Ayao: The Goddess of the Whirlwind

Ayao is the orisha of the whirlwind, and is Oya’s younger sister. Just like her sister, Ayao is powerful, fierce, and smart. Beyond just being part of wind, whirlwinds are seen as a part of witchcraft and magical power. Ayao’s biggest ally is Osanyin, who is an orisha of plants. Because of this alliance, Ayao is also knowledgeable about botanics. 

Ayao is a lesser-known deity in Yoruba religion, which finds its origins in the heart of West Africa. With her power, she commands the forces of the wind and is capable of nurturing restoration or unleashing ruin through hurricanes and tornadoes. Her persona exudes strength, resilience, and adaptability, mirroring the bond that she has with the winds. Even though she is lesser-known, Ayao is an enigmatic force, a guardian of winds and storms, and an emblem of transformative power. She is a reminder of nature’s majesty with every gust of wind. 

Overview of Ayao 

Ayao directing the wind

Source – Children of Blood and Bone

Ayao, which could also be spelt Arya or Ayrao, is one of the lesser known orisha in the religion of Yoruba. The people of Yoruba typically originate in West Africa, coming from Nigeria, Benin, and Togo. In this religion, there are complex deities that are called orishas, who all have very unique characteristics. 

Ayao is associated with the wind, storms, and the air. She holds power over the wind in all capacities and could cause a hurricane or a tornado. She is believed to have the ability to cause restorative and destructive winds, showing the dual influence that weather has. 

Ayao is often looked to for protection against destructive winds and storms. She is also sought out for guidance when it comes to personal matters when it comes to change, transformation, and inner strength. 


  • Goddess of the Wind
  • Goddess of Storm
  • Goddess of the Air


The most prominent ability of Ayao is her ability to control the wind and storms. She is able to manipulate the wind, storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other powerful things within the atmosphere. She is able to bring both restorative and destructive winds. She is also sought out when her worshippers want to seek protection from natural disasters, especially concerning the wind. 

Wind is also associated with change and transformation, and Ayao’s ability to control this part of nature gives her insight on helping with life’s changes individually. 


Ayao with swirls behind her

Source – Children of Blood and Bone

Ayao is fierce, powerful, and smart. Since Ayao is a lesser goddess, there is less specific information about her. But she is usually depicted as being powerful because of her connection to the winds. Some of her representations show her duality with nature and how she can live in harmony with the restorative and destructive qualities. 


Ayao is seen as being very resilient. Because she has a strong bond with the winds, it reflects in a personality that is able to encourage strength in the face of adversity. She is seen as someone that is able to transform and change. She welcomes these concepts. She is also dualistic and dynamic, meaning that she is able to be energetic, forceful, and unpredictable, while at the same time, bringing both destructive and restorative traits. 


Oya or Ayao directing a storm

Source – Cookie Pantheon

Ayao is often depicted with symbols that have to do with the wind, storms, or tornadoes. Ayao is most often associated with powerful whirlwinds and tornadoes. She is also sometimes depicted holding a horsewhip or a cane, which represents her ability to control the wind and direct storms. She is also sometimes seen with a fan or a broom, which symbolizes her ability to sweep away negativity or unwanted influences with a storm. The colors associated with Ayao are blue and white. Blue represents the sky and the wind, while white represents her divine power. 

Festivals and Rituals 

Yoruba festival

Source – Pinterest

Oya, who is Ayao’s older sister and the Yoruba goddess associated with wind, storms, and transformation, is often celebrated with Ayao. There is no specific festival for Ayao, but she is celebrated in conjunction with her sister. 

Final thoughts

In the realm of Yoruba spirituality, Ayao stands as a testament to the intricate and diverse amount of deities that shape the cultural landscape. Her role as the orisha of the whirlwind,  exemplifies the Yoruba belief in the interconnectedness of the seen and unseen worlds. With her sisterly alliance to Oya and her profound connection to Osanyin, Ayao embodies the harmony and balance sought in the face of life’s tempests.

As devotees celebrate Oya’s festivals, Ayao’s presence lingers, a reminder of the hidden powers that shape existence. Her symbols, from swirling tornadoes to cleansing brooms, encapsulate her multifaceted nature—destructive yet restorative, forceful yet compassionate. Through Ayao’s essence, Yoruba culture pays homage to the winds of change, finding strength in transformation, and solace in the heart of storms. In this, Ayao becomes more than a deity; she becomes a metaphor for the human journey, ever-evolving and guided by forces both gentle and fierce.

References – 

Occult World 

Hazbin Gods _ Ayao

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