Mystifying tale of the Yoruba Trickster God Eshu


The tremendously popular ESHU directs traffic along the Road of Life from his abode at the Crossroads of Fortune. If you’re faced with an important choice or a powerful opportunity, ESHU can offer advice to help swing things your way. A super-speedy go-between, he can carry complaints to the Gods, questions to the spirit world, and messages to any living thing. He serves Ifa, the chief god, as a messenger between heaven and earth.

Image result for eshu giving advice

This Eshu is a dancer and a lover of money. Among its characteristics are that it is very mocking, gluttonous, spoiled and often malicious.

Eshu requires constant appeasement in order to carry out his assigned functions of conveying sacrifices and divining the future. One myth depicts Eshu as tricking Ifa out of the secrets of divination; another, in which Eshu restores Ifa from his imprisonment in a palm tree, casts him as the founder of the Ifa religion.

Image result for eshu looking down on the dead
An elaborate shrine to the Orisha Eshu featuring His trademark colors of red and black. Eshu’s Trickster energies are likened to that of a child’s.

With his connections, ESHU can be a powerful ally. But he’s also a Trickster God with a sense of humor and will often throw a spanner in the works to keep life interesting. This could explain why we don’t always get what we want. Be careful — this master of crossroads is also a master of cross-purposes. The perfect deity for the internet age.

Image result for eshu tricking a man

This master of crossroads is also a master of cross-purposes. 

Interestingly, while ESHU is often portrayed as an old man, another incarnation is that of a young child, because he is associated with both the end and the beginning of life. He is typically dressed in red and black, and often appears in his role as warrior and protector.

15" House of Elegua Casa Statue Santeria Siete Potencias African God Orisha
Another incarnation of Eshu is that of a young child, because he is associated with both the end and the beginning of life.

For many Santeros, it is important to give ESHU his due, because he plays a role in every aspect of our lives. While he offers us opportunity, he is just as likely to throw an obstacle in our way.

Related image
Eshu with flute: Trickster God of the Yoruba, Nigeria Wood, leather and kauri shells


 ESHU originates in the Yoruba culture and religion of West Africa. One of the most mystifying stories about the deity is that Eshu painted half of his body black and half red. Half of his garments were crimson, and half were pure black. Thus attired, he walked down a street running through the lands of his followers. Half of his people saw him as a powerful red deity, while the other half saw him as a beautiful black god. Soon the worshipers were arguing about what they had seen, then they were fighting, and finally the machetes came out and they were killing each other. Neighbors hacked apart former neighbors in a holy war about the nature of their god.

Image result for Eshu painted half of his body black and half red.
Eshu painted half of his body black and half red. Half of his garments were crimson, and half were pure black.

Appropriately the myth has two endings. In one, Eshu returned to his followers and showed them what he had done. His lesson was a harsh but effective way of teaching humans that their beliefs are dependent on their perspective. His worshipers learned that failure to keep an open mind can lead to violence and tragedy. In the second version of the myth, he looked down on the carnage he had caused and laughed at how easily humans are led astray. Then he turned his back and went elsewhere, leaving his followers to their slaughter.

Related image
Courtesy photography series by James C. Lewis and Noire 3000 Studios

Written by James Gathitu

I am a writer, performer, creative entrepreneur, and adventurer! My journey has been crazy and has led me at this very moment to you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: