SACRED DAYS OF THE LWA
By Houngan Hector, 2011
Vodou is a tradition of action. That is why most people will say “M sevi Ginen” (I serve Ginen) rather than say “I’m a Vodouisant”. Now all religions are, ideally, a way of life. But Vodou is most adamantly so. Service is an action, and that is how we describe our tradition, in terms that refer to those actions. Vodou is something you live, rather than simply do. It is not a tradition you can learn passively. You need to dig right in and get your hands dirty, so to speak. During ceremonies, everything is based on actions: salutes, dancing, drumming, singing, and tracing veves – to name a few. We do not have congregation members sitting as someone preaches.
Everyday of the week is sacred to a particular Lwa or group of Lwa. Sunday is God’s day. Vodouisants vary on what happens on Sunday. Some will not do any spiritual work, will not salute the lwa, will not do anything that has to do with Ginen. Others do not discriminate against the day. They say, “Yes, Sunday is sacred to God, I will remember Him and respect Him, but everyday I need to eat!” In other words, they still do Vodouisant activities on this day. Most Vodouisants attend Church and Mass and may say prayers or give some other sort of attention directed towards the Creator.
There are a variety of ways to serve the Lwa on their sacred day: wearing their colors on their day, observing abstinence on that day, singing, and serving them with ceremony. People who are married to a Lwa are obligated to observe the sacred day of that Lwa. They may have to wear certain clothes, prepare their bed in a certain way, and do other things that signify the human spouse’s sacred commitment. Vodouisants will also frequently observe the days of their most important Lwa by tending to the Badji, giving libations or other sacred activities.
Here is a general list of the Sacred Days of the Lwa. Depending on the lineage or Vodou House, as always, there may be changes in the way they do things or serve. For the most part, many of these days are consistent in most houses.
Monday is the second day of the week. This is also the day that many consider to be the beginning of the week. This day is sacred to the Ancestors, Gede and Legba. As the opening day, the same lwa that one must take care of before going on to other lwa, are taken care of on this day. Think about it: After God (Sunday), one should have his/her ancestors taken care of. After they are taken care of, things will flow easier, including work with the Lwa. This is where Gede and the ancestors come in. Yet before one can call other Lwa, one must salute Legba. Legba is the gate keeper, and he is the one who can open our doors or shut them as he may please.
Most Vodouisants do some sort of “daily devotional”, especially Vodouisants whose main source of income is serving Ginen. In the process, one “wakes them up”, if you will, in order to get them working. They will also open the doors, of the Vodouisant’s home, to receive clientele. There are a variety of ways that an individual may choose to “wake” them up.
On Mondays, I make sure to remove all glasses of water from all the altars. This water I toss outside the front door. I then wash the glasses, and the coffee cup of Gede. I also throw Gede’s coffee out the front door. I make Gede some new coffee, and fill all the glasses with cool fresh water. I then light a candle, and pray. After this, I talk to my spirits. I give them their coffee and water. I may alternately perform a libation of rum to them as well. For me, Monday is a day to attend to and cleanse and keep the Badji.
Vodouisants also do other things to live the tradition. One thing is that once you come into this tradition, your whole view of the world will change. You will learn to act in accordance with yourself, in time. When you change the way that you view the world, your world will change. You will also find that your new spiritual attunement and connection will lead you into all new sorts of opportunities and change.
Tuesday is the day that is sacred to the Petro spirits, notably Ezili Danto. On this day, Vodouisants that have Petro Lwa in their escort may make observances, libations or in another way serve their Lwa. This is also considered a good day to work Petro based magick.
Wednesday is the day for the Nago Nation, again notably it is Ogou’s day. Almost all the Ogous are observed or serviced on this day.
Thursday is for all of the Lwa Rada. Danbala, Agwe, Freda, LaSirene all have this day as their sacred day. Also known to as the Lwa Blan or white Lwa.
Friday belongs to Djouba nation as well as Gede. The Djouba Nation is composed of Kouzen Zaka, his wife, Kouzin and all the other Lwa of Taino origin.
Lastly, Saturday is a day for all the Lwa!
Deepening the Power
Houngan Matt, 2011
- Sunday: In observance of Catholic teachings regarding the Sabbat/rest day, Sunday is given to God and usually God alone. This is the time to go to mass and take care of God’s business.
- Monday: Monday is a great day for honoring the Ancestors, refreshing their table, getting them some good fresh water and maybe a cup of good coffee, fixing the flowers on their Table, and having a good sit down chat with them about your week. Monday is also typically a good day to talk to Legba, the opener of the Gate. (Especially if you think about Monday as being the first day after Sunday, God’s day… Legba is the one you speak to before ANY other lwa, so starting the week off with a good chat with him is a lovely way of getting in tune.)
- Tuesday: PETRO; typically most (not all) of the Petro lwa are honored on Tuesdays; Danto is particularly strong on Tuesdays as are the other members of her court.
- Wednesday: NAGO: the Ogou spirits are typically served on Wednesdays (with exceptions, but Wednesday is a good day for Nago spirits in general)
- Thursday: RADA; many serve Freda on Thursday, her day, alongside Damballah Wedo and many others within the Rada group. Of course there are some spirits given different days, but largely Thursday will be a good day for honoring the Rada lwa.
- Friday: GHEDE!!! 🙂 Friday is a perfect day for honoring the spirits of the Dead.
- Saturday: EVERYBODY. If you’ve ever wondered why most fetes are held on Saturdays, its not just because most of us dont have to work the next day (although that certainly comes in handy). Saturday is a day given to all the lwa, so a fete on a Saturday works because they are all particularly strong. Saturdays are also a good day for the Barons (after all, Samedhi, properly pronounced “Sahm-DI”, *NOT* “Sam-ed-di”, means Saturday; Baron Samedhi means Baron Saturday)