Divine Orishas – The 7 African Powers Explained

Who are the 7 African Powers, and why have they become such a popular choice for spiritual seekers? Read on to find out more about these powerful orishas and how to work with them.

The Seven African Powers are a group of seven orishas – powerful spirits from the Yoruba tradition in Africa. Orishas are seen as intermediaries between humans and the creator god, Olodumare. Their role is similar to that of saints in Christianity, and it’s said that they were sent by the creator to provide guidance and help people through challenges.

the orishas - powerful spirits from the yoruba tradition
The orishas are powerful Yoruba spirits

While the orishas originate in Africa, they were incorporated into many other cultures and religions as enslaved Africans were taken to the Americas. Today, they are invoked and venerated in Santería, Candomblé, Lukumí, Vodou, Hoodoo and Umbanda traditions, to name a few.

The Seven African Powers are a group of orishas who have been chosen because they each have different abilities that work well together. As a team, they address a wide range of human needs and experiences.

Read on to find out more about the Seven African powers, or click on a section in the table of contents below to jump straight to a specific part of this article.

Who are the Seven African Powers?

The seven African powers consist of Elegua, Yemaya, Oshun, Shango, Obatala, Oya, and Ogun. Each one of these orishas represents a different facet of human existence and have their own unique qualities. These powerful spirits offer guidance, protection and blessings to those who invoke them.

Elegua – the trickster spirit of the crossroads

Elegua, often referred to as Eshu Elegbara, Exu, Eshu, or Papa Legba, is the messenger between realms. He is the spirit who guards the crossroads, symbolizing the intersection of choices in life. This guardian of thresholds plays the role of a psychopomp, guiding souls between the realms of the living and the dead.

Elegua - orisha of the 7 African powers
Elegua is the guardian of the crossroads

Elegua is a trickster spirit, often known for his mischievous and childlike nature. He can be very unpredictable, and can either be a source of guidance and a roguish force to be reckoned with, depending on the circumstances and the intentions of those who invoke him.

As a crossroads spirit, Elegua essentially acts as a middleman between the earthly and spiritual realms, and all prayers and offerings must pass through him before reaching the other orishas.

Elegua correspondences: Crossroads, paths, doors, fertility, comedy, mischief, healing, travelers, the colors red and black.

Elegua offerings: Tobacco, rum, candy, toys, spicy foods, red and black candles.

Yemaya – the nurturing mother of the oceans

Yemaya is the water orisha, whose domain extends across the vast oceans and rivers. Her protective embrace covers not only the vast waters but also the realms of motherhood, female sexuality, and abundance.

Much like the sea, Yemaya is a complex and powerful force. She grants abundant treasures and nourishment, but can also be as tempestuous as a raging storm.

Yemaya - an orisha of the 7 African powers
Yemaya is powerful, fierce and protective

Yemaya is the oldest and most widely known orisha, and considered to be the mother of all. People born under water zodiac signs, particularly those whose ancestors endured the harrowing passage from West Africa to the New World, are considered her people. She is also known as a protector of abused women.

Yemaya correspondences: Female fertility, motherhood, abundance, love, healing, water, pearls, ships, the colors blue and white.

Yemaya offerings: Watermelon, pomegranate, molasses, white roses, pound cake, blue and white candles.

Oshun – the river goddess of love

Oshun is the beautiful and radiant orisha of rivers who embodies the purity and vitality of flowing water. Her essence is a gentle river, with the power to cleanse and heal that envelops those who come into her presence. Oshun’s domain encompasses all things that flow like water: love, sensuality, abundance, and fertility.

It is said that Oshun was brought into existence by the Creator after he realized something important was missing in the world – sweetness and love. Oshun is charismatic, sensual and generous to those that show respect towards her. She grants her followers an abundance of love, prosperity and fertility of all kinds.

oshun of the 7 african powers
Oshun represents sweetness, love and abundance

Oshun is also associated with magic and divination, and can teach her followers how to use these arts to enhance their lives, especially in matters of love, prosperity, and self-discovery.

