Oshoosi: An Affirmation
by Alashe Michael omo'Oshoosi
* Registered © Michael Oshoosi, 2015
(Michael F. Wright Ph.D., J.D.)
All Rights Reserved
"They gossip about the dead, those alive should not be surprised.
Love your neighbors from your heart, not from your face."
(from "Drum Damba," 1990)
The spirit of the orisha Oshoosi (prn. Aw-Shaw-Aw-See, or 0-Shu-Osi) is always to be found among us: found
in his eleguns and his ofo ashe--the ones he possesses and in his sacred speech; in his otans--the stones of his earthly existence--in his diloguns or caracoles, i.e., in the cowrie shells through which he reproduces and ex- presses himself; at his altars and the thrones, the ojo'run, of his initiates, in his flecha(s)--his bow and arrow sets (his ofa)-- and, finally, in the ori(s) of his devotees, i.e., in their intelligence and destinies. (See pages in this website called "What Ain't In Ifa--Chakras" as well as "Ancestor Veneration" for explications of the concept of "ori"). Along with the orishas Elegua and Ogun, Oshoosi completes "The Warriors" triad in Yoruba religion. They are called the ebora and the ajagun (not to be confused with the term "ajogun" or "bad spirits") in Yor- ubaland and "Los Guererros" in the Afro-Cuban (Lucumi) version of Orisha-Ifa religion in Cuba and Brasil. His prototype is that of the forest and riverine Hunter. When the warriors are called to meet as a council, the ex- pression "(A)gbagun" is used to describe this call and event. (In Haitian Vodu, the loa, or Lwa, or "orisha" that corresponds to Oshoosi is called "Kouzen Zaka")
We see what he wants us to see, we hear only that which he wants us to hear. Some believe that he is elusive, a recluse of the forest (and that only). Often in vain, they look for his mountain but fail to find it; they look for his river and fail to find it. They look in his forests and do not see him. And they wait by the riverbank, but do not sense his presence.In the evening sky, and for nine months a year--the exact period of reincarnated ges- tation--his is the largest visible constellation, the Hunter. Thus each night in beholding "Ori-on" they look right at him, but do not realize that "Orion," by analogy, is he. That is, the "ori" in "Orion" is like a "Horus" or "ruler- ship" name of Osiris and of Oshoosi. (Please see the next page in this website entitled "Oshoosi Details" for a fuller explanation of the name and terms discussed here). And the greatest paradox of all: while they live in metropolitan society, never expecting to find him there, they yet do not realize that civilization and social institutions are themselves his creations.
How can you know him? By his legendary stories, his patakis? Perhaps. By his hunter's poetic ijala chants? Per- haps. Oshoosi is slow, self-contained, and patient like his avatar the turtle. But he is also swift, strong and of good character like his avatar the deer. And, finally, he is deadly in his silent attack, like his avatar the falcon
--the direct flight of the winged arrow. Oshoosi, like the Falcon (Hawk) God of Horus--is a master of camou- flage, wizardry, magic, medicine, snares, and the airborne attack--is also at home in the water, on the river- bank, in the forest, on the mountain tops with gods of the highest places like Obatala and Orisha Oke, as well as in the skies. Everyone knows that! He stalks and ambushes quarry in their very dreams.
Oshoosi is a hunter who provides a variety of animal, plant and natural resources; but they are not always the same thing each time. And, as a wizard ("osho"), Oshoosi priests often become babalawos (in order to receive and apply the medicinal arts of counter-sorcery--"Osayin"--which, itself, is the Yoruba equivalent of Latino brujeria).
The Etymology of the Term "Oshoosi" (or "Ochosi" or "Oshosi")
"Oso" (prn. Osho) means 'camouflaged pit,' and "Osi" to increase (or capture) is how one may look at the "name of this orisha. "Oson," or bow string, implying the ability to "capture at a distance."(3) Also, a version of "oso" means "wizard" or "magician, and "sise" (prn. she-shay) means "to work." "Osho-sise " therefore, means the "working wizard" or "left-handed working wizard." Similarly, "Osho wu si" ("Osho the famous one").
Oshoosi's name in Yoruba signifies the mastery of spirituality and stealth: "Osho" means wizard and "osi"
means "left" or "left-handed"; signifying "invisible sprituality" and functionality (the "left hand" being the
hand of sacred work Yoruba religion). Accordingly, Oshoosi is the only orisha in the pantheon that can "shape
shift"--become an animal--and astral travel ; especially enabling the ability to forage and hunt his quarry--"an-
imal or man--at night (a great level of stature is accorded to night hunters in Africa).Please see the treatise on
this website entitled "Oshoosi Details" on the next web page, for other iterations of the name "Osho-osi" in Yoruba as well as his oriki names (praise nicknames).
