Ogou For Witches
Ogu of Vodou and Santeria and Lucimi and...
Far too many people misunderstand Ogu or Oggun as he is known in Santeria. Far from being the monster he is made out to be, Ogu is the driving force that helps mankind progress. He is protector, lover, and supportive spouse to women. A defender of the weak, the one who frees slaves.
Ogu, master of metals and fire itself, has only love for mankind. It may be harsh and have high expectations, but it is love. Cuddly he is not. Read on to discover the real Ogu. Please note the views here and information combine Santeria, Voudo, and Yoruba/Ifa practices. I am explaining things for all other pagans and of course witches. Anyone can work with him, you just have to learn the proper rituals, offerings, and altar layout.
As you approach the glowing forge, the mighty Ogu looks up and smiles in greeting. Each hammer blow forges the sword on which he works. He finishes his work and plunges the blade into cooling water.
The water roils, then stills. Instead of the sword that went in he pulls out a living butterfly. Blue and gold, it rests briefly in his hands, then comes to rest on your shoulder. Ogu laughs in delighs and your surprise, then beckons you closer.
I am living proof of the possibility of a kind Ogu. He has yet to strike me down in his wrath. I am also the white daughter of an African spirit. Which amuses my Balendjp to no end. They say he likes white mares as a mount, get it?
Please note: I am not a Mambo or initiate of any religion in the African Dispora. As always, please contact me if you are the original artist and want credit and a link, or a picture removed. A lot of the art used here is extremely popular, so it is anybody's guess who did it unless the real artist steps forward. Watermarks and copyrights are left on used art.
Ogu as a Peace Bringer
As the lwa or orisha who governs war, Ogu can offer protection in wartime. He can also prevent wars. Just a thought.
A Word of Warning
Since some folks mentioned it...
Like any spirit, Ogu will only be pushed so far. If you continue to displease or disobey him, he can be frightening. He didn't take it well when I refused to work with him, or get a reading for my met tete. Several years, and progressive fires later, I relented. You should have seen the last one, flames roaring up to the ceiling, after the fire had been doused. One of his signature signs is spontaneous fire, after all. Looking back, considering I serve a sea-going Ogu it was funny. Fire and water, Ogu, get it?
Now he did not destroy me, but it does scare you when fire comes out of nowhere or things are thrown off other lwa's altars in a rage. He can be frightening if angry, just make sure to give him what he wants and stay out of his way for a while. Trust me, the first time he appears out of nowhere and rushes at you, you just about die. Course for him it was a way to announce I'm his. I'm right proud of my fine Nago daddy.
For the record, he was kind and gentle for years, although I wanted nothing to do with him. Although it broke his heart to do so, he used the fires to get my attention. Any loa or orisha will take a child to task if you anger them. Just remember it is done to punish you and bring you back to the right path. They don't do it out of mean-spiritedness, because they aren't built that way.
You don't need to fear Ogu or tremble in his presence, just trust him and treat him as the elder that he is with love and respect. Also, if you are his child, you have to obey your individual Ogu and respect the entire family in Vodoun. So no sassing Ogu Chango or the rest of the squad.
Remember also to obey your own personal taboos. I'm not allowed to offer blood, carry weapons or get into fights. Some people may be allowed to do these things, even encouraged to, but I'd be in a whole lot of trouble if I did. Can he or any other spirit put you in the hospital or graveyard? Yes, but you have to have broken the rules for years in most cases.
Example, if you are told not to carry a knife and do so for years. Well maybe you get into a fight and stabbed. Or better yet, a mugger jumps you and you take a knife to a gun fight, as the expression goes. Ogu may let you get shot just to teach you a lesson. Sorry boys and girls, but he can be one tough lwa.
Also remember the rule of no weapons shows two things. One, you trust Ogu to protect you. And two, you carry Ogu energy. Which means you don't have to look for trouble, it will find you. Ogu knows very well his children act first and think later. No use you dying or becoming a lifer, OK? You want to stop trouble join the police force or a community program. Think of yourself as a cute, cuddly lion cub. Don't nobody want to mess with your daddy.
PS The items above are on his Haitian altar and used with his gracious permission.
He Will Be Your Rock
Oggun DOES NOT
These make my blood boil
Oggun does not hurt people out of malice. He simply is the natural cause and effect of all we do. He does not cause accidents, humans do through neglect. Example, if I'm tweeting and hit and kill someone with my car, I'm at fault. Don't blame Ogu just because it happened on the road or involvled a car.
Ogu does not attack people unprovoked. He is not a monster or unrestrained violence. If he's coming for you, you did something to deserve it.
He does not require blood from every follower. Yes this is hotly debated. But he made it clear to me that he does not want blood from me, ever.
He will not attack women in their monthly cycles. Some say you should warn him if you are cut as well, but he gently laughs at this. He won't cause you to hurt yourself for blood either. As the medic he will be there to cure you.
Ogu is not, never has been, or ever shall be a rapist. He loves women and would never hurt one. Unless she cheated on him. Which would be next to impossible because most lwa are open to human lovers or spouses, so long as the tryst does not fall on the day sacred to them.
Oggun does not make his children mean or violent. Such actions are a sign of being out of sync with a loving father who awaits our return with open arms. Ok, maybe a glowering stare, but he does take us back.
Nor is he stupid. Strength does not mean a low IQ, you know. So why all the bad stories? Two reasons. One, a lot of people take stories explaining the misuse of Ogu's power and the tragedy that results and twist the meaning. The true meaning is don't taunt Ogu, test his word, or unleash him on folks. Because he will always return home to you, still in warrior aspect.
Secondly, a lot of people come into Vodou or Santeria with strong ideas of good and evil. Many have been taught any or all violence is evil. Well the violence of a volcano is not evil, it is natural. The forming of the earth was certainly violent, but not evil. Nor is a warrior or magician like Ogu evil. But time and again people misunderstand his vital role. We need him as the life force to be alive. We need his fire, metalworking, and actions to protect us. If he is around violence it is to protect the innocent. True he can at times lash out blindly, but you will notice he was provoked into it in the first place.
Even earlier he had been seen as an animal form, or before that, as the god (for lack of a clearer term) of thunder who threw bolts of fire at evil-doers. Yup, a lot like Zeus. For children of Shango, yes, I'm aware some folks say Ogu came from him.
I feel it is time we humans evolve beyond blaming the orisha or lwa for our actions. We the humans do good or evil. No spirit forces us to. Ogu does not tell young men to kill one another in the streets. Ogu does not tell us to go to war. Our abuse of Ogu's power is what leads to tragedy and pain.
Ogu gives us strength, technology, power, and life. If we abuse these gifts the fault lies with us, not him. The same knife can be used for good or evil intent. You wouldn't blame the knife, do not blame Ogu either. As the saying goes, guns don't kill people. People kill people. Stop blaming the spirits and take responsibility for your actions.
Ogu is also known as Oggun, Gu, Ogoun, Ogum, Ogoun-Fer, Ogu Balendjo, Ogun Feraille, the wounded warrior or saviour, and Ogun Badagris. But he has many countless paths. For example, one path likes to have scrap metal and other odd things around to reuse and transform. Yup, another altar pic.
His numbers are 3, 4, 7, and multiples of those numbers.
Ogu's colors include red, red and blue, purple, red and white, black and green, green, even, in my case, blue and gold.. He also favors brown if asked. Also black, or the uniform of any armed service branch worldwide. One source notes with amusement his fondness for red, white and blue. The colors of the US and Haitian flags, honey. White is used to calm him down, so is green, a useful thing to know, I assure you.
He rules the planet of Saturn (Capricorn, Aquarius) in astrology according to some. To others it is the more obvious Mars, but in the gentle maternal society view of the ram. He doesn't seem to care either way and smiles at attempts to pin him down with human concepts. Well, if asked he growls in disgust. Mine at least figures that if people minded what they had to do, they wouldn't have time to try to analyze others.
He loves to be offered fruits of all kinds, with mangos as the clear favorite. Think tropical as he also loves coconut, pineapple, and bananas. Any fruit juices please him. Yams and rice are also thought highly of. Honey, sweets, soda, but more on food later. He does enjoy meat, but if you are vegan he does not expect it. If you aren't, any animal on the planet is game. In Santeria hie will eat possum, snails, and dog. Goodness no you don't have to offer these things. And no, he does not need blood from you as an offering. In fact he may refuse it.
Ogu can appear in any form. But it is often as a strong African warrior or blacksmith. He can also appear as a mechanic, statesman, general, or anything at all to amuse himself. Mine fiirst wore a tan uniform with his many medals on it. But he has also appeared in red, the green of Santeria and recently the purple slacks of Yoruba. In his father aspect he always appears in a naval uniform. As butterfly is his totem, he may well appear in that form. Please remember he is also a hunter, and is mentioned in Santeria as having a bow and arrows, a lot like his brother Ochosi. He is also connected to and called the thrower of lightning. In that sense he both makes the thunder with his hammer, and throws the finished bolts.
He overlaps with his brothers, and may also have a long forgotten role. As a lwa of fertility (he rules the wonderful body markings that make women lovely after ritual scarring) he could also have ruled over love and procreation for humans, and perhaps animals. His animals include raptors, dogs, snakes, and butterflies. Carpenter ants, any insect that works hard. In the human body, he controls the heart and the blood.
