Elegua is also known as Esu in the Yoruba Pantheon of Orisha. Orisha are the deities of the Yoruba tradition. He was brought to the Diaspora via slavery to the Caribbean in places like Cuba where the Lucumi/Santeria tradition continued the Yoruba worship of orisha in the New World. He is the messenger who takes one’s prayers and sacrifices to the foot of God in heaven.
Elegua opens and closes the road or way for us in life. He stands in the crossroads and 4 corners. No ceremony is started without paying tribute to him first. He takes many forms and has many names. He is considered a trickster and can be a difficult teacher when there is a lesson needed to be learned.
There are said to be 256 roads or paths of Esu/Elegua. These paths correspond to the 256 Odu in Ifa. Many have not made it to the New World with the slaves. They remained in Nigeria. No priest or priestess in the Yoruba/Lucumi faith is without an Esu/Elegua. Each person who receives an Elegua receives one specific to their path and needs. Divination is done to determine what path of Elegua is to be given to the person. Elegua is one of the few orishas that you don’t have to be fully initiated to receive. One can be an aleyo, outsider (literal translation) or not initiated and receive and Esu/Elegua if they have issues he can help with. This is one of the aspects that what makes Elegua so unique.
He is a very complicated deity. He is known as one that can create confusion very easily. So he always has to be pampered and treated with reverence to avoid hassles created on his behalf. Anytime there is a sacrifice or ceremony he has to be given something first. He is the appropriator of ceremonies. Without Elegua being acknowledged first chances are the outcome desired in a ceremony will not come to fruition. He is considered one of the primary Warriors given in the Ibora or set of Warriors given by a Babalawo. A Babalawo is an Ifa priest initiated in the secrets of Ifa. He gives the set of Warriors to those who need it. The warriors in the Diaspora consist of Elegua, Ogun, Ochosi and Osun. In Nigeria Osun is not given with the warriors. Priests and Priestesses of Orisha may give Elegua to their godchildren but not the whole set of warriors. It is with this Elegua the godchild is initiated to Orisha with when they decide to get initiated.
Contrary to what most people believe not all roads of Elegua like children or want to play. Some can be very serious and dangerous if annoyed or played with. One has to know the road of their Elegua and his particular characteristics. They are not all the same.