The Metaphorical Physics of Oshoosi
The nexus of these concepts can be explained this way: Oshoosi is connected to insight and a great fund of
knowledge about nature. The world to which Oshoosi uniquely has access to is divided into Okun, the "heaven" or "invisible world of darkness below," where there is no light as we know it, on the one hand, and by contrast, there is the world of Orun. Orun is the "heaven" or (ionized plasma) firmament "above" with all forms of visible and invisible light and energy--including plasmic discharges that we call "lightning" (when seen in the Earth's atmosphere)--as well as the frequencies of light that we normally cannot. Oshoosi can "see" into these invisible realms as only wizards can do. (Among other things, for this reason the ashe of Oshoosi is good for determin- ing who is lying and who is telling the truth). One of the reasons that the deer is an avatar of "Ochosi" in the Cuban Yoruba traditions of Santeria-Lucumi is because this animal--like many others--can "see" light and im- ages in the ultra-violet frequency spectrum of electro-magnetism ("light") that humans cannot.
"Genies" (ebora) in African culture can also give guidance into these areas of invisible light even though the light they see and reflect can be quite "base" or crude. But an Oshoosi elegun----one who is possessed by Oshoosi--can travel (i.e., see into) these otherwise "invisible" areas of Okun and Orun as well. Finding a straight path may be something like traveling through a "worm hole" since astral travel has to contend with the fact that, at a cosmic level, "straight" may be quite "curvy" or indirect to us since light, mass, gravity, etc. are all "warped" (or bent) and wavy--even here on earth as we can see--but usually do not. In this fashion the ashe of Oshoosi includes the mastery of the calculus of archery as this orisha's arrows never miss their targets even if they have to go around corners or through "warps" to arrive at them; even while their flight paths may ap- pear to be "straight" to us.
[Indeed, as an adherent to "EU" theory--the Electric Universe theory and its variant called plasma universe theory of cosmology (as contrasted to a "gravity-based" theory of cosmic functioning based on Newton and Einstein)--I believe that Oshoosi's rooting in the olodu or story of Irosun--like Shango and his thunderbolt's rooting in this "olodu "--aids his adherents in comprehending the electrical and plasmic laws of the universe at their absolutely deepest levels. Please see my comments on the olodu Irosun, immediately below , and watch https://www.you tube. com/watch?v=5AUA7XS0TvA for an expose on "EU" theory and its relevance to cultural antiquity].
Thus Oshoosi's spirit can see the "hidden" curves of space-time and even find a "worm hole" in space and in conceptualizations to get to a problem's most "direct" solution. Now, the ashe of Oshoosi includes the mas- tery of archery, bows and arrows. In essence, this is why in Yoruba religion Oshoosi is associated with the sac- red oral texts (odus) of "Eji-oko" or "Oyekun" (notice the "okun"--the 'deep hidden'-- in this), on the one hand, and "Irosun" on the other; as these odus deal with the "invisible" dimensions of humanity's involvement with nature. Oshoosi is the "scout" or guide that can navigate these dimensions through 'astral travel' which is spy- ing on the world below from on-high at night. As well as "shape- shifting (disappearing into a tree or animal, or into sleep "sun" in Yoruba (or "magically "making other living things think that you have done so through one of the three methods for producing illusions listed immediately below) . [Also, please see reference to Sekhemu, in the "End Notes" below, for a re-statement of these ideas].(8)
Oshoosi's three methods for producing illusions are these: (1) "masquerade" (where the being--predator, prey, or observer--can be seen by others but looks like something else), (2) "crypsis, " (where the being blends into the background such that it cannot be "seen" at all, though it is there) and (3) "mimicry" (where the being can be seen but mimics another kind of animal so as to fool an observer).
An Aside: [For those who have familiarity with the odus of Ifa (Yoruba, Santeria-Lucumi, etc.
religion) you will remember that the olodu "eji oko" or "oyeku"--where Oshoosi is really prominent--
has a saying that goes:"an arrow between brothers." This refers to the opposite-complimentarity
of Eji Oko, on the one hand, and Eji Ogbe, on the other. The orisha Oshoosi is probably involved in mediating the relationship--which is not, except in a nominal sense--about conflict; it is about the dialectics of "full twilight, (Oyeku)" considered first, and "full light" (Eji Ogbe), considered next.]
In the Ifa-Yoruba religion, including the Cuban Santeria-Lucumi version of it, in the sacred text or odu called Irosun, " Oshoosi," the archetype analogue of Orion, also "speaks." It is this odu, Irosun , that, among other things, deals with the underlying laws, necessities, hidden wealth, and the traps of orun, okun and the middle-space in-between them that we call "civilization(s)."
