Oya is the Orisha of the wind, tornadoes, and the gatekeeper of cemeteries. She is believed to have been a living person in Yorubaland, who ascended to become an Orisha. Her relationship with Sango differs with the region. She is either the first wife of Sango (with Osun and Oba) or his sister. The energy associated with Oya is of strength, swiftness, and manipulation. As Sango’s first wife she was truly the power behind the throne. She was jealous of his affections for Osun and in her desire to best her competition, found the secret to Sango’s power, the ability to create lighting. Her mother is Yemoja and she birthed nine children, Egungun and four sets of twins. 

Oya is known as the bearded warrior who stands equal with men. She is the protector of women. She is often called upon to help settle disputes in matters concerning love and the marketplace. She escorts newly dead souls to their burial grounds. Her fierce tornado winds destroy to make way for renewal. She is often called upon to blow her winds to change one’s life. Oya is the Orisha of the Niger River where it is said she drowned herself after learning of her husband’s (Sango) death.

She is worshipped in Africa and in Brazil and is often equated with the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of La Candelaria. Oya, who is an Orisha of a very fiery demeanor, also seems to have a far-flung connection with the Celtic Bride or Bridgit, both in Her Vodou counterpart Maman Brijit, and in Her associated Catholic saint, Our Lady of La Candelaria, whose feast day, February 2nd, is shared with Bride.

Oya’s day is Wednesday. She is most often associated with swords/machete and the flywhisk. Her number is nine, Her color is burgundy or purple and rainbows. Her metal is copper. Offerings to Oya include eggplants, plums, dark grapes, coins, red wine, and cloth.

Alternate names: Oya-are “Carrier of the Container of Fire,” Ayaba Nikua “Queen of Death,” Iya Yansan “Mother of Nine,” Ayi Lo Da “She Who Turns and Changes,” Oia, Yansa, Yanshan.

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