49. Oshun (Yoruba Mythology)

In today's episode, we talk about Oshun, a Yoruba orisha of fertility and love. We discuss lessons of cooperation, kinship terms, and power relations.

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Wikipedia - Oshun

“Oshun, Yemonja, and Oya” by Velma E. Love

“The Death and Resurrection of Oshun in Beyoncé’sLemonade:Subverting the Institutionalized Borders of Western Christian Thought in American Popular Culture” by Nahum Welang

Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines: Volume Iby Patricia Monaghan

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Our cover art is by Helena Cailleaux.  You can find her and more of her work on Instagram @helena.cailleaux.illustratrice. Our theme song was composed and performed by Icarus Tyree. To hear more of their music, check out icarust.bandcamp.com.


[intro music]

Lizzie: Hello, and welcome to Mytholadies, a podcast where we talk about women from mythology and folklore all over the world. We're your hosts.

Zoe: I'm Zoe.

Lizzie: And I'm Lizzie. And how are you today, Zoe?

Zoe: I'm okay. I'm back at school. So it's very busy. And I'm just trying to figure out like, what I want to do this semester and what like, works best for me and stuff. So it's a little stressful. Hopefully I'll be able to figure things out though. What are, what are you, what are you up to?

Lizzie: Not a whole lot. I made a cake today, and I was so excited to make this cake. I finally got my cake tins that I ordered. Off- online, and I mean, it tastes good, but it did not turn out well decorations-wise.

Zoe: Decorations are hard, especially when you have like no tools.

Lizzie: Yeah, yeah. I was trying to make buttercream. It was a very hastily put together buttercream. It just wasn't very good. And I tried to write on it. And it was just very bad, but, oh well!

Zoe: I thought it looked nice.

Lizzie: Thank you. It was an earl grey cake and—

Zoe: Oh, that sounds really good. I want to make an earl grey cake. Does it caffeinate you?

Lizzie: I have no idea.

Zoe: —If you eat it? I guess you'll find out.

Lizzie: I guess so.

Zoe: I mean, matcha cakes like caffeinate you but I don't know for sure. I could be wrong. This could be me sounding very stupid on air. But, like.

Lizzie: I think it makes sense. But what do I know? I've no idea. I didn't even think about it. So.

Zoe: Yeah, I don't know. I guess I'll have to look into it. I don't know. Because coffee flavored cakes. Do they caffeinate you? I don't know. Well, something to look over.  Well, before we begin this episode, I just want to remind everyone that we have a ko-fi and that's linked in our episode description, which you can donate once or recurring. And it means a lot if you do and also we're going to be making bonus content sometime in the future, that only people who give us money will have access to. So you better get on that now. If you want to be there when it drops. Also, we have a survey, please fill it out. Thank you so much.

Lizzie: Great, thanks. [laughs]

Zoe: Also on our website you can find transcripts and our sources. So check that out as well. Cool.

Lizzie: If you so desire. And leave us a review if you so desire, if we're saying all these things anyway. Might as well add that.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Okay. Are you ready now?

Zoe: I am ready.

Lizzie: Who are we talking about today?

Zoe: Okay, so today, this episode will come out on Valentine's Day. And so I want to talk about a lady associated with like love and I think I sort of achieved that. Today we're talking about Oshun who is the Yoruba orisha of divinity, fertility, beauty, and love.

Lizzie: Ah, okay.

Zoe: So, because it's been like, almost 40 episodes, I wanted to quickly review the concept of orishas.

Lizzie: We talked- we mentioned her many episodes ago.

Zoe: Yes.

Lizzie: As like a side character for Oba.

Zoe: Yeah, yeah, so I wanted to go back to our Oba episode and talk about orishas because Oba is also an orisha. But basically, let's review. They're spirits in Yoruba religion set by the Supreme Being, Olodumare, to guide creation, especially humanity. There's generally like a few specific types. There's the primordial orisha, who have existed before the creation of humans, they're created directly by the God, the Supreme Creator. Either that or they're like the first inhabitants of the earth. They've been around for a while, they live in heaven or in the earth. So they're not as like close to humans, though they're like obviously still relatively close compared to like the Supreme Being. There's also some that are personifications of nature or forces or phenomena. And then there's also some that are deified ancestors. So people who live on the earth after it was created and greatly influenced it often kings, heroes or heroines, warriors, and founders of cities. When they die, will become orishas as like, you know, a marker of their greatness. And they often manifest in aspects of natural forces that can be harnessed and cultivated by humans. And they serve humans by mediating between the two sides of nature, one being the side that humans can control and the one being the side that humans can never control. And that allows the tenable aspects of nature to fall under human control, while also protecting humans from the more uncontrollable sides of nature. So yeah, those are orishas and yeah, so today we are talking about a specific orisha whose name is Oshun, and her name means source. And she is also an important river deity as well as an orisha of like love and beauty and fertility. And she was originally worshipped by the Yoruba people in the Ijesa region of West Africa, which is now known as the Osun state of Nigeria. And although she's known to be kind and protective of her people, she can have a "malevolent temper and sinister smile when she has been wronged." That's a quote. She is the wife of Shango alongside Oya and Oba. Although she is said to be his favorite, so yeah, she's one of his three wives. If you remember the story about Oba and the ear and Shango that was, that was all them. Lots of drama.

Lizzie: I do remember. And she was the one who tricked Oba into cutting off her ears, right?

Zoe: Um, it depends on the story. Sometimes it's Oya, sometimes it's Oshun.

Lizzie: Okay.

Zoe: But yeah, the main point is that the ear gets cut off. And she's also sometimes married to Orunmila, who is the orisha of wisdom and divination. And some, there's some stories about her as a human as well, which like, makes a story about her being a deified ancestor orisha. And the story says that she went to a drum festival and fell in love with Shango there. And then she became the first Iyalode, which is a high-ranking female chieftain. And yeah, it's a position that's still in existence today. But she was the first one. So awesome.

Lizzie: Okay.

Zoe: Trailblazer.

Lizzie: Feminist icon.

Zoe: And so especially also, yeah, so although there's like stories of her as like a human, which sort of to me, like seems to imply that she is like a sort of deified ancestor orisha, there's also a lot of stor- like, the main stories associated with her seem to imply that she's like a more of a primordial orisha. So according to the oral tradition of Ifá, which is a Yoruba religion, Oshun played a very important role in the creation of the world. She was the only female spirit out of the 17 sent by Olodumare to aid with creating the world. And the other spirits immediately set to work and began to do their own thing, and they ignored Oshun.

Lizzie: Oh, okay.

Zoe: Yeah. And for a long time, things went well, like they were creating the world. It was great. But eventually problems began to appear. There were droughts, crops failed, diseases spread, the earth became barren, and try as they might, the other spirits could not fix it. And then Oshun was watching all of this silently.

Lizzie: It's because they weren't allowing Oshun to help. She was the secret key.

Zoe: Well, yes. So the spirits went all over the world looking for solutions. And they even talked with Oshun about their problems, but their pride prevented them from asking her for help. But finally, they had no choice. They had to go back to Olodumare and tell him that they had failed in their mission. So when they did, he asked them a few questions. He said, how many of you are there? And they replied, 16. And he asked them, how many did I send? And they answered, 17. And he said, that's your answer. As long as you exclude Oshun, you are doomed to fail.

Lizzie: Exactly.

Zoe: Yeah. So realizing the mistake, the spirits returned back to the earth and sought her out. They begged her to come help them. However, she was not so forgiving. She had known their mistake all along. She knew of all the things they had done without her excluding her, and she did not want to help them. And honestly, I support her in that.

Lizzie: I do, too I think that's fun, how she's just kind of like, whatever you guys are failing without me, I'm just gonna—

Zoe: Yeah. So they kept pleading with her. And eventually she relented to a compromise. She was pregnant, and she told them that if her child was a boy, she would help them. But if the child was a girl, she would not. That was the deal. Spirits immediately began praying that her child would be a boy so that she would help them. And eventually their prayers came true. Oshun gave birth to a baby boy, whom she named Esu. And he is the divine messenger and embodiment of uncertainty and Yoruba culture. He's sort of like a trickster god in a lot of ways and stories. And then because she had given birth to a son, as she promised, she helped them create the world. In another version of the story, three orisha, Ogun, iron; Ochosi, the hunter; and Shango, lightning; approached Oshun and lay down all their tools in front of her to acknowledge her power and authority. And that was how they got her to help them.

