By B.C. Holmes, 2001
Other Names: Papa Gede, Baron Samedi
Spheres of Influence: Death, the Lord of all Gede
Colours: Black, purple and white
Symbols: Skull, black cross, shovel, mirrored sunglasses, hot peppers fused with kleren
Offerings: Black rooster, black goat
Catholic counterparts: St. Gerard
“If Legba was the sun, at first young, then growing old, Ghede is the master of that abyss into which the sun descends. If Legba was time, Ghede is that eternal figure in black, posted at the timeless cross-roads at which all men and even the sun one day arrive. The cross upon a tomb is his symbol. But the sun is each year reborn. If Carrefour is the night death which attends each day, then Ghede is the night sun, the life which is eternally present, even in darkness. The cosmic abyss is both tomb and womb. In a Continue reading
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
From Hougan Sydney, 2014
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
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
Haitian 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