Olokun is an Orisha in Yoruba religion as well as a pantheon in Edo traditional religion. It is associated with the vast and deep sea, marshes and wetlands, and is protector of the African diaspora. It works closely with Oya (Deity of the Winds) and Egungun (Collective Ancestral Spirits) to herald the way for those that pass to ancestorship, as it plays a critical role in Iku, Aye and the transition of human beings and spirits between these two existences. The worshippers of Olokun are generally dressed in immaculate white attires with their faces coasted with white chalk ‘efun’. Festivals are celebrated worldwide in honor of Olokun.

     Trinidad and Tobago Olokun priests performing rituals at Ase Odun Olokun festival.

It is averred that Olokun has male or female personifications, depending on what region of West Africa He/She is worshipped. It is personified in several human characteristics; patience, endurance, sternness, observation, meditation, appreciation for history, future visions, and royalty personified.

Initiated Ifa members of Olokun deity on street procession during Odun Osara and Olokun festival at Ile Ife in Osun State,Nigeria

 Olokun is one of the most powerful yet dangerous of the Orishas in Osha and Ifa.  Its characteristics are found and displayed in the depths of the Ocean. The word "Olukun" is a contraction, "Olo" meaning "owner", and "okun" meaning "ocean". Both of these words are the names given to describe a complex convergence of Spiritual Forces that are key elements in the Ifa concept of fertility.

  Chief priest Of Olokun sitting on the chair at the river mouth to the sea in Trinidad and Tobago with another Olokun devotee during Ase Odun Olokun festival.

Olokun also signifies unfathomable wisdom. That is, the instinct that there is something worth knowing, perhaps more than can ever be learned, especially the spiritual sciences that most people spend a lifetime pondering. It also governs material wealth, psychic abilities, dreaming, meditation, mental health and water-based healing.

  Drummers at Olokun Festival at Baltimore,USA

 Olokun is one of many Orisa known to help women that desire children. It is also worshipped by those that seek political and social ascension, which is why heads of state, royalty, entrepreneurs and socialites often turn to Olokun to not only protect their reputations, but propel them further among the ranks of their peers.

Annual Olokun Festival being celebrated by the Ilajes who inhabit the entire coastline of Ondo State.

Olokun in female form among the Yoruba is symbolized by the sea and white she-goats are among her favorite offerings. She is represented by the number 7 and his sacred day of the week is Monday.
Olokun is believed to be the wife of Olorun and, by him, the mother of Obatala and Odudua.

Yoruba Ifa Olokun devotee from Ile Ife, Osun State, Nigeria carrying his kids during Odun Osara and Olokun festival.

 Other relationships are numerous, especially when the gender of Olokun changes. Again, while these relationships are taken quite literally, they actually serve to tell occult members which Orisa work well together in healing situations, as well as to provide historical references to relationships between communities that serve as centers or hosts to main shrines for each of these Orisa.

Eyo Olokun masquerades at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.

Olokun is worshipped in Benin, Togo and among the Edo and Yoruba in Nigeria. In African diasporic religions, Olokun is sometimes considered the patron Orisa of the African diaspora, the descendants of those who were carried away during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Olokun is still revered in modern Lagos (Eko), and Eyo Olokun masquerades are among the main attractions at the Eyo festival.

     Olokun initiates during Odun Osara and Olokun festival at Ile Ife in Osun State,Nigeria

History of Olokun
Benin is widely accepted as the home or origin of Olokun worship. While most Olokun initiates in Africa are female, the legends that mark the beginning of Olokun worship feature stories of men being its initial worshipers.

There was a hunter that resided in Urhonigbe in the Edo kingdom of Benin. One day, he ventured off into the woods on a hunting expedition. While chasing a bush pig, he was attracted to the river Ethiope where he was captured and taken to the bottom of the river by a band of spirits.

Ori-Olokun towering high at the Ife Garden
Ori-Olokun monument was discovered in the early 20th century by German explorer Leo Frobenius. “Frobenius could not imagine that such works were of African origin and came up with the theory that this great art was evidence of the lost Atlantis of the Greeks. Fabronius said "the Yoruba deity, Olokun, was the same god as the Greek Poseidon. “The monument was further identified as a modern sand casting of a brass, which comprises copper and zinc.
“The name, Olokun, attached to this head refers to the fact that it was dug up in the late 19th century in the Olokun Grove and used in annual rites to honour Olokun."

