Olokun: The Deity of the Deep Sea

Hailee Gabbard

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Olokun, according to Yoruba mythology, is the owner and ruler of the sea. Olokun is known for fertility, healing, wealth, and abundance. They are an Orisha that could be closely identified as a mermaid or merman. Olokun is a spirit of life and death. The ocean is seen as the creator of all life, and Olokun is also responsible for guiding spirits to earth and to the other side. Olokun was born with the sea, and is responsible for the deepest depths of the water. Olokun is an androgynous figure that takes on the gender of male or female depending on the legend and where it is being told.

Olokun is known as being a figure in charge of creation and death. Many myths and modern scientists believe that living beings first emerged from the sea. In the same respect, humans are born from the womb and the sac of salty fluids. Whereas, the bottom of the sea is also seen as being the realm of death, or a watery graveyard. Olokun is known for being in charge of the area that souls must cross in order to be born or die.

Also, during the early stages of creation, Olokun lived in the sea while the other deities lived in the skies. This gave Olokun power and seniority over the rest of the deities. Olokun had lived in the ocean forever, giving them extreme power over the space.

Overview of Olokun

Source – Original Botanica

Olokun is seen as one of the most resilient Orishas in the religion of Yoruba. They are androgynous and can take any form that they please. They are the guardian of the deepest parts of the sea, and possess the oceans. They own the riches that are found there. They reside in the deep sea and are very happy there. They are a passionate and commanding Orisha that represents perseverance, strength, and wisdom. It is known that if you decide to include Olokun into your prayers, you will be given her protection and her guidance.

The Orisha Yemaya and Olokun are connected, and are often confused. Some say that they are brother and sister, while others think they are husband and wife. Olokun’s name possesses the word “olo” which means “owner,” and “okun” which means “ocean”. This directly relates to her name giving her the authority over all water and water deities, while Yemaya is in charge of looking over the shallower parts of the seas.


  • Guardian of the Deep Sea
  • Goddess of the Ocean
  • Owner of the Sea
  • Orisha of the Water


Since Olokun is known as the ruler of the water and all water deities, they are highly known for their leadership and powers over all in and around the water. They are also known for their abilities to give wealth, health, and prosperity. Olokun is also thought of as the deity that is in charge of getting spirits into the world and guiding them into the afterlife.


Source – Pinterest

Since Olokun is an androgynous goddess, they are depicted as being either male or female. But, no matter their gender, Olokun is always shown with a fishtail and is often carrying a mask. They are usually wearing a robe that is dark navy blue and has accents of nine different colors. It is also said that Olokun lives in a white tureen or a sealed terra-cotta pot that houses her secrets. Usually, Olokun is depicted as living at the bottom, darkest part of the ocean. If Olokun did not stay at the bottom of the ocean, people worried that Olokun would cause too much damage to humankind.


Olokun is very mysterious. They are often seen with dark magic because where they live, in the depths of the ocean, there is no light. They are known for the darkness that is seen within us all. Olokun is a destructive force of life, whereas Yemaya is the creative force of life. Olokun works very closely with Oya, who is the deity of the winds, to together make terrible storms and floods. It is said that Olokun is forced to stay at the bottom of the ocean, so they cannot reign havoc on land. When someone dies out at sea, it is said that they are forced to stay with Olokun until they decide to release them to their ancestors.

Olokun is also very politically powerful. In ancient times, cowrie shells were used for money, and Olokun owned all of the wealth in the sea. Sailors would provide offerings before their journeys of shells to Olokun.

Olokun is also known for being very angry and quite dangerous. Many people fear Olokun and the deepest depths of the ocean. Olokun has very humanized characteristics, but is also made out to be someone that can get extremely angry and destructive over small things.


Source – Heritage

Olokun is usually associated with a blue and white tureen or a sealed terra-cotta pot that they reside in. This is usually decorated with shells and is rumored to hold all of her secrets.

Olokun wears a beaded necklace that has coral, milky white, green, and dark blue. Her numbers are seven and nine, and the colors they are seen with are blue and beige.

Festivals and Rituals

Source – Culture Trip

If you plan to call on Olokun, her offerings are always taken to the sea. People call on her for prosperity, health, and blessings. The sacrificial animals associated with Olokun are geese, pigeons, guinea hens, pigs, roosters, and ducks. They love all fruits, cooked yams, molasses, grains, and melons.