In the Yoruba tradition of Africa, Ogu is associated with many animals. Some in a positive nature, others not. There is the Ogu, who while living, mistakenly killed a pregnant she elephant. For his actions, he set up a shrine to the calf or calf's spirit, and maintained it until his passing. It therefore amused my Ogu to no end to let me find a hand-carved mask from Jamaica of a bearded man with an elephant on top. Not only did it cost three dollars, I also found several dolls from the islands, snd a postcard tucked into a book. Didn't find that postcard until later of course.
Ogu is also described as a small black snake with a red band at the neck. Small? The two snakes cited in the book on Ogun claim the snake to be either a black mamba or a spitting cobra. Neither one is small. But both could certainly sneak up on you unawares. There may have been a small snake at one time, or this is a dose of humor. You never know with sacred chants.
Ogun is also said to ride a leopard, or at times a hyena. He is also said to be both of these animals. He is the lion who provides for his children, the wild beast that refuses to be tamed. He is also the dog. Capable of being with man, but still a wolf at heart. Mine likes wolves, and I've heard from people that he has used wolves to protect them.
I know one of my Ogus is fond of great white sharks, so any large successful predator might please your Ogu as a totem on his altar. I wouldn't offer him skins as many of his traditional animals such as leopards and some turtles are endangered. You have to remember that his is also the first game warden. Making a spiecies extinct to honor him will not curry his favor.
He's Very Romantic
Oggun and Women
Ogu dearly loves women. He respects them, adores them, and loves to marry them. He is the number one husband in Vodoun for good reason. He protects his spouses with tender care. He works hard to provide for you. He also gives the most wonderful gifts and is a husband who likes humble gifts in return. I am not saying he will never lose his temper or become moody, but you don't have to fear him.
Oggun will not tolerate men who hurt women. He will destroy the rapist or abuser. He loves women and would die before willingly hurting one. For as my Ogu puts it, it takes a real coward to fight an untrained woman. He has never, nor will ever rape a woman. And he certainly did not attack his mother no matter what you are told.
People have to remember that in the stories the orisha are not always orisha. Mankind used Ogun, iron, to rape and destroy the planet. First through farming and destroying forests, now through modern warfare and landfills.
As your head, or mete tete, he is a loving and tender father. He will guide you, teach, you, and hold you gently in his strong arms. Nobody hurts one of his babies. Speaking of which, he loves babies and little children.
I should know as he saved me as a child in his human form. Here's an excerpt from a group I ran:
"Now I had an experience of getting lost when I was little. And a very normal but somehow familiar black man came out of the crowd and scooped me up. He fussed over me and told me my parents were waiting for me. He seemed to be a working man, in a grey uniform of some sort. I felt safe and he carried my right to my parents as if he knew where they were all the time. I didn't know it at time, although I knew he was clearly special and not human. But he was one of the guardians that has always been with me. If fact now that I think of it, to this day anything that smells like him is a great comfort to me.
Lucky we are, to have such loving and attentive guardians. I also have to explain I always saw black men and women around me when I was little. Thinking they were ghosts, I just talked to them. They gently insisted I was family, and they were there to be with me. Well, by now I have figured out that they were the loa.
Clearly, it may well have been Oggun who rescued me that day. It could have been another, for my family was quite large. I always felt odd as I never resembled this family of handsome men and women. Nor did I look anything like the handsome man who would sit for hours and explain fire to me and what it did. Slowly all this old info is coming back to me. It makes sense now why Fireman as I called him insisted things like clinkers, melted rock, and coal were my stones and gave me power to be safe. He insisted I was a child of fire. No kidding, eh?"
Note: He does not tolerate unfaithful wives any better than the next lwa. I have never heard of one who did cheat, but if you do, you are on your own. I doubt he'd beat you, but his vengance and anger could be directed at your home, job, or those around you. He can get you slammed in jail so fast your head will spin. Yup, another attribute. And one he shares with Legba. He rules iron bars and justice, remember?
Feeding and Caring For Ogu
If you give Ogu a fire pit or bbq to enjoy, be sure you care for it. Remember, the fire, fuel and metal or stone are all visible aspects for him. So it is an insult if you let it get ruined from lack of care.
My Ogu prefers natural charcoal (also used in the water a blacksmith tempers a sword with) started with newspaper and some olive or vegetable oil. He doesn't like things that harm the environment. The woods and mountains are his after all. Speaking of which, he loves trees and private wooded places. He has turned my garden into a wooded grotto. True, I can only grow hosta, but I love him and it makes him happy. Plus, I never have to water or fertilize.
For food, he loves anything you love. He is an easy-going and up to date loa. If you are cooking any type of meat he will happily eat it. But meat was not always common in Africa, so you can give him any vegetable too. Most forms hate water, so don't offer it unless your Ogu is of the sea-going variety.
You needn't do it every time, but once in a while not only offer the meat for his blessing, but set some aside for him. You may bury this or put it under a tree. Drinks may be poured on the earth for him. He prefers rum or wine, but he will take fruit juices. Honestly it is more important you remember to feed him than what you feed him.
