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Oxumaré or Òsùmàrè (a word in nagô language) is the proper name of the rainbow-serpent of Candomblé mythology, an Afro-American religion widely practised in Brazil. The rainbow-serpent represents mobility and activity, and it controls the forces that direct movement. Osumare is the Lord of all elongated things. The umbilical cord, for instance, is under its control. In Candomblé ritual, the umbilical cord is buried with the placenta under a palm tree, which becomes property of the newborn baby. The child's health will depend on the good conservation of this tree and on Osumare.
In Yoruba mythology, Oshunmare is a divine serpent connected to the Orixa Oxumare. Oxumare (O Shoo Mah Ray) is the serpent which is believed to create the rainbow, both male and female, and is a symbol of creation, human procreation and the link between the world of the mundane and that of the ancestors.
Oxumare is also one of the Orixa that can changes sex. Some Orixa such as Oxossi have a path of the opposite sex (i.e. La Penya). Oxumare is male in some parts of the year and female in the other. In some Houses, Oxumare spends half the year with a male top and female bottom, and half with a female top and male bottom. Damballah Wedo is Oxumare's counterpart among the Fon based Lwa of the Vodoun religion. Like Damballah Wedo, Oxumare is a rainbow serpent. He/She is the messenger from Olodumare.
This idea is more a part of worship in the Americas than it is in West Africa.
Among the African Yoruba, Olodumare (God) is essentially unreachable. Thus the Orixa. They are our intermediaries and helpers, because Olodumare has more important things to do than worry about the lives of humans. Oxumare is something of an exception to that generality. Oxumare brings messages to us directly from Olodumare. As such He/She is very important for our welfare.
When a Spirit Medium is working, it is very often Oxumare who holds place while another Orixa is being called.
In some groups, Oxumare is said to be a messenger of Xango. Other groups consider Him/Her to be more powerful, not limited to a single Orixa.
Alternating rainbow colored beads, or the tradition green bead with yellow stripes.
Oxumaré rarely accepts offerings. Sometimes pure water is accepted.
Colors and Day of the Week
Oxumare's colors are green and yellow or rainbow. Sunday is a traditional day for spiritual workings involving Him/Her.
Oxumare's children are quiet and gentle people. They rarely speak, but when they do you'd best listen carefully. It is easy to confuse Oxumaré children with Oxala children. Oxumare children tend to be quieter.
- Our mothers, our powers, our texts: manifestations of Àjé in Africana literature by Teresa N. Washington
- Nickels in the Nation Sack: Continuity in Africana Spiritual Technologies by Teresa N. Washington
- Allen F. Roberts (April 1992). "Chance Encounters, Ironic Collage". African Arts 25 (2): 54–63, 97–98. doi:10.2307/3337060. JSTOR 3337060.
- Paul Carter Harrison, Gus Edwards (2002). Black theatre: ritual performance in the African diaspora. Temple University Press. p. 418. ISBN 978-1566399449. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
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