An Aside: [For those who have familiarity with the odus of Ifa (Yoruba, Santeria-Lucumi, etc. relig- ion) you will remember that Irosun is, like all odus, an orisha too. As such, his birth was the result
of conception amid the red blood-shot-eyes of treachery and rape: His mother was ravaged in her
sleep ("sun" in irosun = "sleep" and "iron" = nightmare). And he was conceived. Hence, on the neg-
ative and diminishing side of existence ("ibi" or "osogbo" ) lies his association with redness, eyes, traps, and bloody treachery but, on the postive ire side ( the expansive good fortune side), Irosun
connotes deep and mature insight into and understanding of the unfathomable, the opague, or
the inscrutible sides of existence (okun).
"No one knows what lies at the bottom of the sea."
Now, back to Oshoosi !
Oshoosi is also learned and dapper and dressed in his " gown of beads"; an urbane sophisticate of impecable taste--an attribute that also arises from odu Irosun. Favoring lavender and blue, teal and amber, and gold--he (or she) is a hunter in the city and a guardian master of its nights! In rural settings his clothing traditionally consists of cloths, beads, hides: leopard skins, deer skins, amulets and so on. His beads often include tiger's eye,amber, and gold, as well as the black-green-red beads that go into the end-segements of the sacred jew- elry of all Santeria-Lucumi guerreros (warriors) or, in Yoruba, "ajaguns" (dog fighters) or "ologuns" (owners or chiefs of war and powerful medicines) orishas.
What can you make of such an orisha? Listen carefully to his silence, and reflect on his legacy. Paraphrased here, a legendary story like this one is told in Cuba; though in many variations. This one from Cultos Afro- cubanos: Regla Ocha, Yosuka Publ., Cuba:
Patakin or Itan (Mythic Legend Stories) of Oshoosi and the Birth ofJustice In to the World
'Olofi', another Yoruba name for 'God-Almighty, asked Orunmila (the master god of divination) to hunt a quail for him. As this tasty little bird is very elusive, Orunmila asked a variety of hunters to help. None had luck. Then he asked Oshoosi to help, and he did so successfully. He left the bird in the care of his mother and went to fetch Orunmila. When they returned, they found the bird missing, and his mother --not being there at the time--gave no explanation. Again, Oshoosi went on the hunt. And again he was successful in capturing a quail. This time he carried Orunmila with him. Together they presented bird to Olofi,and Olofi gave Oshoosi the title of 'greatest among the hunters.' Oshoosi, for his part, had not forgotten the original theft of the first quail and, in anger, shot an arrow into the sky with the curse that it should pierce the heart of whomever had 'stolen' the bird. For whatever reason his mother had released the first bird, thus she suffered the wound of the arrow, and died.' (1)
Another, even more common version of the story is this.
'Oshoosi killed two birds in the forest and returned to his messy home. He hung the birds out to cure. While he was gone, his mother (in the New World), Yemoja--the goddess of the ocean surface and motherhood--visited his house. Not finding him there, she tiddied up his house and took the two birds home to cook for him. When he returned he found that they were missing and did not know who 'stole' them. With an incanta- tion that only he and his sacred parrot knew, and with special poison put on his arrow tips to guide it, he cursed the thief and let the arrow fly. Up, up, and then down, into the heart of his mother far away. This was the cour- se of the arrow. His mother died.'(2) [Note: In orisha stories, the dead orishas reappear from time to time. And, also, as an aside, in Africa, Oshoosi's mother, like Ogun's, is Yemu or Yembo, and his father is Oduduwa].
From these stories we learn of the birth of justice in the world and how Oshoosi became the guardian and dis- penser of this virtue. Whenever and wherever an animal or man acts unwisely and unjustly, Oshoosi may be found there with a cage, a net or trap. His justice, however, must be based on insight, not on the pretence of impartiality or "blind justice," curses (emotionality) nor self-serving justification (egotism). Above all, a petit-
ioner must, before asking anything of him, fully confess all that could make one blameworthy. For he expects 'clean hands' before he intervenes into the world with wrath because he is so deliberate that he even runs the risk of killing his own mother--sometimes disguised (as do all Sacred Mothers) as birds--if she does not 'come clean'; if what she is up to is not clear to him when she is in disguise. There are additional apatakis (stories) about Oshoosi in the next page of this website called "Oshoosi Details."
