It’s Veteran’s Day today in the U.S., and it’s only fitting that I talk about the African God of War,Ogun. I thought about writing a fictional post about what would happen in a Gods only throwdown death battle between Thor and Ogun, but I decided they’d probably get along pretty well and after some well placed blows would just end up drinking. So I will leave that story for another day.
Ogun is a protector, a healer, a warrior. Vitality is the key to deciphering the many aspects of Ogun. He is the Orisha (God) of metals, the mighty lord of iron, the operator of the divine forge. By extension from his role as creator of tools, he is the father of all technology, and the patron saint of surgery. He is credited with a direct role in bringing civilization into being. Legend has it that when the gods first came to Earth their path was obstructed by dense shrubbery, but Ogun with his signature machete cut quickly through the obstacles. Justice and ethics are synonymous with this Orisha. I have been told that in Nigerian courts it is allowed for an individual to swear an oath upon iron(representing the Ashe of Ogun,) as opposed to the Bible or the Koran before testifying.
Possessions by the spirit of Ogun are a wild and wonderful thing. I have seen seriously arthritic people leap through the air with a machete, and I’ve seen people slip into trance and march like a soldier in World War One. I myself have performed a flaming machete blessing for Ogou La Flambeau, the fiery avatar of this Lwa or Orisha. Ultimately to try to understand Ogun is to try to understand the white hot fire of the Blacksmith’s forge. This fire can create. It can create art, tools, weapons, or it can translate flesh into ash in a matter of seconds. This sacred power to create and destroy instantly- both are necessary in this world. The how and when each comes artfully into play is the dialogue in which we all participate.