Lizzie: And Shango was one of the guys who was ignoring her.

Zoe: Yes.

Lizzie: Who he eventually, who she eventually married. Oh, amazing. Okay.

Zoe: Yeah. I mean, okay. Do we talk about this later? No, I don't, what? Okay, well, so, basically, there's alternate versions of- there's a lot of alternate versions of the stories. And some of them are like, really weird or like, definitely, like, very different. Like one of them is like she tried, Oshun tried to create the world and she was having trouble. So she had to ask the other spirits for help. And like the moral is that, you know, like, she couldn't do everything on her own as a woman, like she needed men's help. And then there's other stories, there's another version of the story where like, Shango was the only one who was willing to listen to her. And he was sort of intervened with the spirits on her behalf and was like, hey, listen to Oshun and made like, and then we can create the world together and stuff. But it depends on the versions. And like those versions, obviously, well, like the first one is like a completely different story. There's a completely different message there. And the second one is like, it is sort of similar and that like, obviously, you know, she was needed in order to create the world, but it sort of takes away her agency a little, it's sort of like, well, this guy came and intervened on her behalf. And so therefore, she was able to succeed and, and join them, but she didn't do it herself, as opposed to in the story that I originally read, which is that, you know, she had the power and she used her power the whole time, and like decided by her own terms to help them. And so yeah, so that's the creation story. And so in all, like most of these stories, not the one where she's in the wrong, we see the power of Oshun as a female spirit and the power of femininity in Yoruba culture. One female spirit is more powerful than the 16 Male spirits. And also in general Oshun is known as the most powerful Orisha and gives all the other orishas their power, and they would really not be able to exist without her and the world would not be able to exist without her. So. So then there's another story associated with Oshun. And it has to do with her association with divination. And in particular, there's a story involving her making the merindinlogun system of divination available to all orishas and people on Earth. So merindinlogun is a method of divination that uses cowrie shells, which are, of course of like, traditionally a very important like item in like Yoruba and Western African culture. And so it's a way of telling the future using cowrie shells. And originally only one person knew how to do that it was this god Obatala, who they all had to go to, and ask him for advice. But it wasn't uncommon that when they went to visit him, he was nowhere to be found, and they couldn't receive the guidance they needed. So finally, Oshun decided to do something to help these people and make divination more accessible to her followers. So one day, when Obatala was leaving his home, she followed him. She watched as he took off his bright white robes and bathed in the river. And then nearby, she noticed his friend, the messenger Esu, and asked him for help convincing Obatala to teach her the art of divination.

Lizzie: It's interesting that the messenger god is the trickster god. I feel like that's common.

Zoe: Yeah, I think so. It's fun. Yeah. So like, I think it depends on the story that like, whether he's really like acting as her son or just like as his own person or not, you know, so, in that story, he's more acting like his own person and like someone you can ask for as like one of the gods for advice to figure something out. So his advice was to immediately go home and bathe in honey, and then to come back and pick up his clothes and take them with her. So she did as he told and when Obatala finished his bath, he realized that his clothes were nowhere to be found.

Lizzie: Okay, what I find interesting about this is that his bath was way longer than hers.

Zoe: Yeah, the timeline is a little weird on this. I don't know.

Lizzie: It must be a very quick honey bath.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Anyway.

Zoe: So, when Obatala finished his bath, he found his clothes were gone. And then he noticed Esu's tracks in the dirt and followed them until he arrived at Oshun's house. And then he knocked on the door and asked for his clothes back. So when Oshun answered the door, she was dripping in honey. And she agreed to give Obatala back his clothes, but only he taught her the art of merindinlogun first. So he agreed. And therefore using her charm and some tricks, Oshun learned the art of divination and taught it to the rest of humanity.

