The Yoruba belief in orisha is meant to consolidate not contradict the terms of Olódùmarè. Adherents of the religion appeal to specific manifestations of Olódùmarè in the form of those whose fame will last for all time. Ancestors and culture-heroes held in reverence can also be enlisted for help with day-to-day problems. Some believers will also consult a geomantic divination specialist, known as a babalawo (Ifá Priest) or Iyanifa (Ifá's lady), to mediate in their problems.

Ifá divination, an important part of Yoruba life, is the process through which an adept (or even a lay person skilled in oracular affairs) attempts to determine the wishes of God and His Servants. Orisha is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of God in the Yoruba spiritual or religious system.

The cultural and scientific education arm of the United Nations declared Ifá a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005.

religion is an organized collection of beliefscultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. Many religions have narrativessymbols, and sacred histories that are intended to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain the origin of life or the Universe. From their beliefs about the cosmos and human nature, people derive morality,ethicsreligious laws or a preferred lifestyle. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.

The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faithbelief system or sometimes set of dutiesMany religions may have organized behaviorsclergy, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, holy places, and scriptures. The practice of a religion may also include ritualssermons, commemoration or veneration of a deitygods or goddessessacrificesfestivalsfeaststranceinitiationsfunerary servicesmatrimonial servicesmeditationprayermusicartdancepublic service or other aspects of human culture. Religions may also contain mythology.

Olòrún is the Yorùbá name given to one of the three manifestations of the Supreme God in the Yoruba pantheon. Olorun is the owner of the heavens and is commonly associated with the Sun. The vital energy of Olorun manifests in humans as Asé, which is the life force that runs through all living things. The Supreme God has three manifestations: Olodumare, the Creator; Olorun, ruler of the heavens; and Olofi, who is the conduit between Orun (Heaven) and Ayé (Earth).

No gender is typically assigned to Olorun because Olorun transcends human limitations. Olorun rules Orun (the Heavens), whereas humans live in Ayé (the Earth). Typically, humans do not interact directly with Olorun but they receive the life-giving energy from the sun and recognize the power of Olorun over their lives. Orisha devotees strive to obtain Ase through "Iwa-Pele" or gentle and good character, and in turn they experience alignment with the Ori, what others might call inner peace and satisfaction with life.

Ase is divine energy that comes from Olodumare, the Creator and is manifested through Olorun, who rules the heavens and is associated with the sun. Without the sun, no life could exist, just as life cannot exist without some degree of ashe. Ashe is sometimes associated with Esu, the messenger God. For practitioners of the Yoruba religion, ase represents a link to the eternal presence of God, the Orishas, and the ancestors.

The Yoruba traditionally believe that daily life depends on proper alignment and knowledge of one's Ori. Ori literally means the head, but in spiritual matters it is taken to mean a portion of the soul that determines personal destiny and success. Ase is the life-force that runs through all things, living and inanimate. Ase is the power to make things happen. It is an affirmation which is used in greetings and prayers, as well as a concept about spiritual growth. 

According to Yoruba myth, the world was originally a marshy, watery wasteland. In the sky above lived many gods, including the supreme God Olodumare or Olorun (the Owner of the Sky). These gods sometimes descended from the sky on spider webs and played in the marshy waters, but there was no land or human being there.

One day, ogun called orisha-nla (the great god) Obatala, and told him to create solid land in the marshy waters below. He gave the Orisha a pigeon, a hen and some sand. Obatala descended to the waters and threw the sand into a small space. He then set free the pigeon and hen, which began to scratch the earth and move it around. Soon, the birds covered a large area of the marshy waters and created solid ground.

The orisha reported back to Olorun, who sent a chameleon to see what had been accomplished. The chameleon found that the earth was wide but not very dry. After a while, Olorun sent the chameleon to inspect the work again. This time the chameleon discovered a wide, dry land, which was called Ife (meaning "wide") and Ile (meaning "house"). All other towns and societies later developed from of Ile-Ife, and it was respected and regarded forever as a sacred spot. It remains the home of the Oni, the spiritual leader of the Yorubas.

