Tag Archives: Haiti

Day of the Dead

Gideon (Guede) – Loa spirits family, which is owned by the forces of death and fertility.

Fete Gede – Day of the Dead

Start: 1 November 2015
Venue: National Cemetery, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

This annual Vodou Festival represents Day of the Dead, which is carried out for the playful Haitian spirits. Rituals carried out within a month, but the majority of them at the beginning.

The faithful gather at the main cemetery in the capital of Haiti, to honor all Gede and their father, Baron Samedi (On Saturday). At the entrance to the cemetery on a pedestal with a cross, which symbolizes the entrance into the possession of Baron Samedi. Here, people are preparing a special drink, which sprinkle the cross.

People bring gifts: beeswax candles, flowers, bottles of rum with chilli. So they warm the bones of Gede. Continue reading

Saut Vodou

Fet Gédé, Haiti's Day of the DeadFet Gédé, Haiti’s Day of the Dead. Image by Paul Clammer

Understanding vodou in the Caribbean
By Paul Clammer, 2014

All too often, the Caribbean’s default tourist mode is its carefree picture of beaches and rum. Rinse and repeat: it’s a staggeringly successful formula. But it doesn’t leave much scope to get to grips with the region’s rich cultural history. The islands’ local religions – from vodou in Haiti to Jamaica’s Obeah and Cuba’s Santería – offer rich insights into Caribbean culture for the curious visitor.

These belief systems were forged from empire and slavery, and the collision of Europe and Africa in the Americas. They’re a unique blend of traditions brought over from Africa during [enslavement of Africans] Continue reading

Moving Zombis

ZOMBIES
From University of Michigan

Zombie History and Haitian Folklore

The origin of the concept of zombiism stems from Haitian Voodoo culture. The word zombie–in Haitian it is “zombi”–means “spirit of the dead.” Voodoo folklore contends that Bokors, Voodoo priests that were concerned with the study and application of black magic, possessed the ability to resurrect the deceased through the administration of coup padrecoup padre is a powder that is issued orally, the primary ingredient of which is tetrodoxin, the deadly substance of the notoriously poisonous fou-fou, or “porcupine fish.”

According to legend, “a zombi(e) is someone who has annoyed his or her family and community to the degree that they can no longer stand to live with this person. They respond by hiring a Bokor..to turn them into a zombi(e).” (Keegan, www .flmnh.ufl.edu)

Once they had been issued the coup padre, the subjects being prepared for their descent into zombidom would appear to die insofar as their heart rate would slow to a near stop, their breathing patterns would be greatly subdued and their body temperature would significantly decrease. The public, thinking that Continue reading

Days of the Law

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. Continue reading

Symbols of the Law

Ritual Symbols of the Voudou Spirits: Voudou Veves
By Denise Alvarado, 2010

A Veve is a religious symbol for a vodou “loa” (or lwa) and serves as their representation during rituals. In Haiti, the veve derives from the beliefs of the native Tainos. Most similar to the veve are the drawings of zemi or gods of the Taino religion.

Every Loa has his or her own unique veve, although regional differences have led to different veves for the same loa in a few cases. Sacrifices and offerings are usually placed upon them.

The veve is usually drawn on the floor by strewing a powder-like substance, such as cornmeal, wheat flour, bark, red brick powder, or gunpowder. The material depends entirely upon the rite.

The veve in the introduction represents the Voodoo loa Papa Legba, who is the gatekeeper to the spirit world, remover of obstacles, and provider of opportunities. Continue reading

Loa Veve

Continue reading

Gran Loa Damballah

Damballah
From Hougan Sydney, 2014

Damballah
Gods in Vodou are known as Loa. Although not invoked first, Damballah is the father of all the Loa. He is the archetypal wise Loa, the patriarchal serpent divinity, associated with wisdom, peace, purity, benevolence, life and innocence.

Damballah is highly respected and is one of the most revered African gods. Along with his companion Ayida Wèdo, the rainbow serpent, he is viewed as the Loa of creation.

Ceremonies for Damballah and/or Ayida Wèdo are extremely particular and highly elaborate, and all rules must be followed to the letters. First, everyone in the assistance must entirely be dressed with freshly clean, immaculate white clothes, women are to have their head tied with silk white scarves. It is very common for people to be asked to leave the temple if they’re not in proper attire when Damballah is expected. Smoking, and alcoholic consumption are strictly forbidden. After many sacred Continue reading

Loa Kalfou

Kalfou
From Hougan Sydney, 2014

Spirits in Vodou are known as Loa. During slavery in Haiti, white french [enslavers] forbade [enslaved Africans] from pursuing Vodou as a religion and anyone caught practicing any religion other than Catholicism were severely punished.

The [enslaved Africans], still deeply attached to their African roots, were obliged to use Catholic Saint Image during Vodou ceremonies, pretending to be praying to them while deep in their heart they were praying to their African gods. This is the main characteristic that differentiate the Vodou that is practiced in Haiti and in Africa.

Over 400 years have passed, but the tradition strangely still remains today; it is so deeply rooted in the religion that it is almost impossible to even imagine Haitian Vodou without the representation of the Loas with Catholic Saints’ images.   Continue reading

Rada, Petro and Ghede Loa

Baron SamediRada, Petro and Ghede Loa in Vodoun

[Compiled by 7M]

The name Vodoun means “high and sacred of God”. There is no right side and left side in Vodoun. There is only one side which is through God and Loa. The Loa (Lwa) can be viewed as forces of nature, but they have personalities and personal mythologies. They are extensions of the will of Bondye, the Supreme Cosmic God, the ultimate principle of the universe.

The Loa are the Spirit Gods which are served in Vodoun. They act as intermediaries between humans and Bondye (God). The Loa are not worshipped as Gods, we serve them so that in turn they serve us. It is safe to say that the Loa are ancestors. Some are older than others, such as Damballah Wedo, The Great Serpent who is considered to be the primordial creator of all life forms, and who also carries all of the ancestors on his back, therefore making him our First Ancestor. Other examples of Loa who were born as Spirits would include La Sirene and Met Agwe, the king and queen of the ocean, who are the Seas themselves. Continue reading

Haitian and Dominican Lords and Deities

Veve TattooHaitian and Dominican Loa and Deities

Adjasou-Linguetor (f): Goddess of spring water. Characterized by protruding eyes and a bad humor, lives under the mombin tree near a spring and is very fond of liquor.

Agassu, Agasou (m): God of Water. Agassu is Dahomean in origin, and belongs to the Fon and Yoruba tribes. He is associated with water deities and sometimes takes the form of a crab. He is one of the mythical creatures who once gave assistance to the Ancestor. He is considered one of the Loa masons.

Agau, Agaou (m): God of Wind and Storms. Agau is a very violent god. Earth tremors and the frightening sounds associated with storms are because of an angry Agau. “It is I who am the gunner of god; when I roar the earth trembles.” One has to be very strong to harbor this spirit. Agau is the inseparable companion of Sogbo. When Sogbo and Bade (the loa of lighting and wind) act together and call upon Agau, a thunder storm is produced. Bade and Agau share the same functions, loa of the winds. Continue reading

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