Candomblé is an Afro-American religion widely practised in Brazil. Òsùmàrè (a word in nagô language) is the proper name of the rainbow-serpent of Candomblé mythology. The rainbow-serpent represents mobility and activity, and it controls the forces that direct movement. Osumare is the Lord of all elongated things. The umbilical cord, for instance, is under its control. In Candomblé ritual, the umbilical cord is buried with the placenta under a palm tree, which becomes property of the newborn baby. The child's health will depend on the good conservation of this tree and on Osumare.

African Deity

In African religion there is also a rainbow-serpent connected to the Orixa Oxumare. Oxumare (O Shoo Mah Ray) is the rainbow. Oxumare is a rainbow serpent. Oxumare is also one of the Orixa that changes sexes. Some Orixa such as Oxossi have a path of the opposite sex (i.e. La Penya). Oxumare is male part of the year and female part of the year. In some Houses, Oxumare spends half the year with a male top and female bottom, and half with a female top and male bottom. Damballah Wedo is Oxumare's counterpart among the Fon based Lwa of the Vodoun religion. Like Damballah Wedo, Oxumare is a rainbow serpent. He/She is the messenger from Olodumare.

Among the African Yoruba, Olodumare (God) is essentially unreachable. Thus the Orixa. They are our intermediaries and helpers, because Olodumare has more important things to do than worry about the lives of insignificant humans (sorry about that). Oxumare is something of an exception to that generality. Oxumare brings messages to us directly from Olodumare. As such He/She is very important for our welfare.

When a Spirit Medium is working, it is very often Oxumare who holds place while another Orixa is being called.

In some groups, Oxumare is said to be a messenger of Xango. Other groups consider Him/Her to be more powerful, not limited to a single Orixa.

Alternating rainbow colored beads, or the tradition green bead with yellow stripes.

Oxumaré rarely accepts offerings. Sometimes pure water is accepted.

Colors and Day of the Week
Oxumare's colors are green and yellow or rainbow. Sunday is a traditional day for spiritual workings involving Him/Her.

Oxumare's Children
Oxumare's children are quiet and gentle people. They rarely speak, but when they do you'd best listen carefully. It is easy to confuse Oxumaré children with Oxala children. Oxumare children tend to be quieter.

Oxumaré is also a Capoeira association at Košice, Slovakia.[1]




  2. Our mothers, our powers, our texts: manifestations of Àjé in Africana literature by Teresa N. Washington
  3. Nickels in the Nation Sack: Continuity in Africana Spiritual Technologies by Teresa N. Washington

Further Reading

See also


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