Who is Oko?
Orisha Oko (also spelled Orishaoko or Orishaoco) is the orisha of agriculture, farming, fertility and the mysteries associated with the earth, life and death. He is one of the hardest working orishas for it is his job to work the earth, feed humanity and the orishas and keep the cycles of growing working year-round. Orisha Oko teaches us the mysteries of life and death, as it is, he who feeds us in life, but it is we who feed him at death when our bodies are buried in the earth. There is a pataki called “The Pact Between Orisha Oko and Olofi” found in the odu Irosun. Orisha Oko was one of the first orishas to discover his ashé when they arrived on earth, but he was tired of toiling all day in the fields to feed humanity and the orishas.
He is associated with the harvest of white African yams. He oversees the topsoil and the crops. He is also a God of Fertility and stories say that he drug his large testicles along the soil causing plants to spring forth with life.
Oko is Orisha's judge, according to tradition. In the event of a quarrel, he intervenes to settle the disagreement. Oko is a defender and protector of women.
He also serves as the trial judge for the other gods.
He carries a staff and plays a bone flute while dressed entirely in white clothing. Reproductions of his staff are made and used during agricultural celebrations. Traditionally the staff was made of wood but in more contemporary times the staff is made of iron. The staff is a phallic symbol representing fertility and protection of the farmer and their crops. The top is often adorned in beads of red and white for fertility. Yoruba priests of Orisha-Oko can be men or women. As a symbol of their priesthood, they have a red and white vertical line drawn over their foreheads.
Oko's symbol is the bull behind the plow. All cultivated plants are his domain. He wears nononsense workman’s clothes in earth tones, and his Incarnations are farmers, hunters, orranchers, people who live close to the soil and the plants. West African agriculture’s sorry state demands most of his attention these days. His Scions have joined those of the Shén Yandi Shennongshi and the Kami Prince Inari in an agricultural think tank, researching new technique to improve crop yields while campaigning against cocoa plantations, child slavery and wasteful corn ethanol. Òrìshà-Oko’s goal is to ensure that no human need ever go hungry again.