Pantheon of the Orisha

Yoruba mythology features a lot of awesome gods, popularly called Orisha, with their powers, quirks, and awesomeness.

I shall be compiling a list of some important ones.


He is the supreme deity, ruler over all. Yoruba Christians and Muslims alike use it to refer to their monotheistic God.


He is the ruler of the sky (orun). Yoruba Muslims and Christians also use this for their God.


He is the ruler of the seas(okun). For some reason, this never caught on as the name of a monotheistic God.

Eshu / Èṣù/ Elegbera

If you grew up in any standard Yoruba home, or substandard for that matter, you might have heard of Èṣù. You might have sung many songs of defeating Èṣù or stamping him under your tiny little feet. This is often because Èṣù is the translation for the biblical “Devil.” In truth, before Christianity was brought to Yorubaland, Èṣù was the trickster god and divine messenger between god and humans. Kinda like the Yoruba Hermes. He is also the god of chance and accident. Personally, I blame Samuel Ajayi Crowther, for translating “Satan,” into Èṣù when he translated the Bible into Yoruba. Now, Èṣù is synonymous with Satan, and I can’t tell my mum I think Èṣù is a kindred spirit without getting a full exorcism.


Shango is the god of fire, lightning, masculinity, virility, Oyo warriors, and most importantly, stone. He can transform base substances into valuable and pure things. (Full metal alchemy, who?). He is said to have been Oba of Oyo at some point. He is mainly known as the god of thunder and lightning though. Like Zeus. Although, unlike Zeus, rather than being a literal manwhore, he took just 3 wives, Oba, Osun, and Oya.


Osun is Shango’s second wife and is said to be the god of beauty, grace, and sensuality. She is also popular for being copped by Beyonce. Osun has cool powers, like, she can heal with water, induce fertility, and is the epitome of femininity. She is fond of children and honey, (although I don’t know how she feels about honey-covered children) and is often prayed to for fertility. She entered a river at Oshogbo when she was running from…(You know what, I’ll save that story for later).


Oya is Shango’s third wife. She is the goddess of rebirth, the Tempest, Guardian of the Cemetery, Winds of Change, Storms, and Progression. She entered the River Niger, for reasons.

Yemoja / Yemọja

Yemoja is the mother of waters, and the nurturer of water resources. She is the amniotic fluid in the womb and the nurturing breasts (or more eloquently put, boobies). She is the protective energy of feminine force.

Ogoun / Ògún

He is the god of iron

Orunmila / Ọ̀rúnmìlà

He is the priest and custodian of the Ifa oracle. Ifa oracle is basically like a spiritual search engine, where you can find the knowledge of the human form, purity, and cures for diseases and ailments. So basically the Yoruba google. However, this knowledge can only be accessed by Babalawos, Orunmila’s priests and followers.

He derived his nickname Oba Koso from the tales of his immortality. Shango is the Orisha of the thunderbolt, said to have ruled in ancient times over the kingdom of Oyo. Also known as Jakuta (Stone Thrower) and as Oba Koso (The King Does Not Hang)

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