The Diloggún also known as the Oracle of the diloggún is one of the Orácles used in the Santería or Rule of Osha-Ifá to communicate with the Orishas. This method of divination is carried out using 21 cowries or shells, of which 5 are put under the mat (adeles or witnesses) while the other 16 are used for consultation. This group of open shells is called the Diloggun.  Elegguá is the only one that has 21 shells, all the other Orishas, have 18 shells.

The Diloggun serves as the mouth of the Orisha. The shells can be interpreted based on the way they fall.  If the open part falls upward, the amount is counted and associated with a specific sign. You can also interpret it depending on the combinations.



Within the Diloggun there are sixteen primary signs identified. They include:  Okana (one mouth), Eji Oko (two mouths), Ogundá (three mouths), Irosun (four mouths), Oché (five mouths), Obara (six mouths), Odí (seven mouths), Eji Ogbe (eight mouths), Osá (nine mouths), Ofún (ten mouths), Owani (eleven mouths), Ejila Shebora (twelve mouths), Metanla (thirteen mouths), Merinla (fourteen mouths), Marunla (fifteen mouths), and Merindilogún (sixteen mouths).

The number of mouths displayed in a single casting of shells corresponds to the number of an odu (hence, if five open mouths fall on the diviner’s mat, that means that the odu Oché is open).

Each one of these signs contains sixteen more signs which sum up to reach two hundred fifty-six Odun or Odus. The Santeria only read twelve signs, while the Babalawo read sixteen.

This method of divination also employs other elements such as the Ibo, which is held in the hand during consultation. These are EFÚN (Cascarilla), OTÁ (Small stone), AYÉ (medium marine shell), OWÓ (Two shells of Ocha tied), IGBIN (shell of slug), EGUNGUN (vertebra or small bone), APADÍ (piece of earthenware) and OSÁN (seed).



Yemayá was married to Orúnmila, a great diviner of the land of Ifé, who worked miracles and had many clients. At that time, Orúnmila was intimately linked to the secret of the shells (diloggun), since Yemayá, owner of the sea, fish, shells and everything marine, communicated it to him while he interpreted those secrets through the Oddun and the legends.

It happened that one day, Orúnmila had to make a long and tedious trip to attend a meeting. Unfortunately, he couldn’t return at the expected time meanwhile his clients were coming to looking for him. Due to this, Yamaya decided to take up the consultation act. When someone came to look for Orunmila to consult the orishas, she told him not to worry and threw the diloggun. As a fortune-teller, her predictions were very successful and her Ebó saved many people.

Orunmila, on the way to his house, heard that there was a miraculous and fortune-telling woman in the village. He decided to disguise himself and went to see the fortune teller. He was surprised when he saw that Yamaya was the great fortune teller.

Coconut is the most important fruit in Santería that is also used for divination. In fact, it is said that without coconut there are no saints. The owner of the coconuts is Obatalá and it is used to establish communication with the Orishas and the Eggun. When consulting the oracles, the quality of the interpretation will depend on the officiating consultant or Babalawo.  It is important that those who consult the gods are totally open and willing to listen, amend and obey whatever the orishas say.



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