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Who is the Orisa Called Olokun?

Believed to be representative of Olokun and  "his" wivesOlokun is quite the Orisa. Known as both in male and female personifications, depending on what region of west Africa He/She is worshipped, Olokun is personified in patience, endurance, observation, wisdom, history of the past, future visions, and royalty personified. Its characteristics are found and displayed in the depths of the Ocean. It's name means Owner of the Ocean.

Olokun is the patron saint of Africans that were carried away during the Maafa, or what is sometimes referred to as the Trans - Atlantic Slave Trade or Middle Passage of Africans. Olokun works closely with Oya and Egungun to herald the way for those that pass to ancestorship.

Olokun signifies unfathomable wisdom. That is, the instinct that there is something worth knowing, perhaps more than can ever be learned, especially the spiritual sciences that explain birth, life, death and afterlife. Olokun also governs material wealth, psychic abilities, dreaming, meditation, mental health and water-based healing. Olokun is one of many Orisa known to help women that desire children. People that want to maintain power or desire political ascension also worship Olokun.

Yemoja-Olokun-Mami Wata Connections
Some Afro-Cuban lineages worship Olokun in tandem with Yemoja (Yemaya/Yemanja). In the past Lukumi and Santeria worshippers considered these two Orisa to be manifestations of one Yemojaother, although we know now that they are distinct, but kindred energies that were paired together during the Maafa as a way of preserving both Orisa traditions. In nature, the bottom of the ocean represents Olokun. Yemoja is usually considered to the visible sections of the ocean in the West. However in Africa, Yemoja is the divinity of Ogun River in Nigeria and Olokun is considered the mother of all bodies of water and as such is considered owner chiefly of the ocean, but all rivers. In Bendel State Olokun is the patron Orisa of Ethiope River.

In Nigeria and Benin, Olokun is sometimes worshipped in tandem with Mami Wata. They have similar temperaments and personas. While some seem determined to figure out which precedes which, their origins and whether either is a recipient of European influence I would prefer to simply confirm that they are both genuine African divinities and that all else is anti-spiritual intellectual curiosity that does nothing to heighten ones spiritual practice or uplift African spiritual traditions.

With this knowledge I prefer to worship Yemoja, Olokun and Mami Wata as separate and equally important water divinities.Mami Wata and Olokun Shrine

 

Olokun Priests / Priesthood?
Olokun has priesthood members in Africa and the United States.

On June 12th, 2004 the webmaster of Roots and Rooted was initiated into the Olokun priesthood.


Lukumi Orisa worshippers in the U.S. and the Caribbean do not initiate Olokun priests. However, in their traditions, you can receive an Olokun shrine for personal prosperity. Omo Olokun (children of Olokun) are typically initiated to Yemoja in Lukumi lineages. In other Orisa lineages and “sects” in the west, particularly Oyotunji, Anago and all indigene Orisa’Ifa you will see that initiations to Olokun do take place. Luckily for us, the peril of death and insanity that has been rumored to be the fate of Olokun initiates is nothing more than a reasonable warning; be sure that the initiating priests know what they are doing!

Two Origin Stories of Olokun Worship
While most Olokun initiates in Africa are female, the legends that mark the beginning of Olokun worship feature stories of men being their initial worshippers.

The Hunter
There was a hunter that resided in Urhoniigbe. One day he ventured off into the woods to find the source of distant singing and was met by a King and his court. He decided to stay awhile and at the invitation of the King participate in a spiritual ritual that was to take place. He ended up staying as the guest of the King (who is Olokun, if you haven’t guessed by now.) for the following three (3) years. During this time he learned the spiritual sciences and worship practices associated with Olokun. His family and neighbors assumed he was dead after being gone so long. They were surprised to say the least when he returned mute and dumbfounded (without the ability of speech or general sensibilities) carrying a water pot on his head. He only danced to the shock of townsfolk. Eventually the crowd that had gathered began to mock his dance and it started what was to become a 14-day tribute of ritual dancing to Olokun. At the end of this period the hunter began to talk again and chose to share some of his experiences. All skepticism about his story were eased as his began to do spiritual work that created positive results for those around him. He was named chief priest of Olokun at this point. Even until today, hunters re-act this famous prodigal son’s life with the annual festival and Ekabo dance. Urhoniigbe’s Olokun temple sits on the spot where he rested his Olokun pot/shrine on the 14th day.

The Palm Tree
In Ebvoesi, there was a boy named Omobe (rascal, troublesome child) that had great physical ability and was trained to be a wrestler. As he grew older his wrestling abilities grew stronger and before long he was considered the greatest wrestler in the world. At his birth the local priest/diviner warned his parents to not allow Omobe to climb palm trees. But one day while his parents were away he decided to climb a palm tree any way. From high up he could peer into the spirit world and he noticed that several divinities had gathered for a fantastic wrestling match! He immediately climbed down and made his way to the spirit world to test his own luck amongst a variety of spirits. He beat every opponent. Ancestors, Gods and all others lost at his hands, even Ogun. Finally he prepared to wrestle Olokun. While he summoned all of his physical strength, Olokun drew on His spiritual powers.
During the match Omobe attempted to throw Olokun to the ground, but instead Olokun ended up firmly attached to his head. All attempts at removing Olokun from his head failed and Olokun declared it His permanent abode as a sign of Omobe’s arrogance and disrespect towards the other spirits.

When Omobe returned home the local priest/diviner advised him to appease Olokun or die. So for seven days Omobe made sacrifice. On the last day Omobe was initiated as the first Olokun priest. After this Olokun loosened his grip on Omobe’s life.

It is said that Omobe’s lack of respect for his parent’s, and spiritual elders and the divinities had landed his in such dire straits.

Edo State, Nigeria
In Edo State of Nigeria, the people called Bini (Benin City) regard Her as the mother of all creation, so they worship Olokun. Olokun governs fertility, social status and wealth and as such is very popular. Every year in Usonigbe a festival is held for Olokun. This is considered one of Traditional Oju Olokun (Olokun Shrine)the first places that Olokun shrines were ever be constructed.

Communion with Olokun
Those with a connection with Olokun may experience Her messages and healing through dreams and when in contact with the ocean. Priests may use mirrors, cloud reading (sky-gazing) and more familiar divination systems like cowry reading to communicate with Olokun.

 

 

Conclusion

For some, Olokun is the stern mother who does not play games. Yet for some, She becomes a He that is the King. In any case He/She possesses an air of regalness, a sense of purpose and a power to make the impossible happen. Olokun is hard and soft like the ocean that can both caress you and drown you. Olokun is the epitome of history. ancient past, reputation and knowledge. Do you respect your elders?

Olokun is the tide that comes in and out His children find wealth
in due time. They find a remedy to their spiritual and material yearnings after a long Journey (external and internal) and applied patience. (Who can rush a King?)

A Prayer to Olokun

Iba Olokun fe mi lo're. Iba Olokun omo re wa se fun oyi o.
I praise the Spirit of the vast Ocean. I praise the Spirit of the Ocean who is beyond understanding.

Olokun nu ni o si o ki e lu re ye toray. B'omi ta'afi. B'omi ta'afi.
Spirit of the Ocean, I will worship you, as long as there is water in the Sea.
Let there be peace in the ocean. Let there be peace in my soul.

Olokun ni'ka le. Mo juba. Ase.
The Spirit of the Ocean, the ageless one, I give respect. May it be so.

 

Photos

Olokun Priests, Devotees and Shrines in Benin City, Nigeria

Olokun Shrine at Oyotunji Village
# 2005 Olokun Festival
   

Bibliography

Olokun: Patron Deity of the African Race, Iya Afin Aybunmi Sangode (Out Of Print ?)

Olookun Owner of Rivers and Seas, John Mason

Yemoja / Olokun: Ifa and the Spirit of the Ocean, Awo Fa'Lokun Fatunmbi
Yemonja Maternal Divinity by Lloyd Weaver
Oriki Orisa, Vol. 1, Awo Falokun Fatunmbi
Mami Wata: Africa's Ancient God/dess Unveiled by Mamaissii Vivian
 
Resources

Olokún: From the archives of Obá Oriaté Miguel “Willie” Ramos

Feminita Gomez & Olokun

Houngan Asogwe Steve, Haitian Vodunsi and member of a Benin Olokun society.

Olokun Drums see vintage pics in Benin and new consecrated drums in Cuba.

Iyalosha Felicia Omí Saidé made a great offering (ebó) to Olokun on 8 September 1999

 Santeria Drumming for Olokun

Baba Bob Harms Olokun Tribute

Emilio Caruso, Drumming for Olokun
The Masking of Olokun
Grateful Dead Sing to Olokun
Olokun among Umbanda Practictioners

 

We supply the world with insight into Olokun @ wikipedia which is a free-content encyclopedia, written collaboratively by people from around the world.