It is no secret that I absolutely love Ogun. How could I not? He has been a constant presence in my life for decades. This strong orisha rules the heart, the precious metals of the land and he is a heart-stopping formidable warrior. He is also the orisha alagbatori of my eldest son, Ogun Addá Araí.
As Ogún is the lord of weapons and the master of the forge, in my own way I like to think that I work using some of Ogun’s tools made of metal (scissors, needles, sewing machine) to craft armors for new initiate or iyawó. These gala clothes are meant to be every bit as much as armor as the tools Ogun crafts. The iyawó wears his/her finest regalia during their “throne day,” the day when people are welcome to visit with the new initiate who will be attired in the representation of his/her orisha.
On the day after that public and joyful celebration, the tone becomes more solemn. As morning breaks priests gather to perform the Nangareo. This ceremony in a nutshell allows initiates to communicate with ancestors, the orisha, the land, and with Olodumare to give an account about the ceremonies that have been conducted for the past days and takes them into the next stage: Itá.
The Itá is the divination process that will layout advice from each of the Orishas received during the kariosha for the iyawó. This is a solemn process where Odú comes down to earth and speaks through the dilogún shells to enlighten the path of the new iyawó. Part of the ceremony is figuring out what wi
ll be the name that the iyawó will have. In my experience, the name is not a fickle decision. A name has a meaning and it is crucial that each iyawó learns about his/her name because all names have power. The name of an iyawó can be seen as an armor made of words and vibration that connects to the very core of the orishas.
Understanding a person’s name can give us insight into their role as a priest, to their personality, to attributes both positive and negative and so much more. Some people are super careful not to share their initiation name in fear that someone may do them harm. For those who live in fear, I share a quote from Frank Herbert:
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
When you have Orisha by your side and the Orisha has blessed you with a name? Why fear. Be strong in the certainty that a name has been blessed by the orisha for you. Live your life empowered by your name, be proud it and let the haters do what they do best, hate. They will also have to reckon with your Orisha if they dare to touch you. Thus, do not be afraid to share your name, it is imbued with power. Power cannot be stopped; it needs to flow.
I use a pen name for my articles which I selected years before I devoted my life to the Orisha. During my itá I was told I have two mothers, Yemayá and Oshún as my pen name suggests. It is so sweet to know
these two orishas have been protecting me for long. My Olosha name is Omí Toñí. My Obá Oriaté Jorge Iturralde, Salakó told me years ago that my name means honey over the ocean. My eldest son’s name Ogún Adá Araí, his godfather Yeguedé explained to him that it means the cutlass of the land of Ogún. My youngest son is a priest of Eleguá and his name is Ayótomiwá (wealth/money follows me).
The meaning of a name is also interpretative. Therefore, a name may have a literal meaning, but the truth of that name is a deeper covenant between the orisha and the initiate.
Here are some beautiful names I have collected over the years all related to Ogún. The list is by no means complete; thus, you can share other names and their meanings if you would like to contribute. After all, knowledge is shared and the more we share as a community the more empowered we are together.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have more names to add to the list, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá