Yoruba Ethnoastronomy - “Orisha/Vodun” or How People’s Conceptions of the Sky Constructed Science

Reference work entry


For the Yoruba, the Sky is the domain of the Supreme God. They believe that “Olorun” or “Olodumaré” owns the Sky and communicates through secondary, intermediary deities sent to Earth by the Supreme God. These deities are “Orisha” but are also named by the Fon in the Republic of Benin as Vodun. Nowadays, Orisha, more widely known as Vodun, is regarded as satanic, magical, and demonic. Using basic archaeology of cosmological concepts, this false picture can be rejected and replaced by a logical and realistic one based on scientific evidence whereby Orisha/Vodun is conceived as a variant of several existing world views, a “science of the local”. Given that Western skepticism concerning African cultures’ knowledge arises mainly from misleading comparisons, there is a need for a reconciliation between non-Western and Western world views.


Smallpox Inoculation Linguistic Code Rosary Tree Founding Myth Secret Cult 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Martin–Luther UniversityHalleGermany
  2. 2.Université d’Abomey Calavi UAC – Centre Universitaire d’AplahouéAbomey CalaviBenin Republic

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