Candomblé and the Psychological Types
by Carminha Levy

Eshu Bara
Eshu Bara
Eshu Baraô

ESHU (*), the African Mercury, is the necessary intermediary between man and the supernatural, the interpreter of the language of the mortals and of the ORISHAS. Therefore, he is in charge of taking of the gods to Africa, the call of its foreign children. In these introductory notes, he is called to take to the foreign children a sample of the infinite possibilities of this rich Pantheon, which is kept alive in Africa, Brazil and other countries in the New World.

Candomblé is a structure of worship to the forces of nature, it is an ode to life as the Eternal Movement which is expressed in the dances, in the ORISHAS colors, in the sacramental food. As a communal ritual of songs, dances, and sacred foods in its public form, Candomblé is sacramented by the "Saint" Father or Mother, the "Saint" Children, by the drum players (OGAN), who sing the sacred songs inviting the presence of the ORISHA, with the participation of the whole community, from the elders to the children. Everyone sings and salutes the ORISHAS, and performs the sacred dance in an ode to Happiness, Love, and Sharing.

The ORISHAS - YORUBA gods in Africa and in the New World, would be mythical ancestors enchanted and metamorphosed into forces of nature. Each individual has a main ORISHA who is the "head owner", and three others who demand worship and also offer protection. Tradition states that each human being the moment he is conceived chooses freely his head (ORI) and his fate (ODU). Each person has a divine origin, which links it to a specific deity. This divine part is located inside the head. The substance of divine origin (IPORI) expresses the link to a specific god - ELEDA - , therefore called the head owner. To know his ELEDA allows the man to be the craftsman of his own fate, obeying the duties or prohibitions determined by his ORISHA. To know how to handle these influences is equivalent to knowing one's horoscope from birth on with life improvements, what one can get knowing how to listen to the stars. The "head owner" (ELEDA) determines the psychological type of your child, influencing also his physical characteristics and destiny. Traditionally one can know which is the head ORISHA by reading the "búzios" (sea shells), divine way of reading the ODU. For this purpose we use the previously prepared African "búzio" (CAUI). After a general overview of the structure of Candomblé, we will return to the ORISHAS and the psychological types.

Candomblé expresses itself in the backyards where the ORISHAS and the honorable ancestors are worshiped. The backyard has two areas, with different characteristics and functions: (a) an urban built space, where the dance is performed; (b) a virgin space (trees and a spring of water, equivalent to the African forest), which is considered sacred.

The supreme master of the backyard is the BABALORISHA or IYALORISHA (father or mother who possess the ORISHA). They have a supernatural power - ASHE, the propelling force of the whole Universe. The ASHE stimulates the sacred practice, which in turn feeds the ASHE back, making the whole system move. The ASHE is neutral, being a principle and a force. It is transmitted, applied and combined to the natural elements, which contain and express the backyard ASHE, who can be: (a) the ASHE of each ORISHA, fed back through the ritual offerings and actions; the ASHE of each backyard member, added to the one of his ORISHA, received at the initiation time, plus the ASHE of his individual destiny (ODU), and the one inherited from his own ancestors; (c) the ASHE of the honorable ancestors.

The ASHE, being a force, it can increase or decrease depending on the liturgical practice and rigorous observance of the duties and obligations. The power of the ASHE is contained in and transmitted by representative elements of the vegetal, animal and mineral kingdoms (offerings), which can be grouped in three categories: (a) red blood from the animal kingdom (blood), vegetal kingdom ( dende oil), and mineral kingdom (copper); (b) white blood from the animal kingdom (semen, saliva), vegetal kingdom (sap), mineral kingdom (chalk); (c) black blood from the animal kingdom (animal ashes), vegetal kingdom (dark juice from certain vegetables), and mineral kingdom (charcoal, iron). These three types of blood, where the ASHE is transported with its color, will determine the fundamental importance of the color in the worship. Summarizing, the ASHE is therefore a power which is received, shared and distributed through the ritual practice, of the mystical and initiating experience, with symbolic concepts and elements used as vehicles. It is the ASHE's power which allows the ORISHA to come and fulfill himself.

