Oya: The Yoruba Rain Goddess

Oya, the Yoruba Rain Goddess is known for her fiery spirit and being a powerful goddess in charge of storms. She has a very fierce warrior nature, but is also in charge of spirits and guarding the cemeteries. She is compassionate while staying strong. She is honest and true, and is also known for being a businesswoman that people still go to for success in their own business endeavors. Oya is still known as the goddess of the Niger River in Africa. Oya is seen as the protector and guardian of the river that is a vital source of life for the people that live among its banks. She is a protector of those who rely on the river, and is also a powerful symbol here of life and renewal. 

Overview of Oya 

Oya wielding lightning

Source – Oya AboutSanteria

Oya, who is also well known as Oia, is a very popular goddess and deity in Yoruba mythology. Those who are devoted to Oya are from the lands of Yoruba, but are especially prominent in Nigeria, Benin and Togo. She is the goddess of lightning, wind and storms. She is associated with destruction and overall transformation. Oya’s genealogy can be traced to the goddess of the sea, Yemaja. Oya is known for being a powerful warrior and for her courage in battles. Oya is the daughter of Obatala, who is the god of creation, and is also the favorite wife to Sango, who is the god of thunder and lightning. Together, the couple is not to be crossed, with her wind being used to ignite fire. 


  • Goddess of Wind
  • Goddess of Storms
  • Goddess of Lightning
  • Goddess of Rain


Oya is most commonly known as a strong warrior who is able to summon the wind, either in gentle storms or extreme hurricanes, depending on her mood. Oya is also a force to be taken seriously because she is able to also summon armies of the dead to help protect her as she goes into battle. The power that she wields over the elements makes her a very popular orisha for those who are wanting to seek protection from storms. 

Change and transformation – Oya is seen as the goddess who has the ability to bring about change and transformation. Oya is the protector of the dead and cemeteries. She watches over the resting dead and guards these spaces because she is partially with the people in the living world and partially with the deceased.  She is known for being deeply connected to those who have passed and is said to be the one to guide the dead from the cemetery to their eternal resting place. 

Since she is also seen as a goddess of rain, she is also known for the fertility of the earth. She is often prayed to and called upon in times of drought or when the crops are failing. Rain and the abundance of rain are things that Oya is known for having power over.

Honesty and integrity are very important to Oya, and she oversees the transactions that take place in the markets. She is a businesswoman, and looks out for con artists and swindlers. Her connection to the market makes her very popular among traders, who often seek her blessing and ask for success in their businesses. 


Oya slashing through a field

Source – Life 

Oya is known as being a fierce and striking goddess, because of her fierce and protective nature. She is depicted as being a tall woman, usually wearing a burgundy dress with a dress skirt that is woven with nine different colored cloths. On her arms, she also wears nine copper bracelets and a beaded eleke that contains dark brown and red beads that have black and white dots on them. She is often shown dancing as her skirt flows in the breeze as it spins. She is someone that is never shown wearing black.

Oya is also usually depicted as wearing a nine-point crown with nine charms. These charms contain a shovel, a lightning bolt, a pick, an ax, a hoe, a rake, a mattock, a scythe, and a gourd. Her connection to the earth is seen in her colors of purple and brown. 


Oya is seen as being a very fiery and protective orisha. She is compassionate, but make sure to think twice before crossing her. She has the ability to create a gentle wind or a hurricane, and will use her powers if someone angers her. She is very protective of the spirits and the dead and is extremely caring during this time period in the life cycle. 


Oya protected the spirits and the dead

Source – Pulse 

Oya is often seen with a fan in one hand and a sword in the other. The fan is said to have the power to control winds and bring storms if needed. The sword is seen as something that is able to slice through the obstacles of life while also bringing about change. She is also associated with a lightning bolt, which represents how she is able to summon winds and storms. Masks are another symbol of Oya. These represent her connection to the spirits of the dead, while gravestones are symbols of the role Oya plays as protectors of the cemeteries. 

There are also a few animals that are symbolic to Oya’s personality and her nature. Birds symbolize her ability to see all things and soar above, while the bat represents her deep connection to the spiritual realm. The deer represents how Oya is gentle and loves nature, and the insects show how she is able to transform and adapt to different situations. The water buffalo symbolizes her strength and determination. These different symbolic animals are often used in various Oya rituals and ceremonies. 