Just no blood. In Santeria tradition as he is seen as the knife the blood is his. If you are uninitiated into an relgion such as Vodoun, Santeria, or Yoruba he doesn't need or want blood from you. Honestly, he will outright refuse raw food and will up and leave if you persist. Or react in a rage since as an unitiiated peron you have not been taught how to offer blood in the right manner.
Also, he is fond of candy, and come to think of it, war-themed toys. Now, he does not glory in war, ever. If fact it is a duty he takes on heavily. But once the innocent is threatened he will go to war.
I asked him if it is true he never sleeps. He gave me his 'how stupid are you?' look. So a nice place to rest or sleep would be fine. Above all, be gentle. Much like a mountain gorilla, he may be strong, but very sensitve. He can be hurt easily by your words, and an angered Ogu is nothing you want in your life, so remember your manners. And if upset he will withdraw his loving protection or teach you a lesson Ogu style. Try starting that sacred fire when he is angry with you.
By the way, Ogu was offered dogs for a good reason. He used to be free and live at the top of a hill or mountain. There he could avoid society, learn from the animals, and hunt. His dogs were his only loyal companions other than his brothers.
When he was needed in the villages he would come, then quickly leave. But one day it became clear he had to stay with the village (humankind) 24/7. Ogu vowed he would stay and give up his freedom. To prove this, he slew his beloved hunting dogs, the ultimate sacrifice, to seal his sacred oath. This kind of made him anti-human as he loved and understood his dogs a lot more than he does humans. Honestly I agree with him.
Ogu as the Met Tete
Butterfly in the sky...
As stated earlier, Ogu as your head, or ruling lwa does not make you mean or violent. He doesn't want John Wayne Gacy as a child, OK? You are expected to hold your temper, not use it as a weapon. And forget about using the horror stories about him to defend you bad actions. He never did them in the first place.
If a child of his is mean or unruly, they need to get straight with him, pronto. Disobeying your head hurts, as there will be a rift of pain between you. Well, you will be the one feeling all the pain. Ogu is no different from any other loa. At first he will remind you of a hurt or wrong action. He will ask you nicely to make amends.
After all, you surely didn't mean to diobey him, right? But let's say you don't ask his forgiveness, or worse still, defy him yet again. Then he might yell, then he might withdraw protection. He won't leave per se, but he is enraged and doesn't want anything to do with you at that point. The very last thing he wants to do is punish any of his children. He loves them so much he just doesn't want to. But if you presist he will have no choice. Remember, like any good parent he punishes you out of love.
The only way to end the pain and heal the hurt is to find out what you did and make amends.
I'm sure those who want a blood-thirsty monster will howl, but here are a few other excerpts. The first appeared in a jewelry article back on Squidoo.
"Ogu In Voudo, Santeria and other religions he is the lord of the forge and master craftsman. Although more famous for forging weapons, he is certainly capable of admiring and appreciating any well-made jewelry.
He is considered a magician as the forge is a place of metallurgical magic. He takes scrap from the earth and makes it into weapons, and all other metals such as jewelry as well. His symbol is the butterfly, and he gave me an extremely special butterfly ring for free. How?
I was at a community sale and a woman had thrown some items in a Free box. Included was a basket with a broken chain and a butterfly ring. I asked if she did not want paid. No it was garbage, I could have it. Well the garbage turned out to be an 18k gold chain and a sterling silver ring..."
It should come as no surprise that the ring is more practical than anything. Twice it has saved me from cutting my ring finger off. Think of it as a tiny bit of armor I wear 24/7. Ogu loves his children dearly, even if we can be a pain.
The Female Half
Not that those of us who practice would often know, but Oggun's cauldron has a specific meaning. It symbolizes both his male and female side. The rust or red herbs inside along with the spike show fertility, or the female time of regeneration, and the perfection of the male and female union. Why did we loose this?
Well, for one thing, people are not fond of loa or orisha who don't have a set gender. Also, the female menstrual cycle is no longer held as sacred by most people. But in the most positive sense, it means purity. Because the female can cast off all impurity with blood, and regenerate. So it shows all that.
Also females can bear young if impregnated, so it shows us that too. The pot is still the womb symbol, making a strong reminder for the female side of Ogu. If we try, we can still reach this female half. To me she appears in a bright red flowing dress. Regal, and proud, yet kind to her children. She has many forms, waiting to be tapped into.
In Vodou so far as I know the female form is lost completely. Ogu does not have a cauldron, only the spike is left. OK, a few houses are bringing her cauldron back, but it seems to be a reflection of Santeria practices. She is still in Santeria and perhaps other paths. She may not have a name, or be given the female form of Ogu in that culture. Some folks get quite angry. As if sugesting that a female Ogu is real makes the male one something less masculine.
