Ogoun' is the traditional warrior figure in Dahomehan religion. He is quite similar to the spirit Zeus in Greek religion/mythology. As such Ogoun is mighty, powerful, triumphal. In more recent time Ogoun has taken on a new face which is not quite related to his African roots. This is the crafty and powerful political leader. This political warrior points to where struggle is in modern Haiti.
He gives strength through prophecy and magic. It is Ogoun who is said to have planted the idea, led and given power to the slaves for the revolution and consequent freedom of 1804. He is called now to help people obtain a government more responsible to their needs.
Ogoun comes to mount people in various aspects of his character, and the people are quite familiar with each of them. Some of these aspects are: Ogoun the wounded warrior. Here he assumes a Christ-figure pose which the people know well from their Christian associations. As Ogoun Feraille he gives strength to the servitors by slapping them on the thighs or back. As Ogoun Badagris he may lift a person up and carry him or her around to indicate his special attention and patronage. To all the aspects of Ogoun there is the dominant theme of power and militancy.
His possessions can sometimes be violent. Those mounted by him are known to wash their hands in flaming rum without suffering from it later. They dress up in red wave a sabre or machete, chew a cigar and demand rum in an old phrase "Gren mwe fret" (my testicles are cold).
Often this rum is poured on the ground then lit and the fumes pervade the peristyle. The sword, or much more commonly, the machete is his weapon and he often does strange feats of poking himself with it, or even sticking the handle in the ground, then mounting the blade without piercing his skin.
Ogoun is identified with St. Jacques, the warrior general, and is often in the guise of a revolutionary war general.
Worship and Ritual[edit | edit source]
Ogou is often invoked during magical battles. Oftentimes, Houngans and Mambos are involved in magical
wars against each other, or against an enemy. There are also songs, chante pwen, which sung during someone’s ceremony will “kraze” it. “Kraze” meaning to break it. These are sometimes sung by a visiting Houngan or Mambo if he is in a battle with the Houngan or Mambo of the house. Ogou is also about justice. In Nigeria, people used to swear on the machete of Ogou the same way people swear on the Bible in court today. He is said to punish people who talk about things they have no business speaking of. Ogou represents battle, all sorts: with other people, with the government, with oneself, against outsiders.Like all Lwa, Ogou has songs that are sacred to him. Some of the songs are directed to a specific aspect of Ogou. Other songs are songs to Ogou in general. Still other songs combine the names of several Ogous, and they may be interacting. All Ogous are very close and related.
Some popular personalities are also considered Ogou. Ogou Dessalines comes to mind here. Other Ogou are straight Ginen. Some Ogou are considered to be Petro, or to be served in that rite. All Ogous, however, are served within the Nago Rite. The Nago nation comes just between Rada and Petro, in fact. So you have Rada Ogou and Petro Ogou.
Ogou’s colors are blue and red. White can also be added should you be serving an Ogou that is considered Rada. You will notice that blue and red are the colors of the Haitian Flag. Red, white, and blue are the colors of the US flag, also considered a superpower and warrior type nation.
You can buy red and blue kerchiefs for Met Ogou. Ogou sometimes dresses in khaki too. You might decide to at least get him a khaki military shirt. He may wear a Panama hat, a particular straw hat. He may even dress like a military general. Some Ogous are known as soldiers.
Ogou’s sacrificial animal is a red rooster. The bigger and more beautiful rooster the better. He also takes bulls for sacrifice too.
Most Ogou drink rum. Some, especially the Petro Ogou, prefer kleren. This is really raw rum. The rum may be steeped in different herbs accordingly too. One Ogou in particular likes Akasan ak siwo (Its sort of a milkshake type of drink with syrup).
You can serve Ogou
- red rice and beans
- red candles
- fresh fruit such as bananas, and mangoes in particular, as they are associated with him
- sweet potatoes
You should serve him in a kwi (calabash bowl). You can give him a machete and a cigar too.
You can use a large rock or the bottom of a pot to bang the machete against. While you do this, call Ogou. It is best if this rock has been specially prepared by a Houngan or Mambo as a pwen to call Ogou. It will get his attention faster. Yell for Ogou. Dance for Ogou, and sing for Ogou.
You can also invoke Ogou using a tcha tcha. Salute the four directions. Salute with your offerings too. Usually when food is given to a Lwa to consume, a candle is put in the center and lit.
When you are finished, ask Ogou to serve you. Ask him to find you a job, if that is what you need (this is a particularly good task to ask of Ogou, as he is a workaholic). Tell him to protect you, basically ask him for what you need. You should then thank him and leave. After at least twenty four hours, you can take the food to the woods and leave it there.
Leave the rum and other drinks on the altar. Leave your machete there too, along with your other gifts. When you want to call Ogou, use his rum to libate. Keep Ogou happy and he will work his hardest to do the same for you.