Traditional Colors: Black and red
Areas of Influence: Messages and all communication, crossroads, doorways (physical and spiritual), keys, sex, cemetery gates, children and protection
Entities associated with: St. Benito and the devil (Umbanda)
Symbols: Keys, anything to do with gambling (cards, dice, etc.), Neptune’s trident, a necklace with red and black beads.
Offerings: Liquor (Rum is excellent), tobacco, chili peppers, candy, anything hot and spicy, drugs.
Feast Days: August 24th
Tarot: Magician or Magus, the Devil
Gemstones: Onyx, Jet, Mahogany Obsidian, Rubies, black pearls
Animals: Coyote, raven, snakes and other trickster animals. Rottweilers and Doberman Pinchers.
Entities of Similar Energy: The god Mercury, Kokopelli, Odin, Coyote, all tricksters
Plants associated with: Marijuana, chili peppers, sugarcane
I think of Eshu as Ellegua’s older, darker brother. Eshu understands the darkness in the world and in men’s hearts. One story about him says that when evil first entered the world, the Orishas didn’t know how to combat it because it was so different from themselves. Eventually, Eshu stepped forward and sacrificed half of himself to become half evil. Because he did this, he now understands evil and knows how to fight it.
While many of the areas of interest and traits of Ellegua and Eshu overlap, Eshu seems to show up when a situation involves drugs, dirty sex or black magick. In Brazil, Eshu is seen as the devil but please don’t think of this as some sort of Satanic thing. The Brazilian’s concept of the devil is much different than ours. To them, Eshu represents the major issue or weakness in each person. There are 21 different Eshus. For some, their Eshu is drugs or alcohol, for others, sex, maybe for you, your Eshu is compulsive gambling or an eating disorder or stealing…. the list goes on. Whatever your Eshu is, the Brazilians believe that you have to make peace with him and learn to live with him. He’s a part of you. For those of you familiar with the tarot, this is very much in line with the Devil card in the major arcana.
Properly Showing Respect to Eshu
Many of the things that apply to Ellegua also apply to Eshu. Many times I will give offerings to all 3 of them at once. Since Eshu is sometimes equated with the devil, I keep a little stuffed devil on my altar to remind me of my Eshu. Traditionally, Eshu takes his offerings in the trash.
Where to find Eshu
Eshu walks the streets at night. The best place to find him is at the crossroads or at the cemetery.
Eshu’s children will have some of the same characteristics as Ellegua’s children but have a darker edge (moodier and more pessimistic). They could also be involved in illegal activities. I bet many of those involved in the drug trade belong to Eshu.
When I was first getting started, I had a very hard time understanding Eshu. In my Western mind, anything connected with the devil was evil. I just didn’t get him. At the second half of 1995, I ended up getting involved with some very screwed up people. I was operating under the mistaken idea that anyone involved in the craft must think the same way I did. Needless to say, this philosophy was in grave error.
My life started to fall apart. I’m not looking for sympathy here, I made some huge mistakes, but I soon found out that these “friends” of mine were involved in heavy drugs and other dark things. In 3 days in December, everything I had was gone...My life, my husband, everything. Eshu made sure in all of that horrible turmoil that I had a place to stay and food in my belly. He also made sure that within a few weeks I was shown who had done what to arrange my downfall and that I understood that I should not try to extract any revenge. Within 6 weeks, I had a new life, new friends, and a whole new support system. Those people had done me a favor (although that doesn’t excuse their intent). I didn’t know it at the time but Eshu was there to help out of that bad place and back into the light.
Disclaimer: You may find that some of the information on this page differs from the traditional beliefs of some African Diaspora practices. The information on this page has been gathered from personal experiences and while we respect those who walk the more "Traditional" paths, we have some different beliefs concerning the Orishas and Loa.