She is the earth itself, the source of all life. Now if we add the spike and a union takes place the form is complete. Yes, just like the athame and chalice or cauldron. So in a sense Oggun may have been seen as the father and mother of the human race. Perhaps long ago, S/he was the god/dess of creation.
The basic altar depends on which aspect of Ogu or and other loa you are serving. It is usually safe to give Ogu red and blue in any form. So that would be the altar cloth. Your Ogu will lead you to the right colors, but black and green tap into him as he appears in Santeria, red in Vodou, and purple in Yoruba. You could use a cauldron, in which you can put three nails, a knife, or a red powder to represent the womb. In Santeria some feel you must earn this through initiation, but mine just grabbed my Goddess cauldron and growled at me.
Voudo uses a sword or machete instead as his symbol. He is a national hero in Haiti, and all who know him are proud of his strength. You would also place an offering here, like food, or drink as mentioned above. He loves cigars, most of the time. He will also need a candle in the color of that Ogu. Red is safe in Vodou, but you could also use blue or white in some cases. The wrong color is better than no offering at all.
Lastly, either a picture of a saint attached to him, or a warrior figure or picture. You could use a Celtic god of war if you like, a GI Joe figure, or a picture. Remember at least 80% of Haiti lives below poverty level, so anything they can find that suits him is used there. Ogu is not shy about letting you know if he likes things or not. And for the basic bare bones altar, that is it. You can add as you go along. One altar has a metal bucket filled with railroad ties, broken glass, volcanic rocks and coal. All things Ogu likes.
For any lwa or orisha do your research and trust your gut. You don't have to abandon your Wicca or pagan beliefs, but the lwa do demand things done a certain way.
That's a statue off my altar he doesn't mind you seeing. As he does something nice for me he gets a piece of jewelry as thanks. You can see how hard-working he is from the amount of jewelry he is wearing.
"But like all Orisas Baba Ogun is gracious and he is above petty human emotions like anger and revenge. His patience is longer than a lot of people give him credit for. His sense of loyalty and correctness should be above reproach. More people need to learn Ogun for who he truly is and not for what tradition says he is."-Brotherpeacemaker
The Best Known Ogus
Note: Some names I've given to point out special things Ogu does. Although distinct, these Ogus are all often just called Ogu. Some say all Ogus are Ogu, and therefore any Ogu can do anything. To me they might all be of a family, or one Ogu in many forms. They certainly have different personalities and appearances.
The Forge Master As master of the forge he controls all forges. He is a master metalsmith, capable of making anything. He likes transformation and hard work. He is both the fire of the forge, and the hammer, as well as the forge itself. This Ogu values craftsmanship and hard work. He is said in Santeria to work 24/7 like the human heart.
Some point out that he needs his brother Chango to work with him. Chango provides the air or bellows to form the fire. These brothers love one another, so you will often find them close by. He most often dresses in red, or as a blacksmith.
Ogu Balendjo He is the healer of the family. His main concern is for children, and he will spend a lot of time preparing a herbal remedy for them. To do this he will either advise or possess the hougan or mambo (priest or priestess) to make the cure.
He is also connected to the sea, and sails in Agwe's navy. He will not fight unless attacked first. What he has, he will not let go of. He is among the most gentle of the Ogus and the easiest to approach.
For me he insisted he wanted blue and yellow or blue and gold as his colors. He will accept others, he doesn't seem to be too picky. He is a patron of the arts, loves literature or the theater. He also forges weapons during wartime.
Balendjo is known as the battle medic, and will help any doctor on the battlefield. He has a fondness for veterans and does not like to seem them neglected or abused. He owns all medical technology and surgical instruments. Many ask for his protection in the hospital or during an operation.
He is an Ogu who likes some refreshing water on his altar. He is very close to his brother Legba, and likes to be served alongside him. He likes flowers, toys, anything sea-themed. He loves offerings of anything tropical, or any sweet drink. He likes coffee. Toys could include sailboats or naval warships. I've found he is fond of blue, or naval uniforms.
Mine is also fond of all weapons, and loves his book on navigation at sea using the stars. I'd love to get him a sextant some day. My loving thanks to the Gade Nou Leve Society for the picture of Balendyo. Some also say he is a hermaphrodite. So the perfect balance of male and female energies. Because of this some say he is Obatala in Vodoun form.
Ogu Feray He is my personal hero! A true warrior he drove all the whites out of Haiti and helped end slavery. He is still enraged and ready for war, but white people can approach him just fine. I'd address him as Sir if I were you. I've only met him rarely, and to my dismay he wears the same type of uniform as my Yamsan, just with a ton more medals pinned to his chest.
He can be harsh, but honest. He gave me a rare gift recently, so I can't complain about the man's loyalty to family members. He seems to like looking in on the children ofter Ogus, his chest puffed out with such pride you'd think they were his children. Seeing how he is an Ogu, he most likely thinks they are.
