Honor Obatalá, the Yoruba creator of humankind

Obatalá

Obatalá is the Yoruba son of God (Olodumare) and the creator of human bodies from clay which Olodumare breathed life into.

The spark of consciousness in us is Obatalá. He looks after us, unless and until we devote ourselves to a specific Orisha (Angel).

Obatalá wears white because it has all the colors in it and he takes care of all of us. He accepts offerings of white foods without spices. White clothes, coconut milk, white pumpkin, silver and ivory are associated with Obatalá.

Obatalá is the godfather of the Orishas so he looks after them and settles their arguments.

He is the founder of Ile-Ife, Nigeria, the Yoruba holy city where Obatalá came from heaven.

Obatalá has a wife, but is gender-fluid himself, carrying both male and female aspects. This is true of all of us, if you think about it. The creative part of a man is his Anima or female aspect. The creative part of a woman is her Animus or male aspect. This is a timely thought given the recent advancement of the Latinx (genderless) concept.

Obatalá knows the sorrow of making mistakes. He created many healthy bodies, but while drunk on palm wine, he made some deformed ones. He is compassionate because he knows the sorrow of his own regrets.


Obatalá in the Americas

African slaves brought Obatalá to Cuba, Haiti and Brazil. From there his devotion spread through Santería and Candomblé, the American religions based on the Yoruba cosmology that dominate African culture in the Caribbean and South America.

To avoid persecution, Santería faithful syncretized Obatalá with both Our Lady of Mercy and Jesus, while Candomblé faithful syncretized him with Our Lord of Bonfim, the patron saint of Bahia, Brazil, the Brazilian cultural heartland.


 


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