Ochún, the Queen of the Rivers Ochún (Oshún) is the youngest of all the Orichás, according to most patakís (sacred stories). When Olodumare finished creating the earth, he sat back and contemplated his work. He realized something was missing: sweetness and love, the two things that would make life worth living. So, he created Ochún and sent her to earth to cultivate those qualities in others. Ochún is the Orichá of love, and her seductive and sensual power encapsulates the feminine ideal. In nature, she rules over rivers. Originally all the waters on earth belonged to Yemayá, who is Ochún's older sister (or, in some stories, her mother). But one day when Ogún was hotly pursuing Ochún across the fields and forests, the young Orichá fell into the river and was dragged away by whirlpools. Yemayá took Ochún under her protection, and gave the rivers to her so she could have her own kingdom. From that point on, the rivers belonged to Ochún and the ocean to Yemayá. Yemayá and Ochún have a close relationship and often work together, especially in issues related to romance, marriage, and motherhood. Yemayá is a mature, motherly type who watches over children and protects babies in the womb. Ochún is the seductive and sensual Orichá who makes sure babies are conceived. She inspires sexual love and promotes fertility. Once her job is done, she usually loses interest and hands over the child rearing to her more maternal sister.
Ochún's Characteristics Ochún is considered to be the most beautiful of the female Orichás. She exhibits all of the characteristics associated with fresh flowing water: she's lively, sparking, vivacious, refreshing. No one can resist her seductive laugh, her graceful dancing, and her lips that taste like honey. She has a lush womanly figure with full hips, which suggest eroticism and fertility. She loves silks, perfumes (especially vetiver and sandalwood), fans and mirrors, all kinds of jewelry, (especially coral and amber, gold and brass), she wears golden bracelets that jingle seductively when she moves, and her favorite treat is honey. Her favorite flower is the sunflower. Although she's young and sometimes seems frivolous, she's a very powerful Orichá. In many instances where other Orichás fail, Ochún triumphs, often by using her feminine wiles and sweetness to conquer her enemies.
Ochún's colors are yellow and gold, her number is 5 (and multiples of 5). Her day of the week is Saturday. Her feast day is September 8. Both the peacock and the vulture are her symbols. A patakí explains that Ochún in the form of a peacock flew to heaven to talk to Olofi about a problem the Orichás were having on earth. No one else was brave enough to do this, because they knew Olorún (the sun) would burn them to a crisp. As the peacock flew closer to the sun, its feathers were charred, its beauty was lost, and by the time it got to Olofi, it no longer looked like a peacock, but resembled a vulture instead. Olofi, who is all-knowing, understood what Ochún had done, and he rewarded her for her bravery and lack of self interest by making her one of his favorite Orichás. Ochún is a close friend of Eleguá, who supports her in all her endeavors. She's the favorite wife of Changó, but her power doesn't depend on him. She's an important Orichá in her own right, and has had other husbands, including Orula (Orúnmila), Ogún, and some say Ochosi. Most patakis say Obatalá is her father. Ochún is the sister of Obá and Oyá; all three sisters were at different times wives of Changó. Because of her close association with Orula, the master diviner, she's a particular friend to Babalawos, who are the priests of Orula. Ochún has talent as a diviner, too, and her children are good at throwing and interpreting the dilogún (cowrie shells). From Inle, the doctor of the Orichás, she learned about healing. Ochún can be the Orichá on a male or female human head, so she has both sons and daughters in the culture. Her children are like her, lively and free spirited, fun to be around, but they can also be very willful and too concerned with social climbing. They adorn themselves with fine jewels, perfumes and clothes. They're sensual, but they worry about creating a public scandal, because they tend to care a lot about what others say. They like to surround themselves with beautiful things. Ochún reminds us that we must have pleasure in our lives if our lives are going to be truly worth living. Other Traits of Ochún Although Ochún appears to the world as a happy young woman with no cares, her life wasn't always easy. She suffered many misfortunes and, deep inside, she's sometimes melancholy and sad. She can be petulant and demanding when her whims aren't met, and she can be vindictive when crossed. She dresses in long yellow satin dresses cinched tightly at the waist, sometimes with tinkling bells at the hem. She lives in a yellow porcelain sopera (soup tureen) filled with river water. Her eleke (sacred necklace) is made of 5 yellow beads alternating with 5 amber colored beads, sometimes with a little red or green worked into the design. Her favorite foods are honey, oranges, yellow rice, all kinds of sweets, river shrimp and crayfish, river fish, spinach, chard, parsley, sweet potatoes, winter squash and pumpkin. She also enjoys Cuban-style tamales and a dish of scrambled eggs, fresh water shrimp and chard called ochinchin. Ochún helps with fertility issues, and she protects against illnesses in the lower stomach and intestines, problems with female reproductive organs, hemorrhages and blood related conditions. Some people call Ochún Yalorde, which means queen.