Orisha Oya: The Powerful Female Warrior

Updated Jan 22, 2021

Oya is the Spirit of the Wind in the West African religious tradition called “Ifa”, The word Oya is the name given to describe a complex convergence of Spiritual Forces that are key elements in the Ifa concept of change. Those Spiritual Forces that form the foundation of Oya’s role in the Spirit realm relate to the movement between dynamics and form as it exists throughout the Universe.

According to Ifa, dynamics and form represent the polarity between the forces of expansion and contraction. Together these Forces create light and darkness, which in turn sustains and defines all that is. According to Ifa, it is the interaction between light and darkness that generates the physical Universe and it is the Oya who keeps this interaction in a constant state of flux.

Oyá also known as Ollá, Yansa or Iansán is a fierce and powerful female warrior in Santeria. She was the favorite wife of Shango and is referred as the owner of the marketplace and the keeper of the cemetery gates. She wields lightning and rides the winds into battle. She is a great warrior who goes to war with machetes and tornados and raises armies from the dead.

Orisha Oya is closely related to Iku, the divinity of death. She promotes storms, strong or hurricane winds and sparks.  The winds of Oya carry the pollen of different plants from one place to another. Oya is also the air we breathe; she provides the air with the right amount of oxygen to keep us alive and functioning. Together with Eleguá , Orunla and Obatalá she dominates the four winds. She is symbolized as a violent and impetuous character.

Characteristics of Orisha Oya

Associated Number: 9

Astrology: Signs of Scorpio and Capricorn

Chakra: Third Eye

Favorite Colors:  Brown, maroon, purple, black, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, white, and pink.

Elements: Fire and wind.

Locations: Storms, winds, lightning, market place, cemetery, etc.

Tarot: The Wheel of Fortune card, Ace of Swords, Page or knight of swords.

Symbols: An eleke designed with special brown bead with thin white and black stripes. This eleke utilizes coral and burgundy crystals. She is also seen with a sword.

Costumes: Oya wears a red dress and a skirt with 9 stripes of different colors.  She carries a saber and a ponytail as a sign of dignity. Worshippers of Oya can also wear dry fiber dress from the top of the royal palm, called yagua and use a nine colored ribbons as a head covering.

Favorite Meals: plums, eggplants, red wine, black beans, rice, chickpeas, chocolate pudding and purple grapes.  She loves chocolate, popcorn and sesame seeds, especially caramel corn or sesame candy.

Animals: Birds in general, pigeons, guinea hen, goats and black hens.

Tools: machetes, masks, scythe, horsetail fly-whisk (iruke)

Gemstones:  Amethyst, garnets, black opals, labradorite.

Celebrated on: February 2

Syncretized as: Our Lady of Candlemas or Saint Theresa.

Oya’s Children:

The children of Oya are as generous as the wind that caresses the leaves. They are like the birds that love to fly freely and they know the value of loyalty and true friendship. They are authoritarian, powerful, violent, sensual, jealous and very faithful. Oya was initially married to Ogun before she fell in love with Shango and followed him. This contributed to the misunderstanding between Ogun and Shango.

Due to her bravery and strength, she was Shango’s favorite. They went for wars together and loved each other passionately, which undoubtedly bothered Oshun and Obba, the other two women of King Shango. Orisha Oya endured much sadness in her life. She gave birth to nine different stillborn children and for this reason she carries much sadness and dresses with nine different colored scarves around her waist in memory of her lost children.

Areas of Influence:

You can make petitions to Oya whenever you need a change or transition in your life. She can also guard you through life’s chaotic streams by sending some angels to you. She is also a protector of those who worships her as she fights their enemies with fire and wind.

Are you a single mother who is struggling to cater for your kids? Call on Oya to assist you because she helps women to prosper in their businesses.

Death Spirits

This may be a helpful list for you to understand the various other guardians of the death energy and/or the cemetery. As this website is expanding into the broader area of hoodoo witchcraft, you may also be working with some of the other duties I will mention below.

Death Spirits tend to fall into one of two categories:

  • Spirits who are involved in the dying process or who serve to ease the transition to the next life
  • Spirits who are guardians of the dead, who preside over the realms of the dead, or who rule cemeteries and cremation grounds

Appeal to these guardian spirits to protect the souls of the dead, and also to maintain control over the souls of the dead, keeping them in line, so to speak. Petition them also for access to the spirits of the dead, should this be desired.

  • Oya (Yoruba)
  • Baron Samedi, leader of the Vodoun Ghede spirits, and his consort, La Grande Brigitte
  • Dongyue Dadi, Lord of Tai Shan (China)
  • Erishkigal/Lamashtu (Mesopotamia)
  • Hades, Persephone (Greece)
  • Hella (Norse)
  • Kali, Shiva, Yama (Hindu)
  • Mictlantecutli and Mictecacuiuatl (Aztec Lord and Lady of the Dead) Osiris (Egypt)
  • Yambe Akka (Saami)

Recommended Book

Seven African Powers: The Orishas (African Magic Book 2)
by Oshun Publications, LLC

Today, many Yoruban and other West Africans still turn to the Orishas for help and guidance in not only their little problems, but also the big ones of life.

Amazon only – Price around $4.99

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