Traditional Colors: Purple, reds, oranges and black
Number: 9 (she is called the “mother of nine”)
Areas of Influence: Storms, wind, lightning, tornadoes, death and the cemetery, the marketplace and business, change, witchcraft, athletics
Entities associated with: St. Theresa
Symbols: Lightning bolts, tornadoes, graves, masks
Offerings: Eggplant, red wine, tobacco, plums and purple grapes, legumes
Feast Day: February 2nd
Astrology: Signs of Scorpio and Capricorn
Tarot: The Wheel of Fortune card, Ace of Swords, Page or knight (Princess and Prince in Thoth deck) of swords
Chakra: Third Eye
Gemstones: Amethyst, garnets, black opals, labradorite
Animals: Birds in general but especially sparrows and purple martins, Insects in general but especially fireflies and dragonflies, bats, deer and water buffalo
Entities of Similar Energy: Athena, Kali, Pele and all strong Warrior Goddesses, Storm from the X-men™ comics and movies.
Oya is a passionate, fierce warrior and the bringer of change. She is a determined, disciplined and powerful woman. She controls the wind and lightning (like her husband Chango) and she is (literally and metaphorically) the tornado. Anytime you are experiencing earth shattering change, know that Oya is close by. She is a shrewd business woman and is good with money. In Africa, she would have been a merchant in the community marketplace but in the 21st century she is just as comfortable in the board room of a Fortune 500 company. She walks into a room and you can feel the change in power. She is mysterious, sexy and graceful.
As Queen of the cemetery, she maintains the cemetery and keeps it holy. Oya has strong connections with the ancestors. She should be involved in any ancestor ceremony. She is a witch and is comfortable with all occult subjects. Oya is a strict but compassionate mother; she will guide you but not do the work for you. She will give you a little time to cry and whine over your problems but then she expects you to pull yourself together and get back out there. She hates lies and deceit and she will punish those that cross her. She can rip an enemy to pieces. The river Niger in Nigeria belongs to her. In Brazil, she is known as Yansa or Iansa. As one of the wives of Chango, Oya has known betrayal and heartache. Chango, Oya and Oshun (her sister) are locked into an eternal love triangle. There are many stories about her romantic battles with Chango. If she has a weakness, it is men. At her worst, she can be vicious, moody, restless, angry and can hold a grudge for a very long time. She forgets nothing.
Properly Showing Respect to Oya
Oya is a lady and should be treated as such. She likes good food and good wine. I’ve noticed she likes the healthier stuff (legumes, vegetables and lean meats). She also likes cosmopolitans (the drink). I will normally sauté an eggplant cut up into 9 pieces for her. Oya likes white cheese popcorn. If you visit a cemetery, leave a handful of popcorn at the gate for Oya (along with something for Ellegua). Decorate any altar to her with bright and flowery prints.
You can also leave her offerings at marketplaces, flea markets, gyms or windy places. Do not throw her offerings into the ocean. She doesn’t like patchouli incense although she likes patchouli if it’s blended with other scents. I don’t feed Oya and Yemaya next to each other. There’s a whole story about why they don’t like each other. However, I believe that it’s not that Oya and Yemaya hate each other, it’s just that they don’t get along because they are such opposites.
Where to find Oya
Windy places and places that are frequented by tornadoes, the marketplace, farmer’s markets and flea markets, gyms, cemeteries, business schools, the mountains, lightning storms, martial arts studios
Oya’s children are brave, stubborn, strong, hard-working people. They tend to be business orientated and have a good head for money. They hate it when the bills aren’t paid. They will rip you apart if they find out you have lied to them. They have extreme personalities and can be moody. Oya’s children like to fight for the underdog. They will love or hate lightning storms. Both sexes can be clothes whores who like to wear bright colors. It is normal for them to have studied some sort of martial arts or self-defense. They are graceful folks. The females may be drawn to athletics and tend to like the company of men more than women.
Oya’s daughters may be more tomboyish as they are growing up. Members of both sexes will suffer heartbreak and betrayal in their relationships. Very often they will be drawn to the occult or have some experience with the dead. Her children can be businesspeople, meteorologists and storm chasers, athletes, lawyers and legal assistants, soldiers.
When I was going through a special initiation to the Orishas in 1995, it was spread out over 4 days involving 4 different Orishas. The first night (to Nana Buruku, my mother) was very scary. The second night was going to be an initiation to Oya. I knew I had to go out the local cemetery at night, by myself. I did not know what was going to happen once I got there. I got to the cemetery after dark and took a seat on the ground. Keep in mind, I was terrified! I was doing this ceremony to the Queen of the cemetery. With all of the stories I had read and heard about her frightening and awesome power…I just knew this lady was going to kick my butt! After a few minutes (of course it felt like hours), a cool breeze started up through the trees. Bracing for the worst, I closed my eyes and when I opened them again…I saw fireflies. For the first time in my life, I saw fireflies and they were beautiful. I started to laugh and cry at the same time. I was surrounded by these beautiful insects just like out of a movie. I waited until they moved on and I went home. I then understood that while Oya can be fierce, she can also be compassionate.
I did not see fireflies again until the summer of 2001. I was on this horrible school summer field biology trip. It was the second evening and I was having a lot of problems. It was very physically demanding and it was painfully obvious that I was very out of shape. The day had not gone well I was just so exhausted. I just wanted to cry. Just as the sun was going down and I was sitting there like a very pathetic bump on a log and a firefly landed on my arm. Oya had sent this beautiful creature to tell me that it was going to be okay. I again laughed and cried at the same time. It was just what I needed. I survived that trip…it certainly wasn’t my finest moment but I finished it and I’m certain that Oya was by my side the whole way.
Oya's Roasted Vegetables
- Eggplant (diced into ½ inch by ½ inch cubes)
- Zucchini (sliced into ½ inch slices and then ¼ each slice)
- Summer (yellow) squash (sliced into ½ inch slices and then ¼ each slice)
- Red onion (large quartered pieces)
- Button mushrooms (quartered)
- Salt and pepper to taste plus onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and/or cayenne pepper
Note: Vegetables will shrink down so if cooking for a large crowd, overestimate serving size. Also, when coating the vegetables with olive oil, do not take the lazy road and just drizzle oil over the vegetables in a pan. You tend not to get equal coverage with the oil and you will taste the difference.
Heat oven to 400°F. Throw eggplant, zucchini and squash into a large non-metallic mixing bowl and drizzle olive oil over. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste plus whatever spices you choose. Mix thoroughly until all eggplant, squash and zucchini are covered equally. Spread them on a cookie sheet so that veggies are all single layer. If veggies are too crowded, don’t be afraid to use another cookie sheet. Put eggplant, zucchini and squash into oven, uncovered (so no aluminum foil).
After about 10 minutes or so, do the exact same thing to the mushrooms and red onion. If you’re just doing 1 or 2 servings, you can get all the veggies onto the same sheet, more than that and you should bake the mushrooms and red onion in a separate sheet. Allow all vegetables to roast for another 15-20 minutes. Veggies should be visibly smaller and slightly golden in color, tender but not too mushy. Once the mushrooms have cooked for about 15 minutes, I start checking all the veggies every five minutes for doneness (by tasting them-yum!). When finished, I put all of the veggies together in the same container and salt and pepper once more to taste. Serve warm.
Portions: In raw form, figure on roughly a third of an eggplant, ½ a zucchini, ½ a squash, ¼ a red onion and 4-5 mushrooms per person.
Variations: Green, red or yellow bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, carrots (will need to cook longer than other vegetables) or tomatoes (remove pulp from center and cook 1/8 wedges the same amount of time as mushrooms).
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.