Yoruba mythology

The Yoruba are a historically very important ethnic group from western Africa, concentrated in Nigeria. Many slaves taken to the Americas were ethnically Yoruban and many of the mythological ideas from Yoruban religious beliefs were combined with Christianity and Native American spirituality to form Vodun, in all its different varieties.

The concept of the itan is vital in understanding Yoruba mythology. The word refers to the sum total of all the myths, songs, histories and other cultural concepts which make up the Yoruban religion and society. The itan are accepted as historically factual, and can be used to settle disputes.

Gods are called Orishas. The primordial, first-existing, Orishas are called Obatala and Odudua, brother and sister respectively, and their father Olorun. Obatala created humanity and Olorun gave life to the hollow shells Obatala had made. Obatala and Odudua later had a son, Aganya, and a daughter, Yemaja, who was a mother goddess. Her son, Orungan, raped her twice; the second time, her body exploded and fifteen Orishas came out. They included Ogun, Olukum, Shakpana, Shango.

Shango is perhaps the most important Orisha; he is a Sky Father, god of thunder and the ancestor of the Yoruba. He was the fourth king of the Yoruba, and deified after his death.

Eshu is another very important Orisha. He is a trickster and divine fool, and very well-respected by the Yoruba themselves, and the other Orishas.

Orisha:

See also Egbere



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