Osanyin known in Afro-cuban practice as Osain, is the Orisa in charge of the knowledge of all herbs, more than any other deity and, therefore, carries the knowledge of all the medicines used to cure any type of disease. He is an Orisa very close to Orunmila and is the husband of Oriseje.

Who is Osanyin?

Osanyin is often described by the Yoruba as a cruel, impatient, and smug Orisa. Osanyin owns the omiero (Omi Ero or holy water), and is so powerful that he is in charge of activating the initiation of all the Orisa. In addition, it is responsible for approving any type of curse that is done to a person.

In the past people used to go to a babalawo who had herbal knowledge started in Osanyin for not only spiritual but also health improvements. They were the healers and they knew the medicines that allowed to alleviate from a headache to much more important health problems. And this is because each herb, trunk or root has its virtue and when these plants are mixed with other herbs, they form medicines that can be used for different purposes.

Osanyin is an Orisa with an eye, a leg, and an arm missing. This is said to have happened because of a war he had with Orunmila, where Orunmila sacrificed Sango and he sent thunder to punish Osanyin.


How to get initiated in Osanyin

Osanyin is a delicate Orisa, so not everyone should acquire his initiation. Only if Orunmila determines that his initiation will be favorable to him, does the learning continue. After the person who wishes to be initiated into Osanyin acquires the basic knowledge of this Orisa and is able to take care of it by himself, he can begin his initiation with the babalawo who is carrying out his learning. Divinations must be carried out to know what sacrifices are necessary before their initiation.

We must remember that in Traditional Yoruba practice the person interested in initiation must acquire knowledge before doing it. At Ilé Awo we help you check your knowledge of Ifá and the Orisa with the exclusive tests that you can find in Ojú Odù.

How to feed Osain

The purpose for which Osanyin is served can be both good and bad. It can be taken care of to cure a disease to a person, to obtain good luck, riches or even to achieve the destruction of an enemy. The preparation of medicines is done with powerful enchantments that have the name of Ofo Ase.


It can be served with guinea pepper, Obi abata (kola nut), roasted corn, and alcoholic beverages. Usually the person making the offering to Osain kneels on one leg at the time of propitiation. Once these medicines are prepared, they are placed in the Osun de Osanyin, for the Orisa to approve.

Some taboo

In many rituals the participation of women is prohibited, especially when they are menstruating. As well as, on many occasions, there are herbs that cannot be united since they can cause a detrimental effect. Should not be attended without the minimum knowledge so that care is not harmful.

Osanyin types in traditional practice

There is only one type of Osanyin, usually called “Eepa Osanyin”. He is known as Elese Kan ti or le elese meji sare (The one-legged man who makes the two-legged man run).

However, the herbs used with this Orisa are classified into four groups, which correspond to the four elements of nature: water, air, earth and fire. These are: ewe afeefe (air – wind blades); ewe inon (blades of fire); ewe omi (water leaves); and ewe ile or ewe igbo (leaves from the ground or from the forest).