Ella Mesma Company


Spelled Òrìṣà in Yoruba, Orisha in Cuba and Orixá in Brazil, Orishas are gods that reflect the manifestations of the Supreme God / the All Father Olodumare or Olofi.

Different Orisha may have different preferred colours, foods, saints and objects as well as their own characteristics, stories, dances and rhythms.

The Orishas focused on in Ladylike (shown below in artwork by Hugo Canuto) are:

Òrìṣà/Orishas/Orixás: Changó (Shangó)

Chango is the owner of fire, lightning, thunder, and war, but he is also the patron of music, drumming, and dancing. He represents male beauty and virility, passion and power. His colours are red and white, and his eleke (sacred necklace) is made of alternating red and white beads. He had three wives, namely Oshun, Oba, and Oya. Oya is his favourite wife.

Òrìṣà/Orishas/Orixás: Oshun (Osun)

Oshun is an deity of the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria. Oshun is commonly called the river orisha, or goddess, in the Yoruba religion and is typically associated with water, purity, fertility, love, and sensuality. Like other gods, she possesses human attributes such as vanity, jealousy, and spite. Oshun gave birth to twins with Shango. When Shango heard the news that Oshun had given birth to the Ibeyi (twins), afraid of what Oya might do to these children, (since she had borne him no children), he decided to take these children from Oshun and leave them with his mother Yemaya. He took the children without a word to Oshun. Upon her return, Oshun found her children gone and knowing that Shango would help her find them, left to find her babies.

Òrìṣà/Orishas/Orixás: Oya (Yansá)

Oya is an Orisha of winds, lightning, and violent storms, death and rebirth. She is similar to the Haitian God Maman Brigitte, who is syncretised with the Catholic Saint Brigit. In Candomblé, Oya is known as Oiá, lyá Mésàn, or most commonly, Iansã, from the Yoruba Yánsán. Iansã, as in Yoruba religion, commands winds, storms, and lightning. In Yoruba, the name Oya literally means ‘She tore’. She is also known as Ọya-Iyansan – the ‘mother of nine’. This is due to the Niger River (known to the Yoruba as the Odo-Ọya) which has nine tributaries.

Òrìṣà/Orishas/Orixás: Oba (Obá)

Oba is the Orisha of the River Oba, whose source lays near Igbon, where her worship originates. She is traditionally identified as the first wife of Shango (the third king of the Oyo Empire and an Orisha). Oba was tricked by Oya or Oshun into cutting off her ear and trying to feed it to Shango.

The Orishas focused on in Foreign Bodies are:


Osumare is the spirit of the rainbow and the serpent. Genderless, they represent regeneration and rebirth. Osumare is the spirit of the rainbow and the roadway to unleashing divine consciousness. Osumare  represents both masculine and feminine energies with an ability to change sex. Osumare is in essence an archetypal representation of kundalini energy and the chakras. The divine rainbow serpent provides us with the opportunity to connect with our destiny by traveling through the inner self. This powerful Orisha provides an infinite gateway of immense power.


Iemanja is the mother and represents the sea. She can be swift, loving, benign and vicious. She is soft like the breeze of the waves and destructive like the storm of the ocean.


Strongly is associated with infectious disease and also healing, Omolu is sometimes referred to as the “Wrath of the supreme god.”


Commonly called the river orisha, or goddess, is associated with water, fertility, and love.


Is a warrior known as the god of war, pathways and community, It is under the possession of Ogun that Toussaint Louverture is said to have led the slave revolt in Haiti. Ogun is syncretised with St Anthony.

The Orixas in Orixàs include:

Oya, Ogun, Xango, Ochun (as above) and


Oxóssi is the spirit associated with the hunt, forests, animals, and wealth. His colour is Green. He is the orixa of contemplation, loving the arts and beautiful things. He hunts with a bow and arrow (called an ofá), hunting for good influences and positive energies. His role as an often solitary figure in the wilderness lends him another role as a shaman. Oxossi is connected with all hunter cultures as well as the caboclos in Brazil known as the spirits of the native American dead, as well as the nature spirits of the forest.