Images by Danilo Lejardi at Lejardi.com
The orisha of the woods is Ogun. Ogun is a tall, strong man that wields a heavy machete from side to side chopping everything in his path. He is the one who knows how to manipulate the metal of iron. With his great big anvil deep in the forest he forges and changes the shape of metal into the everyday tools that we as humankind use. Ogun is a well know sorcerer and he knows secrets to all of the plants that the forest contains. With this, he can see where and what you are doing and before you know it, he is in front of you preparing to attack. He is also in charge of construction and the fundaments of building. He is the chief constructor. He is the overseer of labor workers. Without his leadership there is no foundation in anything we do. Ogun is also the technology we use to survive in life. He is the wires that lights up our streets and homes, the cars and buses we drive, the trains and planes we ride. Inseparable friend of Elegua and Ochosi who the trio makes up the “The Warriors” first set of orishas to receive in Santeria.
There is a pataki of Ogun that says that a long time ago he was working hard in the forest. He arrived back to his town and notice that the people of the town were actually not giving him the recognition that he deserved. Ogun worked all day at this and one day his longtime friend Elegua came to visit him. Elegua told Ogun that it seemed like no one really paid him any attention in the town and all they did was use him for his talents. Ogun noticing and listening carefully to Elegua, stood up and turned off the fire that he used to heat up his metals. He grabbed his machete and oti (liquor) and walked into the forest without saying a word. Elegua looked at his friend that just walked until he disappeared amongst the bushes.
Days upon days, the town grew weary and all life came to a stand still. Everyone noticed that Ogun’s house was empty and dark and there was no sign of anyone being there for days. Farmers needed new tools for their plows, soldiers needed new armory. Even the orishas who came to Ogun as well were in need of tuning their essentials. Oya needed her sable sharpened, Ochosi needed new arrow points, Orisha Oko needed a new plow for his crops. Everyone wondered where was Ogun.
The orishas called upon Olofi who came to the town and asked them why are they looking for Ogun. Everyone started to say what they needed, what they wanted and so on. Olofi then told them, did they ever stop to thank Ogun for his work. Did they ever pay homage to the great orisha who works day and night due to his own curse that he put on himself to work day and night. Everyone stayed quiet as the great Olofi was talking. Olofi said that Ogun has retreated deep into the forest and lets see who can get him to come back. Olofi said he was not going to interfere, that he was going to let the orishas and humankind delegate on how to get Ogun back to civilization.
Each orisha, one by one went deep into the forest in search for Ogun. Elegua went looking for his friend and found him sitting by a rock sharpening his machete. Ogun saw him and chased Elegua until Elegua came out of the forest gasping for air. Oya went to look for Ogun and when she found him, he grabbed her and threw across the woods with one swirl of his arm. Oya came back out staggering. Yemaya went, Ochosi went, Chango went, but none succeeded. All the orishas went but their was one orisha who was requesting to go. Oshun. Everyone laughed at her idea because she was the youngest and least knowledgeable of the woods and to face Ogun with the rage that he was in, it would be dangerous. Olofi gave her his blessings and Ochun grabbed 5 yellow cloths, her pouch and marched into the woods.
Oshun saw Ogun from far working on some tools and she started to use her tactics. She went to the river that was nearby and she got undressed. While all of this Oshun is singing and laughing to herself. Showing the lovely and admirable side of her. Ogun heard the singing and laughing and wondered where it was coming from. He glimpsed Oshun bathing naked in the river and was blinded by her beauty. Oshun came out of the river and caressed her body with her main implement, oni (honey). She rubbed it all over while laughing and singing. Without Ogun’s knowledge, Oshun went behind Ogun and smeared some of her honey on his lips. The great orisha was like a tame beast. He was dumbfounded and was in a trance. Oshun walked slowly while giving a seductive dance and dropped one of the yellow cloths on the ground. Ogun still in a trance slowly grabbed the cloth and followed the seductive orisha. Oshun kept her composure and glimpsed at Ogun from the corner of her eye and noticed that he was coming out of the trance, so she danced up to him and smeared more honey on his lips to reinforce the trance. Ogun was caught again and continued to follow Oshun picking up another cloth. Oshun continued to do this until she got near to the town. She dropped the 5th cloth and smeared more honey on Ogun’s lips and walked him straight into town where everyone was waiting in shock to see that this young orisha was able to bring the great forge man to town.
