention. Once Shango sees the ear and realizes Oba has mutilated herself, he chases her from his house.
In Brazil (Oxúm in Portuguese) is a female orixá adopted and worshiped in all of Afro-Brazilian religious traditions. She is the orixá of the fresh water of rivers and waterfalls; of wealth and prosperity; of love; and of beauty. Followers of Oshun seek help for romantic problems. Oxum (Oshun) is also the goddess responsible for marriage and other relationships.
As the orixá of financial life, she is also called the "Lady of Gold", but she first appears in the historical records as “The Lady of Copper” (as copper was the most valuable metal available to slaves of the time) and her worshipers created fans of the metal for use at ceremonies honoring her. Oxum (Oshun) is worshiped at rivers and waterfalls, and more rarely, near mineral water sources. She is a symbol of sensitivity and is identified by weeping.
Plants associated with Oshun (Oxum) in Brazil are aromatic, sweet, and usual yellow, reflecting the qualities of the orixá. Oxum (Oshun) 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. Her worship also include mints of various flavors.
In the Yoruba/Cuban pantheon of gods and goddess, Oshun is represented as a beautiful, charming and coquettish young woman, often with long flowing dreadlocks. In some tales She is said to be a mermaid, with a fish’s tail, in other more urban legends some claim she is the equivalent of Mami-water. With Oshun there are no sensual repressions and inhibitions. She is a leader in Her father’s house and is an independent woman.
In the Yoruba/Cuban religious view Oshun is associated with the color yellow, the important metals gold and copper, peacock feathers, mirrors, and anything of charm, lightness, beauty and sweet taste. Her best day of the week is Saturday and her favorite number is 5.
10th Annual Ile Eko Sàngó/Osun Milosa Rain Festival 2009 in Santa Cruz, Trinidad
Through out the African diaspora food offerings to Oshun include sweet things such as fresh water, honey, mead, white wine, oranges, sweets, or pumpkins, as well as oils and incense. Because of the history of persecution during the colonial periods and afterward, including contemporary society and media continued demonetization (especially the current rightwing government in Brazil), there is a high level of secrecy around Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Latino beliefs and practices. Traditionally, only priests, other initiates, and active devotees in a tradition take part in rituals and worship.
Tradition holds that the first interaction between Oshun and mortals took place in Osogbo (Oshogbo), Nigeria. Today the city is considered sacred, and it is believed to be fiercely protected by the water goddess. Oshun is said to have given the people who went to her river permission to build the city and promised to provide for them, protect them, and grant their prayers if they worshiped her dutifully, making the obligatory offerings, prayers, and other rituals.
Out of that first encounter between the people of Osogbo and Oshun evolved a festival, which is still practiced by the Yoruba people. The annual ceremony called Ibo-Osun, as well as the 12 day Osun-Osogbo festival held in August. The festival is believed to be at least 600 years old and it attracts thousands of visitors and spectators from across Nigeria and the world.
News round up by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
Justin Simien, who created the Netflix series “Dear White People,” has turned his attention to cinema and Black women with the horror-comedy “Bad Hair.”
Set in 1989, or what the director calls “the year of the weave,” the film showed at the Sundance Institute on January 23. It focuses on the hair struggles of TV executive Anna Bludso (Elle Lorraine) whose new, ex-supermodel boss Zora (Vanessa Williams) demands “that her nappy look has got to go,” according to the film’s synopsis. But when Anna weaves up, her weave lashes out with an evil mind of its own.
“As horrifying as the weave techniques sounded to me, the real horror I wanted to express was the feeling that Black women constantly have to choose between themselves and their ambitions,” Simien told Polygon in an interview.
“Real Life” follows a pivotal weekend in the life of a black gay student in the Midwest, something Brandon Taylor said was an effort to write himself into the campus-life genre he loves reading. New York Times: For a Scientist Turned Novelist, an Experiment Pays Off
When he set out to write a novel, Brandon Taylor, a former doctoral student in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin, approached it like a scientist.
“I have this very technical approach to almost everything,” he said during a video interview from Iowa, where he now lives. “If there is a problem, I first determine the parameters of the problem, and then I try to lay out a very systematic way of doing it.”
He started with a series of lists: Reasons he had failed to write a novel (too concerned with inventing everything, problems with setting and time frame). Things he considered himself good at (tone, dialogue). Scenes he wanted in the book (a tennis match, a dinner party). He gave himself rules, setting a goal to write 10,000 words a day. “It began in this very mercenary place,” he said, “but it moved to a place of genuine artistic interest.”
The result is “Real Life,” which Riverhead is publishing next week, a novel that merges two versions of him: Brandon Taylor the writer and Brandon Taylor the scientist.
When he was a boy growing up in a small community outside Montgomery, Ala., Taylor, now 30, dreamed of a career in medicine. “My entire life, I wanted to be a neurosurgeon,” he said. “Because if you’re a black boy from the South who is good at science, everyone is like, ‘Oh, Ben Carson, you should be a neurosurgeon.’”
For just as long, he has been writing. “As a kid, I was always writing little stories, or trying to, but I never considered myself a good writer,” he said. It hasn’t always been easy for him to reconcile these two aspirations. When he signed up for his first creative writing class, he remembers thinking, “They’re all English majors, and I study chemistry.”
Today, the NAACP announced that U.S. Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis (D-GA), will receive the prestigious NAACP Chairman’s Award during the 51st NAACP Image Awards. The Chairman’s Award is bestowed in recognition of individuals who demonstrate exemplary public service and use their distinct platforms to create agents of change. Past honorees of the Chairman’s Award include Tyler Perry, then-Senator Barack Obama, Former Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Ruby Dee, The Neville Brothers, Bono, Danny Glover, and last year’s recipient Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Leon W. Russell, Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, will recognize Congressman Lewis during a LIVE TV special on BET on Saturday, February 22, 2020 from Pasadena, California.
Along with his commitment to maintaining the highest ethical standards and moral principles as a member of Congress, Congressman John Lewis will receive this honor in recognition of his lifelong dedication of protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America.
“Congressman John Lewis is a modern hero in American history, and we’re proud to give him this award,” said Chairman Leon Russell. “In an age where our voting rights are under attack like never before, we’re honored to elevate a civil rights hero who has dedicated his life to protecting our constitutional rights, fighting injustice and speaking truth to power.”
As part of the 51st NAACP Image Awards, five-time NAACP Image Awards Winner, Anthony Anderson, will return as host of this year’s awards program, marking his 7th consecutive year in the role. Anderson is an Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actor and is currently the star and
Executive Producer of ABC’s multi-award winning sitcom, Blackish, a five-time NAACP Image Award Winner for Outstanding Comedy Series
MGM has set Dee Rees to write and direct a feature film adaptation of George Gershwin’s acclaimed Porgy and Bess. Irwin Winkler and Charles Winkler will produce. The film rights were granted to MGM by the Gershwin Estate, which worked closely with Winkler and Rees to secure them.
Originally written as an opera and adapted from the 1925 DuBose Heyward novel by composer George Gershwin with libretto by Heyward and lyricist Ira Gershwin, Porgy and Bess is a tale set in the slums of Charleston, SC. There in Catfish Row, a disabled beggar named Porgy tries to rescue Bess from her violent lover Crown, and drug dealer Sportin’ Life. It first reached Broadway in 1935, and was turned into a 1959 film that Otto Preminger directed with Sidney Poitier playing Porgy, Dorothy Dandridge as Bess, Brock Peters as Crown, Sammy Davis Jr as Sportin’ Life, and a cast that included Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll. Its stage revivals have won numerous Tony Awards.
Dealing with the rich history and updating a revered musical that seems rooted in a long-ago period might be intimidating to some. But to anyone who has observed Rees interact with her casts in discussing her films — from her debut Pariah to Mudbound (for which she became the first African American woman to be nominated for the Adapted Screenplay Oscar) and her upcoming adaptation of the Joan Didion novel adaptation The Last Thing He Wanted that premiered at Sundance and opens later this year through Netflix with Ben Affleck, Anne Hathaway, Rosie Perez and Willem Dafoe starring — her confidence and clarity of vision as a filmmaker is downright inspiring. She doesn’t seem the type to be intimidated by much of anything. And so I’ll get out of the way as she describes how she will tackle this classic material:
“Porgy and Bess is at its core, a love story,” Rees said. “So I’m very excited to take on the challenge of this highly venerated, iconic material and lift the architecture of this unlikely love story and re-site it at a place and moment of resistance.
Joseph Shabalala, the bandleader who brought the South African vocal harmony group Ladysmith Black Mambazo to global success, has died aged 78.
Shabalala died in hospital in Pretoria and the news was confirmed by the group’s manager, Xolani Majozi. No cause of death has been announced.
“Our Founder, our Teacher and most importantly, our Father left us today for eternal peace,” the choir said on social media. “We celebrate and honour your kind heart and your extraordinary life. Through your music and the millions who you came in contact with, you shall live forever.” South African president Cyril Ramaphosa called him a “veteran choral maestro”.
Shabalala started singing as a teenager with the groups Durban Choir and the Highlanders, before forming Ezimnyama in 1959. He later christened it Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Ladysmith for his hometown, Black for the local livestock, and Mambazo, the Zulu word for axe, as a metaphor for the group’s sharpness.
Their exquisitely harmonised a cappella songs in Zulu became hugely popular in South Africa after the release of their debut album in 1973. The group’s members would go on to convert to Christianity and bring religious music into their repertoire.
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