 It was here that he was introduced to the deity Olokun. He stayed in this underwater abode for three years and, in the course of those three years, he was encouraged to participate in spiritual rituals that went on all the time. By so doing, he learned the spiritual sciences and worship practices associated with Olokun.
Olokun annual festival at Ayede, Ekiti State,Nigeria. http://illuszionzphotos.blogspot.com/

Back in his home town, his family and neighbors assumed he was dead after being gone for such a long time. They were surprised to say the least when he returned on the day his three year tour ended mute (without the ability of speech), carrying a water pot on his head. His only response to their queries was to dance hysterically, much to the shock of the townsfolk. Eventually the crowd that had gathered began to mock his dance and it started what was to become a 14-day tribute of ritual dancing to Olokun. At the end of this period, the hunter began to talk again and chose to share some of his experiences. All skepticism about his story were eased as he began to do spiritual work that created positive results for those around him. He was named chief priest of Olokun at this point. Even until today, hunters re-enact this famous tribesman's life with the annual festival and Ekaba dance. Urhoniigbe's Olokun temple sits on the spot where he is said to have rested his Olokun pot on the 14th day.
Olokun priestess

In Ebvoesi, there was a boy named Omobe (rascal, troublesome child) that had great physical ability and was trained to be a wrestler. As he grew older, his wrestling abilities grew stronger and before long he was considered the greatest wrestler in the world.

 At his birth, the local priest/diviner warned his parents to not allow Omobe to climb palm trees. But one day while his parents were away, he decided to climb a palm tree any way. From high up he could peer into the spirit world and he noticed that several divinities had gathered for a fantastic wrestling match! He immediately climbed down and made his way to the spirit world to test his own luck amongst a variety of spirits. He beat every opponent. Ancestors, Undergods and all others lost at his hands, even Ogun. Finally, he prepared to wrestle Olokun. While he summoned all of his physical strength, Olokun drew on his spiritual powers.
During the match, Omobe attempted to throw Olokun to the ground, but instead Olokun ended up firmly attached to his head. All attempts at removing Olokun from his head failed and Olokun declared it his permanent abode as a sign of Omobe's arrogance and disrespect towards the other spirits. When Omobe returned home, the local priest/diviner advised him to appease Olokun or die. So for seven days, Omobe made sacrifices. On the last day, Omobe was initiated as the first Olokun priest. After this, Olokun loosened his grip on Omobe's life and gave him peace.
Olokun, crowned head, Ife.Nigeria

Even so, it was subsequently said to all rascally children that Omobe's lack of respect for constituted authority had landed him in dire straits and that if they did not alter their ways they might share the same fate.
In Orisa culture, it appears that some stories contradict or compete with other ones. The disparities or differences that exist are well understood by indigenous practitioners.

They are seen as a way by which the spirits recommend that one researches various avenues of traditional religion, worship, practice and initiation within the Orisa system. Furthermore, while the stories are regarded as fact, they are also understood to be indicators of historical and social factors, which obviously differ from region to region.

African Diasporic religions
Yemoja-Olokun-Mami Wata connections
Some Afro-Cuban lineages worship Olokun in tandem with Yemoja (Yemaya/Yemanja). In the past Lukumi and Santería worshippers considered these two Orisha to be manifestations of one another, although Western devotees believe that they are distinct but kindred energies that were paired together during the Maafa as a way of preserving both Orisha traditions.In nature, the bottom of the ocean represents Olokun.

However in Africa, Yemoja is the divinity of the Ogun River in Nigeria and Olokun is considered the mother of all bodies of water. As such, she is the principal vicereigne to Olodumare in matters that pertain to both oceans AND rivers. In Edo State (the former Bendel State), Olokun is the patron Spirit of the Ethiope River. In Benin, the deities are referred to as Ebo', not Orisa.

In Nigeria and Benin, Olokun is sometimes worshipped in tandem with Mami Wata. They do have similar temperaments and personas.

