Traditional Colors: Black, white, purple, green, red, not usually yellow or metallic colors
Areas of Influence: Women and children’s issue, life, death, healing, rape, ecology, swamps
Entities associated with: St Anne, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Symbols: Moon, leaves, angelfish
Offerings: Crown Royal™, rum, tobacco, coffee, shrimp, coconut, tomatoes
Feast Day: July 26th
Tarot: Moon, The High Priestess
Chakra: Third Eye
Gemstones: Sodalite, moonstone, black opals, moss agate,
Animals: Hyenas, angelfish, black butterflies that have patches of dark blue on them, ravens and crows
Entities of Similar Energy: Innana, Isis, Grandmother Moon, Freya, Hecate, Mawu
Nana Buruku is the grandmother of the Orishas. She is also a wisewomen and powerful witch. She has extraordinary healing powers and is an accomplished herbalist. She is seen as a strong, large, dark-skinned old woman. She has a commanding presence. Many times, even the uninitiated can feel her walk into a room. She loves children and her role of grandmother but has little tolerance for men. Because of this, she normally only has priestesses, no priests (unless a man was a woman trapped in a man’s body or at a minimum, really in touch with his feminine side). She is very spiritual and understands the sacredness of all life. She deals with big issues: life, death, karma, etc. Generally speaking, I know a problem is very serious when Nana shows up. This is not the Orisha you go to for simple relationship issues.
She embodies the archetype of the wisewoman. She is whom you go to for healing, to get pregnant or to end an unwanted pregnancy. In cases of rape, you can go to her for healing and justice. She is especially good with healing with spiritual energy such as Reiki and Chakra work. She lives in the swamp, near the ocean. For the most part, she likes being alone or with her grandchildren. Because of her strong connection with nature, environmental issues are also important to her. She hates the way we are destroying our planet. Nana can be cold, distant and judgmental.
Once she makes up her mind about something, she will not budge. Her dislike of men is so strong that other than rape, I can’t imagine a reason why a man would go to her for help. Nana and Ogoun do not get along. One story says that Ogoun tried to invade Nana’s swamp but was unsuccessful since metal will rust in a swamp. My personal belief is that at his worst, Ogoun can become violent and abusive, especially towards his spouse. This is one issue that Nana especially has no gray area. She absolutely will not tolerate spousal abuse (of either sex) or child abuse.
Properly Showing Respect to Nana
Nana loves her Crown Royal, either over ice, straight or a shot in a cup of coffee. In fact, I always keep a small bottle of it dedicated to her and more than once I have found the bottle empty in the cupboard, seal intact. She likes shrimp and I’ve made her coconut shrimp several times. When in doubt, rum and tobacco are almost never wrong. She loves her role as grandmother, so anything that says “Best Grandma” would work or more appropriately “Nana” would be better. Because her issue with Ogoun, please do not feed them together and I would never serve her offerings on metal or pewter dishes/cups.
Where to find Nana
Nana can be found in hospitals, cemeteries (especially old ones), and nursing homes. She loves her swamps but can also be found at the seashore or in the forests. She likes to be near water, whether it is a lake, stream or the ocean. You can also find her at any Church dedicated to St. Anne.
The children of Nana are very few in number. They are physically large and have strong personalities. They love children but may not have biological children themselves. Whatever their spiritual path, they are spiritual women however they tend to be drawn to the occult. They are often healers and you will probably find them working in the medical field, as alternative healers or as caregivers in hospices or nursing homes. Because of the extra weight they carry, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and edema are possible health issues. They can be quite critical and judgmental. They don’t like to be told they are wrong. Because of her dislike of Ogoun, the Orisha of iron, the daughters of Nana may have physical reactions when they put metal into their bodies (earrings, body piercing, etc).
As I have previously stated, I was introduced to the Orishas by my first coven. While I knew the names and stories of the Orishas, I had never felt them for myself. To makes matters worse, there was very little information published on my mother, Nana Buruku. In July of 1995, I found myself in the local library, day after day, researching the books on Orishas, African myths and the saints trying to put together any information I could on her. I found one book that connected Nana with the Catholic Saint, St Anne, the mother of Mary and Grandmother of Jesus. While researching St Anne, I discovered that St Anne’s day was in 2 days, the 26th of July. The town I lived in had a church dedicated to St Anne, which had a wonderful outdoor shrine and graveyard. The graveyard was split in 2 by a major road. The older, quieter part was smaller but had graves that were more than 200 years old. The newer part on the north was the modern cemetery was where people were still being buried. The older portion actually felt more like a sacred park than a cemetery. I decided to do Nana’s ritual in the older section.
I didn’t have much to go on but I did the best I could. I took a cheap wine glass, some fruit, tobacco and alcohol. I set her up a little altar and put everything out as nice as I could in the brush on the edge of the cemetery. I told her that I really wanted to get to know her better and that I appreciated everything that she had done for me. I left everything there, including the cheap glass, and went home. Although at that moment, that ritual seemed small and insignificant, in fact it turned out to be the starting point for the rest of my life. Within one week, the Orishas had shown up in force. I learned more from them directly than all of the books put together. The next year was like a whirlwind. So much happened, both on a spiritual level and in the “real” world. Nana was with me every step of the way. When times were good or bad, I would go back to that same spot in St Anne’s cemetery to say thanks or to cry or to seek information.
Exactly one year later, I went back to the cemetery to perform my priestess initiation to Nana. I got everything set up and when I finished the ceremony, I looked down at my foot and saw the cheap wine glass that I had left there the year before, intact. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Even though that area had been mowed and cut back multiple times, this cheap glass had survived without a scratch on it. It just didn’t seem possible but here was the proof in my hands. That glass has survived multiple moves and countless upheavals. I still have it sitting on my altar and it is dedicated to Nana. To me, it is a symbol of her power over the physical plane…to make the impossible, possible.
Disclaimer: You may find that some of the information on this page differs from the traditional beliefs of some African Diaspora practices. The information on this page has been gathered from personal experiences and while we respect those who walk the more “Traditional” paths, we have some different beliefs concerning the Orishas and Loa.