Lizzie: Okay, I have a question. What's the significance of the honey?

Zoe: I think... I feel like it's kind of sexy, to be honest.

Lizzie: Okay, got it.

Zoe: And yeah, when I was doing my research, I found another version of the story that basically says Oshun was not trying to plan how to learn divination on her own, but basically just took advantage of the opportunity when Esu stole Obatala's clothes, and then she won Obatala's clothes back by having sex with Esu and then convinced Obatala that he should teach her divination to give in exchange for his clothes. So that's another version of the story.

Lizzie: That one's also fun, actually.

Zoe: I don't like that one. I don't like it that much. Because it's sort of like it takes away a lot of her planning and ideas and agency, you know, it's sort of like—

Lizzie: Oh, that's fair.

Zoe: —instead of her being like, I want this specific thing to happen. So I'm going to say, you know, set out and do it, I'm going to follow this guy, and I'm going to make sure like, I'm going to see what he's doing and go from there. And instead of doing that, she's basically like, oh, here's an opportunity.

Lizzie: I get that. I thought it was kind of fun and chaotic, have her to just take advantage of the moment and learn divination from it, but they're both fun. But yeah, also I do find it a bit weird that in some stories Esu is her son, and in this one they had sex, but anyway.

Zoe: I mean, that's a lot of mythology to be honest.

Lizzie: [laughing] It really is! Continue.

Zoe: So, yeah, well, I mean—

Lizzie: I think it's kind of fun how it's like, oh, fun prank. Like, just taking his clothes.

Zoe: I feel like it's really common motif in mythology, to be honest.

Lizzie: Just like taking people- like, or maybe I don't know if it has something to do with like, the clothes being sacred or just like, just, ha, took your clothes, teach me divination now, like, little prank. Kind of thing.

Zoe: Yeah. I mean, a lot of the time. It is like a sort of significant thing. It's a lot like, oh, you have power over someone if you steal their clothes while they're bathing.

Lizzie: Yeah, that's a very vulnerable position for them to be in.

Zoe: Yeah, so there's like a lot of stories where it's like nymphs or something and they're bathing, and then a man comes along and steals their clothes. And then suddenly, he has like power. And then of course, there's the story of like, the selkie, where, you know, they steal, take the seal skin and then you then they're—

Lizzie: That's very true.

Zoe: Yeah. I mean, like, well, first of all, like, someone stealing your clothes, and having to, like run back home naked when you're bathing, like that's not fun. Just from like, a surface level, like, I don't know, like, that's not fun. But then also know, also, it sounds like they were special clothes, because there was like a bright white robe. You know, it was like a special bathing garments. Like that sounds like you know, really nice. And then again, yeah, like, there's the deeper significance of like taking someone's clothes, like, gives a sense of power over them and stuff. Which, as I said, is like a pretty common motif in mythology, which I find very interesting.

Lizzie: Yeah. And also in the other story, you told about, Oshun she, like the other gods needed her. And then she was in power in that way. Like, she kind of stood back and was like, they're gonna need me eventually. And she kind of let them come to her. And in this one, she, like, took power over him by stealing his clothes. And like, and you mentioned something about maybe the dripping and honey thing was supposed to be kind of seductive or something.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: And about how she uses her like, feminine powers to just like win back the power, I guess?

Zoe: Yeah, I think that's really the case. Yeah. So Oshun's associations with water tie closely to associations with life, fertility and love. As of course, we all know, water is essential to life, you can't exist without it. It's necessary for the growth of crops and plants, and therefore bodies of water, especially rivers are big symbols of fertility in mythology across the world. And in this case, as well. I was also thinking about how like in the creation story, it says that, like, the land became barren, and there was droughts and stuff, and you know, she is associated with water. So like, by getting her help, and like bringing water to the land and the people, she helps renew the earth and bring life back to it. So she's like creating life.

Lizzie: She makes the earth fertile.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: And also part of that story also involves her giving birth, like literal birth.

Zoe: Yeah! So that's also a really good point is she like, literally, she's giving birth like, both physically and metaphorically to like, create a new life in both those ways.

Lizzie: And that just women, I guess, in general, are necessary for, whatever, creating life and the general wellbeing of society and the earth, I guess.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: I find it interesting that there's no other women. Like, she was the only woman at the entire dawn of the world, right?

Zoe: Yeah, she was she was the only female spirit created and sent to create the world.

Lizzie: It feels like it would be an obvious thing that you would want to respect the one woman because she's the only way that you can give birth to the next generation.

Zoe: I mean, like, maybe they didn't know that yet. I don't know.

Lizzie: That's true. Maybe this was where they learned that lesson.

Zoe: Yeah, like they didn't know that was how- because like, of course, they're like, not human. So they're not maybe not reproducing in the same way. So they just don't know but like, obviously, it's clear that you need women in order to bring life to the world is this—

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: —you know, traditional story.

Lizzie: Exactly.

Zoe: So, Oshun is also associated with both the external and internal forces of the human in particular, the ori, or the inner head, aka consciousness. And so in some versions of the creation story, it's said that Ogun relinquishes the tool, he used to cultivate the field, and Shango relinquishes his double-edged axe. And so turning these practical tools over to Oshun represents that one's consciousness, the ori, ultimately governs one's life, not physical items or actions. So, you know, something that I've been thinking about I don't really have like a good solid answer is that like, in the Yoruba language, there aren't really gender specific terms. There aren't words to differentiate between concepts like son, daughter, brother, sister, social groups are generally organized in kinship groups, and authority is more based on seniority than in gender.

Lizzie: That makes sense.

Zoe: Yeah. So Oshun is considered one of the youngest orishas. And I'm wondering if that may also have to do with how our thoughts and ideas are largely ignored in the creation story as well. Because—

Lizzie: I thought they were all the same age?

Zoe: I... some stories say that she's the youngest. I don't know. Also, so like, I'm wondering, like, is it possible to say that the story is more about age structures rather than gender structures? I don't know. I want, I was wondering your thoughts on this?

Lizzie: I mean, I do think that a language not differing between, like gendered terms doesn't necessarily equate to like, not discriminating based on gender.

Zoe: That's true.

Lizzie: I think it's quite common among languages of the world to like, have the kinship terms... they don't necessarily separate some things that we in English would separate. Like there's a difference between like aunt and like, mother, I don't know if that's the case in Yoruba, but it's the case in some languages, you know?

Zoe: That's true.

Lizzie: And how that, like, relates to, well, first of all, it can be like kind of arbitrary, but it could also relate to, like, the way that like the family is thought of, like, it's not just your parents taking care of you, it's like the other, like, older members of your gen- like the generation above you, like, you know, that's kind of a little bit of a tangent, but anyway. But like, kinship terms can just, like, vary a lot from language to language. And I don't know exactly how, like the family is structured and like, perceived in Yoruba cultures. But I would imagine that age is very important, like just that the generation you're in is very important. But I mean, the fact that she's the only woman in this story, I feel like it's very, like a stark difference, you know? Like, if it was a couple of women it's be like, oh, maybe, but she's the only woman among 17 people. That's like, very clear, like, that can't be a coincidence. Like, why else would they be leaving her out?

Zoe: Yeah, I mean, yeah, I mean, my thought is, like, you know, gender is a colonial construct.

Lizzie: I mean, yes.

Zoe: But like, I don't know, I mean, I guess it's really hard to say like, how stories have changed over the years, and like, how we can analyze that.

Lizzie: But also part of the story involves her giving birth.

Zoe: That's true.

Lizzie: Like, that is an integral part of the story.

Zoe: That is true.

Lizzie: Just like knowing only the things that you've told me, it just sounds to me that the- her being a woman is the main part of it. And also, the fact that the woman is the youngest person in the entire group also seems like it's not just a arbitrary coincidence, like that women are seen as like, whatever, less experienced less, like, wise and respectable, I guess.

