Awonifa

Study the Teachings of Ifa

Orisha Oko (oko, farm, garden, plantation) is the god of Agriculture, and is one of those who sprang from the body of yemaya. As the natives chiefly depend upon the fruits of the earth for their food, Orisha Oko is much honoured. There is scarcely a town or village that has not a temple dedicated to him, and he has a large number of priests and priestesses in his service.

Although his first care is to promote the fertility of the earth, he is also -the god of natural fertility in general, for he is a phallic divinity, and his image is always provided with an enormous phallus. He thus resembles Priapus, who, although a phallic deity, was, apparently, primarily a garden-god, who fostered and protected crops. (Catullus, xix. xx.; Tibullus, I. i.)

An emblem of Orisha Oko is an iron rod, and honey bees are his messengers. It is probably with reference to his phallic attributes that he has the title of Eni-duru- “the erect personage.” One of his functions is to cure malarial fevers, to which those who disturb the soil in the process of cultivation are particularly liable.

There is an annual festival to Orisha Oko, held when the yam crop is ripe, and all then partake of new yams. At this festival general licence prevails, the priestesses give themselves indiscriminately to all the male worshippers of the god, and, theoretically, every man has a right to sexual intercourse with every woman he may meet abroad. Social prejudices have, however, restricted the application of this privilege, and it is now only slave-girls, or women of the lowest order, who are really at the disposal of the public, and then only if they are consenting parties. At this festival all kinds of vegetable productions are cooked and placed in vessels in the streets, for general use.