Life occurs in two levels: AIYE (the world, man's dwelling place), and ORUN (beyond, the ORISHA's dwelling place, a world parallel to the real world, which coexists with all the contents of this one). Each individual, tree, animal, city, etc has its spiritual and abstract double in ORUN. The myths reveal that in distant times AYE and ORUN were connected, and men could come and go as they pleased from one place to the other. However, one order was violated, and there was the consequent separation and the unfolding of existence. One myth of creation says that in the beginning there was nothing besides air. When OLORUN started breathing, part of the air transformed itself into a mass of water, originating ORISHALA - the great ORISHA FUNFUN of the white. The air and the water moved together and a part became a bubble or a mound: shaped matter - a reddish and muddy rock. OLORUN breathed life over it, and with his breath gave life to ESHU, the first born, the procreated, the first one in the Universe.

OLORUN embodies the whole space and has three powers which rule and keep active existence and the Universe. IWA, who allows generic existence, air, breathing; ASHE, who allows existence to become dynamic; ABA, who gives it purpose and direction. As the poet Moraes Moreira says in "Iorubá Thought":

For everything to be there must be IWA
For it to become there must be ASHE
For it to always be there must be ABA...

By combining these three powers in a specific way, OLORUN transmits them to IRUNMALE, divine entities who date back to the beginning of the universe, in charge of keeping them in the various spheres of their power. The IRUNMALE are supposed to be six hundred, four hundred of the right (the ORISHAS, holders of the masculine powers), and two hundred of the left (the EBORAS, holders of the feminine powers). The ORISHAS are masses of slow, serene movements, of immemorial age. They possess a great balance to control the relationships between who is born, who dies, what is given, what should be solved. They are associated to Justice and to balance, regulating principle of cosmic, social, and individual phenomena.

We saw when OLORUN started breathing, conceived ORISHALA and ESHU, they procreated. As a procreated, ESHU cannot be isolated nor classified in any category. My respects to my BARA! In these writings about the ORISHAS, ESHU with his psychological profile and the determining type of his offspring will clear the way, being the first one to be called.


ESHU existed before the world order. As life itself, he constantly changes, but not evenly, because ESHU changes the rules of the game as he pleases - he is a trickster. He is smart, conceited, intelligent and ambiguous - to such an extent that the first missionaries were scared and compared him to the devil, making him a symbol of all evil. But ESHU, due to his own energy and paradoxes, is who keeps things alive. It is him who makes it possible for ASHE to always circulate, and if treated with consideration (offerings), he reacts favorably, showing himself willing and at our disposal. ESHU is shown as the most humane ORISHA, neither totally evil nor totally good. Being related to the ancestors, he is the caretaker of the temples, houses, cities and people. Each person has his/her own BARA - even each ORISHA has his ESHU. He is everywhere and with everything, for he is the eternal intermediary between men and the gods. Therefore, in all Candomblé ceremonies his offering is the first one to be made, called PADE - which means re-union. In PADE, ESHU is called, saluted, greeted and sent beyond with a double objective: to summon the other ORISHAS for the party and at the same time to remove him from there, so that he does not disturb the ceremony with his tricks. As a carrier of offerings he is OXETUA, son of OSHUN with the sixteen ODU of the oracle (sea shell game) (CAUI). This good characteristic of ESHU grants him the power of restoring fertility to the world. As master of the power of transformation, he is ESHU ELEGBARA, who was cut into pieces and regenerated himself later, and by doing this symbolically he reunited the whole Universe.

ESHU maintains the balance of exchanges, he provokes conflict to foster synthesis. Everything which is joined multiplies, separates, transforms itself - everything is ESHU, personification of the transformation principle. His day is Monday. He is associated to the beginning and to the future, and his color is purplish dark blue, color of the mystery of procreation. His animal is the dog; his plants are the cactus and the "mandacaru". He controls sex and wears a hat similar to a phallus: there is no sexuality without ESHU.

OKOTO is the snail symbol of ESHU, representing the spiral of evolution. When it appears it is saluted by one of its names (LAROYE). He wears white, blue and red, and holds either a trident or a seven tip iron or a spear in his hand.

The psychological type of ESHU's son has the following characteristics: he is strong, agile, dynamic, untiring, overflowing with vitality. He loves the pleasures of life, he is greedy, always hungry and drinks a lot. That is why nobody in a Candomblé ceremony can drink without spilling a drink for ESHU on the ground of the main entrance. He is happy, playful, he likes to play tricks, hide objects, tell lies, teach the wrong way. He loves to shock people, to say four-letters words. He is untidy, and he loves to disturb parties and meetings. If it is convenient for him, he can be extremely hard-working, efficient, untiring and obstinate - always bearing in mind that he may profit with that. But he is totally unpredictable, sometimes abandoning some work in a whim. However, he is not insensible. He is helpful, and does not refuse assistance to his friends. He is always summoned to solve financial problems, arguments, love troubles, for which he finds a happy end with skill and a good mood. But the main characteristic of ESHU's sons is the heightening of sexuality; their lives are conducted by intense sexual activity, and sexual fidelity is impossible to get from ESHU's children.