Zoe: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I mean, I think it's a really interesting story. And I think that, like, obviously, I think her gender does play a big part in her role in the story and her sort of her associations and what she's like, and how she's worshipped nowadays and stuff. I do think it was interesting that like, you know, she's also considered the youngest. And so that's sort of another like, more, you know, a group that's taken less seriously because, you know, less experience and, you know, they don't have as much authority and stuff. And, like as many skills and aren't as wise, and I thought that was interesting as well, that she was also associated with, like that group

Lizzie: But in that, like, reading, the moral of the story is like, don't discount someone just because they're young.

Zoe: Yeah. Which is also great. I support that reading as well.

Lizzie: As do I.

Zoe: Yeah, but overall, it's really interesting to me how both the stories I found out about her seem to have alternate versions that pretty much undermine her powers and abilities and seem like kind of to very sexist, depending on which version we're talking. And so like, I mean, obviously, the world creation one is the biggest example where there's literally an alternate version where it's like, oh, she didn't try to do stuff, but she was wrong and she needed a man's help and it's like, why?

Lizzie: It's very interesting that the like, because this is not just any story. It's like the creation story, like the creation of the world involved conflict based off of like, gender and like infighting like, that's so interesting.

Zoe: Yeah. Yeah. And like there are people who believe that that version, the one that I just talked about, where it's like, oh, she should have stayed in her place is like a result of colonial ideas interfering with traditional stories which like, to me makes sense.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: The just like, the stark contrast between the two of them with, like, how she's treated as like the woman who creates life and is integral to creating, you know, the world as opposed to like, oh, the stupid woman who was trying to get in the way of everyone. It's like—

Lizzie: And she's clearly very smart.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Like in the other story, it was Esu who gave her the idea to like, steal the clothes and like bathe in honey or whatever. But still, like, I mean, it was her that did the like crafty, teach me divination thing.

Zoe: Yeah. Like she knew, she followed Obatala all the way to the pond, or the, where, or the river wherever he was bathing. And then decided who is the best person to help me accomplish this goal? It's Esu, the messenger trickster guy. Yeah, like, she's like, I need to use some tricks here. So I'm going to ask the trickster guy, you know, like, that makes sense. You know.

Lizzie: Yeah, I mean, it's true that like in a lot of creation stories, they involve like god infighting, like, like we talked about in the Enuma Elish, they were also very unkind to Tiamat.

Zoe: Yeah, I mean, like, in Greek myths, all sorts of stuff's going on there.

Lizzie: Every single Greek myth is about gods infighting.

Zoe: So like, yeah, so yeah, I mean, it makes sense. I feel like you know, all the contrasts in the world are a result, like, often can be interpreted as, like a result of like, differing forces trying to like figure things out together. You know.

Lizzie: It's true. It kind of gives like the whole, like, creation of the world, like a really epic feel of like these really, really powerful gods, like, are just really fighting it out. And that's why the world is the way that it is.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Which is fun. Creation stories are very fun.

Zoe: And, like, I also feel like this story, even though it has conflict is ultimately a story of cooperation. Because the point is like, you need everyone.

Lizzie: Yeah, they all learned.

Zoe: Yeah, it's not even just like, you know, oh, you have like 17 people and make maybe 10 of you figure something out together. And the other seven are off doing like, whatever. It's like no, all 17 of you need to figure something out together. Like everyone needs to cooperate. Everyone needs to be paying attention to what's going on in like the community and the world.

Lizzie: Everyone in the community important, everyone has something to contribute. And if you leave them out, that just signifies like a weak community.

Zoe: Yeah. So today, she is still worshipped today, and she's quite a prominent figure, actually, and worship her has spread through other parts of the world primarily through the diaspora of the slave trade, and she is particularly honored in Afro-Brazilian communities. So in Brazil, she is considered an orisha of freshwater and rivers and waterfalls. She is also associated with wealth, prosperity, love and beauty. And she oversees relationships and marriages and followers were often asked for help in questions of love and romantic problems. And she's also associated with emotional sensitivity and often weeps. And that reminds me that I believe she's associated with Erzulie Freda.

Lizzie: Oh, is she?

Zoe: Uh, huh.