Ogou Yamsan: I heard on several sites he is almost assured to be around if you work with Balendjo, and of course he is. Yamsan is said to be very fond of rum, to the point where he just "borrows" bottles from Balendjo. Mine seems friendly enough, even if he has a slight problem with listing to port and having the aroma of spirits about him.
He can be rude, having figured my pet name would be "little white girl". But he does mean well and is loving and loyal to Agwe's ship where he runs up the flags. He smokes cigars, mine does. Mine appears in the uniform of Haiti, usually soused to the gills and therefore in a better mood than usual. He will tell you tan IS the uniform of the Haitian navy. He'll forget to add the Haitian Navy was disbanded. But he is a generous Ogu, and loyal, nonetheless.
Just to make things interesting, there is an Ogu/Ghede spirit. And I thought I was going insane the first time I saw him.
Ogu's Sacred Dance
A Santeria Story about Ogu
I'm retelling this story my own special way. Once you get to know Ogu, you'll see it is a fair way of doing it.
Once long ago, Ogu was working hard at his forge. He was sweating, and wiping his brow. But he smiled, because he was proud of his hard work. A few more hammer strikes, and the bolts for Chango were done. Ogu finished them in water to cool, enjoying the sizzling sound it made.
Then he lovingly polished each until it shone. How proud his brother would be to shoot such shining lighting bolts! Not that they flashed any more than Ogu's razor sharp smile of accomplishment. Later Chango stopped by, grabbed the bolts and left. Ogu just stared after his brother. He was shocked and hurt his brother didn't thank him. Still wanting to think the best of Chango, he told himself he just forgot.
That day he was so busy he didn't mind when the humans didn't thank him. Well he minded, but he was too busy to think about it. Nearby his brother Eshu (Legba) was watching. Legba shook his head. Ogu was sad, OK, Ogu was sad and hurt, so he went to see him.
"Brother, do they ever thank you for your hard work?" He asked gently. Eshu after all, was the only orisha smart enough to get out of menial burdens. So it saddened him to see Ogu doing this work without thanks.
"No And it makes me angry! " Ogu growled. "But nobody else can do my job. You couldn't even lift my hammer. And nobody can stand the heat of the fire." But he figured, at least people needed him, right?
Well each time Eshu stopped by and asked, Ogu got a little angrier. It hurt to not be thanked or loved. He heard what people said. He was ugly, he smelled from hard work. He was too stupid to do anything else. That made him want to hurt people.
So finally he put out the fire, whistled for his hunting dogs and left. If people and orisha couldn't thank or love him, maybe he was useless. And ugly, and stupid. And unloved. Enraged beyond words he took off for the woods, hammer in hand.
Things were good for a while there. He could hunt, play with his dogs, and be left in peace. If fact he liked it so much, that he started to heal a tiny bit in his heart. Which simply means he didn't have to think about how upset ungrateful people made him. Why couldn't they love him, even just a little? He loved them. At least the trees and animals loved him. And his loyal brother Eshu/Legba always came to see him. But what he longed for was the love of humanity.
Well the humans and orisha were really angry. They didn't care about Ogu, but the whole world had ground to a halt. With everything broken and no one to fix it, nothing happened. No planting or harvesting. No weaving or hunting, no pretty jewelry, nothing.
They angrily went to God and demanded Ogu be forced to return. God sighed. People gave him such a migraine. "I wasn't the one who drove him away. You did by not loving and caring about him. Did you ever once thank him?"
"But he is ugly, and smells terrible" A girl sniffed.
Eshu answered in his brother's defense. He after all, was everywhere at once, and knew humans all too well. "That didn't seem to matter when you wore the jewelry he made. Each one of you should be ashamed. Ogu loved and worked for all of you, and you can't even thank him. How would you feel if people treated you like that?"
But everyone ignored him and tried to take Ogu out of the woods by force. Humans and orisha were flung into trees, out of the forest, dumped into lakes and charged by an enraged Ogu. He certainly wasn't going back just to be used and not thanked or loved.
Finally little Oshun spoke up. "May I please go find him? I know how he feels." Everyone laughed and made fun of her. She was too silly, too happy. And the youngest. She did nothing important. But God smiled thoughtfully. He nodded for her to go ahead.
So Oshun grabbed her most lovely yellow dress and scarves. Her honey pot too, and entered the woods. She didn't go right to Ogu. Instead she danced and sang. She laughed in happiness and swirled her scarves. Ogu though she had a lovely voice and beautiful dress. Was she wearing the jewelry he had made her years ago?
Yes, and it still shone. She had taken good care of it. Ogu smiled to see his work appreciated. He walked a bit closer, just to see... Quick as a wink, Oshun dabbed honey on his lips. Now this wasn't just honey, but pure love and happiness. And a little female vavoom too.