Another way to call upon Olokun is to spread a white handkerchief on your altar. Then place a Olokun doll or statue on the handkerchief. Then put some Yemaya incense powder on the charcoal and light it. Once the incense is lit, you can begin to make your offerings to Olokun.

The Olokun Festival is an annual cultural festival celebrated in Nigeria and throughout the lands of Yoruba religion. Olokun is seen as one of the goddesses that brought the world together as it is today, and also the goddess that gave women the power to bear children. The people who worship dress in beautiful white attire and they coat their face in white chalk. The Edos, in Usonigbe, where Olokun’s shrine is, celebrate in late February, whereas in Lagos State, they celebrate in November.

Legends associated with Olokun

Olokun is a strong and powerful god/goddess. They are known for their temper and their anger of anger have much to do with many legends surrounding Olokun.

Origin story

Source – Pixels

According to Yoruba mythology, Olokun has been around since the creation of the earth. When Oludumare, an all-powerful god, went to earth for the first time, it was nothing but fire and burning rocks. He decided that earth would have mountains, valleys, and savannas. Oludumare created clouds. When he began this creation process, there were holes left in the earth from where the fires had been the most violent. In the deepest and darkest hole was born Olokun, or the ocean.

In the creation of mankind and earth, there were some deities that were not the happiest with humans, and Olokun was one of them. Olokun had resided in the water long before land and humans, and was upset with the change in their habitat, and went out to destroy humankind. Olokun began to flood the land that Obatala, the deity that created the earth, and killed many people before other gods were able to come back to earth and help restore the flooded world back to order.

Legend – The Creator of the Atlantic Ocean

Source – ArtStation

When Olokun, in the form of a female, was said to be the wife of Oduduwa, who was a great Emperor. He had many other wives, and this made Olokun extremely jealous. She is often so angry, that it is said that she created the Atlantic Ocean out of a fit of rage. This is why Olokun is depicted in many photos as being chained to the bottom of the ocean. This is because everyone is afraid that Olokun will destroy humanity because they believe that humans do not show the proper reverence.

There are a lot of legends that told stories of Olokun wanting to take out the human race because she feels that humans do not worship her correctly or enough. When she is angry she can create devastating floods and the other deities make sure that she stays near the bottom of the ocean.

Legend – Olokun is in Charge of Waves

Source – OpenSea

It is known that Olokun gets angry quite easily. When Olokun thought that they were not being respected in the way that they were not supposed to, Olokun ordered huge waves to take over the land. The waves in the ocean began to get bigger, darker, and move toward the edge of the land. When humans were created, Olokun was upset that they took up part of his space that used to be ocean. And, when they did not respect him in the way that he wanted, he wanted them gone. Right before he caused a huge flood that would have wiped out humankind, Obatala, who was the orisha who created human beings, put himself between Olokun and humans. Because of Olokun’s respect for Obatala, he abandoned his plan to wipe out all of humanity. But, when the sea is choppy and the waves are huge, it is because Olokun is angry.

Connections of Other Religions

The title, Ori Olokun, refers to a head that was found in the late 19th century in Ife-Ife in the Olokun Grove. The explorer Frobenius discovered this monument in the early 20th century, and thought that this lost art belonged to the lost Atlantis of the Greeks. After further research, he researched and found that this was from the Yoruba deity, and noticed how similar this deity was to Greek Poseidon. This monument was a sand casting of brass, which is copper and zinc.

Modern appearances

Source – Opensea

Olokun is still widely worshiped today. Being the deity that rules the ocean, many people travel to make many offerings to Olokun before their journeys. The ocean itself is considered Olokun’s sacred sites, and all rivers that flow into the sea.

Olokun is one of the most powerful orishas and is highly feared and worshiped today. They are seen in many depictions of mermaids and mermen, or creatures that live in the ocean. Olokun is still prayed to and thought to be the deity in charge of making sure that sailors make their voyages home okay.

Final thoughts

Olokun, being the ruler of the ocean, is still widely worshiped as one of the most powerful deities out there. Depending on the legend, Olokun is an androgynous figure that is either gender. Olokun is very powerful and has the power to destroy humankind and the earth as we know it. They are currently locked at the deepest and darkest part of the ocean, and have to stay there for the protection of humankind. Olokun is known for being in charge of the creation and death of spirits. Olokun guides spirits into the world and back out and is worshiped heavily by the people of Yoruba still today

Resources –

 Original Botanica 

The Secrets of the Sea

The Nation

Occult World

Did we miss something? Do you know another aspect of this legend? Don't hesitate to reach out!

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