Lizzie: Okay. Erzulie Freda, who we talked about previously in Haitian Vodou—

Zoe: Episode 9.

Lizzie: Oh, was it?

Zoe: Yeah. I remember she cried a lot.

Lizzie: —And she weeped and her tears flood the world. Yeah.

Zoe: And she's also associated with like, love and marriage and romantic problems.

Lizzie: Oh, yeah, she is.

Zoe: Yeah, so also in Candomblé Bantu, she is known as Nkisi Ndandalunda, which means the Lady of Fertility and the Moon. And in this religion, she is the goddess of water, pregnancy, and fertility. And women who wish to have children will pray to her for children and also for her protection during pregnancy. And she also watches over and protects small children until they can speak and she's associated with aromatic yellow plants, especially mints, and bright flowers. And the bright yellow is to reflect her association with wealth. And also she is worshipped in Santeria as well, which is a religion associated with Cuba. And she is worshipped and associated with our lady of charity who is an incarnation of Mary specifically associated with Cuba and holy to the Cuban people considered the patroness of Cuba so very important in that religion super, super important.

Lizzie: And isn't her namesake also like a river?

Zoe: Yeah, well, she she has there's a river named after her. Or a river like that she is like the goddess of. So it's her river specifically in Nigeria. Yeah, so she is commonly worships at rivers and waterfalls and occasionally mineral water sources. Her symbols are the beaded comb, the peacock, the mirror and honey. Her colors are white, yellow, gold and sometimes coral. And her ritual object is the abẹ̀bẹ̀, which is a circular fan. And in Nigeria, she is celebrated every year and the Osogbo festival which is in the capital of Nigeria's Osun State, which is the modern name day name for the territory where she has long been worshipped. And so like Oshun, the festival is believed to have healing powers attendees honor her and her purity by wearing white and it's considered Nigeria's largest event, attracting thousands of international tourists every year to give praise to Oshun. And there's other festivals celebrating, other ceremonies celebrating her called Ibo-Oshun. At the ceremony, woman will eat a feast of yams than dance hoping that Oshun will select them as her favorite. And once Oshun selects a woman, she serves her community as a leader and healer for the year. So she is all over the place, she is still very important and very cool. And she has even been quite a prominent figure in pop culture in recent years. So particularly Beyonce, embodies Oshun in her music video for "Hold Up" as well as throughout the entire Lemonade visual album. And so if you think about the music video for hold up, she's wearing a bright yellow dress, which is Oshun's color. And it's also, you know, an homage to her as like the goddess of love and the overseer of marriage and romantic troubles. And throughout the whole Lemonade visual album, Beyonce like uses imagery of Oshun and other Orishas as well as like Christianity to talk about the importance of syncretization of religious ideas between the two groups in order to really embrace the heritage of being African, particularly West African, as well as the culture of African Americans, and demonstrates through the symbol of Oshun how the two religions are connected to each other. And aside from Beyonce's album, allusions to Oshun are present in many other pieces of media. So like, while I was doing my research, I saw a bunch of like literary analyses, including multiple papers on different Toni Morrison books such as Paradise and Beloved and I think there might have been one about Song of Solomon as well that I saw.

Lizzie: Oh, really?

Zoe: Yeah. She's been referenced in a lot of popular culture and a lot of media and literature and she is like, a very significant spirit and figured this day she is very alive and well among us. So that is Oshun.

Lizzie: She's very cool.

Zoe: I think she is very fun.

Lizzie: Okay, thank you Zoe for today's episode and thank you for listening. Please feel free to subscribe, and donate to our ko-fi, listen to our other episodes, leave a review, and we'll see you back here again in two weeks.

Zoe: Goodbye. Happy Valentine's Day.

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Lizzie: Mytholadies podcast is produced, researched, and presented by Elizabeth Lacroix and Zoe Koeninger. You can find us on Instagram and Twitter @ Mytholadies and visit us on our website at mytholadies.com. Our cover art is by Helena Cailleaux. Our music was written and performed by Icarus Tyree. Thanks for listening, see you in two weeks.