Who Is Elegua?

Elegua is a deity of the roads in some Latin American areas, such as Cuba and Puerto Rico. He is often syncretized with two saints and the Child of Atocha. Elegua is also an Orisha, meaning that he is a spirit in human form sent by the supreme Godhead Trinity of the Santeria religion. They include Olodumare, the creator, Olorun the ruler of the heavens, and the mediator between the two, Olofi. The Orishas are believed to have had previous lives in the spirit worlds. Or they are human beings who are deified upon their passings due to miraculous or extraordinarily selfless feats. 

Elegua, also known as Esu-Elegbara in Yoruba, is closely associated with another Orisha, Esu. However, Esu and Esu-Elegbara are sometimes believed to be the same entity. One major difference, though, is that there are 101 paths to Esu, while there are about 250 to Esu-Elegbara. Another is that Esu means “Father of Ogboni” while Esu-Elegbara means “master of force”. 

In Cuba and Puerto Rico, Esu-Elegbara is known as “owner” of paths and roads. Santeria conducts many rituals in Esu-Elegbara’s honor. But they must have Esu-Elegbara’s consent before pursuing the ritual at all. He is also always mentioned first in all Orisha ceremonies because he holds the key to all communications with the Orishas. Esu-Elegbara is said to be silent but aggressive. 

Esu-Elegbara is sometimes represented as a child, and at other times, as an old man. 
He could be said to be the Alpha and the Omega of the spirit worlds as he is said to represent both the beginning and the end of life. He is said to be very childlike at times and loves candy, toys, kites and anything else associated with childhood. The child version of Esu-Elegbara is typically depicted in Spanish colonial style red and black knee-length britches with a red kerchief or straw hat on his head. He also wears a red-and-black beaded necklace around his neck. It is said that he often dances or plays to attract human attention. Esu-Elegbara’s colors and black and red. His number is three and, hence, he is associated with multiples of threes. For those who are extremely devout to Esu-Elegbara, Monday is tribute day. Meaning that they believe in paying tribute to him by offering him something that he likes. 

Esu-Elegbara is typically called on by placing a stone representing him that can receive the Orisha’s energy. This is usually a special stone that’s shaped like a head with an outer layer of cement and cowrie shells for the facial features. Esu-Elegbara is said to live in the shallow clay dish. Once Esu-Elegbara is received, the practitioner is said to be halfway initiated. Though they can never perform all Orisha duties. 

It also involves a necklace like Esu-Elegbara’s red-and-black beaded one. The necklace is said to represent opposites of all things such as peace and war, life and death, etc. Esu-Elegbara being said to be the master of the roads is not completely literal. 

It is also due to the fact that Esu-Elegbara is believed to be a guide in tough decisions. If he is willing to help and the humans cooperate, everything usually goes smoothly. If he is not, he can add to the obstacles. As a result, Santeria practitioners believe that it’s essential to stay on Esu-Elegbara’s good side.