I. PAPA LEGBA:
Also Eleggua, Elegua. The trickster, the opener of the way and the guardian of the crossroads, both physical and spiritual. Comparable to Hermes or Mercury in the European tradition, Legba makes the impossible possible. He lifts us beyond the limitation we impose upon ourselves in daily life. He is identified with portrayals of St. Peter and St. Nicholas. His favorite offering is candy and tobacco and coconuts. You have to ask him to carry your words to the other Orisha: he is the first one asked.
Also Obatalia. From the same root-word as the word Obeah. The Mother-Father responsible for the creation of our physical bodies. Literally "chief of the white cloth," the integration of ALL colors into one as found in White Light Shields for example. Obatala's help is sought in ethical dilemmas and the problems of self-discipline. He is generally identified with the crucified Christ. Obatala is androgynous and sometimes depicted very old, sometimes quite young. Obatala taught the people how to do Ifa, the table divination system. He is gentle, a sky-god, but corresponds to Damballah, the primordial serpent as well. Notice the heavy ring of integrated opposites in his being such as mother-father, androgynous, young-old, dark-light, good-evil, right-wrong --- paralleling such deep religious themes as the concept of Sunyata for example.
Also Yemalia, Yemalla. Literally "mother of fishes". She rules birth and the surface of the oceans, and works closely with Olokun, who rules the depths. She works through dreams and intuition. Her waves wash away all sorrow. Her compassion nurtures her children through any spiritual or emotional crisis. Her love sustains life. She is identified with Mary, Star of the Sea.
Also Ochum. The Goddess of love and abundance. The power of desire is hers, and she often uses s this power to transform. She is beauty, laughter, and generosity. The erotic is her sacrament. She is often compared to Aphrodite, and is identified with the portrayal of Our Lady of Caridad. Oshun likes to heal hurt with love, and plants seeds of change in people.
A revolution in constant progress, Oya brings sudden change. She is a whirlwind, an amazon, a huntress, and a wild buffalo. Lightning and rainbows are signs of her presence. She also rules communication between the living and the dead. Think of Hecate or Artemis. She is identified mostly with Saint Catherine. The Spanish name for Saint Catherine is Santa Catalina. Interestingly enough, 'la Catalina,' who is cited as having similar powers and attributes as OYA, was the name of the infamous sorceress that bedeviled both Don Juan Matus and Carlos Castaneda.
Also Shango. Chango is a king, and his name is synonymous with justice. He lived in historical times and ruled as the fourth Alafin (or chieftain) of Oyo, a city in modern-day Nigeria. He is a knight in shining armor. He uses lightning and thunder to enhance the fertility of the earth and of his followers. Myths concerning his death (or rather the fact that it did not occur) link him to the European figure of the Hanged God. He is identified with representations of Saint Barbara.
Also Ogum. God of iron and machines, Ogoun is a smith, a soldier, and a politician. In modern times he has come to be known as the patron of truck drivers. He is the spirit of the frontier, cutting paths, through the wilderness with his ever-present machete. Although Ogoun clears the way for civilization, he often prefers to dwell alone in the wilderness. He is identified with Saint Anthony.