For the Nigerian state, see Ogun (state). For the record label, see Ogun Records. For the fictional character, see Ogun (comics).
Ogun lakaaye
Warriors, soldiers, smith makers, metal workers, craftsmen
Member of Orisha

Veve of Ogoun
Region Nigeria, Benin, Latin America, Haiti
Ethnic group Yoruba people, Fon people

Ogun or Ogoun (Yoruba: Ògún, Portuguese: Ogum, Gu; also spelled Oggun or Ogou; known as Ogún in Latin America) is an Orisha, Loa in Haiti, and Vodun. He is a warrior and a powerful spirit of metal work.[1][2][3]

Yoruba religion

In Yoruba religion, Ogun is a primordial Orisha who first appeared as a hunter named Tobe Ode. He was the husband of Oya. He is said to be the first Orisha to descend to the realm of Ile Aiye ("Earth"), to find suitable place for future human life. In some traditions he is said to have cleared a path for the other gods to enter Earth using a metal ax and with the assistance of a dog. To commemorate this, one of his praise names, or oriki, is Osin Imole or the "first of the primordial Orisha to come to Earth". He is the god of war and metals.[2][1][3]

In his earthly life Ogun is said to be the first king of Ife. When some of his subjects failed to show respect, Ogun killed them and ultimately himself with his own sword. He disappeared into the earth at a place called Ire-Ekiti, with the promise to help those who call on his name. His followers believe him to have wo ile sun, to have disappeared into the earth's surface instead of dying. Throughout his earthly life, he is thought to have fought for the people of Ire, thus is known also as Onire.[1][2][3]

He is now celebrated in Ekiti, Oyo, and Ondo States.


Ogun is the traditional deity of hunters, blacksmiths, and drivers in the Yoruba religion. Followers of traditional Yoruba religion can swear to tell the truth in court by "kissing a piece of iron in the name of Ogun."[3] Drivers carry an amulet of Ogun to ward off traffic accidents.[1][2]


The primary symbols of Ogun are iron, dog, and the palm frond. They symbolize Ogun's role in transformation, mediation, and function. Iron is the primary emblem of Ogun. Ogun altars and ceremonies display and use iron objects both in Yoruba areas and the across the African diaspora. Followers of Ogun wear chains of iron implements; Ogun festivals feature the display of knives, guns, blacksmith implements, scissors, wrenches, and other iron implements from daily life.


Dogs are the preferred animal sacrifice to Ogun across hunters, blacksmiths, and other trades. Dogs are the traditional companions of hunters, but Ogun's personality is also seen as "doglike": aggressive, able to face danger, and straightforward. Other sacrificial animals associated with Ogun are the spitting cobra (blacksnake); its behavior is aggressive and fearless. Hunters and blacksmiths avoid eating or witnessing the mating of blacksnakes. Other important sacrificial offerings to Ogun are the Clarias submarginatus (a species of catfish), alligator pepper, kola nuts, palm wine and red palm oil, small rats, roosters, salt, snails, tortoise, water, yams. (Clyne: 1997). Many of these sacrificial offerings were carried into New World traditions.

Dahomey religion

In Dahomey religion, Gu is the vodun of war and patron deity of smiths and craftsmen.[4] He was sent to earth to make it a nice place for people to live, and he has not yet finished this task.


Candomblé altar to Ogun, Brazil

Ogun is known in the Afro-Brazilian tradition of Candomblé as Ogum (Ketu and Ijexa nations) or Gu (Jeje nation).[5] Ogum is syncretized with Saint George, notably in Rio de Janeiro and the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Candomblé tradition in Northeast Brazil, especially in Bahia, associates Ogum with Saint Sebastian.[6][4]


Ogum, as a male orisha (Boró), only "eats" male animals. Ox, billy goat, rooster, snake (typically a red snake), dog, and game animals are sacrificed on festival days associated with Ogum in the Candomblé tradition.[7]

Individual devotees of Ogum in Brazil avoid certain foods. These include goat, cajá-manga (Spondias dulcis), sugar, black beans, yams, and the manga-espada (an elongated mango cultivar of Brazil) in the Ketu nation; yams and manga-espada in the Ijexa nation ; and partridge in the Jeje nation.[5]

