The Orisha

The Orisha


The boisterous and chameleonic gods of ancient western Africa, the Orisha are gods of change and evolution, growth and power, from keepers of the dead to revelers in life, from the radiantly beautiful to the terrifyingly hideous. They represent every facet of life for their worshipers; for every important moment in life there is an Orisha, and if they ride their people hard, they also provide for them when asked. Their roots lie in the African religions, particularly the beliefs of the Yoruba people, but they traveled to the New World along with their enslaved people; determined efforts to syncretize them with the saints and figures of Catholicism have never conquered them and their religions now span the globe, from Santeria in Cuba to Candomble in Brazil to Haitian vodun and more. The Orisha maintain the cosmic balance in the world with their wild dichotomies and unconquerable passions, remaining one of the most vibrantly alive pantheons of the modern day.



Conviction Courage Expression Vengeance
Though the Orisha are as different from one another as snowflakes and as contentious as bulls about their beliefs, they are united by a singular clarity and strength of purpose. No one shakes one of the Orisha from the path they believe is truly theirs, nor deviates them from their divinely ordained destiny. The Orisha are among the first gods into any battle, forces of uncontained nature that live to test their might and destroy the opposition. The Orisha can seldom walk away from a true challenge, no matter how foolhardy the endeavor, throwing themselves wholeheartedly and heroically into every battle. Personal expression is one of the most important freedoms to the Orisha, who are loud, rowdy and refuse to be silenced under any circumstances. From the wild divine performance art that they perform and patronize to the possession of mortals through which to show their divine splendor, they have no desire to hide their light under a bushel. Perhaps most famous for some of their more supernatural forms of wreaking vengeance on those who have angered them, the Orisha are capable of carrying a grudge and a burning desire to see it through far longer than most, and they never forget a slight or a moment of disprespect tossed their way.

Other Deities

Olodumare Aganju
Olodumare is the great sky father and progenitor of all the Orisha, their highest authority and the creator of the cosmos.
Yemanja Oshumare
Yemanja, also known as Mami Wata, is the primordial mother of most of the Orisha, an incredibly beautiful and desirable creature with a capricious and dangerous temper. Oshumare is the rainbow serpent, serving his pantheon as the messenger of Olodumare and the link between heaven and earth.
Oduduwa Iwa
Oduduwa, as one of the first Orisha to descend to earth, founded the royal Yoruba line and became the patron of its mortal kings. Iwa is the goddess of good character and integrity, a model for all mortal women to emulate.
Orungan Abata
An outcast among the Orisha, Orungan raped his mother and pursued her across the wilderness until she spontaneously gave birth to a multitude of children who defended her from further assaults on her person. Abata is the goddess of the marsh, watching over the place where her husband’s waters and earth meet and fuse.
Shapona Oba
The god of earthly diseases, Shapona holds supreme power over human life, taking victims of plague (especially smallpox, his favored disease) and sparing others as he sees fit, all the while demanding to be thanked for it. Shango’s first wife Oba was a river goddess of wisdom and motherhood, but she angered Shango and was cast out of his house to turn into a river to escape him.
Timi Gbonka
A celebrated warrior and god of fire, Timi was killed by his brother on Shango’s orders after daring to rival his father in power. A master of magics and god of war, Gbonka led a rebellion against his father and briefly ruled as king, but was overthrown and vanished when Shango raised himself from the dead and appeared in all his majesty.
Aje Smaluga
Aje Shaluga is a gentle god of rivers and wealth.

The Orisha

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