Salve Brazil!: From Spiritism to Umbanda, Candomble, Quimbanda
Delve into a fascinating cultural force and deeply spiritual tradition that comprises the axe--power--of Brazilian magickal religions. Followers of all paths will find something unique to incorporate into their lives.
Last time I promised I would start going through all of the orixás one-by-one, giving you their characteristics and more information. So today I’m starting with OGUM
Those of you who speak Spanish will know this formidable orixá as OGUN. However, in Portuguese, it is spelled with an “m.” Both “m” and “n” are not pronounced like actual letters at the end of a word or syllable; rather, they are signs of nasalization of the previous vowel. So you pronounce the name like Ogoo as in fool without the l and like you’re speaking through your nose. You never actually close your mouth over the “m.”
Ogum is the orixá of war, a kind of Aries/Mars figure. They say of him that in the great battlefield of life, he is the Field Marshall. I have certainly felt like I’ve needed a field marshall to gallop to my aid in getting these blogs posted!
He is a protector entity, so you will see his statue in small stores, usually on a shelf above and behind the counter, often with a votive candle burning by his image. In Roman Catholicism, he is syncretized with São Jorge, St. George, the Dragonslayer. So you will see him helmeted with a sword astride a white horse.
Ogum represents the uncontrollably dominating force of movement. Although he is severe, bellicose, rigid and all-controlling, sometimes even to the point of cruelty, he is the most responsible of the orixás, which is saying quite a lot.
He strives to keep his family safe and secure and together, which is something that the poor and destitute have a difficult time managing. Thus he proves himself to be a compassionate, understanding father figure and a noble lord. He will shame absent fathers into coming back into the fold and taking care of his wife and children.
Ogum also commands respect as the guardian of agriculture and what is known as the “black volcano,” from which he forges steel and iron.
People usually feel his presence at intense moments in life—like when you’re on an airplane that has to make a hard landing or when you see a car barreling toward you on the road. He is often present at the moment of death. His is the sharp cry of anger or pain, the clanging of the fire engine that shatters the stillness of the night, the sound of the jack hammers pounding away at erecting buildings, the detonation of a bomb. His home is the automotive plant, the barracks, the arms factory and the workshop.
Ogum protects soldiers, construction workers, dentists, truck and bus drivers, anyone who must assay a long journey. Call upon him when you find yourself in danger.
More on his foods, dress and other characteristics in my next blog. Hopefully this photo of him will post as well.
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