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For the name, see Oya (name).

Oya (known as Oyá or Oiá; Yansá or Yansã; and Iansá or Iansã in Latin America) is an Orisha. She is either syncretized with the Virgin of Candelaria or St. Therese of Lisieux.


Iansã Sculpture at the Catacumba Park, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

She is seen in aspects as the warrior-spirit of the wind, lightning, fertility, fire, and magic. She creates hurricanes and tornadoes, and guards the underworld. She is the spirit of tornadoes (which are said to be her whirling skirts as she dances), lightning, and any kind of destruction. Beyond destruction, Oya is the spirit of change, transition, and the chaos that often brings it about. She lives at the gates of cemeteries (as opposed to the entire underworld), which reveals her in her aspect as the facilitator of transition.

Oya's close association with the passage from life into death also means she is one of the only Orisha who is venerated alongside the Egungun, whose cult is most often kept separate from that of the Orisha. The reason she is worshiped with the ancestors is because the beloved dead are her children.


In Yoruba, the name Oya literally means "She Tore".[1] She is known as Ọya- Iyansan, Oya - the "mother of nine." This is due to the Niger River (known to the Yoruba as the Odo-Ọya) traditionally being known for having nine tributaries.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

In Octavia Butler's dystopian Parable series, the heroine bears the name Lauren Oya Olamina. Lauren founds a religion called Earthseed, with the main tenet "God is change."

There is a young mutant girl by the name of Idie Okonkwo, primarily featured in Wolverine and the X-Men, who took on the codename Oya.

See also[edit]