Warriors, soldiers, smith makers, metal workers, craftsmen
|Member of Orisha|
Veve of Ogoun
|Other names||Oggun, Ogou, Ogún or Ogúm|
|Venerated in||Yoruba religion, Dahomey mythology, Vodun, Santería, Candomblé,Dominican Voudou, Haitian Vodou, Louisiana Voodoo, Folk Catholicism|
|Region||Nigeria, Benin, Latin America, Haiti|
|Ethnic group||Yoruba people, Fon people|
Ogun or Ogoun (Yoruba: Ògún, Portuguese: Ogum, Gu; also spelled Oggun or Ogou; known as Ogún or Ogum in Latin America) is an Orisha, Loa, and Vodun. He is a warrior and a powerful spirit of metal work, as well as of rum and rum-making. He is also known as the 'god of Iron'.
In Yoruba religion, Ogun is a primordial orisha who first appeared as a hunter named Tobe Ode. He was the husband of Oya. He is said to have been the first Orisha to descend to the realm of Ile Aiye ("Earth"), to find suitable place for future human life. In some traditions he is said to have cleared a path for the other gods to enter Earth, using a metal ax and with the assistance of a dog. To commemorate this, one of his praise names, or oriki, is Osin Imole or the "first of the primordial Orisha to come to Earth". He is the god of war and metals.
In his earthly life Ogun is said to be the first king of Ife. When some of his subjects failed to show respect, Ogun killed them and ultimately himself with his own sword. He disappeared into the earth at a place called Ire-Ekiti, with the promise to help those who call on his name. His followers believe him to have wo ile sun, to have disappeared into the earth's surface instead of dying. Throughout his earthly life, he is thought to have fought for the people of Ire, thus is known also as Onire.
Ogun is the traditional deity of warriors, hunters, blacksmiths, technologists, and drivers in the Yoruba religion. Followers of traditional Yoruba religion can swear to tell the truth in court by "kissing a piece of iron in the name of Ogun." Drivers carry an amulet of Ogun to ward off traffic accidents.
The primary symbols of Ogun are iron, the dog, and the palm frond. They symbolize Ogun's role in transformation, mediation, and function. Iron is the primary emblem of Ogun. Ogun altars and ceremonies display and use iron objects both in Yoruba areas and the across the African diaspora. Followers of Ogun wear chains of iron implements; Ogun festivals feature the display of knives, guns, blacksmith implements, scissors, wrenches, and other iron implements from daily life.
Meats are a sacrifice for Ogun. Dogs are the traditional companions of hunters, but Ogun's personality is also seen as "doglike": aggressive, able to face danger, and straightforward. Other sacrificial animals associated with Ogun are the spitting cobra (blacksnake); its behavior is aggressive and fearless. Hunters and blacksmiths avoid eating or witnessing the mating of blacksnakes. Other important sacrificial offerings to Ogun are the Clarias submarginatus (a species of catfish), alligator pepper, kola nuts, palm wine and red palm oil, small rats, roosters, salt, snails, tortoise, water, yams. (Clyne: 1997). Many of these sacrificial offerings were carried into New World traditions.
Ogun worshipers are known to sing a song that insinuates that Ogun is in seven paths.
Ogun Alaara ni gba aja - Ogun of the Alaara people collects dog. Ogun Ajeero ni gbaagbo - Ogun of the Ajeero people collects ram. Ogun Ikole a gba'igbin - Ogun of the Ikole people will collect snail. Ogun Elemono ni gbe'sun isu - Ogun of the Elemono will collect roasted yam. Ogun Gbena Gbena eran ahun ni je - Ogun of the Road repairers collects the stingy's meat. Biko gba Tapa, a gba aboki, a gba kemberi a bilala lenu Meje logun, meje nire. Ogun onire oko mi.