Santería and Palo

Ogun's centrality to the Yoruba religion has resulted in his name being retained into the 20th century in the Gullah and Lucumí languages, as well as the Yoruba dialect of Trinidad and Tobago. In Santería and Palo, Ogún is syncretized with Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and John the Baptist; he is the deity of war and metals.[8]


In Haitian Vodou Ogun is known as Ogou, and consists of an array of manifestations; most carry the aspect of iron smithing and tools from the Yoruba tradition. The Ogou guard the badji, the sacred altar of the Vodou temple. He carries an iron saber and wears a red sash. Ogou is also the god of pioneering, intelligence, justice, medicine, and political power; these are associated with the symbol of the tool that can "advance humans' mastery over the environment.[9] Ogou Feray is the god of war. Other manifestations of Ogou are Ogou Badagri, Ogou Balenjo, Ogou Batala, and Ogou Je Wouj. Ezili Freda Daome is the female counterpart to Ogou.[9][10]

Ogou Feray is syncretized with St. James the Greater (St. Jacques Majeur) in the Vodou tradition. He is a warrior spirit and protects the Vodou community; he guides Vodou followers against their enemies. He is symbolically covered in iron and may not be harmed by his enemies. As in Africa, his symbol is a piece of iron, a machete, or a knife. As in Africa, Ogou is revered among blacksmiths, many of whom are of Yoruba origin. He is also noted to like women and alcohol.[9][10]

In Vodou ceremonies followers of Ogou wear a red shirt, pants, and scarf. A followers of Ogou in a possession-trance is offered Haitian white rum during the ceremony. In some ceremonies rum is burned in a container to allow Ogou to "wash" the hands of the followers.[10]

Two Vodou songs to Ogou, as recorded and translated by Michel S. Laguerre:[10]

Fè Ogou Fè, Ogou Fèray o,

Fè Ogou Fè, Ogou Fèray o

I am an iron, I am covered with iron.

Fèrè Fèray tout ko Fèray sé kouto, Fèrè Fèray tout ko Fèray sé manchèt. The body of Ogou Fèray is covered with knives, The body of Fèray is covered with machetes.



  1. 1 2 3 4 Adeoye, C. L. (1989). Ìgbàgbọ́ àti ẹ̀sìn Yorùba (in Yoruba). Ibadan: Evans Bros. Nigeria Publishers. pp. 250–262. ISBN 9781675098.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Barnes, Sandra (1997). Africa's Ogun: Old World and New. Bloomington Ind: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253-332516.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Earhart, H (1993). Religious Traditions of the World: a Journey through Africa, Mesoamerica, North America, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, China, and Japan. San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 9780060621155.
  4. 1 2 3 Verger, Pierre (1999). Notas sobre o culto aos orixás e voduns na Bahia de Todos os Santos, no Brasil, e na antiga costa dos escravos, na África (in Portuguese). São Paulo: EDUSP. pp. 151–160. ISBN 9788531404757.
  5. 1 2 Augras, Monique (2004). "Quizilas e preceitos--transgressão, reparação e organização dinâmica do mundo". Culto aos orixás: voduns e ancestrais nas religiões afro-brasileiras (in Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro: Pallas. pp. 190–193. ISBN 9788534702379.
  6. Assunção, Matthias (2005). Capoeira: the History of an Afro-Brazilian Martial Art. London New York: Routledge. p. 39. ISBN 0714650315.
  7. Moura, Carlos Eugênio Marcondes de, ed. (2004). Culto aos orixás: voduns e ancestrais nas religiões afro-brasileiras (in Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro: Pallas. pp. 43–45. ISBN 9788534702379.
  8. Falola, Toyin (2005). Yoruba Creativity: Fiction, Language, Life and Songs. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. ISBN 9781592213368.
  9. 1 2 3 Galembo, Phyllis (2005). Vodou: Visions and Voices of Haiti. Berkeley, Calif: Ten Speed Press. pp. xxii–xxiii, 12. ISBN 9781580086769.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Laguerre, Michel (1980). Voodoo Heritage. Beverly Hills, Calif: Sage Publications. pp. 131–137. ISBN 0803914032.
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