Traditional Colors: White
Areas of Influence: Knowledge, Leadership, Fatherhood, Justice and the legal system, Geology, People who are handicapped, the military
Entities associated with: Our Lady of Mercy
Symbols: Mountains, snail shells, short whip made with white horsehair and cowrie shells, quartz crystals, white rocks, frogs, white animals
Offerings: White bland food (either the meat or the milk of a coconut, potatoes, eggs, rice, mushrooms, milk, water, etc), crushed up egg shells, cotton, snail shells, frankincense, myrrh or sandalwood incense, tobacco
Feast Day: September 24th
Tarot: Justice, the Emperor
Gemstones: Quartz crystal, howlite, chalcedony, lead crystal, diamonds, ivory
Animals: Snails, Elephants, Egrets, Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Snow monkeys, Cotton-top Tamarin monkeys
Entities of Similar Energy: Tyr, Odin (as All-father), Ra, Damballah
Obatala is the father figure of the Orishas. He is also the chief and judge. He is very wise and compassionate. Obatala is married to Yemaya, the ocean goddess and mother-figure of the Orishas. They have been married a very long time and have many children. According to one story, Obatala is the father of human beings. However, while making humans from the earth, Obatala got thirsty and began to drink some palm wine. He got drunk and started to make some of the humans deformed. After he sobered up, he realized what he had done and he swore from that day forward he never drink and that he would take special care of people who are handicapped.
When Obatala was younger, he was very bold and brash. He was a strong warrior who saw a lot of horrible things on the battlefield. All of those experiences tempered him. Now, he is an Orisha who works for peace. As judge, Obatala is very much involved with issues of justice and law (man-made or karmic). He will be involved in any kind of court case or legal issue. However, you should not ask him to get involved in a legal case if you are guilty unless you are willing to face your punishment. Obatala also rules karmic justice. If a karmic injustice has been committed or if you need to make amends for something you have done, than go to him for help. Obatala teaches us to fight for what is right and to take responsibility for what we have done wrong.
Properly Showing Respect to Obatala
First and foremost, do not ever offer him alcohol. If you are doing a group offering and other deities are getting alcohol, the set up his offering in a different place. He likes his offerings on Sundays and you should make sure his altar is clean. It would be best if you can serve him on a white piece of cloth. Do not serve him any food that is too hot or spicy. Traditionally, any food you offer him should have cotton on top of it (take a real cotton ball and pull it apart like a spider web and then place it over the food). Be honest. Take responsibility for your mistakes. If you are a father, be a great dad.
Where to find Obatala
Churches, universities, libraries, state/national parks and forests, the mountains, the military.
The children of Obatala are intellectual, methodical organizers. They like to think their decisions through. They have strong ideas of what is right and wrong. They hold themselves to high standards. They can also be neurotic clean freaks. Many times, children of Obatala are impetuous and hot-headed when younger and then grow up to be cool, calm adults. They can suffer from frequent headaches or sinus problems and do not hold their liquor well. Many times they will be drawn to legal, military or careers involving geology and/or engineering. They like to get outdoors. Normally, their relationships (romantic and otherwise) will be very long-term. They are slow to anger but watch out when they do, it’s going to get ugly!
I married my first husband when I was 19, about 2 years before I became a witch and 4 years before I started learning about the Orishas. I had my first affair before our first anniversary and would go on to have 3 more affairs. My husband was a good man but an emotional iceberg. I’m not saying that to excuse what I did, it’s just true. I had accepted Obatala as my father before my last affair. Even though I knew Obatala was all about justice, I still went ahead and did it. My marriage ended within 8 months as a direct result of the final affair. At one point, he asked me to be honest with him about everything and I chose to lie. I lost almost everything. I walked out the door with my personal belongings and not much else.
Seven years later, I married my boyfriend. We had been together for 4 years. The first 3 were really good but we were starting to have some problems. After we got married, he became a completely insensitive ass. I was insanely unhappy after a year and I fell in love with another man. We started having an affair. Even though I had every excuse to cheat on his loser butt, I still couldn’t handle the guilt. After 3 months I sat him down and told him the truth….all of it. I explained to him what had happened and why. I told him that our relationship had to end. Even though he was obviously very upset, he understood. He left to go back to his hometown 2 days later. Even though it took him a while to get over it, he swears that by me being honest really helped him out and he’s glad I did it and over time, he was able to be honest with me about something’s from his past. Obatala teaches honesty and taking responsibility. I can look back on the situation now and realize that if I hadn’t been honest, I could have very easily lost it all again.
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.