Olokun priesthood
Lukumi Orisa worshippers in the United States and the Caribbean do not initiate Olokun priests. However, in their traditions, you can receive an Olokun shrine for personal prosperity. Omo Olokun or children of Olokun are typically initiated to Yemoja in Lukumi lineages. In other Orisa lineages and "sects" in the west, particularly Oyotunji, Anago and all indigene Orisa’Ifa, initiations to Olokun do take place. In addition, Olokun initiation can be undertaken by way of Benin spiritual lineages.

Odun Osara and Olokun festivals
This festival is the celebration in honor of Osa and Olokun. Osa and Olokun are wives of Oduduwa. Olokun was the first wife of Oduduwa but was childless.

 As a result of this childlessness, she prevailed on her husband to secure a second wife to give him children that will inherit him. The second wife Oduduwa procured is Osa.

During this festival all the children of the king wear Agbon. The children of Araba and the Awos also wear Agbon. All the children and their parents march through the principal streets of Ile Ife to the shrine of Osara.
This festival is full of pomp and pageantry with devotees of Olokun drumming, singing and dancing. It is a spectacle to behold in Ile Ife.

The most important thing of notice is that during this festival, tradition demands that it rain and in most cases the power of traditional Yourba Babalawos are deployed to ensure that it rain at all cost during the festival.

    Yoruba Olokun devotees of Ifa celebrating Odun Osara and Olokun festival at Ile Ife in Nigeria.

Ase Odun Olokun
In Trinidad & Tobago an annual  festival, ASE ODUN OLOKUN is hosted by EGBE ONISIN ELEDUMARE to honor and celebrate Olokun. The festival is celebrated at a different beach, river mouth or mangrove at a specially divinated sites, but this year it returned to the Dhein’s Bay , Western Main Road , Carenage in T&T.

 Orisa Olokun Devotees performing rituals in Ile Iere at the mouth of Odo Marianne ati Okun Caribbean in Trinidad and Tobago during Ase Odun Olokun festival.

 It is hoped that ritual intervention during the festival will help focus attention on the need to save the sea grasses and preserve a healthy fishery resource in the Gulf of Paria and entire T&T. The venue and the date of the festival may sometimes change because that decision is based upon the final consultation and consensus reached by the Elders at EGBE ONISIN ELEDUMARE.

T&T Olokun devotees believe that the Earth is the blue planet. "It is our ocean and its water system that sustains and has made possible all life on Planet Earth. The planet’s oceans and seas absorb and neutralise the agents of pollution, provide food, raw materials, medicine, recreation, transport and communications for billions of the planet’s inhabitants. Mankind pollutes the ocean at his peril."
In the past this festival was closed to the general public as only members of EGBE ONISIN ELEDUMARE participated. However, after establishing ASE ODUN OLOKUN  festival on the National calendar of Orisa Festivities in T&T they festival was then opened to the general public.
The Elders of EGBE ONISIN ELEDUMARE moved the Festival all over the coasts and wetlands of Republic Trinidad & Tobago restoring environmental harmony to disrupted and abused environments. The Festival became so powerful that they changed the tides of governance in the country.

The people came to see just one organization hosting and treating OLOKUN in its traditional Yoruba and Edo worship. Many T&T people who were unfamiliar with OLOKUN but were accustomed to YEMOJA as Caribbean`s Ocean divinity became very much aware. REVOLUTION took place  in the Orisa deity landscape in T&T.  As a result of the popularity of Olokun festival and worship the then PRIME MINISTER – ARTHUR NAPOLEON ROBINSON CAME TO BE A FANATIC AND RECEIVED THE CHIEFTAINCY TITLE  – CHIEF OLOKUN IGBARO .
Through this festival, Trinidad & Tobago has been blessed with recipients of the Olokun titles of the Motherland. The Festival has grown and this year it has been indicated that E.I.S.O.M. and Ile Osun/ Obatala will be hosting Olokun Festivals.

(contact:http://yorubasacredsciencecentre.wordpress.com#sthash.cA1FgxJ3.dpuf) or

 Yoruba elders that Yemonja and Olokun are most certainly separate Orisa. However, they do compliment each other’s energy in necessary and profound ways. For these reasons one may not receive Olokun without having received Yemonja first.]
Who is Olokun?
 It is the Orisha of the Ocean, represents the sea in his more frightful state, because the full depth of secrets. He is androgynous, half man and half fish. It has violent, mysterious and compulsive character.