Oshun correspondences: Romance, abundance, divination, magic, cleansing, purification, fertility, waterfalls, rivers, the colors yellow and gold.

Oshun offerings: Perfumes, oils, mirrors, rosemary, marigold, pumpkin, sandalwood, honey, flowers, yellow and gold candles.

Shango – the thunderous lord of fire

Shango, known as the lord of thunder and fire, has an intense and fiery energy that mirrors the destructive and creative power of lightning. He is fertile male god, representing masculinity and virility.

As the master of thunder and lightning, Shango brings justice through the power of lightning bolts. He is a protector, guarding his devotees against evil forces. Shango loves music, dance, celebration and festivity. His zest for life makes him a good choice for invoking if you seek guidance and blessings in your own pursuits of joy and passion.

shango of the 7 african powers
Shango is the orisha of thunder and lightning

Shango is a deeply passionate orisha. He rides on bolts of lightning and wields a double-axe, signifying his connection to thunder and his role as a warrior of justice.

Shango correspondences: Thunder and lightning, justice, protection, male fertility, the sky, music, dancing, fighting, the colors red and white.

Shango offerings: Copper, mugwort, high john the conqueror root, spicy foods, red palm oil, liquor like red wine and rum, sugar, red and white candles.

Obatala – the serene guardian of justice

Obatala, often described as a “cool” spirit, radiates an aura of peace and serenity. He is a guardian of justice, known for his role in ensuring fairness and balance in the world. Obatala is also believed to be the creator of human bodies – even those with imperfections – which highlights his acceptance of diversity and imperfection as essential for human evolution.

This gentle and patient orisha governs over legal matters, providing a sense of legitimacy and fairness. Obatala favors those who can control their emotions and maintain a level-headed approach to life’s challenges. His energy is calming and soothing, making him a symbol of wisdom and equanimity.

obatala of the 7 african powers
Obatala is a wise and serene orisha

Obatala is also associated with healing, especially for those with various birth defects and disabilities. He is a symbol of sobriety and serenity who encourages level-headedness and emotional control among his devotees.

Obatala correspondences: Justice and legal matters, peace and serenity, protection of the blind and those with birth defects, temperance, creativity, healing, the color white.

Obatala offerings: Cascarilla powder, sugar, shea butter, water, milk (no alcohol), white rice, bananas, white flowers, white candles, and other white or light-colored offerings.

Oya – the tempestuous spirit of transformation

Oya is a dynamic and tempestuous orisha who exudes an energy that is as fierce as it is transformative. She is the embodiment of change, transition, and the forces of nature that shape the world. Oya’s essence is often described as tumultuous, reflecting the turbulent winds, lightning, and storms she governs.

As the guardian of transformation, Oya holds the power to bring about significant shifts in your life. Her energy is marked by the constant motion of change, and she encourages her devotees to embrace transformation as a natural and necessary part of existence. Just as storms can clear the air and make way for new growth, Oya’s influence can sweep away obstacles and stagnation, making room for personal growth and progress.

oya of the 7 african powers
Oya’s energy is fierce and transformative

Oya is also closely associated with the realm of the dead, serving as a guide for departed souls. Her connection to the ancestral realm adds depth to her role as a guardian of transition. She helps those who have passed on navigate the afterlife and ensures their peaceful journey to the other side.

Oya correspondences: Transformation, change, storms, lightning, wind, feminine power, guidance for the departed, personal growth, and empowerment, the colors red and purple.

Oya offerings: Red wine, rum, peppers, eggplant, okra, plums, red and purple flowers, red and purple candles.

Ogun – the tenacious master of iron

Ogun is a resolute and industrious orisha, with an unwavering determination and a fiery passion for his domains of iron, metalworking, and craftsmanship. He is often depicted as a mighty warrior, giving his followers the strength and tenacity required to overcome life’s challenges.

