Osun across the Waters
A Yoruba Goddess in Africa and the Americas
Publication Year: 2001
Òsun is a brilliant deity whose imagery and worldwide devotion demand broad and deep scholarly reflection. Contributors to the ground-breaking Africa's Ogun, edited by Sandra Barnes (Indiana University Press, 1997), explored the complex nature of Ogun, the orisa who transforms life through iron and technology. Òsun across the Waters continues this exploration of Yoruba religion by documenting Òsun religion. Òsun presents a dynamic example of the resilience and renewed importance of traditional Yoruba images in negotiating spiritual experience, social identity, and political power in contemporary Africa and the African diaspora.
The 17 contributors to Òsun across the Waters delineate the special dimensions of Òsun religion as it appears through multiple disciplines in multiple cultural contexts. Tracing the extent of Òsun traditions takes us across the waters and back again. Òsun traditions continue to grow and change as they flow and return from their sources in Africa and the Americas.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Cover / Front Matter
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List of Illustrations
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The Yoruba language has developed conventions in spelling utilizing subscript marks such as áșč,o., and áčŁ, which are sounded âeh,â âaw,â and âsh,â respectively.Yoruba tones are rendered with arising mark for high (ĂĄ) and with a falling one for low (Ă ). In general we have followed the preferences of the contributors in using these marks, usually dropping them for proper names and places, with the...
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ĂÌŁáčŁun is a brilliant deity whose imagery and worldwide devotion demand broad and deep scholarly reflection. The purpose of collecting the essays for this volume is not only to document the historical and cultural significance of Yoruba traditions, but to emphasize their plural nature, their multivocality both in Africa and the Americas. We hope the effect will be prismatic, freeing the representation of Yoruba religion...
2. Hidden Power: OáčŁun, the Seventeenth OdĂč
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From ĂáčŁogbo in ĂáčŁun State to IkĂłro in Ekiti, from Ibadan in ĂÌŁyĂłÌ to ĂjĂčmĂș in Kwara State of Nigeria, and throughout the YorĂčbĂĄ diaspora in the Caribbean, Latin America, and North America, the YorĂčbĂĄ continue to venerate their most powerful female ĂČrĂŹsÌŁĂ (deity), ĂáčŁun. The images alluding to her presence and power are as diverse as the people and the geographical locations...
3. A River of Many Turns: The Polysemy of OchĂșn in Afro-Cuban Tradition
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The Afro-Cuban orichasâand OchĂșn is not an exceptionâare far from being simple, monolithic entities. On the contrary, they are multi-vocal, polysemous categories that express a multiplicity of often contradictory meanings. I have used the word âcategoryâ advisedly, since orichas, for the most part, are not mere individuals, but sets of personalities or âpathsâ (caminos) that refer to particular...
4. ĂrĂŹáčŁĂ ĂÌáčŁun: Yoruba Sacred Kingship and Civil Religion in ĂáčŁogbo, Nigeria
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In every YorĂčbĂĄ city, there is a major ĂrĂŹáčŁĂ whose mythistory, ritual, and symbols are intricately linked to both ancient and modern-day core values, as well as to the political and cultural lives of the YorĂčbĂĄ people of that particular city. In the same vogue, the ideology and rituals of sacred kingship derive from this particular tradition honoring this same ĂrĂŹáčŁĂ . The á»ba (king), on his ascent to the...
5. Nesta Cidade Todo Mundo Ă© d'Oxum: In This City Everyone Is Oxumâs
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This song, well-known all over Brazil, and the musical theme of a television series, brings to light a very true feeling of the people of Bahia, Brazil, especially when it says, âthe power living in the waters does not distinguish between colors.â1 Indeed, the popularity of African deities in Brazil reaches persons from all ethnic roots and social levels. It may be an exaggeration to say that everybody in Bahia is Oxumâs because many are Ogumâs and Xangoâs. All the Yoruba...
6. MĂŁe Menininha
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Maria Escolastica de ConceiĂ§ao NazarĂ© was born on February 10, 1894, in Brazil, a descendant of the royal family lineage Egba AlakĂ© from Abeokuta, Nigeria. Her great-grandmother Maria Julia de ConceiĂ§ao was the founder of the ïŹrst Ketu candomblĂ© temple in Brazil, the IlĂ©Iya Nasso. In the same year that she was born, Maria Escolastica was initiated as a daughter of ĂáčŁun in the temple IlĂ© Iya Omin AxĂ© Iyamasse, the second Ketu temple...
7. YĂ©yĂ© Cachita: OchĂșn in a Cuban Mirror
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NinĂâs testimony to Lydia Cabrera about the Cuban name of ĂáčŁun reveals an extraordinary cultural resourcefulness and spiritual creativity. In crossing the waters of the Atlantic, ĂáčŁunâs devotees in Cuba encountered desperate challenges to their integrity and very survival. They responded by constructing a complex religious world in which ĂáčŁun could continue to protect and inspire them through a variety of new symbolic media appropriate to the new world in which...
8. Osun and Brass: An Insight into Yoruba Religious Symbology
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The popular saying, Idáșč ni Ă pĂ©bo ĂáčŁun, meaning, âbrass is collectively worshiped as Osunâ sums up the symbolism of brass objects in the Osun worship context. Most of her shrine objects and the jewelry of her votaries are made of brass and the variety of brass objects in her worship context depends on the means of the owners and whether the shrines belong to individuals or communities...
9. Overflowing with Beauty: The OchĂșn Altar in LucumĂ Aesthetic Tradition
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No LucumĂ2 altar is as lavish as an altar for the goddess of love, sensuality, beauty, and many other things. In OchĂșn, Olodumare (God) created beauty in such excess that, like her element, the river, she overïŹows with power and magniïŹcence. Hers is the realm of absolutes. Her power is supreme because all creation in one way or another feels love and is driven to manifest it. With OchĂșn the...
10. Authority and Discourse in the Orin á»dĂșn ĂÌŁáčŁun
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This essay explores the cosmological and socio-cultural idiom of authority and its discourse in the orin á»dĂșn ĂÌŁáčŁun, that is, the festival songs of the YorĂčbĂĄ deity ĂÌŁáčŁun. It examines the historical and contemporary themes and inspirations located within the sacred and secular liturgy of YorĂčbĂĄ orature (oral literature). It also illustrates how this culturally-bound cosmic premise authorizes the position...
11. The Bag of Wisdom: á»ÌáčŁun and the Origins of the IfĂĄ Divination
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By âIfĂĄ divinationâ we mean IfĂĄ and related systems of divination based on the stories and symbols of the Odu such as dida á»wĂłÌŁ (divination with the sacred divining chain called ĂČÌŁpĂšÌlĂšÌ) and ĂštĂŹtĂšÌ-alĂšÌ (divination with the sacred palm nuts), eÌŁĂ©ÌŁrĂŹn-dĂnlĂłgĂșn (divination with the sixteen cowries), agbigba (divination with a divining chain slightly different from ĂČÌŁpĂšÌlĂšÌ), and obi (divination with kola nuts). The...
12. Ochun in the Bronx
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Legend has it that Ochun was once a native of Ekiti state in Nigeria and well admired there for her courage and clean habits (Epega n.d.: 25). Now her veneration extends to Cuba and Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico, Argentina and Spain, and the United States from Miami, Florida, to the South Bronx in New York.2 In New York on September 8th, hundreds of santeros, santeras, and devotees show...
13. âWhat Part of the River Youâre Inâ: African American Women in Devotion to Ăsun
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This essay is a collective reflection on the presence of the deity Ăsun and the meaning of Orisha religion in the lives of six African American womenâfour with parental roots in the southern United States, one Haitian-American, and one with combined Caribbean and southern U.S. ancestry. Two are simply allegiant devotees of Ăsun, having been guided at certain pivotal points by Her energy, though not initiated as Her priestesses. Four others are consecrated...
14. EÌŁĂ©ÌrĂŹndĂnlĂłgĂșn: The Seeing Eyes of Sacred Shells and Stones
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This essay focuses on EÌŁĂ©ÌrĂŹndĂnlĂłgĂșn, Sixteen Cowrie Divination, the primordial divination system claimed to have been owned by á»ÌáčŁun, the powerful goddess, a powerful and indispensable link between the humans and spiritual beings, both malevolent and benevolent. It identifies the multi-dimensional attributes of á»ÌáčŁun and her centrality in the maintenance and sustenance of the YorĂčbĂĄ...
15. Mama Oxum: Reflections of Gender and Sexuality in Brazilian Umbanda1
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The images and sentiments evoked in me by thoughts of Oxum are surely familiar to anyone who has known this OrixaÂŽ from the temples and terreiros2 and spiritual centers of Rio de Janeiro. The Umbanda song quoted evokes waterfalls and flowers to convey the serenity of Oxum and her concern for things pretty. Another song places Oxum at the bottom of the sea, in a water palace of compassion where she lives with the mermaid and the sea...
16. An Oxum Shelters Children in SĂŁo Paulo
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âOxum is a goddess l inked to the mastery of fresh waters, in particular the rivers. crown, and a sword. Yellow is her favorite color, and she loves perfume and dolls. She is beauty, elegance, and affection. She is the symbol of womanhood, love, and procreation. Without her, men and women can neither mate nor enjoy one another.â1
17. Living Water: á»ÌáčŁun, Mami Wata, and OlĂČkĂșn in the Lives of Four Contemporary Nigerian Christian Women
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This essay is concerned with the lives of four Nigerian Christian women for whom the water deities á»ÌáčŁun, Mami Wata, and OlĂČkĂșn are part of religious experience at its deepest level: Yetunde, a Yoruba professor from Lagos; Iya Aladura, a Yoruba Independent Church elder; Chief Victoria Abebe, an Edo midwife; and Grace, a professor from the Niger Delta. These women claim a...
18. Orchestrating Water and the Wind: Oshunâs Art in Atlantic Context
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The river Oshun begins in the hills near Igede, northeast of Ilesha, capital of the Ijesha Yoruba, in southern Nigeria. She then ïŹows west, past the city of Oshogbo, famed for one of her major shrines, then south, to empty into the waters of the Lekki lagoon. There she mixes with the brine of the Atlantic. And then she falls off the map, spiritually to reappear in the Caribbean, on the islands of...
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Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 44 b&w photos, 3 maps, 18 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2001