Orisha is also anglicized as orixa, but the "sh" more accurately reflects correct pronounciation to English speakers.
A list of the the more common/important orishas:
Most information condensed from:
- Elegba: also written as Elegua, and Eleguá, and also called Eshu-Elegba. Elegba is the lord of doors, roadwaysand crossroads, and the messenger of the orishas. He is said to be child-like in appearance. Elegba stands at the crossroads of all things, including between the human and the divine. Before any ritual, Elegba is first propitiated, as only he has the power to open the door betweeen the worlds. His colors are black and white, and his numbers are 3 and 21. He is often identified with St. Anthony.
- Ogún: the orisha of iron, labor and war. He has domain over all technology, and, because he is also the orisha of war, most technology is first used for warlike purposes. His number is 7, and his colors are green and black. He is often identified with St. Peter.
- Oshoshi: the hunter and scout of the orishas. Also the the translator for Obatalá, with whom he is closely identified. His colors are blue and yellow.
- Obatalá: the father of all of the orisha, as well as humanity itself. He is the lord of the minds of all men, and the source of all wisdom and compassion in the world, though he can also be severe when he enforces the world's justice. His color is white, and is often identified with the Resurrected Christ.
- Oyá: the orisha of winds, especially violent ones. Keeper of the cemetery gates and lady of the Dead. She was once married to Ogún, and is said to be a fierce warrior in her own right. Also closely associated with Shangó, with whom she shares dominion over storms. Her number is 9 and her color is maroon.
- Oshún: the orisha of sweet running water and fertility. She is also considered the best orisha to approach for help with financial problems. She is said to be the most alluring of the female orisha, and also has the power to heal with her sweet waters. Her number is 5, her colors yellow and gold, and she is also symbolized by the peacock and the vulture. She is often identified with Our Lady of Charity.
- Yemayá: the orisha of lakes and oceans. She is the older sister of Oshún, and also watches over maternity. All life is considered to originate in the ocean, and Yemayá has as many children as there are fish in the sea. She is said to be as deep and unknowable as the ocean itself, and thus is also the patroness of witchcraft. Her number is 7, her colors are blue and white, and her symbol, of course, is the fish.
- Shangó: the orisha of lightning, storms, fire, drums and dancing. The essence of virility, he is quick to anger, quick to pleasure, and has had relations with almost all the female orisha. He is said to be king of the orisha. His colors are red and white, his numbers are 4 and 6, and his symbol is a double-headed axe. Oddly enough for the most manly of the orisha, he is identified with a female saint, St. Barbara, because she is the patron saint of thunder and lightning.
- Orunmila: the orisha of divination in all its forms. Becuase he was allowed to view the creation of the Universe, he knows the destinies of all living things. His colors are green and yellow, which reflect his close ties with plants.