As the guardian of iron and all things forged from it, Ogun plays an important role in human progress and technology. He is the patron of blacksmiths, engineers, and anyone who works with tools. Ogun’s influence can be seen in the creation of weapons, machinery, and the forging of ideas into reality.

ogun of the seven african powers
Ogun is a mighty and tenacious warrior

Ogun is a protector and provider, known for his straightforward and action-oriented approach to problem-solving. He has a no-nonsense attitude, and he favors those who are determined, disciplined, and willing to put in the hard work to achieve their goals.

In addition to his role in craftsmanship and industry, Ogun is also associated with justice and the upholding of moral principles. He demands honesty and integrity from his devotees and expects them to stand up for what is right.

Ogun correspondences: Iron, metalworking, craftsmanship, technology, determination, protection, justice, honesty, discipline, strength, the colors green and black.

Ogun offerings: Palm wine, rum, cornmeal, roasted yams, smoked or grilled meats, iron tools, red and green vegetables, handcrafted items, tools, green and black candles.

How can you work with the Seven African Powers?

There are a few things to bear in mind before working with these powerful spirits.

While anyone may learn about and appreciate the Seven African Powers, if you want to work with them, you need to take note to approach them with respect and reverence for their cultural origins.

The orishas were brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans and hold deep significance within the African diaspora. If you are a person without ancestral ties to these cultures, then having a deep understanding of the historical context is essential. If you lack respect for this cultural heritage, the Seven African Powers will not be receptive to your requests.

Understanding cultural context is crucial

Another consideration is that many traditions where the orishas are venerated are considered to be closed practices, passed down only through lineage and/or initiation. While the spirits can listen to anyone who calls on them, fully understanding and participating in specific traditions requires guidance and training from people who know them well.

Finally, thorough research is essential in order to have a good relationship with the orishas. Learn about their individual likes, dislikes, and any potential conflicts between them.

Mixing Orishas without proper knowledge can lead to discord, as some of them just don’t get along! However, invoking them together as the Seven African Powers calms the animosity and conflict, because of the balance created.

Let’s continue with a few ways that you can work with the Seven African Powers.

The Seven African Powers Prayer

The Seven African Powers Prayer is a beautiful and simple way to connect with these seven orishas and ask for their guidance and support. It’s a sacred invocation and a heartfelt expression of respect and reverence which will help you connect to these powerful energies.

To use the prayer to the Seven African Powers, begin by setting a clear intention for guidance, blessings, or protection. Create a sacred space, such as an altar with representations of the Orishas, and recite the following prayer with sincerity, focusing on your intention.

“Seven African Powers, I beseech thee,

Grant me your strength, wisdom, and grace,

Elegua, Yemaya, Oshun, Shango, Obatala, Oya, Ogun,

I humbly seek your divine embrace.

Elegua, open the doors to opportunity,

Yemaya, bless me with your nurturing love,

Oshun, bring joy, abundance, and sweet blessings,

Shango, ignite the passion within my soul,

Obatala, bring peace and clarity to my life,

Oya, guide me through life’s transformations,

Ogun, empower me with your determination.

Seven African Powers, I honor and adore,

Protect me, guide me, forevermore.


After you have recited the prayer, meditate to connect with their energies and listen for insights. You can also make offerings to the Seven Powers as tokens of gratitude.

Consistency is key to building a deeper connection – and remember to trust the process and be patient.

Setting up an altar for the Seven African Powers

Another way to honor the Seven African Powers and bring their energies into your life is to set up an altar for them.

Select a quiet space for your altar where it won’t be disturbed. Use a white or light-colored cloth as a base. Arrange seven candles on the altar to represent each of the orishas. (If you have candles representing their specific colors – great! Otherwise just use white candles)

7 african powers altar
An altar is a beautiful way to honor the orishas

If you have a statue or other representation of Elegua, place it in the middle of the altar, as he is the guardian of the crossroads and the first among the Seven Powers. Otherwise, place the candle representing Elegua in the middle, and always light it first. Dress the candles with 7 African Powers ritual oil if you have it – this is a powerful way to strengthen the connection with the seven orishas.