Following the hierarchical sequence, we face the FUNFUN ORISHAS of the white, OSHALA.

OSHALA is the holder of the progenitor male and female power. All his representations include the color white. It is a fundamental element of the genesis, air mass and water mass, the prototype and the formation of all types of creatures in AIYE and ORUN. He has two forms when incorporating: OSHAGUIAN, young warrior, and OSHALUFA, and old man leaning on a silver cane (APASHARO). OSHALA is apart from all violence, disputes, fights, he likes order, cleanliness, purity. His color is white and his day is Friday. His children should wear white on this day. Metals and other white substances belong to OSHALA.

The psychological type of a son of OSHALA is benevolent and paternal, wise, calm, patient, and tolerant. He is slow, closed, cold. He is obstinate, works in silence. OSHALUFA is fragile, delicate, subject to colds because he feels cold. He makes up for his physical fragility with a great moral force, and his objective is to realize the human condition in what it is noblest. He is faithful in love and friendship. The OSHAGUIAN type is a young, pugnacious warrior. He is usually tall and strong, but neither aggressive nor brutal. He does not despise sex and is in favor of free love. He is happy, loves life deeply, he is talkative and playful. At the same time he is an idealist, defending those who need justice, the weak and the oppressed ones. He is proud, craves for glorious deeds, and is sometimes a sort of Don Quixote. His original thoughts usually anticipate his times. He is the beginning, the East where the sun rises, and OSHALUFA the setting, the West where it sets.


ODUDUWA, also considered a FUNFUN entity, received the earth element from OLORUN, with which she created AIYE. Her color is black (dark blue), by being a representative of AIYE. OSHALA and ODUDUWA are worshiped on the same day (Friday), and in some Candomblé backyards the two concepts are mixed.

The psychological type of a son of ODUDUWA from the physical point of view is similar to the OSHALA type. They are slim, thin, nervous and dry like the soil. But as opposed to the OSHALA type, ODUDUWA's children are violent and aggressive, closed, insecure and distressed, sometimes becoming touchy, impatient, intolerant, and suspicious. They are envious, vindictive, pursuing those whose happiness or success mean an insult to them. They know how to manipulate others and all their force is in their curious intelligence, critical sense and sharp irony. He is dominating, authoritarian, and at work he is demanding, perfectionist and precise.


NANA, a god from the beginning of creation, is associated to mud, water and death: she receives the dead inside her, making rebirth possible. The fact that she is a continent, associated with process and interiority, connects her with the color black, which is expressed in dark blue. Because she is a generating force, she belongs to the white. Her colors are therefore blue and white. Her animal is the frog and her day is Tuesday.

As an ORISHA of Justice, NANA does not tolerate neither treachery, nor indiscretion, nor theft. Being a very discreet ORISHA, and because she likes to hide, her daughters can have a totally different character from hers. For example, nobody will suspect that apparently a daughter of OSHUN, charming and vain, would be a "hidden" daughter of NANA.

The psychological type of NANA's children is introverted and calm. Her temper is strict and rigid. Bad-tempered, she is more feared than loved. Not very feminine, she is not very attractive and is very removed from sexuality. Because she is afraid of loving, being abandoned, and suffering, she dedicates her life to work, the inner call, to social ambition.


OMOLU, the King of the Earth, is NANA's son, but ha was raised by IYEMENJA, who received him when his mother rejected him because he was lame, ugly, and covered by wounds. He is a god from the dry, hard and warm land. Citonian, he is sometimes called "the old man", with all the prestige and power which age represents in Candomblé. He is linked to the Sun, he grants harvest, and at the same time he controls sickness and cure. With his SASSARA, ritual straw scepter from the Coast, he ousts pestilence and evil. But sickness can also be the sign of the chosen, by whom OMOLU wants to be served. He who had small-pox is frequently devoted to OMOLU, who is called "doctor of the poor". His colors are red and black, and he wears a "line" of straw from the African Coast which covers him from head to waist. His relationships with the ORISHAS are marked by fights with SHANGO and OGUN and by the fact that the female ORISHAS abandoned him. First he was rejected by his mother, then he is abandoned by OSHUN, with whom he fell in love who, together with IANSANN (Oyá), exchanges him by SHANGO. Finally OBA, with whom he got married, was stolen by SHANGO. He is a lonely ORISHA, from the streets like ESHU. His day is Monday, when popcorn is offered to him. His animal is the crab.

