Esu, Exu, Elegua, Legba

Eshu Ideograms and Symbols.

Papa Legba's Cross Pendant available at Sheloya MysticalEshu has many faces, in that he covers a variety of functions in nature and the human experience.  On the one hand, he embodies honor and civil relations, and on the other, the seeming trickiness or chaos of nature.  So he has many, many symbols and ideograms, depending on what people are calling him for or what aspect of him people need to remain in awareness of.

Some systems require that when one is learning of Eshu, they learn to draw his symbols in a particular way.  One that has fairly standard symbols is Haitian Vodou.  These symbols are called “veve”. Be aware that though some are allowable for any practitioner, some are for Ayitian people or initiates only, and some are fake. The fake ones may just be ideograms someone has made up, which is fine as long as they are honest about it and their sources, but some are not just made up but serve shady purposes. Someone may have embedded intent to feed them power. So don’t just use something you pulled from the internet without running it by an adept or initiate. The more complicated and ornate something is, the more likely it is to have “callback” symbols or code embedded.

For eclectic and Obeah type practitioners whose traditional lineage covers the trade and esoteric band from western Asia through central Africa, the symbols are not quite so standardized, but there are essential elements.  One is crossing lines.  In some systems or for some faces of Eshu, the three pronged fork, trident, or pitchfork is necessary.  I would say that for Africans in the diaspora, some curved or bent lines are also necessary, since one of the faces of Eshu we need to be aware of at all times is the original Mami Wata origin, which implies our bloodline and being far from home.  Candomble practitioners call this face of Eshu Exu Mare or Eshu of the Sea.  Another symbol of Eshu of the Sea is the seahorse.

Here are some examples of Eshu symbols or ideograms.  Note that the one in the bottom right may be useful for those of mixed ancestry.  It combines the Nordic yew rune with a curved line for the sea, and Eshu’s pitchfork.

Eshu Symbols

Various Eshu Symbols

Bear in mind that these symbols are mainly protective. They can be used as activators in benevolent workings and sacred objects, but they are unsuitable for use in cursing or “hexing” although some blessings can seem like a curse. In 2020, someone posted that a friend had a dolly nailed to their door with the bottom right symbol on it. Between that and the others, it was clear that the “target” was up to no good or taking a path that they shouldn’t, and someone intervened to protect them or change their ways. So that’s an example of something good that was received badly, but hey, I hope it worked.

Offerings to Elegua.

Different regions have different traditions concerning Elegua.  Global trade has also influenced what various Orishas are offered.  So in this article, I’m going to draw on my experience, apatakis (parable like stories) about Elegua, and good old logic to conclude what are and aren’t proper offerings to Elegua.  Some things are open to debate or situational.  Use your intuition and personal relationship with him to determine what’s right at a given time.  Often, he will bring you things he wishes you to offer through gifts from others, especially your dogs if you have any. As the Yoruba elders say, everyone’s Eshu is different. So take this information very generally.

Food Offerings.

Elegua Offering SoupFrom west African tradition, we know that Elegua likes chicken (preferably roosters, but if they are unavailable, find the best you can)  His favorite parts are the dark meat, but this is because of the flavorfulness.  So a small, fattened chicken roasted with the skin will work as well as 3 chicken leg quarters.  If you can, a silkie (“wu gu ji” or black skinned chicken) would be a great offering.  You can find these in the Chinese market.

If you are running low on cash or don’t have where or how to cook a chicken, some real chicken soup powder or bouillion cubes will do.  Use three heaping teaspoons or three cubes to three cups of water.

Elegua also loves black eyed peas.  It’s even an African American tradition to cook them on New Years Day.

Spices Elegua loves are hot red peppers, anise, and cumin.  He also likes sweets, especially honey, dates, silan (date syrup), jaggery, brown sugar, and coconut candies.  He likes sesame and almonds.  Green grapes or “white” raisins are good when you are asking for money (in the form of rewards for legitimate efforts).  He likes just about any kind of fruit.

College students who are financially pressed and don’t have cooking facilities may want to mix some real chicken and real tomato soup powder with sugar and three good dashes of red pepper, add hot water, and give this.  It really is the thought and the ability that counts with Elegua.  If you are a rich person, then your minimum offering would be greater, like three roasted chickens, a pot of black eyed peas, a pile of fruit, and well, as much as you can reasonably give.

The oil that is used to prepare any food for Elegua should be unhydrogenated palm oil, virgin coconut oil, or chicken fat.  The palm oil is debatable.  Some groups believe Eshu likes palm oil, and some that it’s one of his taboos and makes him angry.  I say follow your heart and direct instruction from Eshu.  Maybe he likes it from some people but not others.

