In the Santeria religion, Oshun Santeria is the orisha of rivers and other freshwater bodies (such as lakes, ponds, steams, etc.) She is recognized as the deity that oversees the river of the same name, the Osun River in Nigeria. Just as the element of water gives life to everything on Earth, Oshun Santeria controls all that makes life worth living such as love, children, prosperity and pleasure. 

Known as the youngest and most beautiful of all the orishas, Oshun Santeria is the orisha of love matters, particularly sexuality and fertility. Her focus is on the beginnings of romance, when two lovers are in that blissful state of new love. Like many love deities around the world, she is known for her exceptional beauty, sexuality, and femininity. While other orishas may use forceful power to resolve their problems, she uses her femininity and sexuality as a solution. For example, there was a time when Oggún exiled himself away from civilization. While the other orishas could not get him to come back, Oshun Santeria had a plan. She went into the forest where Oggún was hiding and began to dance. This attracted his interest and he became mesmerized by her beauty. Once he took notice of her, she took some honey from the honeypot she always had with her and put it on his lips. He couldn’t resist and willingly came back to civilization with her. 

Just like many love deities around the world, Oshun Santeria has had numerous lovers. She is famously known for being the wife of Orula, the orisha of divination, but has also had numerous affairs (such as with Oggún after their encounter in the forest). But no matter what, her true love will always be Changó, the orisha of thunder. She fell in love with him at first sight, and no matter how many times he breaks her heart, she remains devoted to him. 

Oshun Santeria also presides over matters of the abdomen. Any problems with the abdomen area can be healed by Oshun, but she particularly focuses on issues of fertility. She is also the orisha of luxury and fine things. She is quite frond of jewelry, especially gold and copper. However, she was not always adorned with jewels and prosperity. Once, she was so poor that she only had one dress. She had to keep rewashing the dress in a river every day. After a while, the dress turned yellow with age. That is why she is associated with the color yellow and is often depicted in a yellow dress in artwork

Oshun’s attributed number is five, and she is often depicted wearing five bracelets. She is also associated with the patron saint of Cuba, Our Lady del Caridad del Cobre. This makes her especially celebrated by the Cubans and her feast day is September 8th. She has also been known to be an orisha of exile, watching over her children when they were brought over to the Americas from Africa to be sold as slaves. She continued to watch her people when they exiled from Cuba during the revolution, making her even more cherished to the Cuban people. 

She is also represented by the vulture or the peacock. Long ago, the orishas decided they no longer wished to serve Olodumare. They planned to overthrow him and divide the power amongst them. When Olodumare heard of this, he stopped the rains from coming down which caused a drought. Soon the orishas saw the error of their ways and wished to go see Olodumare to beg forgiveness. However, none of them could reach Olodumare because he was so far away. Oshun, disguised as a peacock (or what we call a vulture), offered to fly to him to ask forgiveness. While the orishas laughed at her, she flew high towards the sun to reach Olodumare. Though the heat was unbearable, and the journey was long, her love for humanity kept her going. When she reached Olodumare, he took pity on her for her suffering and believed everything she told him. He forgave the orishas and humanity and brought back the rains. 

As seen in the previous story, Oshun Santeria has a wonderfully generous and loving personality. Her kind disposition only adds to her beauty. However, she can become petty and jealous, especially when her love, Changó, is chasing other women. Due to her love of finer things, she can also be superficial at times. If angered, she is hard to appease, and she may take away the blessings she once bestowed.

Oshun Santeria is the wife of Orula, and therefore has a connection with the babalao. The babalao are the high priests of Santeria and they serve Orula. The word “babalao” means “father of the mysteries” in the Yoruba language. The story of how Oshun’s connection to the babalao starts before Oshun met her husband. Before meeting Oshun, Orula was married to Yemaya. During those times, Orula had been using a divination system that included seashells. Orula decided to go on a trip, and Yemaya, who had watched Orula doing divination, decided to continue divination for her husband so that he would not lose any business. However, she turned out to be better than him and business boomed. When Orula returned, he was furious with Yemaya for taking over his business. He abandoned her and set off to find a divination system which is the system that is used today with the babalao. Once Orula created the new system, he made it a rule that babalao can only be male. 

However, the babalao can marry and their wives are called apetebi. After abandoning Yemaya, Orula met Oshun and married her. Since this occurred right after learning the new divination system, this made Oshun the first apetebi. This is the foundation of her relationship with the babalao. As the apetebi of Orula, she has created a special bond with the babalao and their wives. 

When desiring to work with Oshun Santeria, one must bring her an offering. Her favorite offerings are gold (or any fine jewelry) and honey. If making an offering of honey, make sure to taste it first to show that it is not poisoned. Other offerings could include anything with pumpkin, cinnamon, oranges, copper, white wine, and other sweet foods.