The psychological type of OMOLU's sons is sullen, closed, clumsy, rustic, lacking elegance and charm. He may be marked by small-pox or some other skin disease, and is frequently a hypochondriac. He has a considerable endurance and is able to make long efforts. He is usually a pessimist, with self-destructive tendencies which hurt his life. He is bitter, melancholic, becomes lonely. But when he has set objectives, he fights and is obstinate in reaching his goals. When he is disappointed, he represses his ambitions, taking a life of humbleness, voluntary poverty, mortification. He is slow, but persistent. He is strong as a rock. He lacks spontaneity and adaptation skills, therefore he does not accept changes. He is vindictive, cruel, and ruthless when offended or humiliated. Essentially virile, being a fundamentally masculine ORISHA, he lacks a touch of seduction and what is left is only a brutal bachelor. A similar phenomenon seems to occur in NANA's case: the more powerful and stressed the femininity, more dangerous it becomes, and paradoxically, less seductive.


OSHUMARE is the youngest and favorite of NANA's sons, OMOLU's brother. He is a very old white entity. He participated in the creation of the World wrapping himself around the earth, joining the matter and shaping the World. He supports the Universe, controls the stars and the ocean, and sets them into movement. Crawling through the World, he designed its valleys and rivers. He is the great snake which bites its tail, representing the continuation of the movement and of the vital cycle. The snake is his, and that is why in Candomblé it is not killed. His essence is the movement, fertility, the sequel of life. Communication between heaven and earth is granted by OSHUMARE He takes the water from the seas to the sky, so that rain can be formed - he is the rainbow, the great colored snake. He assures communication between the supernatural world, the ancestors and men, and is therefore associated to the umbilical cord. His color is lettuce green and all the combinations of the rainbow.

His day is Tuesday, and his favorite offerings are armadillos, roosters, and fresh fruit. He is bi-sexual with a feminine aspect, dances with ADE (the queens' crown). He is a man for six months, a woman during the other six. He own the riches hidden in the forest, ingrained in the land, and in the bottom of the sea, where he lives under the ocean: all precious stones, gold and coral belong to him.

The psychological type of OSHUMARE's sons is aristocratic. Physically he is slim, with fine features. He is dynamic, intelligent, inquisitive, and ironic. He likes to gossip, and he attracts, seduces and entertains because he is intriguing. He is often snobbish, and likes to show off, being sometimes eccentric and extravagant. When rich, he protects talented youngsters. He is homosexual or bisexual. He is neither rough nor gross, he is refined and civilized, but his vilification can be dangerous. He has a great intuition, and can be a smart soothsayer.


YEMANJA is considered the mother of all ORISHAS - OGUN, SHANGO, OBA, OSHOSSI, and OSHUN - who were born from an illegitimate affair he had with IF. NANA, as we saw, is OMOLU and OSHUMARE's mother. YEMANJA, on the other hand, is OLOKUN's daughter, masculine ORISHA in BENIN or feminine in IFÉ, always from the sea. She is highly worshiped in Brazil, and her cult became almost independent from Candomblé. She is represented as a mermaid with long black hair. She rules motherhood, she is the mother of the fish, representing fertility. Her day is Saturday. At the great "duties" she is offered white goat, duck or chicken. She loves flowers and is usually given seven open white roses, which are thrown to the sea in thankfulness. Her color is white with blue. She wears an ADE with bead fringes hiding her face. She holds the EBEBE in her hand - it is a round silver metal ritual fan, with a mermaid cut in the center.

The psychological type of YEMANJA's children is imposing, majestic and beautiful, calm, sensuous, fertile and irresistibly fascinating (the mermaid's song). YEMANJA's daughters are good housewives, excellent educators, generous, even raising other people's children (OMOLU). When offended, they do not forgive easily. They are possessive and very jealous. Since YEMANJA, guides the formation of individuality, which is in the head, as we know, she is present in all the rituals, especially EBORI.