List of orisha

  • Olorun (Olorum, Olodumaré, Olofin) - God, the creator.
  • Eshu (Eleggua, Exú, Eṣu, Elegba, Ellegua, Legbara, Papa Legba) - Eshu is the messenger between the human and divine worlds, Orisha of duality, crossroads and beginnings, and also a phallic and fertility deity (an Embodiment of Life). Eshu is recognized as a trickster.
  • Ogoun (Ogun, Ogúm, Ogou) - warrior deity; divinity of iron, war, labour, sacrifice, politics, and technology (e.g. railroads, tools, man-made objects).
  • Ochosi (Oxósse, Ocshosi, Osoosi, Oxossi) - hunter and the scout of the orishas, deity of the accused and those seeking justice or searching for something. His domain are the forests.
  • Babalu Aye (Soponna, Shonponno, Sakpata, Shakpana, Xapanã, Omulo, Omulu, Asojano, Shokponna, Obaluaye, Obaluaiê, Obaluaê, Abaluaiê, Babaluaiê, Zodji, Dada Zodji, Obaluaiye)- divinity of disease and illness (particularly smallpox, leprosy, and now AIDS), also orisha of healing and the earth, son of Iemanja.
  • Ozain (Osain, Osanyin, Ozain, Osain, Ossanhe) - Orisha of the forest, he owns the Omiero, a holy liquid consisting of many herbs, the liquid through which all saints and ceremonies have to proceed. Ozain is the keeper and guardian of the herbs, and is a natural healer. Kosi Ewe, Kosi Orisha! - Without leafs, there are no Orishas!.
  • Ochumare (Oshumare, Oxumare) - rainbow deity, divinity of movement and activity, guardian of children and associated with the umbilical cord.
  • Nana Buluku - One of the oldest Orishas. She gave the mud to Oxalá so he could mold mankind with it. Owner of the swamps.
  • Oshun (Oshún, Ọṣun, Oxum, Ochun, Osun, Oschun) - divinity of rivers and waterfalls, love, feminine beauty, fertility, and art, also one of Shango's lovers and beloved of Ogoun.
  • Oba (Ọbà, Obba) - Shango's jealous wife, divinity of marriage and domesticity, daughter of Iemanja. Her domain are all river with dangerous currents and mostly the whirlpools formed in it.
  • Yewá (Ewá) - Orisha related to the virginity, chastity of a person. Also related to the winter, to the snow, fog and mist and the cold.
  • Oya (Oyá, Oiá, Iansã, Yansá, Iansan, Yansan) - warrior deity; divinity of the wind and of the lightning, sudden change, hurricanes, tornadoes and underworld gates, a powerful sorceress and primary lover of Shango.
  • Logunede (Logun Ede, Lógunède, Laro) - The prince. Orisha that lives six months in the water eating fish with his mother Oshun and six months on land with his father Oxossi in the forest hunting. Orisha of art, prosperity and love.
  • Ayra (Ayrà) - Warrior that wears white. One of the Orishas related to the Lightning and the Wind. Often mistaken for Shango, is an Orisha of its own.
  • Iemanja (Yemaja, Imanja, Yemayá, Jemanja, Yemalla, Yemana, Yemanja, Yemaya, Yemayah, Ymoja, Yemojá) - divine mother, divinity of the water and loving mother of mankind, daughter of Obatala and wife of Aganju. Her domain is all body of water but mostly an estuary, where the river meets the sea.
  • Shango (Ṣango, Shangó, Xango, Changó, Chango, Nago Shango) - warrior deity ; divinity of thunder, fire, sky father, represents male power and sexuality.
  • Obatala (Obatalá, Oxalá, Orixalá, Orisainlá, Oshala, Orishala) - Orisha of peace. An arch-divinity, father of humankind, divinity of light, spiritual purity, and moral uprightness. Orixá funfun - Owner of the white.
  • Orunmila (Orunla) - divinity of wisdom, divination, destiny, and foresight. Orunmila is the Orixá and Ifá is the divinatory system from which he talks through. They are both close conected.
  • Iroko (Iroco, Tempo, Kitembo, Roco, Loko) - The Orisha of the sacred tree called Iroco. Responsible for the seasons of the year.
  • Otin (Oti) - Protector of the animals. A huntress, wife of Oxossi. Daughter of Erinlé, was born with three breasts (some itons say she had four breasts).
  • Ibeji (Ìbejì, Ìgbejì) - The sacred twins, represent youth, happiness and vitality.
  • Erinle (Inle, Ibualamo) - orisha of medicine, healing, and comfort, physician to the gods. The fisher.
  • Olokun (Olóòkun, Olocum, Lokun) - Owner of the ocean, the abyss, and signifies unfathomable wisdom. Father of Iemanja, lives in the deep ocean.
  • Aganju (Aganyu, Agayu) - Father of Shango, he is also said to be Shango's brother in other stories. Aganju is said to be the Orisha of volcanoes.
  • Oko (Orisha Oko, Okko) - orisha of agriculture and the harvest.
  • Ori - Ruler of the head.
  • Okê - Orisha owner of the mountains.
  • Oduduwa (Odudua, Oòdua) - The first human.
  • Ajaka (Bayani, Babayanmi, Dada Ajaca, Dada Baldone) - The protector of the children not yet born.
  • Olóssa (Oloxá, Olossa) - Orisha of the lakes and lagoons. Mostly the lagoons next to the ocean. Wife of Olokun.
  • Ajé Saluga (Ajé Ṣaluga, Ajé Saluga, Ajé Chaluga, Ajé-Kalagá, Ajé Xalugã, Kowo, Cobo) - Orisha of good luck and prosperity.
  • Oranyan (Oranian, Òrànmíyàn) - The son of Oduduwa. A warrior of two colors skin, one side white and the other black.
  • Boromu - Orisha related to the desert. Guardian of the cemetery and the bones of those who left us. Husband of Yewá.
  • Axabó - An Orisha of culture. She is part of Shango's family. Not much is known about her. Worshiped in the Candomblé temples of Salvador - BA - Brazil.
  • Iyami Oxorongá (Iyami-Ajé, Ìyá Nlá) - The sorceress. Only worshiped by women.
  • Egungun - The spirits of our ancestors. Only worshiped by men.
  • Onilé (Oluaye, Aiyê, Ilê) - The Orisha owner of the earth. She is one of the first Orishas to be greeted in a ceremony.
  • Iku - Death himself. The Orisha of death.

Further reading