This page is dedicated to my patron deity, Ogun.
In the Afro-Cuban religion commonly known as Santeria, Ogun is received as part of an initiation ceremony generally referred to as Los Guerreros, the Warriors. A person who has received both the elekes, the beaded necklaces of the Orisha, and the Warriors is considered to be half-initiated into Santeria, but s/he is not a priest/ess yet.
The Warriors are Eleggua, Ogun, Ochosi, and Osun. They are received together and generally worshiped together. Eleggua may take many forms, but a common one is a cement head with cowrie shells for eyes and mouth. Ogun is presented in the form of a three-legged iron pot or cauldron containing miniature versions of tools associated with him such as an anvil, hammer, pick, hoe, etc., along with sacred stones. Ochosi is represented by a mini bow and arrow and sacred stones that also reside in the Ogun’s pot. Osun is represented by a tall metal container with small bells and a rooster on the top.
While I have received the necklaces and the Warriors, I have not made Ocha and am not an initiated priestess of Ogun. I do not claim to know all of of his mysteries, which would be too extensive, complex, and enigmatic to explain in one page on a blog anyway This is just a little bit of information and a lot of devotion.
Swinging his machete side to side, Ogun cuts down everything in his path. He manipulates iron, forging and changing the shape of metal into tools such as the hammer, hoe, shovel, and pick. An explorer, discoverer, and inventor, Ogun is the father of civilization. With his tools, he clears the way and builds a road, a home, and a city. He is the constructor, laborer, and the technology that lights up our streets and homes and that powers the vehicles we navigate. As the ruler of metals, all the trades that use metal tools, from the butcher to the surgeon, are protected by Ogun.
As a warrior and a hunter, Ogun presides over aspects of life and death. Conquering, empire-building, and replacing the old world order with the new can be bloody work. The knife and hammer are also instruments of destruction as are other things created from metal such as guns and bullets. Perhaps it is no surprise then that Ogun has become associated with military and political power in Haiti. Ogun thus conventionally presents two images. One is the destroyer – the violent, bloodthirsty warrior who is terrifying fully armed and wielding a machete in each hand. The other is the creator – an ideal male leader who nurtures, protects, increases productivity, and pursues truth, equity, and justice.
Theologically, Ogun is metaphorically represented in human effort and human limitations. Ogun taught humans how to use fire, make iron, build cities, centralize government, conquer, and create empires. He teaches us of transformation through human effort. But this knowledge is also destructive and Ogun represents human struggles – our attempt to control ourselves and make sense of our social existence, our attempt to govern and control that which we cannot control, and our struggle to balance constraint and freedom. It is no surprise then that Ogun is a lonely and isolated figure – a king who prefers to live alone in the forest, accompanied only sometimes by his good friend Ochosi during the hunt.
Ogun’s colors are green and black and his numbers are 3 and 7. His feast day is June 29. He is generally worshiped on Mondays along with the other Warriors, but Tuesday is his day. Ogun loves food and will eat almost anything, but especially enjoys roasted yams, hutia, smoked fish, plantains, and rum.