Ogu was very happy. He'd never tasted anything so wonderful. How could he when women ran from him? He took Oshun's invitation to dance. Tenderly as he could, he held her and looked deep into her eyes. He felt love, true love for the first time from another orisha.
Oshun then gently led him back to the forge. Ogu was only too happy to go because sweet little Oshun led him. And so they were met by all the people and orisha. They all apologized and promised to be more attentive. This of course was a lie, and had Ogu not been preoccupied with the lovely Oshun, he'd have likely killed them all then and there.
And ever after people remembered to thank Ogu, and everyone else who worked hard. Not because they meant it. They just had to do it if they wanted more things in the future. You didn't think the people suddenly became nice, did you?
FYI: Other versions have Ogu leaving when mankind's fall into a sinful and unrepentant state disgusts him. Being his child and seeing how people don't change, I wish I could add he smashed them all to bits.
"The Story Of Oshun & Ogun"
I love this, the tale below updated!
His Family Life
Oggun has a vast family. Not only the countless Ogus that there are in the world, and his children, but he also has siblings, parents and more. I'm most likely going to get flamed but the descriptions are based on my interactions, not anyone else's. Let the sin be on my head, dread sovereign. This list is by no means complete. There are countless other siblings, wives, friends and so on too.
Chango- Brother, and despite stories otherwise, constant companion to Ogu. Yes they can fight, but mine stick together, support one another, and resent greatly any implication that they aren't both equally my father. My Chango has his own altar and spirit bottle quite close to his brother on Ogu's request. He's one laid back cat, just like my Balendjo. He'd also put in that rumors of his womanizing are greatly exaggerated and he is not a male hussy. Some folks feel he is a different form of Ogu as is the daddy mine claim, Obalata. Chango is now shining in his own lens. See it HERE.
Dambala Wedo- Not family per se, but Dambala came part and parcel with my Ogun Balendjo.
He is a healer, kind, loving and playful. Cuddly is his middle name. Mine favors the form of a giant white snake or an African American elder dressed in dazzling white. He is fertility along with his beloved mate Aida Wedo. Dambala opens and makes smooth the way for things to happen.
Eshu/Legba- Brother and most loyal of all the spirits to Ogu. He is the one who encouraged Ogu to leave humankind if they weren't going to thank him. He is a meter out of justice after all, and his beloved brother was being used. As Legba he is still a faithful if much older brother and companion to Ogu. He rules the roads, but after Ogu builds them. Also keeper of the crossroad and gates as well. Meet him HERE
Ezili Freda- Sweet, intelligent and an expert on soothing frayed female nerves. Unlike what others say my Freda has been nothing but a loving mother, girlfriend and sister to me. She is one of Ogu's spirit wives. Why should she be jealous of other women? Mine asks. Putting up with less of his drama is a welcome vacation. She rules romantic love and human inspiration. That doesn't make her a sissy. Some say she has a scar from a knife fight. In Africa she was seen as a serpent. See her sweetness HERE
Ezili Danto- Hard-working farm spirit, another wife to Ogu. Mine often appears in a black bejeweld dress as the Mary of Sorrows would wear. She frets over her children, and mourns hidden sorrows. She can be made happy with the gifts of love and hard work in her name. Don't ever mess with those she loves as the dagger is her symbol and she helped lead a revolution to free slaves. Learn about her HERE
Obba- The perfect student under Ogun. She mastered the martial arts under his training and is said by some to be his perfect counterpart. Tough in mind body, and spirit, Obba is a fearless and gallant warrior. Wife of Chango she will die in his an her family's defense. Goddess bless Shelloya for putting up an article on her.
Obatala- Older that time itself, and sweeter than the rain. You could just spend hours in his loving healing presence. Despite his great rank in Santeria Obatala is extremely humble and a delight to be with. Mine advises me on how to deal with his son. After all, why can't his granddaughter be sweet-tempered like her father and uncle? Yes he is the daddy to my Ogun.
Ochosi- Another brother. Said to be his most loyal companion, and hunting buddy. My Ochoshi shares the cauldron with his brother and is the only spirit allowed to do so. No it wasn't given as a warriors thing, my Ogu simply snatched it up and growled it was his. But Ochoshi is very shy, so much so that humans rarely see him. Some say it is a great shame that makes him so, but mine talks to me often enough.
Onile- Sister to Ogun and the earth herself. Some say all metals belong to her, but she freely gives of them to her beloved brother. She rules over motherhood, the earth, and fertility. As the earth takes back the dead at death, she rules over them too. Some say she mediates on the behalf of mankind. Thanks to mxtodis123 for the information. Also see the links below for a story of Ogun and Onlie.
Oshun- Lovely and youngest of the spirits. Little Oshun is not a child, just a sometimes silly, hyper ball of fun. Like the kooky human roommate on Lost Girl. Mine gets along great with everyone and figures everyday is party time. She is also the spirit who gave up her beauty and became the vulture to fly to humankind's aid and reach God. She lured Ogu from the woods and is said to be his lover. Some hotly maintain she is his wife. Oshun, after all, is not some tart or tease.