The Color of Oshoosi's Temperament is White (Cool- headed)
Oshoosi is in the lineage of 'cool-headed,' exceedingly intelligent and effective, orishas of 'white cloth' (asho 'fun 'fun). He is very closely associated with the king of the orishas, Obatala, for whom he is the protector who has much "ashe'' (vital creative power and authority). His devotee may become an alashe or 'one who owns or channels vital creative power' and authority. He is also the multilingual spokesperson for Obatala; is his "gbesde gbeyo." When you hear Obatala, you hear him. When you wish to see Obatala, you go though him. In Ile Ife, a spiritual center for orisha worship in Nigeria, the entrance to the temple of Obatala (Orisha- 'nla) is, literally, guarded by Oshoosi. The same is true of Aga (Oshoosi) among the Dahomeans of Benin.
"Color" in African culture goes to one's character; not one's "race." Indeed, the word for "character" in Yoruba
is iwa and is possibly related to iwn (prn. iwen) of KMT. That is, the nature of one's, or one's religious lineage's, character has a certain temperament or color temperature. Thus orisha (o)fun-(o)fun is white--meaning 'cool-headed.' A good, gentle character---which is the ego-ideal in Yoruba-- is iwa pele, for example. Or, by way of consistency (not contrast) the word dudu means black. This too is a term of good--even great--characterologic temperament. For example, "Olodumare" (God almighty) or "Oduduwa" is the owner of our blackness. Odud- uwa is an irunmole or primoidal orisha and also is a deified ancestor-- specifically famed as the founder of the Yoruba-speaking sub-nationalities and royal lineages.
Hunters can be loud as well as masters of stealth. For example: loud in calls, cries, chants, messages, warnings and bragging rights as long as they are telling the basic truth; for this right expresses a version of psychologi-cal de-briefing and emotional re-adjustment to social living after having been in bloody conflict. Additionally, since a king (an oba) or chief is rarely loud his or her spokesperson or crier (as Oshoosi is for Obatala / Orisha- 'nla) must be an effective and eloquent public voice.
Unbeknownst to many, Oshoosi is also connected--through the orisha Odede--to the orisha Oduduwa. He, Oduduwa, again is both a primoidal orisha (the owner of our blackness, the creator of the black soil that was cast upon the water in the beginning times to form 'earth,' and the owner of the word that captures this his- tory) and a deified ancestor who was, it is sometimes said, the conquering founder of the 'modern' Yoruba nation at Ile lfe in Nigeria. Indeed, Oshoosi is related as his son to the orisha Odede ("Outside" O='owner of'; de= to hunt, arrives), the founder of ancient Oyo city, and is regarded as his son. However, his spiritual fa-
ther is the orisha Obatala.
A History of "Oshoosi-like" Deities in Egypt (KMT).
What is in a name? Everything.
What is in a name? Everything else! To appreciate these deeper connections let us travel backward in time to ancient Sudan (Kush and before) from whence one prototype or concept of Oshoosi originated, and from whence much of the population and religious culture of the Yorubas originated. "0-Shu-Osi." We are familiar, of course, with the great dynasties of Egypt (KMT). They began as long ago as 3,250 BC, i.e., over 5,000 years ago. But at that time, in the area of modern Egypt (Ta Merri) and the Sudan along the White Nile River, for at least 10,000 prior years, extensive pre-dynastic cultures existed in this--"the Land of the Bows"-- or "the land of the long-bow men" (Ta Seti) that was later called Nubia, Kush and, much later, Meroe.
Contrary to the racism inherent in the beliefs of so many Europeans and Americans, civilization was birthed and periodically rebuilt by African peoples whose basis of life and tradition was in Central Africa. They, pushing upward and north-easterly through "Sudan" and Eithiopia, laid down the KMT "worldview," in general, and pro- vided the main themes of dynastic Egyptian religions and culture, in particular. The influence of this neolithic sourcing from Central Africa was also repeated during the three "Golden Ages" of Egyptian lore as well. We can rest assured that the civilizers of Egypt (KMT) did not just 'fall from the sky' 5,000 years ago and the next day start building pyramids. Indeed, the very concept of pyramids evolved first in the Sudan or Nubia-Cush. In fact, until the time of Christ, Nubians rescued dynastic Egypt from outside conquerers time and again.
Imagine, for a moment, a little pyramid the base of which is small. Now also image great gods such as Osiris (Ausar), Set, Isis, Horus (and many others), swirling like a cloud that is so thick and high that you cannot see, at first, the pyramid hidden within. This cloud has within it currents and conflicts: a virtual vortex of irunmoles ('the original gods,' in Yoruba langauge). Now, finally, imagine this pyramid starting to grow bigger, and hig- her, and higher until it becomes very visible and very imposing--standing straight up so high at its apex that it now towers above the 'god cloud' swirling around its base. Let us call this new and growing pyramid Ra! And Ra himself grows so big and imposing that he becomes merged with the Amon ("hidden") of the Ta Seti Nubians. That is, as "Ra-Amon" ("Amon-Ra") among the Egyptians. This fanciful scheme took place over three thousand years as Ra-Amon became edified within the "religious mentality" of the society; with the royalty thereafter being associated with Ra and the populace being associated with the omnipresent Ausur (Osiris) and the other deities of the KMT pantheon.