OGUN is YEMANJA's first-born son, with whom he always was. He was also very fond of ESHU and his brother OSHOSSI, the hunting ORISHA - to whom he gave his weapons. He was married to IANSAN (Oyá), who abandoned him to go with SHANGO. He also married OSHUN, but he lives alone, clearing the roads. He is the iron ORISHA; he was the first blacksmith. He is the ORISHA of civilization and technology. He introduced agriculture, and as offerings, he receives yam and beans, the fruits of the land. He is the ORISHA of the engine drivers, car drivers, railroad workers, technicians, and of all those who work with machines and tools. He is the ORISHA of virility; he removes obstacles, civilizes the world, provides food.

His day is Tuesday. For the great "duties" he may request an ox or a goat. His color is red, but he also likes deep blue and green. His animal is the dog. He is aggressive and brutal and he is said to be responsible for car, airplane and mechanical accidents in general, with which he punishes those who disrespected him. His children should abstain from drinking "cachaça" (sugar cane alcoholic drink) and from going armed with knives. As his possession is very violent, he who receives his entity may become totally unconscious and without control of his acts.

OGUN's children are quarrelsome, violent, impulsive, and do not forgive the offenses they suffer. They fiercely pursue their objectives, and in difficult moments they are successful where any other would have abandoned the struggle and lost all hope. Their mood is variable, ranging from furious anger fits to a tranquil behavior. They are impulsive and arrogant, do not care about hurting others, but they are seldom hated due to the frankness of their intentions and their sincerity.


SHANGO is an ORISHA of fire, son of OSHALA with YEMANJA. The legend says he was OYA's king. A powerful and proud king, he had to face rivalries and even fight with his brothers to keep his power. Beaten by his enemies, he took refuge in the forest, always with his faithful OYA (IANSAN), and hanged both of them. His body disappeared underground in a deep hole, from where an iron chain came out - the human generation chain. He became an ORISHA, but at the same time he is an EGUM (spirit of the ancestors). A real paradigm, in Candomblé the EGUNS are not worshiped together with the ORISHAS. EGUM is for the men like a father, and the ORISHA is for OSHALA a son: SHANGO is at the same time OSHALA's son and a mythical ancestor linked to royalty, a divinized hero, founder of the NAG dynasty.

Due to his dual origin, SHANGO is the Saint of Justice, punishing with a lightening. He is also a charmer; he has three wives: OBA , the oldest and least loved; OSHUN, who was married to OSHOSSI and with whom SHANGO falls in love and makes her leave OSHOSSI for him; and IANSAN (Oyá), who lived with OGUN and who was kidnapped by SHANGO. She is the youngest and favorite, for she is a dedicated wife and strong warrior, who precedes her husband in the battles and, because she own the lightening, she gave the fire to her beloved SHANGO, commanding the natural forces characterized by violence: thunder, lightening (the supernatural fire from heaven), he throws rocks from the sky.

He is the dynamics of the elements of nature from whose meeting these meteorological phenomena are born. Power, fire, movement, life and fertility - he receives from his wife IANSAN (Oyá). His animal is the sheep, whose attacks are compared to the violence of the lightening and who has spiral horns like fire. He is a dissolute ORISHA, turbulent, red, hot and stands out for his intense sexual activity. SHANGO is scared of death and of the EGUNS. These are the opposites who have to join: mortal and immortal, father (of men) and son (of OSHALA), which he will do with his wife's intervention (IANSAN (Oyá)), who brings the fire, fertility, the continuation of generations, the life power transmitted from father to son through the woman's pregnancy.

His color is red and white, and his day is Wednesday. He likes the sacrifice of the turtle, who is often called his horse, of the rooster and of the duck. His possession is an explosion of happiness, his dance is vigorous and beautiful, and his children salute him with hand-clapping, fireworks, yells and the expression: "we wish your majesty a long life" - above all, a King. SHANGO's sacred objects are LAB and OSE, a double axe which represents the lightening and can be in wood or bronze metal - by the reddish color, it is consecrated to him. LABA is a painted leather bag made only in Africa, whose drawings are sacred. It is divided in four parts and the drawings, which resemble the lightening, are asymmetrical and evoke the three segments of the radius and the triangle. The number three is the even number plus one, suggesting movement and continuation, i.e., life itself.

The psychological type of SHANGO's children is physically robust, strong and obstinate chin, short neck, sensuous and fleshy lips. They are violent, proud, but their aggressiveness is not senseless: it is against evil, because like SHANGO, his children are paladins of Justice.


IANSAN is the daughter of YEMANJA with OSHALA and SHANGO's favorite wife. She is a warrior and adventuresome like him, a woman of many men ( OSHOSSI, OGUN, and SHANGO ). She relates to all elements of nature. Water, in the form of rain, of storm. The air, as the storm wind which uproots trees, knocks down houses. In its good aspect, it was IANSAN's air which spread medicinal plants, previously kept by OSANYIN in a bowl. Linked to the forest, she transforms herself into a buffalo, deer or elephant. She provides abundant hunting. But her essence is the movement and the fire, she is the ORISHA of lightening. This relationship with movement and fire makes IANSAN a goddess of sex and love. She is a queen for being SHANGO's favorite. And because she is the EGUNS' mother and queen, she is the only ORISHA who is not afraid of the dead. Her number is nine, product of 3 X 3 - the initial even number plus one, indicating continuation, pure movement. Her day is Wednesday and her color is red. Her objects are a copper sword and a "fly catcher" with which she keeps the EGUNS away.

The psychological type of IANSAN's daughters is turbulent, restless, full of initiative. They are noticed, provoking and they dominate men, but they are dedicated wives. The homosexuals have IANSAN as a role model. They are fertile women, mother of many children, but which are raised by a grandmother, a nanny, an aunt. The IANSAN type only oversees their upbringing. They do not like housework nor executive work. They prefer to be actresses, farmers or pursue any other profession in which some adventure, passion, and drive are needed.


OBA is an ORISHA linked to water, a not so feminine warrior. Her clothes are red and white, she carries a shield, a sword, a copper crown. She wears a scarf on her head so as to hide her cut ear. The legend says that OBA, rejected by SHANGO, was always around the palace wanting to return. OSHUN, with his artifices, tells OBA that SHANGO loves ears and suggests she makes a soup with her ear, which will be an unfailing way to get him. OBA did just that and when SHANGO had the soup and it tasted strange, he wanted to know who made it; OBA happily says it was her, thinking she had gotten him back. SHANGO got shocked with her mutilation and evicts her forever.

The psychological type of OBA's children is the stereotype of the strong will-powered woman, terribly possessing and deprived. As opposed to IANSAN, she is a one-man woman, faithful and long-suffering. They are strugglers, impulsive, and revengeful. OBA is an ORISHA who rarely expresses himself and there is very little studied by her. Maybe because presently, in Africa or in Brazil, there is no room for these characteristics in females, who are recovering more and more their IANSAN power.


OSHUN is a female ORISHA by excellence - the Eternal Feminine. She is OSHALA and YEMANJA's favorite daughter. In the myth, she was married to OSHOSSI, to whom she is unfaithful with SHANGO, with OGUN, who battered her and from whom SHANGO saves her. She seduces OMOLU, who becomes so madly in love with her that he removes the pest from SHANGO's kingdom. But OSHUN is unanimously considered one of SHANGO's wives, and IANSAN's and OBA's rival. She is a sweet water ORISHA, from springs and streams, owner of the OSHUN River and of all waters born in the earth. An esoteric tradition says that OSHUN is Mother Earth herself, a live self-regulating being, the rivers being her veins.

OSHUN is essentially the women's ORISHA, presiding over menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth. She has an important function in the initiation rites, which are pregnancy and birth. She is the ORISHA of motherhood, she loves children, protects life and has healing functions. OSHUN is fertility and abundance which expresses itself in the fruit of the waters (fish) and in the fruit of the land (yam), which are always present in her cults. Fruitfulness and fertility are, by extension, abundance and affluence. OSHUN is the ORISHA of richness - she owns gold, the fruit of the inside of the earth. She is happy, smiling, charming, intelligent, girl/woman who plays with dolls, and wise woman, generous and compassionate, never getting angry. She is elegant, full of jewels, the queen that refuses nothing, gives everything. She is called IYALODE among the YORUBA people: she commands women in the city, mediates disputes, and is in charge of order in the food market. She also commands the witches, which only shows in her preference for the bird - a red eyed pigeon. She has an important role in the game of "búzios" (sea shells), for she makes the questions which ESHU answers.

Her day is Saturday, day of the waters, her color is golden yellow and the egg is consecrated to her for representing pregnancy. She loves honey, sweet like her. When OSHUN dances, she holds in her hand a sword and a mirror, revealing her condition of seduction warrior. She bathes herself in the river, combs her hair, wears her jewels and bracelets, all this in a slow and provoking movement. ORISHA of gold, of peace, of richness, she is essentially the Mother - generous, prodigal, and accommodating and, because of this, like OSHUN EWUJI is saluted in the PADE, the beginning of every ritual in the Candomblé.

