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The Orishas (Gods of Santeria)- The 7 African Powers - Siete potencias:

santeria: video of Osain

This page is dedicated to Osain: Osain- Español

St. Joseph is the Catholic Saint associated with Osain. This probably due to the fact that he has plants in his hands. Even though they are lilies, he is probably the only male Catholic Saint that has plants in his representation. For this reason, the ancestors choose him as the equivalent of Osain. Remember that the ancestors from Cuba generally speaking were basically illiterate. Remember that writing did not exist in West Africa until the colonial period. The Yorubas and the other tribes relied on the passage of knowledge by oral means, since there was no written language until the English and other Europeans made their colonial presence felt. So naturally, the elders of that time, when looking for a Catholic Saint to represent an Orisha would choose St. Joseph, since the presence of plants in the picture formed an association in their minds with Osain. Many still critizise the use of Catholic pictures and images in Santeria. The pictures and images of themselves have no value, but only serve as a connection to the African Orisha that they represent. This practice not only occurred in Cuba, but also in Brazil, where the Catholic Saints are employed to represent the Orishas as well.

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Osain is one of the most important Orishas because without Osain there would be no way to correctly perform the ceremonies of "making" the Orishas. Osain is the owner of all the plants and trees that grow wild in the woods. He has nothing to do with cultivated plants. For a plant to have the ache that Osain gives to it, it must be found growing wild in the woods. Osain was the greatest herbalist and knows all the secrets of every plant. Although the other Orishas share the use of certain plants, Osain is the true owner and a tribute must be paid to Osain, before one can enter into the woods to collect plants. There are many stories of how Osain came to shave his ownership of plants with the other Orishas. Reportedly Osain kept his secret medicinal and magical herbs in a large "guiro" or calabash gourd hanging high in a tree in the forest. Osain lives in the deepest woods and does not like the company of others. Chango and Oya were jealous of his magical powers and resolved to gain access to them. Oya caused a great wind to blow through the trees in the forest and when this happened, Osain's magical "guiro" fell to the forest floor and the herbs all spilled out. According to legend, all the other Orishas rushed in and each of them claimed the herbs that they found as theirs.

Osain has many secrets and only the Babalawo knows the manner to correctly prepare Osain. The "guiro" is one of several forms that Osain takes when he is prepared. There are other forms used to represent him, but these are kept in secrecy. The only way to correctly learn these mysteries is to receive Osain from a Babalawo.

Osain is another one of Orumila's closest allies. Only the priests of Orunla know the true secrets of preparing Osain here in North America and the Caribbean area. In Africa, there are special priests of Osain and in Brazil, they have their own system where the children of Osain are crowned in Ocha or have that Saint made on their heads. In the afro-cuban traditions, Osain is considered to be too "heavy" to be crowned on someone's head. The reasoning behind this is that a person's head could not stand all the power that Osain has, being the owner of all the herbs, plants and trees that are found in the rain forest. Osain knows all the secrets of all the plant life in the rain forest, whether it be to heal or kill. Osain has different "caminos" or ways of being prepared.

video: Osanyin
The priests of Orumila often work with Osain to prepare "resguardos" or amulets of protection for those in need. Osain is often considered to be the Babalawo's "left" hand, while Oddudua is considered to be the "right" hand. Most Babalawos have received these powerful Orishas so that they may be better equiped to help others and also for their personal protection and benefit.

Osain is considered to be a "brujo" or witch, because some of the most powerful magic is done working with Osain. Remember that Osain is the owner of all the plants and trees and that includes not only their medicinal uses, but also their magical uses. When we speak of doing witchcraft (brujeria) in the religion, this does not always have a negative connotation. Witchcraft can be done for the benefit of a person. Any magical working in Santeria, whether for good or bad, is called brujeria or witchcraft. It is not like English, where witchcraft has a totally negative interpretation. Osain, as the owner of all the plants and the Master of the Woods, has the power to destroy witchcraft done by brujos or witches, even those working with a "prenda" judia or negative spirits. Osain is greater than all the Prendas of the Mayomberos because Osain controls all the spirits of the different trees that the Prenda spirits work with in performing their magic. That is one of the reasons that Osain is considered to be the "left" hand of the Babalawo, Oddua being the "right" hand. These two Orishas are very important for Babalawos and Oluos to have, so that they have access to forces that can defend them, as well as help those who come seeking help with their problems.

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Saint Joseph or Osain

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Olodumare Elegua Obatala Yemaya Chango Oya Ochun Ogun osain