 Its name comes from the Yorùbá Olókún (Oló: owner-Okún: The ocean) but in fact is the Owner of all waters, because their daughters Olona and Olosa (nymphs of the water) represent: springs, pools, cascades, lagoons, rivers, brooks,marine extensions and the water of rain.

 It represents the wealth of the bottom of the sea and the health. Husband of Elusú (of thesand), Ajé Salugá (of the money and the marine shells), Olosá (of the lagoons), Ikokó (of the aquatic plants), Dared (of the underground lakes), Boromú (of the sea currents),Borosia (of marine tornados), Yembo (of the calm of the sea) and Agganá (of rain).

 One says that Obbatalá chained it to the bottom of the Ocean, when it tried to kill to thehumanity with the deluge. He is Father Mother of Yemayá. One always imagines to himwith mask, because one says that that watches its face it dies immediately. Its cult is of the city of Lakes, Benin and Ilé Ifé and arrives at Cuba at the end of Century XIX withthe Iyalosha Oni
 Yemayá, Ferminita Go'mez, who introduces the cult as at the momentwe know it.
In the rule of Ocha she is one of the main deities, because it is associated to the materialgoods, the health and the stability. Its cult is also excellent within Ifá. It does not go at thetop of any initiate and their children crown Yemayá with Gold for Olokum, receiving toso mysterious deity, in a ceremony that includes cleaning with awan (species of consisting of offering diverse meals) arranged in several plates, which drain all within a basket, in which already they are the bodies of the animals sacrificed in honor of theOrisha, to be everything taken to the sea.
 Two spirits coexist with Olokun: Somú Gagá and Akaró that represent the life and thedeath respectively. Both spirits are represented by a lead wrist that takes in a hand aserpent (Akaró) and in a other mask (Somú Gagá).
Legend of Olokum
 It counts a legend that Olokum tapeworm 11 daughters; Osupa (the moon), 5 Olosa, 4Olona and its favourite Agana Erí
 The Olosa and the Olona were but the beautiful ones and were sirens, the nine could become fish-woman or woman only, whereas his hermanastra Agana Erí, daughter of Olokum with Yewá was deformed, it needed to a sine and tapeworm a high hip but thatthe other. For this reason Agana Erí began to feel envies of its beautiful sisters and itallied fishermen whom a long time ago they loved to find the sirens and to capture them
Prayer of Olokun:

Iba Olokun fe mi lo’re. Iba Olokun omo re wa se fun oyio.

Olokun nu ni o si o ki e lu re ye toray. Bomi taafi. Bemi taafi.

Olokun ni’ka le. Moyugba. Ashe.



Olokun: On the trail of the sea goddess
 ll around Yoruba land, Olokun is celebrated and worshipped but few people know why. KAYODE FALADE went in search of the goddess. His report

Just entering the cradle of Yoruba land, Ile-Ife in Osun State one comes across a big roundabout. It is in the heart of the University City which is also the source of the Yoruba race. At the centre of the roundabout is a huge golden bust sprouting from the earth.

It is called Ori Olokun. Ori in the Yoruba language means head. For many, it is just a replica of one of the famous Ife bronze art celebrated all over the world as one of the legacies of ancient Yoruba art. To others, the figure is also used as a symbol of the Yoruba race especially Ile- Ife, the source.
But Ori Olokun is the bust of Olokun, the Yoruba goddess of the sea or ocean and wealth. Why is the bust in Ile-Ife and not in Lagos or Badagry which is closer or nearer to the big water?
The Walode of Ile-Ife Chief Kolawole Omotayo, is the Abore (Chief Priest) of Olokun of the Source and he responded: “Olokun is the goddess who gathered all the water of the earth together, at creation, and moved it to its current location – the sea.
“At the beginning of life, the earth was formless and filled with water. Olodumare then sent Obatala, his chief orisa, to the world to commence the process of filling it with life. Thus Obatala, armed with igba iwa, descended from heaven through a chain to do the bid of his master. “On his way, however, he came across wine from Igi Olufon.
The great orisa could not resist a swig. This he took and could not stop until he got drunk and fell into a deep slumber. Days after, Olodumare was expecting a feedback but Obatala was nowhere to be found to give his Lord the report of his assignment. “Olodumare knew what was happeneing, so He now sent Oduduwa.

