Oshun and Pumpkin Mythology

A photo of orange pumpkins taken with a selective focus lens.

Oshun and Pumpkin Mythology

Oshun is a Yoruban river goddess (orisha) of fertility, love, and wealth and is intricately connected to the magic of pumpkins. As legend would have it, she even stores her magical tools and ingredients in a pumpkin.

Oshun’s Sacred Fruit

Pumpkins are sacred to Oshun, and the pumpkin fruit and its seeds are all considered children of Oshun. Therefore it is important not to consume pumpkin or pumpkin seeds when beseeching the help of Oshun as she finds this quite offensive.

Pumpkin Offerings for Oshun

There are certain magical spells and offerings, however, that you can employ that will garner Oshun’s attention according to your specific needs. As she is a river goddess, the river is where she would receive these offerings.

Three pumpkins — large and small — resting on a haystack with strings of orange lights in the background.

Offerings for Conception and Wealth

For instance, if you’re looking to conceive, take a whole pumpkin, smear it with honey and throw it into a river for Oshun’s blessing on your fertility efforts. When looking for wealth, throw a handful of pumpkin seeds into the river.

Offering Oshun Pumpkins to Attract Love

If you carve the name of the one you wish to love into a pumpkin and throw it into the river, Oshun will be more than happy to assist you with your courtship.

Pumpkin in Mythology: Oshun and the Calabaza

Typical of Yoruba culture are patakis – myths or legends that explain how a Yoruba deity came to be closely associated with or favor a certain food. Oshun is no exception to this rule, and there exists a tale that explains her deep connection to pumpkins.

The Most Beautiful Calabaza in Oshun’s Field

According to the mythology, Oshun had a calabaza (pumpkin) field that she cared for with much love and attention. One of her pumpkins became big, plump, and beautiful, much to the jealousy of the other pumpkins, who saw fit to harass and insult this pumpkin.

Oshun Shows Pity on the Beautiful Pumpkin

Eventually, the abuse became too much to bear, and the beautiful pumpkin cried out to Oshun. Oshun took pity on the pumpkin and brought it inside to sleep with her in her bed. This frustrated Oshun’s husband, Orunmila, who angrily threw the pumpkin onto the floor.

A person in a white lace dress holding a medium-sized pumpkin near her lower torso.

The Beautiful Calabaza Seeks Revenge

The pumpkin was furious at her treatment at the hands of Orunmila and sought her revenge the next day by stealing money from Orunmila that he desperately needed to pay his gatekeeper, Echu.

The Pumpkin Stokes the Fires of Animosity

But Echu was not sympathetic. He demanded Orunmila pay him or he would do whatever he needed to ruin Orunmila and Oshun’s marriage. This enmity proved to be a fortuitous outcome for the pumpkin, and she proceeded to stoke the fires of animosity.

Adding Alcohol to the Fire

The pumpkin supplied Echu with an ample amount of liquor to stimulate his malcontent but made him ensure he would not harm Oshun. Echu, fueled by an alcohol-laden haze, cycled out of control as Orunmila’s fortunes, too, began to turn for the worse with the loss of his finances.

Two bright orange pumpkins on a dark gray wooden surface.

Orunmila Confronts a Drunk Echu

The two eventually collided, as one day, a broke and destitute Orunmila returned home and tripped over a deeply inebriated Echu lying on his floor. Orunmila confronted Echu, asking him why in the world he was lying drunk on Orunmila’s floor.

Echu Blames the Pumpkin for His Drunkenness

Echu, speaking through his drunken stupor, placed the blame on the pumpkin and told Orunmila to ask her. So Orunmila went to Oshun and requested that Oshun interrogate her pumpkin and ask her how she was responsible for Echu’s debilitated condition.

Oshun Confronts the Pumpkin

Oshun confronted the pumpkin with these inquiries. The pumpkin was unwilling to admit to the charges placed before her but eventually gave up that she did steal money from Orunmila, but only to give the money to Oshun.

An assortment of different types of pumpkins.

Slicing the Pumpkin Open for the Truth

Oshun was unconvinced the pumpkin was telling the truth, and after a while of chasing her fleeing pumpkin around the house, she captured the pumpkin and sliced her open to discover what secrets the pumpkin had been keeping from her. Within the pumpkin now split in twain were two gold coins she had stolen from Orunmila.

Oshun Eats the Pumpkin and Becomes the Guardian of Money

So, perhaps as a punishment or probably because there’s no good reason to let a good pumpkin go to waste, Oshun consumed the pumpkin. It is through this tale that Oshun came to be known as the Guardian of Money.

Rows of ripe pumpkins in a field.

Pumpkin Fun Facts

Pumpkin seeds are also known as pepitas in North America, from the Spanish pepita de calabaza, which means “little seed of squash.”

What Parts of the Pumpkin Are Edible?

All parts of the pumpkin plant — seeds, shell, leaves, and flowers — are edible.

Is Pumpkin a Winter Squash?

All pumpkins are a form of winter squash.

A field full of pumpkins with a home in the background during sunset.

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