The orisa Ogun is referred to as Osin Imale, Chief among the orisas. One of the first divinities to walk the earth, it was with his cutlass that he cleared a pathway through the thick impenetrable bush on earth when the first orisa were trying to inhabit it. He is known as the owner of iron and steel; in fact all metals and alloys are owned by him. He is the patron of all blacksmiths and iron workers, roadway and rail workers, firemen, policemen, hunters, soldiers, anyone who uses the roadways, anyone dealing with tools, as an artisan, or implements of war propitiates Ogun, asking for his help before undertaking any task or battle to escape disaster. He opens our roads both materially and spiritually, in both material endeavors such as business and in warfare, earthly or heavenly.
Ogun is depicted in verse and icon as carrying two cutlass or machete. One is used for farming the land and the other for clearing paths or roadways: Ogun alada meji, o fi okan sako, ofi ekeji ye ona.
Though a fierce and victorious warrior, he is also known as an orisa of indispensable talent during times of peace as he is the maker of hoes and farm tools for use in cultivating the land. Because of his talent as the greatest blacksmith on earth, he is known as The God Of Iron.
It is Ogun who remains undefeated in battle both in heaven and on earth. According to oral history he was married to a woman named Ijaa, and she was also a great warrioress who followed Ogun into every one of his battles to support him and fight by his side. Warriors and soldiers summon his spirit before they go into battle so they may conquer their enemy. Hunters also make offering to Ogun before they go into the forest to hunt for food, asking for his protection from harm and to also ensure they are successful. He is known for his love of charms and he is known as having the power to multiply whatever he wishes in quantity, an oriki praises him as having the power to make one fish into two. Hunters typically cover themselves in charms before they go into the bush to ensure not only their safety but also a productive hunt. Ogun also fashioned the first fish hooks for fishing and every market square has a place reserved for Ogun and Esu, as Ogun was the first orisa to inaugurate a market for the diviners to be able to trade amongst themselves. You might not even find the simple shrine unless you carefully observe the area, but with certainty every market in Yorubaland has a place to put offerings for Ogun on their premises.
Praise oriki depict Ogun thus:
Ogun lakaye: The indispensable one, known everywhere.
Olomi ni le fi eje we: One who has water, but chooses to bathe with blood.
O laso ni le fi imo bo ra: One who has cloth, but chooses to wear palm leaves.
Though depicted as having a rather brutish and crude, gruff temperament with a ferocious need for blood, Ogun in actuality is an orisa who despises injustice, betrayal and people who do not play by the rules or bend them to their whim. In fact, in Yorubaland it is known that if one swears or takes an oath in the name of Ogun, they are risking swift and mighty justice if they in fact are lying, as Ogun will either strike them dead or leave the unfortunate liar or miscreant partially or totally deformed with a physical affliction. There is a popular saying that it is better that one should not break an oath or promise if it has been given to Ogun. So Ogun’s boldness and ferocious temper is not aimed at those who are doing good, but rather at those who are behaving badly in life and causing misfortune for others. It is Ogun who will go to fight for the weak, disadvantaged and those who have been mistreated by others with no morals and sense of right and wrong. Ogun Ye O! Omo Ogun must always live their lives in uprightness, treat others fairly, not tolerate injustice, and exercise great patience with others.
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