"All Mankind Fears Time, but Time Fears the Pyramids."
OK, so now, what about "Oshoosi" in this regard?
Specifically, the people of Egypt believed that there was one particular god that separated the ocean ("sky") that covered the earth from the earth itself. This ocean was raised above the earth by the efforts of Shu the god that held the sky up like the Greek god Atlas holds up the earth. This god is the one that created and owns the 'atmosphere,' the space between the earth and the sky-ocean above. This god made life and civ- ilization possible by creating a 'life space' in which it could happen and flow. And it is "Shu" from which we also likely get Eshu, Oshun and so on in Yoruba language. All deities with "shu" in their Yorubic names, it seems to me, likely signify free-flowing communication (of air, waterways, and "roads") through an earthly atmos- phere and through the 'life and civilization space' that Shu created by separating Heaven from Earth.(See e.n.4).
The people of Egypt also believed in a god that we, and the Yorubas immediately before us, came to later know by his Grecian name, Osi-ris, or "Osiris." His Egyptian or KMT name is Asar or Ausar. He, along with his twin and wife, Isis, and their son Horus, made up the original "holy family"; one of the many trinities that were known in KMT religions.' When the dynasties began, about 3,250 B.C.E, Osiris and these other gods were swirl- ing about in the consciousness of all of the peoples of KMT and their neighbors. Osiris was a fertilizer of hum- an kind and agriculture, the prime civilizer and, later, the judge of reincarnation in the afterworld or 'under- world' of Tuat (or Duat). Hence, now, "Oshoosi" writ 0-Shu--Osi(ris) likely has as his primogenitors "Shu" and "Osiris"--at least conceptually.
As an added point of interest to Yoruba adepts, the'afterworld' or Tuat that Osiris presided over was divided into twelve zones, each of which was presided over by a particular deity or "aat." These "aats" became, in the subsequent history of the Omotic (Sudanic-Kushitic) languages, ots, then ods, and then, finally to us as "Odus." (f.n. 4) And as an added point of interest, the son of Osiris and Isis, Horus--the falcon-eyed hunter--is the forebearer of our concept Ori : "head," i.e., to wit: "destiny," and "intelligence." Each night, for nine months a year, in the Egyptian sky, their "Oshoosi" can be seen as the most imposing "hunter" constellation--"Ori(on)" or "Orion" to those of KMT--the great hunter of the night sky.
An Aside: In West African religions all living things exists in "conditions," that frequently evolve and
change into one another. We call these "conditions" or vectors "odus." In total, there are 256 such
odus. But in some circles there are either 16 basic ones (16 x 16 = 240 and, when adding the original
16 basic ones, this becomes 256. (As a practical matter, in some areas the basic ones are considered to
be 12 in number. Some linguists believe that the word "odu" comes from the KMT word "att" (or vice
versa !). In KMT the "atts" became "ots," then "ods" and then, finally, in West Africa, "odus." In KMT
these atts were 12 helpful deities who resided in the 9th sector of the Duat (the Underworld).*
And in West Africa these odus, these "conditions of existence and growth" are also considered deit-
ies in their own rights. In any event, they--when invoked by Ra to do so--spoke words of wisdom and
power--to help the wayfarer in the Duat to pass though unharmed and to stimulate Osiris (to wake
him up, in a manner of speaking). Their names in KMT--the basic 12 atts--were: Perit, Shemat-Khu,
Nept-shat, Nebt-shef-shefet, Aat-aatet, Nebt-mat, Tesert-ant, Aat-khu, She-ket-metu, Netert-en-khen
-Ra, Nebt-setau, and Tesert-ant . (Please see endnote #9 for the sources of this information).
Another way to summarize this theory of etymology and religion is this: The people of KMT believed that the great hunter "Sahu" (Orion) in the night sky was Osiris. Osiris was the king of the night sky and the dark (to humans) Underworld. As a "king" he had a "horus" name. The term "ori" in Yoruba refers to "Horus." The Greeks also essentially called this constellation "Ori"--except, for them it was, "Ori-on" or "Orion." Thus, bec- ause there are two independent and not logically-connected indicators here of an etymological and religious nexus, on a major concept, I venture this theory. O-Shu-Osi's--the Great Hunter's--conceptual roots are strongly Kemetic in association (not necessarily in source).
