I have a lifelong fascination with Ògún, it started when I received my warriors many years ago. I was charmed by Eleggua, but Ògún and his mysterious tools and receptacle, woke my imagination. He started to take a hold on me I could not explain. Little I knew back then the central role this orisha would play in my future.
One day, I remember sitting on the floor, epó (palm oil) in hand carefully cleaning my Ògún. My mind revolving around the meaning of the many tools residing in his black rough iron cauldron as I felt the coldness of the metal in my hands, it was then when the first sparks of knowledge starting to dawn in my heart. Ògún I understood first with my heart.
I had my eyes closed. My fingers continued to reach out pulling pieces of his tools to cover with a light film of epó; my movements were deliberate and slow, and then, I stopped. Images flooded my mind and emotions overtook me. Ògún wanilę, Ògún walona o ire gbogbo locua ę…. I felt the heavy weight of iron pressing down on me, the weight of responsibility, the never ending chain of survival and work that my life has been since I can remember. All of this unfolded as I held this tiny anvil in my hand. Ògún is the heart of the matter, the center of transformation; his tools are tools of war and peace—of creation and destruction.
Over the years my personal knowledge of Ògún has taken me to understand some of his role in my life, and perhaps, in the life of other devotees. He guides us to refinement, not only of the body but of the spirit. For many this marvelous orisha is associated with brute force, but that is a limited understanding of Ògún’s power fed by patakis (stories) that are only reflecting limited social, geographic and cultural often tinged with hints of Christian concepts. Ògún is for me the orisha that teaches us to appreciate work ethics, cooperation and the value of chiseling out the future through technology and communal existence. His earnest efforts always lead to transformation both internal and external. There is nothing unrefined or savage about Ogún. He may be represented wearing palm fronds, without the allure and refinement of Obatalá and the glitter and polish of Shangó, but Ògún is a true bastion of intelligence, for who can dominate the alchemic process of turning iron into tools if not mediated by wits? He is strength applied with intelligence, the power to mobilize change and the dedication to excel at a craft.
Whoever dares to say that Baloguns (title for Ògún initiates, literally chiefs of Ògún) cannot aspire to reach to Ifá as Awós —and I have been told this by more than one Cuban and Puerto Rican Babalawos— has never pondered fully upon the marvels that Ògún contributes to civilization and to quest to develop Iwá Pelé.
Those people that dismissively label Ògún as a bushman have never really understood the essence of change. Change does not come easy; it takes self-sacrifice, sweat, work and cunning.
For those who understand Freemasonry, Ògún is the key to Shape the rough ashlar. Without Ògún and his alchemical knowledge to change iron ore into precious tools, civilization comes to a grinding stop as illustrated in the Pataki about Ògún as he withdrew from society to live in the forest. With the Spirit of Iron gone, technology stopped, paths were overgrown by vegetation and farmers no longer had tools to grow food. Ògún was then ‘rescued’ by Oshun, but it was perhaps more a war of wits and desire won by the feminine charms of seduction of the great orisha of sensuality and ever flowing sweetness.
Much is to be said about Ògún and his dynamics with other immortals. I particularly enjoy his interactions with Babalú Aiyé, what a wonderful team they make in the process of saving bodies from death! His adventures with female orishas are also the center of many patakís. His mischievous companion Eleggua and steadfast hunter Ochosi are fascinating provide for many interactions that could be subject for deeper meditation and study.
Maferefún Ògún. You are both beloved and feared; key citizen of the immortal realm and, self-outcast of it as well. Maferefún Ògún. My devotion for you has a strong purpose in my life. I gave birth to a boy who you turned to man the moment you entered his head and made him your Balogún. Babá mi Ògún, you have my child and I, forever, have you in my heart and home. Ògún wanilę, Ògún walona o ire gbogbo locua ę….
To my first born Ògún Adá Araí from your yeyé and from my okokán omó mi.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá