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Oya is the powerful Yorùbá Orisha of the winds and tempests. She is considered either the sister of the Orisha of storms Shango, or one of His three wives, with Oshun and Oba. She can manifest as winds ranging from the gentlest breeze to the raging hurricane or cyclone. She goes forth with Her husband during His thunderstorms, destroying buildings, ripping up trees, and blowing things down. Oya is known as a fierce warrior and strong protectress of women, who call on Her to settle disputes in their favor.
As the Orisha of change, She brings down the dead wood to make room for the new, and She uses Her machete or sword to clear a path for new growth. She is believed to watch over the newly dead and assist them as they make the transition from life. She is equated with the Vodou Lwa Maman Brijit, Who, like Oya, guards graveyards.
Oya is the Orisha of the Niger River, and Her violent rainstorms are said to be its source. Like Oshun, She is worshipped not only in Africa but in Brazil, where the Amazon is said to be Her river, and where She is 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 attributes are the sword or machete and the flywhisk, and Her animal is the water buffalo, in Whom She sometimes manifests. Her mother is said to be Yemaya, the Great Sea Mother. Oya Herself is said to be the mother of nine children–Egungun and four sets of twins.
Her number is nine, Her color is burgundy or purple, and Her metal is copper. Offerings to Oya include eggplants, coins, red wine, and cloth.
This card in a reading indicates a time of upheavel or sudden change, of a destructive and chaotic but necessary nature. This destructive clearing makes room for vibrant new growth. Stormy emotions and tempestuous circumstances may whirl around you: hang on!
Alternate names: Oya-ajere “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, Yansan.