A lot of Lukumi songs extol Ogun’s fearsome and ferocious capabilities. We know that he is responsible for blood being shed in war, for our enemies to be defeated, and we pray that we are victorious in our battles.
One song for Ogun states:
Ogun pa n’ilé, Ogun pa l’ona
Ogun kills in the house, Ogun kills on the path
Nowhere is safe for our enemies. Ogun can find them and has the ability to kill anywhere he goes. For those times when we don’t necessarily need to remind Ogun about blood and killing, we can sing:
Ogun wa n’ilé, Ogun wa l’ona
Ogun goes in the house, Ogun goes on the path
The song now means that Ogun is civilised, he is not of just brute strength and wilderness.
Going back for minute to his warrior side, when Ogun has returned from battle, you better believe he will be covered in the blood of his/our enemies. And so, the Lukumi sing:
Asho eje, Ogun de
Dressed in blood, Ogun arrives
“Ogun de” is also an epithet that can be exclaimed when singing and sacrificing for Ogun, that he has come to partake in his offerings and has been suitably satiated.
“Ogun de” can also be altered to “Ogun je”or “Ogun ye” which is another exclamatory phrase: “Ogun, feed” or “Ogun’s blood”.
These Lukumi phrases show some of the amazing ability of Yoruba words which, with a slight modification, such as a letter or a tone, the entire phrase can mean something quite different YET still be right on the money in describing another RELATED aspect/idea/symbol of the subject. It is like a kaleidoscope of words and meaning that condense and distill the essence or core of the orisha. With these puns, we can flatter, we can convey meanings that only a few may know, and we can have a dialogue. The word “Ogun” itself has several meanings – all to do with Ogun the orisha’s character and symbolism. Perhaps you can research a few meanings of the word which change with the accents on the vowels.
So, all of this blood we are talking about, if Ogun is wearing blood as in the song above, that denotes that it is not fresh, it has probably dried, perhaps caked, and turned a muddy or rusty colour. We call that colour “matipo” somewhere between brown and red.
Ogun Arere’s bead patterns combine the usual green and black associated with Ogun, but also sections of matipo…which denotes Arere’s victory in battle and having slain our enemies.