Oshun Fought for Equality

Central to Yoruba culture are 256 stories of Ifa which arrange a mythology for educational, spiritual and divinational reasons. This is one of those stories.

Long ago when movement between heaven and earth was very easy, Olodumare sent 400 male primordial spirits, and 1 female primordial spirits, Oshun to Earth to make it suitable for human habitation. After a successful journey to Earth, the male primordial spirits set about the task which they had all been appointed to do. They excluded Oshun. They never asked for opinion in their discussions and refused her request to participate in what they were doing.

For aw hile everything went smoothly for the male primordial spirits. Then it dawned on Oshun that she needed to change the situation. Convinced that she had a good point, Oshun took her complaint to Olodumare. When she reached heaven she explained how her male colleagues had left her out of the decision making process and that she felt that she was not part of the group preparing Earth for habitation. When Oshun finished her story, Olodumare gave her the special power of Ase, a universal energy which facilitates magic.. With this Oshun could achieve whatever she wished.

With this newly acquired power, Oshun returned to Earth. She felt secure in herself and was determined to demand due respect from the male primordial spirits. As usual the male primordial spirits continued to do the tasks set by Olodumare without regard to Oshun. However they were in for a big surprise. Suddenly everything around them went chaotic. Nothing they did worked anymore. Nothing worked properly because Oshun was at work with her secret insurmountable power. Oshun was busy thwarting the effiorts of the male primordial spirits as they worked to develop the Earth. The crops they planted failed, the roads they had previously constructed fell apart and all their efforts to rebuild them came to nothing. Actually everything went haywire for the male primordial spirits. Eventually they realized that the problems they were having needed an urgent solution and they went back to Olodumare to tell him what was happening.

They left for heaven without even telling Oshun. They did not invite her, or even tell her about their problems. When they got to heaven, they told Olodumare about all their problems and complained that they had been given an impossible task. "What about the only woman amongst you? Did you include her in your deliberations? Did you ever seek out her opinions? Did you seek her advice? Did you treat her as an equal?" No, the male primordial spirits replied and Olodumare told them to return to Earth and ask Oshun for her forgiveness and then get on with their tasks.

When they got back to Earth they apologized to Oshun and asked her for forgiveness. Then they returned to their tasks, carrying on from where they had left off. Miraculously things started to work properly and they praised the spirits. Surprised and happy that they were able to correct their inadvertent mistakes they chanted in unison:

We give our reverence to Oshun, the unseen Mother ever present at all gatherings and meetings. We give our reverence to Oshun.

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