African Spirituality and Tradition

Oko: God of Farming

Oko is used in Yoruba to refer to the god of farming, agriculture, and fertility. It is believed that Oko came to earth and lived on a small farm where he grew some of the most beautiful and delicious fruits and vegetables. One day, he disappeared, leaving nothing but his staff stuck in the ground. When the people saw the staff in the ground and realized his gift with agriculture, they knew he must have been a god. The staff later became a phallic symbol to represent fertility. The Yoruba community made a holiday just before the rainy season devoted to Oko, where men are encouraged to be a little more friendly with the local women.

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Ibeji: Twin Figures of the Orishas

Ibeji, as an Orisha, represents a pair of twins that include a boy and a girl in the Yoruba people. They usually resemble a small boy but are really powerful spirits in the guise of children. According to Yoruba culture and spirituality, twins are believed to be magical and are granted protection by Shango. They are supposed to bring joy, vitality, prosperity, good health, and good fortune and are invoked to protect all children. In the diasporic Yoruba spirituality of Latin America, Ibeji is syncretized with Saints Cosmas and Damian. If one twin should die, it represents bad fortune for the parents and the society they belong to. They protect every child. Depending on the myth, Ibjei’s parents change and may be Oshun and Oshossi, Oshun and Shango, or Oya and Shango.

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The Yoruba God Ogun

Ogun is a primordial Orisha, the god of war and iron, who was initially a human hunter named Tobe Ode. He is a blacksmith but presides over every activity where iron is used, such as for cultivating, cutlasses for reaping, guns for hunting, cars for traveling, and so on.

Ogun and the other gods climbed down to Earth in Yoruba lore on a spiderweb. When creation was completed, the gods realized that people needed to clear more land in the forest where they lived.

Unfortunately, the only tools available were soft metal, a material unsuitable for cutting down trees. Luckily, Orunmila, son of the supreme god Olorun, gave Ogun the secret of the iron. He used that knowledge to forge an iron axe and clear the forest. He later shared the secret of iron with the other gods and humans. He showed them how to shape iron into weapons. It is also said that he made a path through the Earth for the gods with an assistance of a dog and an axe. He is also known for his rum-making abilities.

Characteristics of Ogun

He is known for his creativity and destructive nature, which amounts to the misunderstood nature of his aura. Ogun’s personality is also seen as “doglike”- aggressive, able to face danger, and straightforward. He also carries out the repercussions of man’s actions when he breaks the laws of nature. Because of this, he is often feared. Nonetheless, Ogun comes to the plight of his followers, blessing and protecting them when called on.

Traditionally, Ogun’s colors are green, red, and black.
Traditional offerings to Ogun include sacrifices such as Canarias Submarginatus, a species of Catfish, kola nuts, alligator pepper, palm wine, and red palm oil. Additionally, small rats, roosters, salt, snails, tortoise, water, and yams can be offered to Ogun.


Voodoo and Hoodoo: How are they Different

Voodoo and Hoodoo may sound the same but are worlds apart. Often mistaken for each other, the two are frequently associated with words such as magic, witchcraft, and the dark arts.
Voodoo and Hoodoo have deep pasts and are interested in offering a rich understanding of spirituality and unworldly beings for all who wish to study them.
Of course, it is easy to mix the two up, so here are all the differences between the two traditions.

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Hoodoo Conjure In An Enslaved Culture

The enslaved culture is not as well-documented as it should be, mainly because over 20 million enslaved Africans arrived in the Americas. They brought with them their religions, beliefs, and traditions. When we talk about West African religions, we must remember that we are talking about Ghana, Botswana, and Sierra Leone.

The genius of the many enslaved people of South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana has been long forgotten. History has failed to do justice to them. The enslaved people developed an arcane art amid the terror. It helped ease their burden of living. Hoodoo conjure is what it was called. Other names for the post-slavery era term include tricking and rootwork. Hoodoo mustn’t be confused with Voodoo, a religion that mixes the magical practices of Western African tribes and Christianity. Unlike Orisa, Lucumi, Santeria, and Palo Mayombe, which are practiced in the Caribbean, Hoodoo is unique to America.

There is no need for one to be initiated into Hoodoo. It is not a place of worship or a religious hierarchy. Hoodoo emerged as a cure to survive. Even though the environment was completely different from the continent, enslaved people in the South learned to adapt to it. Took advantage of the magical properties of streams, soils, animals, stones, trees, and plants they came into contact with. The burial ground was left untouched as it was believed to be sacred in Africa. It was weaponized for both good and bad at the plantations. Graveyard dirt was used in the work.

The enslaved people recognized their station by understanding the Bible and rationalized their right to fight against their oppressors. They reversed the spell of subservience by invoking the very Bible the clergy told them to adhere to. Many of the Hoodoo conjurors took advantage of the verses of the Book of Matthew, the Book of Psalms, Leviticus, and the Songs of Solomon for spell work. Hoodoo conjure was born out of unspeakable horror. The conjuror was highly respected at the plantations regardless of their gender. They would cast spells for love, vengeance, and protection. The conjurors even used herbs for healing the sick. Hence, they are referred to as rootworkers. They served as the backbone of most slave rebellions.

The Underground Railroad helped free enslaved people developed by Harriet Tubman, a conjuror. She was a conjure woman who was highly gifted and used her talent to heal folks. In fact, folks in the mid-19th century believed that she possessed supernatural powers. She used to walk around the graveyard at midnight and pray while gathering herbs. Hoodoo conjurers are replete with slave culture. Casas Jack is another conjuror who purchased his freedom and planned a sweeping revolt by using the Old Testament to incite the passions of freemen and runaway enslaved people.

Hoodoo conjure is still practiced in the Deep South, especially in New Orleans. However, it is not easy to find an authentic conjuror. There is a lot of pain and suffering that went into Hoodoo conjure.