Osain- The orisha of herbs and healing is the friend and mentor of Ogu. He taught him herbal healing and warfare. In exchange for his guidance and friendship Ogu made Osain his metal staff, much like the ones African elders used to show status. Osain will help you learn about healing with herbs and plants. As mine dryly put it mankind "stole" his wildlings anyhow, so all plants, wild and domestic are his.
Oya- Still his loyal wife and mine will strike down any who disagree with that statement. As she puts it, Oya never gives up or runs away from anything. Hotheaded, magical and down-right witchy, Oya is the first feminist in a male spirit dominated world. Spinning her skirts raises the winds she rules over, she is often seen with Chango as they make storms together. Oya will spare those she loves from the brunt of her winds, and can use them to destroy destructive habits, illness and more. In hoodoo she is fond of lightning water. The lovely Oya art appears courtesy of the original artist Sumerian Banshee.
Yemaya- Mother, and some say lover to Ogu. Think Adam and Eve honey. Exactly who did the first born sons sleep with to have kids, hmm? Mine comforts me, advises me when the Santeria spirits feel neglected and is a very loving mother to me. She radiates peace and happiness.
The challenge of any child of Ogu is to learn how to use our anger for good. It is great after all to destroy evil, so we often end up fighting for just causes. We can be calm and balanced, even serene at times. But being restless is natural to Ogun's children. And feeling trapped instead of being able to roam can make us hostile.
We do strive to help people and to work hard. But as we do get taken advantage of, it can make us angry and resentful. Carrying his energy can be hard if we don't listen to him. Some of us had terrible childhoods, perhaps in part due to having a parent who wasn't aware of carrying Ogun him or herself. Children of Ogu have to see this.
Depending on which Ogu we serve, we can also be called upon to be healers. Not great all-mighty, walk on water healers, but healers none the less. Whether for ourself or those around us, we will be expected to put forth good works. What is funny is that you will also be taught patience as many herbal cures can take weeks or months to prepare if you are using your own herbs.
Happily, most of use learn to control ourselves within reason as we age. We do learn compassion; even if Oggun himself has to lead by example. We are capable of defending the weak and outcast. We start to see more of him in others, at least the parts we relate to. Since we wouldn't willingly hurt him, we stay our hands with others.
We do dimly remember a time when Oggun himself was peaceful and seek out that serenity for ourselves. Not that it lasts that long but we try. We can't stand failing ourselves, or those around us. We can't stand being helpless. We especially can't stand failing Ogu or appearing weak in front of him.
Out of all the spirits, his children are the most likely to refuse help from their father, just to prove we are worthy of the honor of being his child. We tough it out through pain and sometimes are neglectful of our health just to prove to him we are strong.
Some people debate whether or not he has homosexual children. I've never known him to have a problem with homosexuality as it in no way makes a man any less of a man.
There are stories that homosexuality was encouraged among warriors, as a man would fight all the better to protect his lover/brother/friend. Remember that among the Greeks it was common to think that the only real love could be between two men. My Ogu is all about acceptance of eveyone. I've met gay, bisexual, and transgender children of his too.
Surviving His Tough Love
Ogu's love can be tough. His lessons can be hard and his forging you into a better person can bring you to your knees to beg him to stop. Do you know what? If he cares about you (and he does) he won't. Change hurts and he knows that, but it must happen.
When you are learning your lessons his spiritual blows to the dead, dying or diseased parts of you can seem like an unfair attack. He can seem merciless, even evil. Why is he picking on you? Why can't he let things be? Because he sees your potential that's why.
Ever watch Kill Bill? You know the scene where she is crying over dinner because her master has forced her to start punching wood to harden up her fists? Yes it hurts. She most likely thinks he's evil and hates her. But being a good and loving teacher he knows she has to endure the pain to face the future prepared.
Later on those vital lessons help her do the impossible and escape what would be death to most mortals. We can either choose to endure Ogu's harsh training with grace, knowing there is love behind it, or crumple.
I assure you if you crumple he will only make you try again. As a wise man once said, Ogu doesn't take "I can't." for an answer. Like a good drill Sargent he will push you beyond endurance, beyond pain, beyond even thinking to shape you into the person he knows you are meant to be.
When I did the veve above as part of a ritual, my whole body ached from the bitter cold. My hands which had to be bare were screaming in white hot pain. But I had to do the ritual because I need his protection for the coming year, and my Ogu forced me forward, roaring for me to forget the pain and to concentrate on the task at hand.
When I did my pain vanished, and I could finish the ritual. That might seem cruel but the ritual needed to be done to assure his protection. He had to push me, even when it seemed cruel so I could complete my work, and assure his protection in the future. He toughened me up a bit too.