The psychological type of OSHUN's children is being physically very beautiful. They have well built bodies, usually fair and blond. They always represent the attractive type, and are always pursued by the opposite sex ( not like IANSAN, who pursues). They appreciate luxury and sex, they are vain, elegant, sensuous and like changes, maybe being unfaithful. But they are calm, tranquil, emotional, cry easily. They are smart, managing to get everything they want with imagination and plot. Though complacent and prodigal, they can be self-seeking, lazy and hesitant. They are very suspicious, and have a great intuition which is often put to work for artfulness.


OSHOSSI is Keto's King, son of OSHALA and YEMANJA or, in the myths, APAOKA's ( jackfruit ) son. He is the hunting ORISHA; he was an elephant hunter, an animal associated to royalty and to the ancestors. The myth says that OSHOSSI found IANSAN in the forest, as a great elephant which transforms itself into a woman. He marries her, has many children who are abandoned and raised by OSHUN. OSHOSSI lives in the forest where the spirits live and is related to the trees and the ancestors. He owns the bees, who represent the spirit of the female ancestors. He relates to the animals, whose screams he imitates perfectly, he is a brave and agile hunter, he is generous, provides hunting and protects against the attack of wild animals. He is a lonely bachelor after he was left by IANSAN, and also because as a hunter he has to keep away from women for they are ominous to hunting. He is closely linked to OGUN, from whom he received his hunting weapons. OSANYIN fell in love with OSHOSSI's beauty and enclosed him in the forest. OGUN is able to penetrate the forest with his blacksmith's tools and frees him. He is associated to the cold, the night, the moon; his plants are refreshing. His day is Thursday.

He wears turquoise blue or blue and red. He wears an elegant wide-brimmed hat decorated with blue and white ostrich feathers. He carries two bull's horns at his waist, a bow, a golden arrow and a IRUKERE - a bull-tail whip to keep away the ancestors. His dance emulates the gesture of throwing arrows to the right and left, the rhythm is fast, when he imitates the rider hunting, sliding slowly, sometimes jumping and rotating around himself. It is one of the most beautiful dances in Candomblé.

The psychological type of OSHOSSI's son is refined and very beautiful. He is the ORISHA of the intellectual artists. He is inquisitive, a greatly penetrating observer. He is full of crazes, unstable in his love affairs, very susceptible and believed to be "complicated". He is lonely, mysterious, discreet, introverted. He does not adapt easily to urban life, and is generally a pioneer. He often fascinates boys and may be a homosexual. He is extremely sensitive, has artistic qualities, creativity, a refined taste. His psychic structure is very emotional and romantic.


LOGUM EDE is OSHOSSI and OSHUN's son. He is a woman for six months, living in the water, and a man in the other six months, living in the jungle. He provides hunting and fishing. He dresses as an AYABA, with a pink skirt, wears a golden metal crown (not the ADE of the queens), a bow and an arrow. He always wears light colors. With his masculine aspect he wears a golden metal helmet, bags, bow and arrow or sword. He always dances with OSHUN and OSHOSSI.

The psychological type of LOGUM EDE's children is very proud of their body - our present policy of body culture could be conducted by LOGUM EDE. He is seductive, vain, lazy and jealous. They are ambivalent types, they can be well mannered, have a good mood, be refreshing as the ODUNDUN leaf and the water, but they can also be gloomy as their ancestors. The ORISHA LOGUM EDE is responsible for dizzy spells and fainting, which can be taken as EGUNS' provocations. His cult in Africa is almost extinct, but in Bahia it is alive. His children cannot wear the color red.


OSANYIN is OSHALA and YEMANJA's son, OGUN, OSHOSSI, and SHANGO's brother. He lives in the forest - he is also an ORISHA of the open air, where he found and arrested OSHUN. He is SHANGO's enemy, from whom it is said that he tried to get OBA, thus having to face SHANGO's wrath, losing a leg in this battle. Other legends say that he stole the fire from SHANGO and gave it to men, being this the reason for the hostility.

OSANYIN is the ORISHA of the leaves and medicine. As we have seen, thanks to IANSAN all the ORISHAS have their leaves, but in principle OSANYIN continues being their owner. There are leaves for everything: for each type of sickness, of distress, or well being, to get happiness, money, long life. The leaves are always with ASHE, and in Candomblé without them and without OSANYIN nothing gets done - therefore, OSANYIN is ASHE's owner!

