The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
The Divine Witch: Goddesses and Gods
An increasingly prominent orisha, Ochossi is most famous as the Orisha of the Hunt, although like Artemis, he is so much more. His ability to “hunt” may be interpreted metaphorically.
Ochossi’s name derives from a root word for “secret.” Some translate his name as “Left Handed Sorcerer.” Ochossi is a great magician. He knows everything about the powers of the forest, and about botanical power in general. Ochossi makes deadly arrow poison but also knows the rare antidotes. He is a master healer when he chooses. However, Ochossi’s arrows never miss their mark.
Ochossi lives in the forest with his brothers Elegba, the trickster spirit and Ogun, the divine ironworker who forges and blesses Ochossi’s tools. Together they are the hard-working magician-spirits classified as Santeria’s Warriors.
Ochossi is especially popular in the African-Diaspora traditions of Brazil and Cuba. Most of the orishas are envisioned as Africans; Ochossi, however, often manifests as a long-haired Native American hunter. Because anthropologists were unable to locate branches of his tradition in Nigeria, many assumed that Ochossi was an Indian addition to the African pantheon.
Further research however indicated that Ketu, the Yoruba kingdom where Ochossi was originally venerated, was utterly decimated by the slave trade from 1789 onwards. The majority of Ochossi’s priests were enslaved and transported to the West. His tradition ultimately only survived in the West, where he became an important, significant orisha. Ochossi is Patron of the Maroons, escaped communities of slaves living in remote, heavily wooded areas who appealed to him for protection.
Ochossi’s shrines are decorated with antlers, animal horns, and feathers although he has transitioned from forest-spirit to urban deity. In this guise his popularity has increased exponentially.
Ochossi has simple tastes, favoring offerings like a dish of honey, trail mix or roasted peanuts. He accepts a glass of milk with cornmeal and honey added, although he likes alcoholic beverages, too. His colors are lavender and brown; his sacred number is two. Ochossi is syncretized to Saint Sebastian, whose votive image always depicts him pierced by arrows.
See also Artemis; DICTIONARY: Orisha, Santeria; PLACES: Forest.