In cities like Recife, Salvador, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, the existence of, Yoruba, philosophy, art, music, cuisine and rituals, was confirmation that the Orishas(Yoruba gods) had not only survived the middle passage but were flourishing in the New World, now reinforced by association with the cults of catholic saints they were even more phenomenal. The framework for their veneration is provided by Candomble, an Afro- Brazilian religion, the primary purpose of which is to pay attention to the paths of righteous living. Only the fittest Orisha survived the Atlantic slave trade. These include Eshu, spirit of individuality and change, Ifa, god of divination, Ogun lord of iron; Oya the tempest; Shango the fiery thunder god, Yemoja queen of the seas; Oshun goddess of sweet water love and giving; Orisha oko a celestial judge and restorer of fertility in life and cultivation of the earth. Their survival strategy was based on syncretic action, this way Yoruba beliefs have found their way into the religious traditions of descendants of African slaves imported in the West Indies and in North and South America.

A portrait of the goddess as a young woman: Oya presides in the Palaces beneath the sands at the bottom of River Niger. She is the fierce spirit of the whirlwind and is often described as the tempest. Seen in her various aspects she is a powerful sorceress, the controller of, explosive passions, lightning and the guardian of the entrance to underworld. She is also the owner of the marketplace and promotes the collective power of women, it is said that when she dances tornadoes are unleashed as she swirls around. The winds of change can be destructive, but they can also lead to rebirth, renewal and Progression, and Oya is present in the life of humans at times of important transitions even death. Because of her close association with the passage from life into death she is often found at the entrance to burial sites and she is one of the few Orisha worshipped alongside the Egungun cult of the ancestors. While on earth she was the favourite wife of Alafin Shango, who as lightning precedes thunder would often lead him into battle.............. Of all the River rain divinities Oya is the most feared her influence spans from the unborn to the ancestors and her wrath is so devastating that it must be avoided at all costs. This reputation has survived In Cuban Santeria she remains the Queen of hurricanes, thunderstorms and cemeteries and in Brazilian Candomble she is venerated as Iyansa syncretised with Saint Barbara and associated with the benevolent work of women’s societies such as the Sisters of the good death. In Haitian Voudoun she is Ti Kita and her cult is dedicated to the mysteries of death and destructive magic.
Ed Cross Fine Arts 

Spring 2018

Painterly Paradise | | Emily Watkins


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