Eleguá is the Orisha of the crossroads in parts of West Africa, Central Africa and the African diaspora in the Americas. Eleguá is his Caribbean Spanish name. In Yorubaland, he is Èṣù-Ẹlẹ́gbára. In Brazil, he is Elegbara. In Haiti, he is Papa Legba.
In the Americas, he is syncretized with Saint Anthony of Padua, the Holy Child of Atocha, and Archangel Michael.
Èṣù-Ẹlẹ́gbára, Eleguá, Elegbara
The orisha of the crossroads opens and closes doors to the paths of life. To worship or celebrate our ancestors, we always ask Eleguá first to open a spiritual path to God.
Eleguá represents beginnings and endings so may appear to you as a child or an old man. He presents in nature as the stones in the road.
Like Hermés/Mercury (Greek/Latin), Eleguá is the messenger of the gods. Orisha faith ceremonies always begin by asking Eleguá to open communication with God and his/her manifestations. Without Eleguá’s permission, nothing can happen.
It’s worth noting that the orisha faiths are monotheistic. There is only one God Oludumare. He/She is the same one God that all human faiths worship.
Symbols of Eleguá are alternating red with black. Followers who are dancing for him wear red and black, often with a red handkerchief under a straw hat, and sometimes with old Spanish-style breech pants.
Specific drum patterns and dance movements are used to call the orishas. The same patterns and movements have been performed since the beginning of human time. There is a difference between the sacred and popular patterns, but similar rhythms and movements live on today in salsa and reggaeton dancing.
Eleguá’s number is 3 and multiples of 3. That might be why he is honored on Three Kings Day, January 6, the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of the new year. Perhaps the reason is that the Three Kings traveled long roads to visit the divine. That’s exactly what Elegúa does.
The beginning of the week, Monday is Eleguá’s day. Followers often put a shrine to him behind the front door to protect the house.
Syncretized with Saint Anthony of Padua
He is also syncretized (blended) with Saint Anthony of Padua, the Portuguese saint on June 13, the Holy Child of Atocha, and Archangel Michael. We are not sure why Eleguá is syncretized with Saint Anthony. Perhaps it’s because Saint Anthony had his road changed.
Eleguá is everywhere in the Caribbean. You just have to know how to read his signs. You can be looking right at him and not know what you are seeing.
Eleguá Guards the Door
Followers place small shrines to Elegúa behind the door to safeguard the house, and to protect your journey when you leave.
Maferefún”“Maferefún” is a blessing that means to pray or honor.