top of page
  • Writer's pictureVoodoo Vixen

Ogou: Voodoo God of Iron & Magic

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

Ogun is a familiar name in several African religions as he has been worshipped on the content since at least 500 BC. He made his way into Haitian Voodoo from the Yoruba religion and therefore is closely associated with the Ogun of Candomble. But in Haitian Voodoo, he is often called Ogou, and we will use this name here to distinguish him.

Ogou is often called an Orixa, as he is in Candomble, but he can perhaps be best understood as a Lwa of the Nago family. As a Lwa he is one of the divine spirits that embody the elements of the world underneath the unknowable creator god Bondye.

Ogou radiates powerful personal energy known as Ashe. He is the god of blacksmiths, and all things metal are sacred to him. He is a master warrior, hunter, and healer, and also has deep knowledge of herbology and the sacred arts. He is a teacher of Voodoo rituals, and also the protector of the sacred altar.

Street art Ogou design with sword and grass skirt

Origins of Ogou

Ogou is considered very important among the Lwa, and it may even have been Ogou that led the Lwa into the universe and taught them how to adapt to the world. But he was not their leader. At one point he did try to usurp power, but he was ousted and exiled.

Nevertheless, Ogou is a powerful and charismatic warrior leader whose potent energy, known as his Ashe, glows in his eyes. This is why he is capable of cutting through obstacles with his machete. This is something that he can do for his followers, and he is believed to have for the Haitian people in the revolutionary war that led to eventual independence.

The Master Blacksmith

First and foremost, Ogou is a master blacksmith who creates the weapons of war, but also healing and agriculture, though he is not considered an agricultural god. He is linked with all things made from metal, including modern instruments such as guns and cars.

Car accidents are often considered to be caused by the wrath of Ogou, and you can tie a red piece of fabric around your rear-view mirror to invoke the aid of the god on the road.

Metal can always be used in rituals to call Ogou, and horseshoes are commonly used for this purpose. The Lwa also hates liars, and metal can be used to swear oaths. Those who break their oath will face Ogun’s justice.

Representation of Ogou at his forge

God of Warriors and Hunters

As well as creating weapons, Ogou is also an expert at wielding them, and he is always seen with a machete in hand. He is invoked by both warriors and hunters for success. As an extension of this, Ogou has become a patron of police and law enforcement. This suits a god that believes in justice and fair treatment of others.

He is considered the ultimate warrior in terms of his courage. Ogou is described as a man who knows fear but vanquishes it. He is able to stare into the abyss of defeat and maintain his confidence. He embraces what challenges him like an eagle grabs its prey in its talons.

Ogou as forest shaman

Guardian of the Forest

While Ogou is usually depicted as a warrior with a machete in hand, he is sometimes shown as a forest hermit. As a man who lives alone in the forest with his dogs working his metal craft and engaging in shamanic practices. There has long been a connection between blacksmiths and ancient spiritual knowledge in many African cultures.

As such, he is thought to know the secrets of the forests and of healing herbs. He can often teach his followers the intricacies of natural magic. He is also closely associated with transformational magic, such as the transformation of the werewolf.

His shamanic knowledge means that Ogou is also a healer, and is often called Ogou Balendjo in this capacity as the sacred physician. He is associated with blood and is most commonly called on in relation to diseases affecting the blood, or for safety during surgery. But devotees should never approach Ogou while bleeding, whether as part of their menstrual cycle or due to a wound.

This association with the wild woods is why altars of Ogou are often placed outdoors in forested areas. Though they may also be placed near forges or on the floor behind the front door. As a warrior, he also plays the role of protector of the Voodoo altar.

Ogou embroidery in green and purple

Symbolism of Ogou

Ogou is consistently depicted as a big, virile, and powerful man who is handsome and charismatic, but has eyes that radiate with his unmistakable personal energy, his Ashe. He may wear a grass skirt and he is often accompanied by dogs. He always has his trademark metal machete in hand.

His colors are red, black, and green, and he is closely associated with metal cauldrons, but they must always have three legs. Sacrifices to Ogou can be placed in such a cauldron.

The Lwa often receives animal sacrifices, always of male animals, preferable roosters or dogs. But he can also be appeased with ritual meals, either mashed corn steamed in banana leaves or a stew of beans, beef, and pork.

Many herbs are associated with the deity including eucalyptus, sarsaparilla, boneset, thistle, restharrow, senna, red pepper, black pepper, mastic tree, castor oil plant, oak leaves, and indigo plant. You can place these herbs between two pieces of metal and rub them together to summon Ogou.

Ogou has a variety of different veves, ephemeral symbols drawn on the ground as part of Voodoo rituals. This is not surprising since, while common elements persist, Voodoo practitioners make their own veve. His symbol looks like wrought iron and often contains sword or spear-like shapes.

Voodoo Veve of Ogou

65 views0 comments
bottom of page