Do Oshun And the Orishas Influence Beyoncé?

The Orishas have been around since the beginning of time, though they’re more known by researchers and actual practitioners of Santeria and Yoruba rituals. Yet, recently, singer/entertainer Beyoncé Knowles has brought the Orishas to the forefront of mainstream America, through her most recent album Lemonade.

Who are the Orishas?

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The Orishas are deities of the Yoruba people of Yorubaland (southwestern Nigeria, some parts of Benin, and Togo). The Yoruba believe in a creator god, Olurun Oludumare, who crafted heaven and Earth and created a set of deities known as the Orishas. They are to be his messengers and link to Earth. Some of the most popular ones are Shango, Oya, Yemoja, Orunmila, Eshu, and Oshun, but there are many more. Each Orisha has different attributes and powers.

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Shango for example, is the god of thunder, drumming, dancing, fire, and male virility. He is known for carrying the double axe as well as his color, red. Oya, his wife at one point, is known for red as well, but she is the goddess of storms and winds. She also rules over cemeteries as the guardian between life and death. They are both more on the fiery side when it comes to temperaments of the Orishas. Two calmer deities include Yemoja and Oshun. Yemoja is the goddess of the top layers of the ocean and rivers while also being patron of pregnant women. Her color is blue and her symbols are seashells, coral, a gourd rattle, an anchor, a key, and turquoise. Lastly, Oshun is considered the goddess of love, beauty, femininity and sensuality. She is known for the color varying shades of yellow and symbols such as gold, butterflies, and water. She is who many see a direct connection to in Beyoncé’s recent work, though she touches on many others.

Coincidence or not?

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Beyoncé has not confirmed if she is paying tribute to the Orishas, but some of the signs are obvious. While she included many Orishas from Oya, Shango, Elegba, Ibeji, and Yemoja in her visual album Lemonade, the strongest connection seen is with the goddess Oshun. Many first suspected this because of her ‘Hold Up’ video in which she came out of a building in a very Oshun like dress with water flowing around her.

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If this is not enough, Beyoncé even recently released some very Oshun inspired maternity pictures in which she is pictured in yellow once again. In some she is even underwater, while in some she wears an Oshun like headdress. Ironically, she is carrying twins. This ties back into the Yoruba religion because there are twin Orishas, named Ibeji, who Oshun gave birth to with Shango. There are way too many signs for this connection to be coincidental and it is of no surprise that Beyoncé would be introduced to this wonderful belief system, considering it has spread around the world, from the African diaspora, due to the slave trade.

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