When Oduduwa got to Obatala, he never woke him up from his drunken stupor but proceeded to collect the igba iwa, Adie elese marun (five-toed hen) and sand from him. He then proceeded on the creation course.
Hence, he did as he was bided by Olodumare: poured the sand on the water and set the Adie elese marun loose. It was Adie elese marun that now scattered the dust on the water. Hence where the sand is became land and where it did not cover became stream, pound, river as the case and size may be. And so life began in Ile-Ife.”
But where did Olokun come in? The Walode continued: “It got to a time when flood threatened to overcome the earth. This was when Olokun rose to the rescue of humanity.

Right from Ilode, where we stand now, the great goddess Olokun began of drawing all the water together. After this she moved everything through Ilare to a very remote part of the earth then which is now the sea of today.
That is why everywhere, wherever they are, all water still links the sea. So, Olokun, it was who, saved the earth from flood.” A myth. So it sounds. The Iwude did not agree.
He explained: “The white men, you know, are very inquisitive. They traced the path of the sea from Lagos up to Ile-Ife. They came to this Ilode looking for Olokun.
Another thing is that any time we hold the olokun festival and we offer sacrifice; all the articles and things used for the sacrifices are always found at the Bar Beach, Lagos the following day. You can confirm this anytime the festival is held.

We just held one about two months ago.” Shedding more light on the goddess, he continued: Olokun is one of the 201 orisa that descended from heaven to earth. It is still alive and present among us. It appears to people she wants to see especially members of this family. “There are two kinds of water here on Isalu Aye (earth).
The first is Okun (Sea) while the other is Osa (River or the lagoon found in Lagos). The two are here in Ile-Ife. Olokun is for the sea while Osara is for the other.
Right now the Osara festival is going on. Olokun is the goddess of the sea while Osara is that of river or lagoon. Olokun gives wealth while Osara is in charge of fruits of the womb. They are both here in Ile-Ife. The reporter’s curiosity grew. Since Olokun could make herself visible to people, he would want to see her.

Another of the hierarchy of the Iwude family responded: “It is possible. If it had been some years ago, it would have been almost immediate. The house (shrine) of Olokun was among us then.
There she was domiciled always. However, as expansion continued, people started building near her and she kept on withdrawing. There was even a time in the past when some white men on her trail. This made her to further withdraw.
When we were much younger, it was very possible especially during the festival. However, the custodians had to do some things for well keep” The Iwude then asked the reporter whether or not he was serious about seeing the goddess. If he were, then, he would have to undergo some rituals; Olokun would make herself visible. In which form?
In her normal form of course,” the chief priest of the goddess of wealth assured the reporter. There is a caveat though; people with tribal marks or filthy ones cannot see her.

Anyone who did not undergo the necessary rituals would also go blind on seeing her. To her worshippers and adherents, “she is a worthy orisa to be with. Any one worshipping her sincerely does not lack. She bestows on her own favour and wealth. She is called “Olokun seni ade” which means she is in charge of the crowns of kings. Crowns are made of expensive beads. She was in charge of the crown of Oduduwa. “However, her worshippers must not think evil of others.
She is a clean goddess. She abhors any kind of filth be it physical or spiritual. No one should go near her just after the act of copulation. She is a female so she detests infidelity.
Olokun also abhors light. No torch should be taken to her shrine. She is worshipped in pitch darkness.” He, however, sympathised with those who worship Olokun in other places.
To him, they are ignorant of the source of the goddess. Olokun is also worshipped in other many other parts of Yoruba land and even outside the shores of Nigeria by Yoruba in the Diaspora or descendants. Places where the goddess is worshipped include Lagos, Badagry, the Republic of Benin, Cuba, Brazil, Jamaica and even the United States.
“Sometime in the past, emissary was sent from Badagry to Ile-Ife to seek help in the worship of Olokun. The last time was during the time of my fourth predecessor. He accompanied them to Badagry and performed the rituals for them,” the goddess’s chief priest and custodian said. He explained that Olokun is one and universal but her root is in Ile-Ife, hence she should be worshipped the way it is done at the source.

Miss Olokun 2013 is Yetunde Barnabas

Photo credits and much appreciation to:http://orishada.com/wordpress/?p=681                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


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