His color is green and his day is Monday. As the master of vegetation, he is linked to the earth. He is a chthonic ORISHA, like OMOLU he is lame or he does not have a leg. His metal is iron. He is deeply linked to the gourd - which represents the cosmic matrix, where he keeps his leaves and his power. He is associated to the birds, and wears a crown with a bird on top. We should remember that the witches' symbol is a gourd where a bird is enclosed, symbolizing their power and performing the work determined by them. Thus OSANYIN represents the gourd's magic power - pregnancy. He is the ORISHA of medicine, who with his leaves makes medicines, enchantments, good luck charms, and cures the sick. Knowing the leaves is the most secret part of Candomblé. OSANYIN wears on his head a silver metal crown decorated with a bird, he carries on his waist small gourds where he keeps his medicines, and takes in one hand a large silver gourd and in the other a seven tip tool and a bird in the central tip. He is the ORISHA of the doctors and scientists.

The psychological type of OSANYIN's children has a secret and unpredictable mood, he hides, "puts others in front because he does not like to show himself". From the morphological point of view, he is delicate and fragile; sometimes when they are old, they become lame or cripple. He is discreet, quiet, does not talk about himself and makes a point of preserving his freedom. Unaware of the petty aspects of day-to-day life, when he is seeking the solution to a scientific or philosophical problem he forgets to eat. He is sensitive, generous, compassionate, he loves animals, especially birds. His balanced character does not allow compatibilities or dislikes to interfere in his decisions. His judgements about men and things are not based on the idea of good and evil, but on their efficiency.

These introductory notes to the study of Candomblé - the ORISHAS' religion - started with a salutation to ESHU (ASHE's vehicle between men and the gods), and it concludes with our meeting with OSANYIN (ASHE's vehicle among men).

When OSANYIN stole the fire for men, he opened their way to consciousness, and because he owns the ASHE of the plants, he has the energy of the Candomblé practice - in Candomblé, nothing gets done without the energy of the plants - and the energy of healing, through their curative energy. OSANYIN is lame and fragile, with the power of limitation and his fragility maintains an extraordinary reserve of creative and curative energy, and of passive resistance towards the objectives he set as a goal - he is our WOUNDED HEALER.

São Paulo, Brazil, winter of 1990


  • CARLOS EUGENIO MARCONDES DE MOURA, Candomblé: Disclosing Identities, EMW Publisher, 1987
  • CARLOS EUGENIO MARCONDES DE MOURA, My Sign is in your Body, EDUSP, 1989
  • CLAUDE LEPINI, The Psychological Types in Candomblé, Ph.D Thesis, USP
  • JUANA ELBEIN DOS SANTOS, The Nagô and Death, Vozes Publisher, 1984
  • MONIQUE ANGRAS, The Double and Metamorphosis: the Mythical Identity in Nagô Communities, Vozes Publisher, 1984
  • PIERRE FATUMBI VERGER, i, Corrupio Publisher, 1985
  • PIERRE FATUMBI VERGER, Orixás, Corrupio Publisher/Circulo do Livro, 1986
  • PIERRE FATUMBI VERGER, Flux and Reflux of the Slave Traffic between the Benin Gulf and the Todos os Santos Bay (XVIIth to XIXth centuries), Corrupio Publisher, 1987
  • REGINALDO PRANDI and VAGNER GONÇALVES, Tribal Gods in São Paulo, Science Today, vol. 10/no. 57
  • ROGER BASTIDE, The Candomblé of Bahia, Companhia Editora Nacional Publisher, 1978
  • ROGER BASTIDE, The African Religions in Brazil, Livraria Pioneira Publisher, 1985
  • ZORA SELJAM, Three Xangô Women, IBASA/MEC, 1958


CARMINHA LEVY is an educator, clinical psychologist of Jungian orientation and art-therapist. Mrs. Levy has been dedicating herself since 1981 to the spreading of Shamanism in Brazil with Michael Harner's technique, with whom she made the following courses: The Shamanic Journey, Power and Healing, and Two-Week Advanced Course in Shamanism and Shamanic Healing, both at the Esalen Institute, Big Sur - California, USA. Also at the Esalen Institute, she was a pupil of Stanislav Grof, with whom she had a Transpersonal Therapy course.

Presently, Mrs. Levy dedicates herself to spreading the Afro-Brazilian Shamanism abroad.

In the spring of 1990, Mrs. Levy founded the Paz Géia Institute of Shamanic Research, whose objective is the study, research and disclosing of the Indian-Afro-Brazilian and South American Shamanism.

Mrs. Levy is also a member of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies, based in Norwalk, Connecticut, USA.

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