Like Many Black Women, Her True Power Is The Love That Grew Alongside Her Sorrow

“Who can listen to a story of loneliness and despair without taking the risk of experiencing similar pains in [their] own heart and even losing [their] precious peace of mind?” – Henri Nouwen. This African Orisha knows the answer. What can she teach us about sorrow and love?

Like Many Black Women, Her True Power Is The Love That Grew Alongside Her Sorrow
Via Wikimedia Commons

Oya knew pain. Intimately. Though the Orisha is closely associated with death, there is much more to her story. And perhaps Black women, more than anyone else, will see their stories in hers.

One of the most powerful goddesses, Oya had the power to generate storms. She was a psychic, clairvoyant, and controller of the weather. But she wasn’t always so. To become the woman she was, she experienced the loss of children and the pain of losing her husband.

Through her pain, she gained the ability to reawaken her womb and to hold back the power of life and death. Although she is often associated with cemeteries and funerals, the true power of her existence is to renew, protect, and bring about rapid transformation. So what does this mean for Black women?

Like Oya, Black women are often portrayed by the characteristics of storms: loud, destructive, angry, and hostile. This stereotype is not only ingrained in American culture, but it’s also the exact opposite of how Black women have traditionally served as nurturers, protectors, and loving, community-defending warriors.

Black women embody the spirit of Oya, and always have. The love they show our communities gives us the strength to keep renewing ourselves – and our fight for justice. What parts of Oya do you identify with most closely?

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