Campaign of the Month: February 2017
The Orisha goddess of heated passions and destruction
Oya is the goddess of volatile emotion and its expressions in nature: destruction and fluctuation, whirlwind and hurricane, raging river and death itself. As warlike in temperament and behavior as her kingly husband Shango, Oya is famous for surging into battle, uprooting the landscape and guarding the gates of the next life with such burning passion that her people imagined her as bearded like a fierce male warrior, heralding destruction and rout. She is the mistress of the howling stormwinds and hurricanes as well as of the mighty Niger river. Her passions often cause her as much difficulty as advantage, especially when they bring her into conflict with her fellow gods, but she is always a force to be reckoned with. She is a symbol of passionate strength and feminine power more than a match for any other god who confronts her.
Oya and Oshun
Oya was intensely jealous of Shango’s other wives and begrudged him any time he spent with them. Therefore, she devised a plan to keep him all to himself, and the next time he visited she commanded a horde fo the dead to surround the house, knowing that he was a god of life and could not abide death near him. Every time Shango tried to leave the house, the ghosts would crowd around him and force him to retreat, and Oya was able to happily monopolize his attention. Unfortunately, when she had gone to market one day, her fellow wife Oshun happened by and lured the dead away to allow Shango to escape. Oya was forced to share his attention again, and spent much of her time bitterly plotting against Oshun and Oba.
Oya and the End of the Kingdom
When Oya was married to Shango, she enjoyed the prestige of being the wife of the king and supported him in his rulings. However, when Shango’s sons turned against him and stole the worship of his people from him, Shango went into the forest and killed himself. Oya was so ashamed of Shango’s weakness that she decided to leave the world permanently; she sank into the ground without a sound and refused to return, and thus was not able to witness Shango’s resurrection.
Oya and Shango
Realizing that some of his opponents might attempt to challenge his power, Shango determined to head them off by acquiring new magical powers. He ordered a supernatural medicine from the magician Eshu, but since he was fearful that his kingdom would be attacked if he left, he sent his wife Oya to fetch it for him. She traveled to Eshu’s house and fetched the bundle of medicine, which he warned her not to look at; however, she was curious about its powers and tried a taste of it, hoping to make sure she remained a powerful match for her husband. She wrapped it back up and delivered it to him as if nothing had happened, but when she opened her mouth to speak to him, flames shot out from the medicine she had consumed. Furious, Shango attempted to kill her, but she fled through the countryside until she reached the home of her brother Olokun, who fought Shango long enough for her to escape. She founded her own kingdom and buried the remaining medicine to hide it from Shango, and forever after her whirlwinds ran ahead of Shango’s storms to escape him.
Oya and Ogun
Ogun was out hunting in the bush one day when he saw a particularly fine water buffalo and determined to stalk her for his prize. While he was secretly following the beast, however, he saw her enter a river and come out as a beautiful woman who laid her buffalo’s hide out on the shore to dry. He waited until she had left and quickly seized the skin, and quickly ran home to hide it in the rafters of his house. He then returned to the river and waited for her to return, and stepped out to catch her as she returned, demanding that she marry him because he had captured her skin. Oya agreed, stricken by his strength and determined to regain her shapeshifting power, and became his wife, bearing him children for many years. Ogun kept the skin hidden for a long time, but eventually when he was drunk he shouted at his children one day not to build the fire so high or they would singe the skin hidden in the rafters. The children, wondering about this strange command, spoke about it where their mother could hear, and Oya at once retrieved it and turned back into a water buffalo, racing off into the wilderness. She left behind one of her horns, however, so that whenever her children needed her they could blow into it and summon her to them.