Festivals and Rituals 

Woman in African dress celebrating Oya

Source – Heritage 

The most powerful time to worship Oya is during a storm. Oya enjoys dark-colored and sweet foods. Be sure to have some chocolate, eggplant, beets, purple grapes, or wine. When the rain is falling and she sees that a storm is brewing, begin by placing a handkerchief on your altar table. Then place a sweep away/Oya candle in the middle of the handkerchief. Then anoint the candle with Pennyroyal oil on the altar. In Cuba, her feast day is February 2nd. A feast day is a day of celebration that is assigned by the church. 

Legends associated with Oya

Oya has many legends associated with the powers she holds over the wind. The legends here have to do with her relationships with some of the orishas and tell a little bit about her personality and the goddess she is. 

Origin story 

Oya and Shango

Source – Original Botanica 

Oya is traced back to being the daughter of Yemaja, who is the goddess of the sea. She is also the daughter of Obatala, who is the god of creation. So, she is born from the god of creation and the goddess of the sea. 

Oya and Her Children 

Oya in a rainstorm

Source – Life

When Oya decided that she wanted to have children, she found herself in the position of not being able to bear one. When this occurred, she decided to seek advice from Babalawo, who is a man capable of divination aided by the orishas, and she was told that she had to make a food offering, or an ebo. This offering contained lamb, buzios (shells used for divination), and she was to wear colorful clothes. 

She did what she was told to do, and then she was able to get pregnant. But, not just once – she got pregnant nine times, with nine children. And from then on, her and her children were forbidden to eat lamb meat. The animal then became a symbol of her respect for being able to become pregnant for the first time. 

 The Legend of Oya and the Magic Wand 

Oya in battle causing lightning

Source – Original Botanica 

In a popular legend, Oya and Ogun were married. Ogun is a powerful warrior and orisha of metal. In this story, Ogun found a magic wand that was able to split men into seven parts and women into nine different parts. He then gave this wand to Oya. Afterwards, they broke up, and Oya married Shango. Ogun was very angry and eventually found where Oya and Shango were hiding out. Shango and Ogun fought, and Ogun won the battle. After this battle, he touched Oya with her wand, and then she touched Ogun with it. Ogun was then split into seven parts under the name Ogun Meje, and Oya was split into nine parts and was given the name Iansa. This signifies her abilities to transform and change.

Oya – The Most Powerful Orisha 

Oya in a storm

Source – Pinterest 

Oya was very wise, and she wanted to have as much power as she possibly could. She decided to gain power from each of the male orishas by seducing them one by one. 

The first was Ogun, and he was a blacksmith. From him she learned about wielding a sword so that she would be able to protect those that needed her. Next was Oshaguia, and from him she learned about protecting herself and wielding a shield. The third was Eshu, who was a trickster, and she had to learn to outsmart him. From him she learned how to use fire and magic. The fourth one was Ochossi, the hunter. He taught her how to feed her children using a bow and arrow. The sixth was Omulu, and she did not learn anything from him. He was very mysterious and her seductions did not work. The seventh was Shango, the king. She fell in love with him, and learned how to act with justice. This is how she became the most powerful orisha. 

Influences of other religions/cultures on Oya

In some traditions, Oya is directly related to Saint Theresa, the Catholic saint. Both St. Theresa and Oya’s feast day are celebrated on February 2nd, and they share other similarities. Oya is known as being a fierce warrior and being a protector of the dead, where St. Theresa is known for her fiery passion for God. 

Modern appearances 

Oya in the river

Source – Original Botanica

She is still revered by the people of Yoruba and has also gained popularity in many other places around the world. The importance of this Yoruba goddess has flooded into other African diaspora traditions, such as Santeria, Candomble, and Vodou, where she is more oftenly associated with the spirit of storm and transformation. 

Oya is still known as the goddess of the Niger River in Africa. Oya is seen as the protector and guardian of the river that is a vital source of life for the people that live among its banks. She is a protector of those who rely on the river, and is also a powerful symbol here of life and renewal. 

In modern popular culture, Oya has been portrayed in various forms of literature and films. Sometimes she is described as a seductress or trickster, while other times she is seen as a powerful and independent woman. 

In the Marvel Comics, the character of Storm is very closely related to Oya. Storm is a mutant with full control over the weather. Oya and Storm are both able to bring storms and control the winds and are seen as being strong and independent women.

Final thoughts

Overall, Oya is a very powerful and fiery goddess in Yoruba culture. She is known for many things, but is mostly known for her ability to control the wind and storms. She symbolizes change, transformation, honesty, and cunningness. She is still widely popular around the world and is known as the protector of the Niger River in Africa. 

References – 

Oya, The Yoruba Rain Goddess

Orisha Oya: Ruler of Storms and the Wind

Oya Orisha – The Powerful Yoruba Goddess of Storms

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