Across many ancient civilizations throughout the world, love was placed under the domain of a certain deity, usually, but not in all cases, a goddess. In the Classical world, for instance, there were Venus and Aphrodite, love goddesses of the Roman and Greek pantheons respectively. In the ancient Near East, love was personified in such goddesses as Ishtar and Astarte. Further afield in West Africa, the Yoruba people believe in a love goddess by the name of Oshun.
The Orisha Oshun
The Yoruba people inhabit the south-western part of modern day Nigeria and the southern part of Benin. Practitioners of traditional Yoruba religion believe in a pantheon of 401 gods (known as Orisha) who govern various aspects of the world and human life. Although Oshun (also spelt Osun) is regarded principally as a goddess of love, there are other aspects to this Orisha as well.
One of the most important roles that Oshun plays is that of the goddess of the sweet waters and the protective deity of the River Oshun in Nigeria. Alongside this river is a sacred grove, probably the last in Yoruba Culture, dedicated to Oshun.