Another offering that is given to Elegua is abrus precatorius, but these are very dangerous.  One should not handle them unless they are traditionally trained.  If any of it gets into your blood, you will die a very painful death that takes five days.

Food offerings should be left at a crossroads, a corner, or a space in between two or four buildings.  If a dog or a calico cat comes to eat them, then this is a special blessing.


Burnt offerings to Elegua can consist of any of the above, but can also include red mice.  These should be humanely killed, preferably by a veterinarian who can dispatch them with minimal trauma.  It is a special blessing however, if your dog or cat brings them to you.

As incense, Elegua likes spicy aromatics like anise, cinnamon, frankincense, oudh, and red flowers like rose, or the seeds and flowers of coral trees.

Click below to continue with libations and liquid offerings.

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K. Sis. Nicole T.N. Lasher

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  3. I was given an Elegua candle to help my business. I burned it I gave Elegua candy and money. I put the candy and the money on the crossroad. Now I have mice running all over my place. I caught 2 of them. A friend told me Elegua wants 3 mice then he’ll stop. So can I get a dead one at the petstore and call it a day?

    • Many mice running around after an offering to Elegua definitely means he wants sacrifices. Whether or not it will stop after you give only three is a big question. You may want to seek divination about that. I don’t think it wise to buy one from a pet store. You may have to borrow a friend’s cat (an inside *and* outside cat) or dog of a breed who are instinctive mousers like Pekingese or Terriers. If you’re not sure if the ones you’ve caught so far will spoil or not, gut them and put them in a bucket of salt or natron until you’ve caught the third.

    • alifia, i am late it seems, but as an initiate to ifa, and as an ancestral priest i would like to point out that in the many offerings i have witnessed by my first hand the animal offerings were alive prior to the sacrifice.

  4. Pingback: List of Known Orishas/Lwa | Orisha Online Altar

  5. I always put three candles one for el nino de atocha(elegua) the seven african powers and santa barbara (chango) and only chango is the one that burns completely, the others dont even last a hour.

    is there a reason? have i done something bad?

    • ?àngó is viewed as the most powerful and feared of the orisha pantheon. He casts a “thunderstone” to earth, which creates thunder and lightning, to anyone who offends him

      my understanding is that any alter or sacrifice be separate and kept apart from one another , place candles for each orisha in a separate place dedicated for them.

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  8. I would like to consecrate my own elegua. I have had his head for over a year now. What ingredients would I need?

    Thank you so much.

    • @Moor-ena, it depends where you got it from. Different groups have different ways of consecrating Elegguas. In fact, in some groups, they are more specific about which Eleggua or Eshu it is, and what it is for. Follow the prescribed way of the group you got it from. If you find this impossible or impractical for you (as some groups require certain initiations that you may or may not like to be a part of) then gift the item to a member of that group. They would be happy to receive it.

      If you are not affiliated or initiated, it may be better for you to make your own fetish for Eleggua, or to house him in a found Eshu stone. You can find instructions here: – Found Eshu Stones

      Blessings and Ase!

  9. Eye love PAPA LEGBA!!! I’ve known Him all my life, and I’m so thankful that He chose me to be one of His children. He loves and protects me like no other!!! Although His tests may be tumultuous at times, when it’s all said and done, He has the last word, because He knows what’s best for me. ALWAYS REMEMBER TO HONOR AND RESPECT HIM!!!

    ASE! ASHE!

  10. I’ve had my warriors for years now . I was very close to them . When I spoke to them I felt their presence and knew what to do next . Life was great . But For quite some time now I’ve been in a fog so to speak and I feel like they need to tell me something but for some reason I’m blocked . And since then life has not been so great . I won’t go back to my padrino because honestly the last time I went I had this overwhelming feeling of fear and distrust . Any thoughts on this?

    • Though I believe that it is good for people to be a part of a community, it’s not a good idea to rely too much on the community or one’s parents for one’s spiritual path. It is likely that your warriors are trying to get you to do some things for yourself.

  11. ASE I love your website that is elleguas web site and enjoy the recipes.Please keep doing what you are doing?

  12. Once a vodoo priest asked me to bring a Coconut to her, so I did.
    What does it mean?

  13. A friend told me my eshu needs to be outside the door and I read this also . So I put him outside . And my eleggua are inside the front door . She said eshu loves to be outside the door to protect me that he likes to roam and

  14. I have bought a coconut and I have been listening to the music to elegua I just put some candy ? and some toys in front of the coconut but I want and need more information and steps to make an altar for him and his offerings .

  15. Pingback: List of Known Orishas/Lwa – Orisha Online Altar

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