Olokun, primordial ruler of the sea, bestows fertility, healing, abundance, and wealth. Olokun’s identity, gender, and even function depend upon where his/her myth is told. In Nigeria, Olokun is the rich, powerful king of the sea who presides over a grand royal court. This Olokun did not survive the slave trade’s Middle Passage from Africa to the Caribbean and Brazil. In African Diaspora traditions, Olokun resides at the bottom of the sea.

Yemaya emerged as the preeminent Yoruba spirit of the sea in the Western Hemisphere. Olokun is variously understood as Yemaya’s mother, sister, or alter ego. Sometimes Yemaya rules the upper part of the sea while Olokun rules the darkest depths. In the context of these Western traditions, Olokun is a silent, solitary, brooding presence on the ocean floor. She is almost inevitably female and venerated alongside Yemaya.

Olokun is a spirit of life and death. The ocean may be understood as the source of all life. Many ancient creation myths correspond to modern scientific theories that living beings first emerged from the sea. Likewise, each individual human being emerges from the womb’s amniotic sac of salty fluids. The bottom of the sea is also the realm of death, the proverbial watery graveyard. Olokun controls the spiritual staging area that human souls must cross to be born or to return to the spirit realm at death.

Olokun as spirit of the depths can heal the most profound, primal pain, including psychic or physical abuse that occurred in infancy or even in the womb, prior to birth. Olokun can reach and heal what occurred so early that it is pre-speech and cannot be articulated.




Olokun may manifest as a mermaid, merman, giant sea snake, male human, female human, or someone so old it’s no longer possible to tell.


Olokun may be represented by a large mirrored box covered with a white cloth.


From 31 December until 6 January




The sea, plus marshes and mangrove swamps where the sea has intruded. Olokun is also sometimes considered ruler of all rivers, which flow into the sea.


Seashells, salt water, things that recall the treasures of the sea


  • Mermaid
  • Olosa
  • Ora
  • Orisha
  • Yemaya
  • Yewá


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.


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