When Ogun reached the center of the town, everyone started to cheer in Ogun’s name. Everyone ran to Ogun and told him how they were sorry for not giving him his homage. All the townsmen brought out the best liquor and foods and they beat the drums in honor of Ogun. Olofi turned to everyone and stated that this was a lesson needed to be learned. When one does something nice for you, you should always be respectful and be humble to that person because you never know when you will need them again. Olofi blinked his eye at the lovely Oshun and retreated back to the heavens.
From that day on Ogun has always been recognized for his actions and he has always received the homage that he deserves.
Maferefun Ogun and Ochun!
Ogun feast day is June 29. His colors are green, red and purple. His main implement is the machete. His sacrifice are all animals but he loves goats, roosters, possum rat, pigeons and the guinea hen. He loves to drink, smoke cigars and dance. Ogun is also know to reside at the train tracks where some of his offerings are taken to besides the forest. Son of Obatala and Yembo, husband of Oshun and Oya his lost wife who was stolen by his brother Chango.
The children of Ogun are hard working individuals and they do not rest until they are finish. They love to be in charge of the situation. They will cut and forge anything that they want. Just like Ogun, his children love to dance, drink and enjoy life. Ogun watches over his children very strongly and when he is in battle for one of his children he will not rest until he has won the battle. In Palo Mayombe Ogun is associated with the great warrior Zarabanda in which he was a great king. The same implements used by Ogun is used by Zarabanda. They say if you take out Ogun’s secret from his cauldron, he turns into Zarabanda in egun form.
There are different paths of Ogun
This Ogun is the oldest. He is the Ogun that knows the secret to forging the metal. This path of Ogun is a hard working and he does not rest until he gets the job done. When Alagwede comes down he mimics the act of forging the metal on top of his anvil.
This Ogun also knows the secret of the metal. He is a warrior and cuts through the tall grasses to conquer what needs to be conquered. Accompanied by Ochosi and Elegua to look for game to hunt. Arere loves to drink and battled Chango on certain occasions. He knows the woods profoundly and knows its secrets.
This Ogun's rage makes him a great ferocious warrior. This path of Ogun is always in battle for his children and does not rest. Chibiriki has many machetes and knives under his belt that he uses to slice and dice at his enemies. He loves to see blood shed from his enemies. He loves to drink. Its said that when this path of Ogun comes to the land you have to be careful not to have any knives around for he will grab one and begin make cuts on himself to show that he is in battle.
He is one of the youngest paths of Ogun. This path loves to drink and dance in all occasions. Onile is able to run swiftly through the woods and attack his enemy without them even noticing he’s approaching. Onile is very fast with his machete. When Onile comes to the earth, he dances and mimics the action of cutting through the tall shrubs.
He is the path that walks with Ochosi to bring justice and hunt to mankind. Ogun Ode is always in hunt with Ochosi looking for game to hunt. He is very swift with his actions and he has a hard hand when it comes to justice. He is a sorcerer and knows the secret of the woods.
Owner of the forest. This path knows every inch of the forest. The beginning and the end alongside with every plant and animal that grows in it.
This Ogun takes everything double. He walks around swaying machetes in both hands. He is a great warrior and is fond of battles. Everything you put to him should be in double forms. You just cant give him 1 machete you must give him 2.
This path is said to be the one that fights alongside Yemaya when she is at her warrior stage.
There is much more paths but it would be impossible to list them all.