For those who have not yet had the privilege of knowing Oshun, the benevolent and venerated Yoruba goddess: May you one day experience the strength in her power, the beauty of her undying love, and the magical rhythm flowing through her sacred waters. This goddess is very much alive; her feminine essence resides in the rivers of the world and in the hearts of those who call upon her energy today and every day. Developed among the people of Nigeria and Benin, the Yoruba faith consists of ritual practices that include singing, dancing, spiritual possession, and healing ceremonies. The Yoruba faith has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My grandmother was a complete devotee of Shango, and my parents always had altars for the Orishas in different parts of our house. When I was 20 years old, I went to see a Babalawo high priest to receive my guardian Orisha. Despite my love for every single one of them, I was secretly hoping it would be Oshun. I remember soaking it all in, feeling like a goddess in the flesh. Oshun—the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility—is the youngest Orisha and one of the most adored in the Yoruba religion. As one of the ancient Yoruba myths suggests, the human race would not exist if Oshun had been sent to our world.
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The Orisha Oshun
She is one of the most popular and venerated Orishas. She is the goddess of divinity, femininity, fertility, beauty and love. During the life of the mortal Osun, she served as queen consort to King Shango of Oyo. Following her posthumous deification , she was admitted to the Yoruba pantheon as an aspect of a primordial divinity of the same name. She is the patron saint of the Osun River in Nigeria , which bears her name. The river has its source in Ekiti State , in the west of Nigeria, and passes through the city of Osogbo , where Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove , the principal sanctuary of the deity, is located. Although the female spirits were tempted to take matters into their own hands, they knew nothing can be done without masculine leadership. Anything they attempt to do without the male spiritual leadership would fail. Shango forced the other spirits hand to respect Osun as they would him. Once Osun saw the power that Shango possessed, she honored him and dedicated to serve as his wife.
Across many ancient civilizations throughout the world, love was placed under the domain of a certain deity, usually, but not in all cases, a goddess. In the Classical world, for instance, there were Venus and Aphrodite , love goddesses of the Roman and Greek pantheons respectively. In the ancient Near East, love was personified in such goddesses as Ishtar and Astarte. Further afield in West Africa, the Yoruba people believe in a love goddess by the name of Oshun. The Yoruba people inhabit the south-western part of modern day Nigeria and the southern part of Benin. Practitioners of traditional Yoruba religion believe in a pantheon of gods known as Orisha who govern various aspects of the world and human life. Although Oshun also spelt Osun is regarded principally as a goddess of love, there are other aspects to this Orisha as well. One of the most important roles that Oshun plays is that of the goddess of the sweet waters and the protective deity of the River Oshun in Nigeria.