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Oya is one of the seven primary orisha in the Yoruba religion, which originated in the Old Oyo Empire of Ancient Yorubaland, present-day Nigeria. The name Oya is defined by the action “she tore,” “O-ya” in Yoruba. The River Niger, the thunderbolt, fire, tornadoes, buffalo, and the wind represent this female orisha. Guardian of the gates of death, she stands at the gates of the cemetery, yet she does not represent death. She is only the keeper and guardian of the gates, allowing souls to enter. Because of her post, she has a special relationship with the ancestor world (egun and egungun). Oya is actually the opposite of death; she is symbolic of the air that humans breathe, and she can perpetuate life or ...

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