“Oya” by Danilo Lejardi

“Egungun-Oya’s themes are destiny, death, ghosts, divination, foresight and truth. Her symbols are dance and fire.  The Yoruban Mother of the Dead and mistress of spiritual destinies, Egungun-Oya helps us peek into our own futures, being a Goddess of fate. Traditionally She is venerated through folk dances that show Her guiding spirits in the afterlife with the flames of truth in one hand.

As one might expect, the people of Nigeria honor the ancestors on this day, believing that they and Egungun-Oya control the fates of the living. It’s a common custom, therefor, to leave food and gifts for both the deceased and the Goddess today, hoping both will find pleasure in the offering. In your own home, put out pictures of loved ones who have passed on and light a candle in front of these today so that Egungun-Oya’s truth will fill your home. When you light the candle, observe its flame. If it burns out quickly without your assistance, this indicates that you should take care – you’re burning yourself out on too many projects. If it flames up brightly and steadily, anticipate health and longevity. An average-sized flame that burns blue indicates spiritual presences and a normal life span.

To keep any unwanted ghosts out of you house, put a light of any sort in the window, saying,

‘Egungun-Oya is your guide,
return to your sleep and there abide.’

The Goddess will safely guide those spirits back to where they belong.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Ancestor Spirits” by Willow Arlenea

“In Yoruba mythology, Egungun-oya is a Goddess of divination. ‘Egungun‘ refers to the collective spirits of the ancestral dead; the Orisha ‘Oya‘ is seen as the mother of the Egun.

In Egba and Egbado area, as well as many parts of Yorubaland, Odun Egungun festivals are held in communities to commemorate the ancestors. Egungun masquerade are performed during these annual or biennial ceremonies as well as during specific funeral rites throughout the year. The masquerade is a multifaceted ceremony which includes the making of offerings as well as the honoring of ancestors for past and future aid.

Egungun performances organized for funerary purposes mark the death of important individuals. In this context, the masks reflect a creative response to death as a time of crisis involving mourning and loss. Elaborate performances serve to commemorate the dead through the remembrance of their past life while simultaneously reinforcing the relationship between the living and the recently deceased ancestor.

Among the broad range of themes incorporated in the Egungun masks are representations of numerous societal and cultural stereotypes as well as acrobatic images in which dancers turn their clothing inside out, in part to suggest the power and distance of the ancestral world. Entertaining satirical masks depicting animals and humans are performed during the masquerade and often serve as a social commentary on the life of the community.” [1]

Here is a video highlighting some scenes from a Egungun festival held in the Oyortunji African Village (near Sheldon, South Carolina) from 2010.  This sacred festival is a type of Memorial Day in which the ancestors and deceased are collectively remembered…







Wikipedia, “Egungun-oya“.



Suggested Links:

Covenofthegoddess.com, “Goddess Oya“.

French, Selina. Order of the White Moon, “Oya“.

Hargrow, Tirra. Goddess-Body-Mind-Spirit.com, “The Goddess of Transformation“.

Heathwitch. Order of the White Moon, “Oya: Lady of Storms“.

O., Bommie. MotherlandNigeria.com, “Festivals“.

Revel, Anita.  Reconnect with Your Inner Goddess, “Oya“.

Strong, Laura. Mythic Arts, “Egungun: The Masked Ancestors of Yoruba“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Oya“.

Wikipedia, “Egungun“.

Wikipedia, “Oya“.