Yoruba Mythology – Aje

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I’ve always been interested in mythology. There’s something about the interaction between polytheistic gods and humanity that made the topic interesting. Actually, I love reading and learning about ancient and modern religion. Currently I’m reading the Bible and I find it fascinating. I’m part Nigerian (thanks to my father) and American (thanks to my mother) so their histories also fascinate me as well. I’ve never been to Nigeria so any information I know about the country is from my father, who was born in Lagos Nigeria in 1947 under British Rule. As a writer of vampire fiction, my goal is to represent as many races and different cultures as possible. There’s a Native American (Choctaw) character in my novella, Kei. Family Matters. I was curious if there were any references to vampire or vampire-like creatures in Yoruba mythology. Before writing my novel, Deamhan, I brushed up on psychic vampires in vampire lore from around the world. I’m a huge fan of sanguine (blood) vampires, but I also felt like psychic vampires don’t have the spotlight they deserve. So, I asked my father and he mentioned the word “Aje.” First, a brief history. According to Yoruba mythology, the very first two Orishas were Olurun, the father, and his two children, Oduduwa and Obatala; brother and sister. Brother and sister had a few children (incest much)and their male child, Ogun, violated the mother. Her body exploded, creating more Orishas, one of them being Aje. Aje is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. However, Aje also means energy. It’s a type of spiritual power that both men and women have, however, women are controllers of it. This type of energy can be good or bad, depending on how the owner uses it. The Aje from Christian/western mythology is primarily a female witch who sleeps with her legs up (sometimes.) She sucks blood. She releases her spirit and at midnight she flies to meet others like her under an oak tree. It’s inherited but Aje can change others by giving them tainted food. She’s called a witch, a vampire, and an evil spirit. So, do I personally think that Aje means witch or references witch? No. First, I had to look at the history behind the name and what it meant before it was “tainted” by western thought. I’m still trying to understand this lore because, well…I find it interesting. I want to know how this can fit into my writing and I believe that it’ll benefit me as an author to brush up on not only Western mythology but other mythologies as well. What I do know is that Nigerian religion (polytheistic) has influenced many religions in the Western world like Santeria, practiced in Cuba, and Candomble in Brazil. Both are rooted in Yoruba mythology. I’m not knowledgeable in the subject (yet) but I hope to be one day. How can I not be? Just look at this beautiful photography by James C. Lewis. It’s beautiful. This is what inspires me to know and to write more about mythology.      (Photos by James C. Lewis. Noire300Studios.) http://www.noire3000studios.com/album/yorubaafricanorishas?p=1#10 There are some fantastic articles about the subject. http://www.abibitumikasa.com/forums/showthread.php/35428-ARTICLE-AJE-The-Energy-The-Persona http://www.nairaland.com/781645/yoruba-mythology http://www.africapublic.com/african-myth-the-yoruba-creation-story-nigeria/