Ohun is a female deity that represents one of the manifestations of God for the Yoruba and Ifá people in southwestern Nigeria. It is usually called river orisha, and it is connected with water, purity, love, fertility and sensuality. Oshun is the most powerful of all orishas and paramount as a Yoruba deity. Just like all other deities, she also has some of the human characteristics like vanity, jealousy, spite… Her husband is Shango, whom she falls in love in one of the drum festivals that she went, and the two get married.
There are several myths about Oshun. One thing that all of the myths have in common is that Oshun is described as a protector and savior of humanity. She is also described as someone who keeps spiritual balance, the mother of all orphans, essence of love and someone who created all of the mankind. Oshun was an only female deity among original 17 that was sent to earth by the Supreme God to populate it. All the other male gods didn’t manage to populate the Earth, and then they asked Oshun for help. Oshun helped them, created sweet and powerful waters and all the life on Earth with it. This is the reason why Yoruba people myths are telling the stories that said that life would not exist without the help of Oshun, the goddess of life and fertility.
There is also a story about Oshun which said that she was one of the wives of Shango, god of thunder.
In one of the stories, she is described as someone who also takes lives and not just giving it. She has the power to make floods by sending rain, destroy the crops and make massive droughts. She almost floods the whole world once, but she calls back the waters, once she has been calmed.
The legend said that the first encounter between Oshun and human beings took place in the town of Oshogbo in Nigeria. Ever since the then, people consider that city sacred. They also believe that Oshun protects town and that Oshun herself gave people permission to build it if they worship her. Yoruba people are still practicing festival in Oshun’s honor by going to river and paying homage, making sacrifices and ask for wealth, health and other things in return. That festival is taking place at the Oshun River. There is also Osun-Osgobo Sacred Grove, which is protected by the UN as UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005.
Because Oshun is connected to the whole concept of femininity, a lot of women in Africa who suffer from infertility are asking her for help. Oshun is also linked to the power of the woman and people also asks for her help in times of severe poverty.
Outside Africa, Oshun is known by other names such as Oxum in Brasil or Ichun in Cuba.