Burn 7 African Powers incense to purify and consecrate your sacred space. Light it before starting your rituals, and let the smoke infuse the area. You can also anoint yourself with the ritual oil at the start of the ritual, while stating your intentions and prayers.

It is customary to leave regular offerings for the orishas on the altar, but be sure to only give offerings that you know each specific orisha will like – for example, you wouldn’t want to offer alcohol to Obatala who is the orisha of sobriety! See the section for each orisha above to find out what to give as offerings.

Spiritual protection with the Seven African Powers

One of the primary reasons that people work with the Seven African Powers is for spiritual protection. These spirits are excellent for shielding against negative energies, malevolent spirits, and various life challenges.

A great way to incorporate spiritual protection into your practice with the Seven African Powers is to wear an amulet dedicated to these seven orishas.

A Seven African Powers amulet is a powerful protective amulet that consists of symbols, images and inscriptions representing the seven orishas. You can purchase one, or create your own by using a small object such as a stone, and inscribing images of the seven orishas onto it.

You can consecrate the amulet during a ritual where you ask the Seven African Powers to bless and empower it for protection (for extra potency, anoint the talisman with Seven African Powers ritual oil). Carry the amulet with you for a constant source of spiritual protection.

a woman wearing a protective necklace and talisman
Talismans can offer powerful spiritual protection

Another way that people invoke the protective energies of the orishas is by wearing an orisha necklace, also known as an “eleke” or “collare”. These are sacred beaded necklaces worn by practitioners of various Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean spiritual traditions, including Santería, Candomblé, and Lukumí.

Orisha necklaces are given to initiates during specific religious ceremonies, and need to be blessed by a priest or priestess in order to be considered authentic and consecrated. However, some people do wear unconsecrated necklaces as a sign of personal devotion.

Cleansing rituals with the 7 African Powers

Cleansing rituals are an important part of working with the Seven African Powers. These rituals purify the practitioner, their surroundings, and their spiritual connections, leaving them with a clean slate for spiritual work and protection.

To perform a cleansing ritual, you will need a bowl of clean water and 7 African Powers ritual wash.

Start by doing a physical cleansing – take a spiritual bath or shower to wash away any impurities or negative energies from your body. You can use sea salt or herbs in the bath for extra effect, and visualize the water washing away any unwanted energy or spiritual blockages.

cleansing bath
Water is a potent spiritual cleanser

After the physical cleansing, add some of the 7 African Powers ritual wash to the bowl of water. Mix it together well, while focusing on your intention of spiritual cleansing.

Next, gently sprinkle or flick the water mixture around your space while reciting prayers or invocations to the Seven African Powers. As you sprinkle the water, visualize it cleansing and purifying the entire area, driving away any negative energy or influences.

After cleansing your space, anoint yourself with a few drops of 7 African Powers ritual wash. Start from the top of your head and move down, focusing on areas where you feel negativity or tension. As you anoint yourself, repeat your prayers or affirmations, asking the Seven African Powers for their protection and guidance.

Conclude the ritual by thanking the Seven African Powers for their assistance. You can also leave an offering, such as a small portion of the water, on your altar as a token of gratitude.

Final Thoughts

Working with the Seven African Powers is a profound and beautiful way to bring protection, blessings and guidance into your life. These seven spirits can be powerful allies on your journey if you approach them with respect and a genuine and heartfelt approach.

We hope that this article has provided you with valuable insights into the practices associated with the Seven African Powers and how to incorporate them into your spiritual journey. Take note that like any spiritual practice, building a relationship with these deities takes time and dedication.

As you work with the Seven African Powers, may you find the strength, wisdom, and blessings you seek on your path toward a more spiritually enriched life!

Karin Author: Karin is an artisan and a writer, and has been enjoying witchy pursuits for 20 years.

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