And, of course, as most hunters use dog companions (or can use them) the "Oshoosi" of the Kemetic sky was called this "Sahu" or, at least, the three belt stars of "Orion" were. He also has a dog companion at foot, on his right side (Isis--the "dog star") or commonly called the binary star(s) "Sirius" by the Latin speakers. She is the brightest (binary) star in the night sky--this hunter's loyal companion and aide. Mystically speaking "Sahu," proper, is the conscience of the soul; it's morality principle. In Orion's (i.e., in Sahu's, Oshoosi's) mid-section, there is a "nursery" for the birthing millions of new stars. And, interesting to note, most of the stars in the constellation Orion are closer to us than the stars of the other constellations.
This, then, is the pedigree, "rama" (in Spanish) or "idile" (lineage in Yorua) and the ashe of Oshoosi: an ashe likely to be misunderstood if his name is not pronounced correctly--in its three parts. Thus his ashe is that of the great hunter, fertilizer, father, institution-builder and purveyor of justice. Osiris, along with Thoth (Orun- mila in Ifa), taught his son Horus ("ori") how to defeat the arch-disorganizer Set and established the justice of reincarnation shortly thereupon. But he encompasses more. His is also the ashe of civilization's founding along the river- banks, the ashe of the night, and the ashe of deciding the atts (ods, odus) or deities of the zones in the Underworld (e.g., the atts or "odus" by which, and through which, dead souls must reckon with on their way to possible reincarnation) .(5) For example, this is why Oshoosi in Yoruba religion first "speaks" in the odus--the "chapters and verses" of the religion-- called Oyeku or Eji Oko and Irosun--the odus of reincarnation and
deep forces' (traps and pits included) respectively; signifying Oshoosi's relation to Osiris and the "traps" of the Underworld and his abilities to "pierce the veil" of their invisibility.
Of Oshoosi symbols or icons, the bow and arrow--the basis of unerring 'acquisition" or 'capturing-at-a distance
--are the best known. However, the archer's arrows would be useless if they were not purposely guided. The required element are feathers; e.g., at the end of the arrows to guide them. The KMT deity Ma'at--the KMT deity of moral order-- comes to mind as the owner of the sacred feathers of existence that enable guided ("et- hical") action. She, first and foremost, is always depicted in KMT art as possessing feathered wings. And it is she that, in the Underworld of Tuat (Duat), presents the dead with the Ostrich feather against which the deeds of their lives are weighed on a scale. Oshoosi's arrows fly through the air (i.e., through the 'civilization space' opened up by "Shu") to their marks in an ethical, swift and unerring way because of the guidance of the arrow's feathers. The "moral" feathers of ethical guidance and protection in Yoruba are the red tail feathers of the Af- rican Grey parrot; the 'loro' feather of the "Odidere" grey parrot. (Please see the picture of the African Grey parrot at the top of this page).
There is more: Ode or Odede in Yorubaland!
Four thousand years after the founding of the dynasties, around 950 AD, the deified ancestor Oduduwa, a son of Nubia, a "Kushite," fled from the east (Sudan/ Cush); pursued by Muslims. Arriving at Ile lfe, then called lfe Oodaye, he found the lfe mefa and Elu groups of "lfes" already living there. Prior to him the lfes had a secret society called Egbe Ogboni and had their gods--orishas--with whom they tried to contend with Oduduwa and
and these Cushite upstarts from the east. However, before long the lfes were conquered by Oduduwa.
According to John Mason, noted historian, linguist, musician and priest of Obatala, in Yoruba (Lucumi) religion,
Ile Ife was first settled by hunter-gatherers who were headed by a legendary hunter (and pre-agricultural civil- izer) named Oreluere. These people followed a pattern set forth originally by the orishas themselves that---prior to Obatala creating dry, firm earth--used to visit the primoidal marshland and sea (which was all of the world) in order to hunt. They slept in hunter's perches or platforms originally. Thus the hunters were Obatala's original deputies, his "adeles." (See Orin Orisha, Mason, J., p.93, 1992).
Because the Muslims of Mecca were still his enemies, Oduduwa enlisted the aid of Setilu, or Agboniregun (es- sentially "Orunmila"as the lfes called him--the formless deity the founder of lfa worship that knows each of our destinies, i.e., our "oris), to divine for him and to devise the sacrifices necessary to defeat the encroaching Mus- lim armies from Mecca that he feared. After 16 days of battle Oduduwa prevailed, defeated the Muslims, and went on to settle the Oyo region. Oduduwa's eldest son Okanbi (originally 'ldekoseroake' of the Ifes) sired sev- en children, boys and girls, who were to become the founders of the Yoruba sub-groups. The youngest child, the one to whom all of the land of Oyo was bequeathed to him by his grandfather and father (Oduduwa and Okanbi, respectively) to among all of his brothers (who were successful in other diverse areas of life) was chos- en by the Oyo mesi council to become the oba (king) despite his youth and lack of seniority.
He, thereafter, became the greatest general of the Yorubas and their most effective oba, having obtained these once Nupe lands, that became the site of his kingdom: "Old Oyo." His name (think of "Orion") was Oran- yan or, to the lfes, Oranmiyan. (6) His praise name was "Odede"--and he became, via deified ancestry--the legendary father of Oshoosi and the second alafin (king) of Oyo; and, thus, a royal grandfather to Shango, the 4th alafin of old Oyo town and kingdom. (In most accounts Shango is, at once, an irunmole--i.e., a primoidal orisha and a deified (immortal) actual once-human ancestral orisha as well (though some Yoruba priests main- tain that the orisha Shango was never a human being).
Indeed, Odede further built the ancient city of old Oyo. Of Odede, this has been written by an olo Obatala (a priest of Obatala) Lionnel Scott,Ph.D., "Odufora," (iba-e!) in Beads of Glass, Beads of Stone (Althelia Henrietta Press, 1995) and Olorisha Conrad Muage, Ph.D., "Ifayomi Epega-Agbede," (iba-e!) in "The Lost Orisha," (House of Providence Press, 1996). And he pushed Orisha religion to grow in Ile Ife and into Benin areas among those of the Edo kingdom.
"There are relevant apatakis ("stories") that explain the Ode aspects in psychology of the African American. These traits exemplify psychic integration and healing. While Shango (the God of thunder, fire and money), and Olokun (the God of the ocean), as well as Yemoja (the Goddess of the sea and motherhood) interact within the storyline of the patakis (stories), it is Ode who is the master mover, the prime director regarding psychological matters because Ode is the embodiment of the relationship between nature and culture: the un- tamed and the tamed, the raw and the cooked, and the tensions, contradictions and the paradoxes that oper- ate in between (their) extremes. I believe the apatakis I have selected explain the breath of Ode and give the Yoruba deity Ode his due as the Yoruba God of psychology. Ode is the father of Ochosi; Ochosi embodies institutions. Ode is the thought process that organizes systems, and these systems give birth to mental in- tegration."(7) I might add that, as the founder or "civilization's institutions" (including organized religion and
the political institutions of royalty), it is said that as a king 'Ode crowns his own head.' This act and narrative would be like that of the European great leaders like Alexander the Great or Henry the 8th.
The term ode warriors (implying warriors of the outside--the "dog soldiers" "or "ajagun" (not to be confused with the naughty avengers, the ajoguns) is applied to the career warrior orishas of the Yorubas--Eshu, Ogun, (Er)Inle, Osun (Osun, a cosmic sentry and spiritual "ground fault" orisha) is not to be confused Oshun, the
orisha of fresh water)--as well as to Oshoosi.
Finally, it must be emphasized that while Oshoosi's Nigerian center is very near Oshogbo (in Irabiji, Oshun state area) other centers for the worship of Oshoosi exist in Ketu, Benin (Dahomey country) and in Brasil in the "Ketu nation" of Yoruba-Candomble religion (with its Afro-Indians called Coblocos are under the protection of "Oxossi").
In Nigeria, while Oshoosi is mostly associated with practitioners in Ogun state, as well as in Benin (Dahomey). But He is well known in Ile Ife as well. There, the Ooni of Orisha religion, Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II, in 2018, based in Ile Ife, led a venerable celebration of Oshoosi (See https: //m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1254384184655657&id=962346807192731&_rdr).
This is the essence. The precursors of Yoruba (Nok, Nupe, Ife civilizations, etc.) go back about 9,000 years in the areas of west Africa as well as having absorbed later waves of culture from the east, i.e., from the areas round Lake Chad and, before that, from the lower Sudan arounf the White Nile (See Endnote #1). Oshoosi, like Osi ris in KMT, was considered from that early date to be the originator of religion and religious congregations as well as humanitarianism, social beneficence, social security, philathropy, and moral enforcement. As the most skil- led "hunter" he was, allegorially, the provider and protector par excellence. Thus, for this reason, Oshoosi--like his archetype Osiris-- is beloved by all as a Savior (the "liberation theologist" writ original): the protector of the downtrodden and the immiserated classes.