Ogun is known in the Afro-Brazilian tradition of Candomblé as Ogum (Ketu, Ijexa and Efon nations) or Gu (Jeje nation). Ogum is syncretized with Saint George, notably in Rio de Janeiro and the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Candomblé tradition in Northeast Brazil, especially in Bahia, associates Ogum with Saint Sebastian.
- Consecrated day: Tuesday
- Metal: iron
- Element: earth
- Color: red, black, green (Rio de Janeiro), blue (Bahia), marine blue
- Food: feijoada, xinxim, yams
- Archetype: impetuous, authoritarian, cautious, hardworking, suspicious and a bit selfish
- Symbols: sword, broadsword, iron chain
Individual devotees of Ogum in Brazil avoid certain foods. These include goat, cajá-manga (Spondias dulcis), sugar, black beans, yams, and the manga-espada (an elongated mango cultivar of Brazil) in the Ketu nation; yams and manga-espada in the Ijexa nation; and partridge in the Jeje nation.
Ogum, as a male orisha (Boró), only "eats" male animals. Ox, billy goat, rooster, snake (typically a red snake), dog, and game animals are sacrificed ("orô") on festival days associated with Ogum in the Candomblé tradition.
Acaçá is a ritual food offered to all gods in the Candomble pantheon; it is made of a paste of corn mash steamed in banana leaves. A variation, acaçá de feijão-preto, substitutes black beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) for corn. This variation is only offered to Ogum in the Casa Fanti Ashanti temple in São Luís, in the state of Maranhão. Feijoada, a stew of beans with beef and pork, is also a common offering to Ogum.
Santería and Palo
Ogun's centrality to the Yoruba religion has resulted in his name being retained into the 20th century in the Gullah and Lucumí languages, as well as the Yoruba dialect of Trinidad and Tobago. In Santería and Palo, Ogún is syncretized with Saint Peter, Santiago, Saint Paul, and John the Baptist; he is the deity of war and metals.
In Haitian Vodou Ogun is known as Ogou, and consists of an array of manifestations; most carry the aspect of iron smithing and tools from the Yoruba tradition. The Ogou guard the badji, the sacred altar of the Vodou temple. He carries an iron saber and wears a red sash. Ogou is also the god of pioneering, intelligence, justice, medicine, and political power; these are associated with the symbol of the tool that can "advance humans' mastery over the environment. Ogou Feray is the god of war. Other manifestations of Ogou are Ogou Badagri, Ogou Balenjo, Ogou Batala, and Ogou Je Wouj. Ezili Freda Daome is the female counterpart to Ogou.
Ogou Feray is syncretized with St. James the Greater (St. Jacques Majeur) in the Vodou tradition. He is a warrior spirit and protects the Vodou community; he guides Vodou followers against their enemies. He is symbolically covered in iron and may not be harmed by his enemies. As in Africa, his symbol is a piece of iron, a machete, or a knife. As in Africa, Ogou is revered among blacksmiths, many of whom are of Yoruba origin. He is also noted to like women and alcohol.
In Vodou ceremonies followers of Ogou wear a red shirt, pants, and scarf. A followers of Ogou in a possession-trance is offered Haitian white rum during the ceremony. In some ceremonies rum is burned in a container to allow Ogou to "wash" the hands of the followers.
Two Vodou songs to Ogou, as recorded and translated by Michel S. Laguerre:
Fè Ogou Fè, Ogou Fèray o,
Fè Ogou Fè, Ogou Fèray o
I am an iron,
I am covered with iron.
Fèrè Fèray tout ko Fèray sé kouto,
Fèrè Fèray tout ko Fèray sé manchèt.
The body of Ogou Fèray is covered with knives,
The body of Fèray is covered with machetes.
Léo Neto, et al. observed various species used in sacrificial ritual in twelve Candomblé communities of Caruaru, Pernambuco and Campina Grande, Paraíba in the Northeastern region of Brazil between August 2007 and June 2008; dogs were the only sacrificial animal offered to Ogun in both communities.
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