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Olosi...the devil?

To: alt.religion.orisha,alt.magick.tyagi
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Re: Olosi...the devil?
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 03:49:45 GMT

OmiJuba wrote:
> I was wondering if anyone could share any information they have on 
> Olosi. Is he really what we would call the devil in Ocha? Why don't we 
> know more of him? Why is he shrouded in secrecy? The only information 
> I was able to find on Olosi is this...
> Against the forces of light, there is darkness and gloom; at the 
> beginning of creation, there is destruction; and before order there is 
> chaos and confusion.
> These concepts were known to the Yoruba, who attributed these
> characteristics of what we know as the devil to Olosi.
> Olosi was created by Olodumare, who gave him powers, intelligence, 
> autonomy and physical perfection, as well as the invaluable gift of 
> immortality. but this first being to inhabit the Earth felt powerful 
> and beautiful and wanted to make his intelligence prevail over the 
> intelligence of Olodumare himself. His pride and vanity grew until 
> Olodumare became angry and wanted to punish him with fire. Olosi 
> therefore took refuge inside the Earth, carrying with him the fire 
> that menaced him. Thereafter he adapted his currant name, denying his 
> first name, Omo Oba. Ever since, he has tried to cause men to deviate 
> from good, attempting to awake in them a rebellious nature and evil
> thoughts and actions, estranging them from the First Cause.
> This information comes from "The Tarot of the Orisha" book and I 
> don't consider it good reference material.
> I am very curious to know more so if anyone can share with me, 
> please  do.

I too would be interested to hear more on this entity. The story as
related certainly sounds Judeo-Christian Thanks for your candor in
noting that the book you got this from is not good reference material! 

cat yronwode 

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From: (E. C. Ballard)
Newsgroups: alt.religion.orisha,alt.magick.tyagi
Subject: Re: Olosi...the devil?
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 12:02:41 -0500
Organization: University of Pennsylvania
Lines: 14
References:  <>
Xref: alt.religion.orisha:7243 alt.magick.tyagi:24879

I think Cat is very on target with her remarks about Olosi. It appears
that Olosi is the result of Christian influence in the 19th century. There
is no extensive literature on Olosi and mostly he exists in Cuban
literature. In Brazil, Exu has been cast in the image of the devil and in
the bible written in Yoruba it is also Exu whse name is used for that of
the devil.


E. C. Ballard

Debajo del Laurel yo tengo mi confianza

From: jake 
Newsgroups: alt.religion.orisha,alt.magick.tyagi
Subject: Re: Olosi...the devil?
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 19:39:21 +0100
Organization: kiblah
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In article , E. C.
Ballard  writes
>I think Cat is very on target with her remarks about Olosi. It appears
>that Olosi is the result of Christian influence in the 19th century. There
>is no extensive literature on Olosi and mostly he exists in Cuban
>literature. In Brazil, Exu has been cast in the image of the devil and in
>the bible written in Yoruba it is also Exu whse name is used for that of
>the devil.

The syncretism of Exu's with Grimoireum Verum spirits in Brazil is a
perennial fascination of mine. I'd be very interested if anyone has
information in addition to that in Teixeira Alves Neto's 'Pomba Gira'


The Gnostic Alchemical Church  of Typhon-Christ

Ye Olde Goat's Shoppe

All events and institutions other than those 
portrayed in this Journal are fictitious

From: (E. C. Ballard)
Newsgroups: alt.religion.orisha,alt.magick.tyagi
Subject: Re: Olosi...the devil?
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 18:34:16 -0500
Organization: University of Pennsylvania
Lines: 16
References:  <>  
Xref: alt.religion.orisha:7252 alt.magick.tyagi:24894


Nothing in English but if you can read French, check out Stefania Capone's
"La quête de l'Afrique dans le candomblé: Pouvoir et tradition au Brésil."
1999. Éditions Karthala. Paris.

It contains some interesting discussions of Exu and Pompa Gira (ultimately
an Angolan deity and not Exu at all).


E. C. Ballard

Debajo del Laurel yo tengo mi confianza

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From: catherine yronwode 
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~From: Baba Osundiya 
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~Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 21:13:56 GMT
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Alaafia! Good to see you here!

This question has come up in other circles and I have yet to hear
either a) an Ifa traditional practitioner or b) someone born native to
Yorubaland (and who is not Xtian or Muslim) agree with this idea. It
has been said by so many Yoruba people - in print and in conversation -
that the concept of a Devil is alien to the Yoruba culture, as is a
concept of Hell.

These seem to be, in my opinion, inventions that have sources from
alien religions and their impact on the Yoruba culture. I am NOT a
linguist, nor am I fluent in Yoruba. However, I believe that the word
would mean "Owner of the Left". Obviously, if one considers the left
hand path as it is commonly identified by those outside of its
parameters, this may be an allusion to a devil-esque figure.

However, we should also consider that within the word Osoosi we have
the same implication - the left side. This is sometimes translated as
the left handed sorcerer or the magician of the left/left side. I don't
think Osoosi has any ties to evil. In fact, some folks suggest that he
doesn't do magic at all, but battles the Iyaami. I don't agree with the
last assertion, but it has been presented.

If one takes the Opon Ifa into consideration, the Otun-Opon is the
right side of the Opon Ifa, while the Osi-Opon is the left side. The
Otun-Opon is ruled by the sacred Odu Ifa Ogbe, while the Osi-Opon is
ruled by the sacred Odu Ifa Oyeku.

Ogbe = light, rules the forces that govern the day, illuminates,
reveals, things are revealed in its light, the senior masculine force
in the Universe, etc. It is comprised of all "open" segments:


Four points of light, all open, all revealing.

Oyeku = darkness, the ultimate unknown, the forces of the night (not
inherently to be called "evil", but perhaps elusive in nature),
blockages, Ancestral energies, the senior feminine force in the
Universe, etc. It is a feminine energy that is both elusive and
obscured. It is comprised of all four "closed" segments.


The left hand path, or the left side of the Opon (which has a host of
other symbols and metaphysical implications), is that which is obscured
from view, that which is not readily revealed. It is the veil that
shrouds one's understanding. It is also the portal through which one is
transformed and returned to Orun (Heaven).

The idea of presenting those metaphysical elements akin to the Osi-Opon
(which reflects the left side of all of life micro and
macrocosmically) "evil" or the "devil" is, in my opinion, the mark of a
Xtian society that damns what it fails to understand. This is the same
flawed logic that has condemned the Iyaami as evil, destructive forces
that are able to do no good and should be avoided at all cost. This is
ignorant of the nature of this feminine power and its full potential -
both productive and non-productive.

It would seem to me that the Olosi idea comes from a similar
misunderstanding and subsequent damning. I could be way off here, but
that's my lengthy two cents!

See you on your great forum!

Ire O,

Sent via
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