Clarifying the Parentage and Relations of Oshoosi
In Africa, Oshoosi's (Odede's) "father" in Yorubaland is "Oduduwa" (actually this is his grandfather, as per the
above). But in the New World it is Obatala (because "Oduduwa" basically disappeared by transformation here--into "Odua"). Also, in the Old World of Africa, Oshoosi's (and Ogun's) mother is Yemu or "Yembo." But in the New World she became "Yemoja." Finally, in both hemispheres, his only known wife to me was Mojude and,in a sense,Oshun (as a consort).
Oshoosi in the Americas
The hunter has always been with us. The Oshoosi priest, he or she, is a warrior that hunts ashe. Do not fret if the hunter-warrior, the Ode of the wilderness, the Ologun is rarely accessible; it is in his or her nature not to be so.Therefore, do not try to kill him by locking him up in your demand for accessibility. He does not do well when caged in your expectations. He (or she) knows where to be and when to be there! Most of his work--building, capturing and teaching what you need--occurs when you would prefer to be asleep. Oshoosi, not you, owns the snares and arrows of life--markers of the quickest route to your goals, and he--in reading animal tracks, scat, and entrails--is humankind's original diviner .."Moferefun Oshoosi !, dobale Oshoosi!" This orisha is very popular in the African diasporan cultures of Brasil and Cuba.
"A hunter knows that he will lure game into his traps over and over again, so he
does not worry. To worry is to become unwittingly accessible. And once you wor-
ry you cling to anything out of desperation; and once you cling you are bound to
get exhausted or to exhaust whoever or whatever you are clinging to.
I told him that in my day-to-day life it was inconceivable to be inaccessible. My point
was that in order to be functional I had to be within reach of everyone that had some-
thing to do with me.
"I've already told you that to be inaccessible does not mean to hide or to be secre-
tive, he (the mentor) said calmly. "It doesn't mean that you cannot deal with people
either. A hunter uses his world sparingly and with tenderness, regardless of whet-
her the world might be things, or plants, or animal, or people, or power. A hunter
deals intimately with his world and yet he is inaccessible to that same world, hour
after hour, day after day."
"That's a contradiction." I (the protege) said. He cannot be inaccessible if he is there
in his world, hour after hour, day after day."
"You do not understand," Don Juan (the mentor) said patiently. "He is inaccessible
because he's not squeezing his world out of shape. He taps it lightly, stays for as
long as he needs to, and then swiftly moves away leaving hardly a mark."*
--Journey to lxtlan, Carlos Casteneda
1. Barnett, M., Arena!, H, (el Bebo) Cultos Afrocubanos: Regla Ocha, Yusoka Publ CD-Rom, Cuba
3. Mason, John Babalosha, Orin Orisha, Yoruba Theological Archministry, NYC, 1992
" " " Black Gods of Africa, Theological Archminsitry, NYC, 1980
4. Lucas, J. Olomide, The Religion of the Yorubas, CMS Bookshop, Lagos, Nigeria, 1948
Modupe Oduyoye, "The Vocabulary of Yoruba Religious Discouse" for the etymological
connections between Yoruba and ancient "Omotic" (Sudanic) and Egyptian languages.
Also see "Igbo-Ukwu: An Account of Archaeological Discoveries in Easter Nigeria"
by Thurston Shaw for an account of the 10,000 year old pre-history of west African cultures.
5. Oshoosi, Michael Alashe, African Spirituality vs. The African American, IKO Berkeley, 1997
6. Mauge, Conrad Oluwo, The Lost Orisha, House of Providence, Mt Vernon, NY, 1996
7. Scott, Lionel Babalosha Odufora, The Book of Ode: An Afrocentric View of Psychology and
Religion, 1st Books Library, 2001
(and) Fa'Lokun, A., Awo--"Ifa and The Theology of Orisha Divination," and "Ela" for treatises
on Yoruba theological concepts.
8. Sekhemu's theses: at http://orisha.tribe.net/cOabe7d7-9ec4-4b78-b37c-deb7125f8e45cowbell ,
captures and expertly expounds on these insights into the "metaphysics" of Oshoosi.
9. See "Who's Who In Egyptian Mythology," Anthony S Mercante, Metro Books, 1978, NYC, pp. 1 and
121., and Modupe Oduyoye, "The Vocabulary of Yoruba Religious Discouse," op cit., and African
Spirituality vs. The African American, Alashe Michael Oshoosi, IKO Berkeley, 1997, and at
Oshoosi,Com,op cit., for the names of the Odus in Mali, Madagascar, Dahomey, Rome and among
the Estrucians in my section on "Conceptions of Ifa: Old World andf New."
*These materials are quoted or paraphrased under applicable provisions of the United States Code permitting 'fair use' for educational and informational purposes.