Origin and Significance of the TOOLS of the Orisha
Inside the original concept of the Religion Yoruba , The so called Tools of the Orisha that accompany the Otans where never present. For this one must think that in Cuba they where incorporated in the rituals of the religion for the conditions the salves where living in Cuba. What is true in the end of century XIX and the beginning of the century XX, Santeria suffered a important restructure and organization, the years in where the name Regla de Ocha was founded. This incorporated the Tools and formed the Definition of tools of Ocha as a basic to all houses. Below I mention the tools and a bit about their use and meanings. Now , I dont claim to know everything.. SO ask your ILE and Rama if these apply to your house before you go changing or doubting what you have been given or recieved BY your madrina or Padrino . Ogun : Is the God of metals; the protector of Labor work on the earth. His is represented by a caldron of Iron, inside the caldron in a Yunque (awl) on the yunque metals can be transformed and in his hands metals can be converted into Utensils to help mankind. He also has a Rake, a hoe and a machete and other tools representing the work of man on the earth. These tools represent the constant activity of being human, Looking for the constant better conditions of Life for himself. When this orisha is re-enforced one puts more instruments inside the cauldron Like a Iron chain, Train tracks, nails of the line of train, horse shoes, knives, cannonballs, and including instruments of a surgical doctor, and scissors. and lastly a arrow that is the representation of Ochosi. Ochosi : Is the hunter of this Religion. When one receive’s him , his tools are two antlers of a Deer , representing the future of who receive’s him . Three lances, Three arrows , three machetes, three bow and arrows , Armour, and two dogs that represent his group of hunters. And a Trident that points upward , that represents the force and power of being human on the earth and the justice that Ochosi to shoot his arrows. Of course this santo also has Otans and a hand of caracoles . Shango : God of the Lighting Bolt and of Battle. Of course he can not be without his tools. These are decorated from cedar wood, his favorite tree. These are 6 tools .. A axe, a double axe, a Lance, a dagger, a machete , and a arrow. These tools symbol his condition of warrior and invincible. With these tools Shango could battle anyone under any circumstances. Agallu : Originally this orisha had no tools, Because he represents the force that is invincible against all the elements of the earth. Only had to have his Otans, That at one time was only taken from a Lava stone. Later three tools where given to him a baston , a arrow and a Lance. With the baston he could carry the weight of those that needed him that he would carry them through the hardest times and could count on him. The other two tools where to show his power over the earth. There are houses where Agallu is born with 7 tools that symbolize more or less the same. Ochun: Goddess of the river and of laughter and honey. Only has her crown and oars as her tools. The crown symbolizes she is a Queen , from her crown there are five Lances to remind one that not only she is the sweetest but also a warrior and will not hesitate to fight for her children. Her Oars represent the balance of Good and Evil, and the balance in the path we should take in life. Yemaya : Goddess of the ocean mother of the Orisa’s . Her tools should be made of Lead since salt water will not destroy them over time. The moon , symbol of the character of mother of the orisha . A half moon , representing happiness that she brings in her character, The presence of the two moons reminds us of the balance and how it influences the ocean. A sun , to remind us the flame of a fire of which eater can put out. But without the sun there is no life on the earth. Also a life jacket of a boat, that she will save us before we drowned. A pair of Oars to remind us again of Good and Evil and maintain balance, A mermaid , that has no real significance but to remind of us her beauty. A Anchor to remind us to have stability in life.And, Seven bracelets that is her mark or Vibrating number (7) Odi where our religion was born. Besides being a Queen Yemaya does not have a crown unless specifically ask for in Ita with (4-4) Iroso melli or (4-8) Iroso Umbo . This Odu asks for a crown. The reason is to remind one with Odu that their head is to carry a crown keep it high and never pass needing things in their life. Yemaya Okunte, that made a pact with Ogun to only use his tools on her crown . Obatala: The owner of all heads of the world. Father to all mankind. His tools are made of silver or another white metal. A half Moon , that represents Yembo, First Obatala that gave life to the orisa’s, A sun to remind us that the power of Obatala has over all mankind. A ring to that represents the planet earth , where we live, and his suburbia over the planet. A Pauge that consists of a closed fist , This powerful tool reminds us the force and firmness that Obatala Governs . A 21 or a serpent that symbolizes the good and bad on the earth. IN some houses they add as a re-enforcer two (2) eggs made of Marfil (ivory) Since according to mythology of Orisa This material was made in the house of Obatala in the heavens. And of course the Agogo or bell that we use to call Obatala. OYA O”YASAN: this Orisha owner of the air and wind, Has no Tools as such, Only has her crown that talks of her character as a Queen. This crown has nine points and hangs the tools of Work, and Hunt, and a mask that represents death, a 21 or serpent that represents the good and evil , A centella which is a element that she possesses and expulses from her mouth when she bothered. A machete with which she commands the army of the spirits, and a hammer. Not one of her tools but a attribute that is very important to OYA is her Horse tail of dark color, who’s handle should be covered in nine different color beads. This , Iroke o Afiza is used to clean a person from death or very bad health. The reason the tools of agriculture and work , hang from her crown is when she lived with Ogun and abandoned him for Shango, OYA Promised to always keep his tools for respect. Significance of some of the Tools of the Orisha’s of addimu : Orisa OKO: Owner of the earth and all its produce. This orisa is firmness and prosperity on the earth. His tools consist of a Plow and two Oxen and a umbrella that reminds us that those that receive him one needs to plow their own destiny to come ,and we should plant in the ground where we are standing, by this means we harvest the good and bad of life, that we should plow and take care of the earth and remain firm on top of it . He also has a man standing behind the plow that represents Orisa Oko and two coconuts of red and white . These colors have a meaning of which White is the symbol of peace we need when planting , Work and receive our bounty . The red means the force and constant work. Inle: Doctor of the religion also a fortune teller of sorts. Has a fundamental tool of a Trident with a maja snake wrapped around the center and three fish hanging from each prong of the trident. This represents the Knowledge of this orisa and the prosperity that this orisa grants to all that receive him. Inside his sopera is a 21 or serpent , representing the good and bad. He has three fish that are consecrated that help in a determined moment, to save the life of a person. With Inle is born Aburutu and Abata nurses that work and live with him. Olokun : Represents the prosperity of the ocean and its mysteries , But also its riches and stability . Lots of iles of santo only give otans and seashells since this is considered the sufficient form founded for this Orisa . In other cases when she is recieved there is a representation of two spirits that accompany Olokun. One that represents life , Samugagawa and the other Death , Acaro. These are represented by a doll that has her arms extended and from one arm hangs a mask this is Samugagawa and the serpent that represents Acuro (death). Also included are the tools of Yemaya made of lead Also a Moon that represents the happiness of life a Sun that represents the power of this Orisa is so great that she can dowse out the flames of life. A rudder to remind us the path that he guides us , A pair of oars to remind us of the good and evil and to keep them in balance. A mermaid to remind us the beauty of Yemaya, seven hoops that represent her essence and to remind us of her seven children (7 jimaguas). It is important to emphasize if you have a Olokun of santero/a and you do not have these Tools to : follow the tradition of your ILE and Rama of santo , For these should be respected in the form given .
Written by OTA OMI head writer for 101.myyoruba.com , Original date of publication April 29, 2005