May 20 2011

Damballah

The veve of Damballah Wedo

The veve of Damballah Wedo

Damballah Wedo is depicted as a serpent or snake, and his veves reflect this aspect of him.

His presence brings peace and harmony. As a source of life, he is also strongly associated with water and the rain.

When he possesses a human, he does not speak but instead only hisses and whistles. His movements are also snake-like, and can including slithering along the ground, flicking his tongue, and climbing tall objects.
Damballah Wedo is associated with creation and is viewed as a loving father to the world.

Damballah Wedo is strongly connected to the ancestors, and he and his companion Ayida-Wedo are the oldest and wisest of the loa.

Ayida Wedo is likewise associated with snakes and is Damballah’s partner in creation. Because the creative process is seen as shared between male and female, Damballah-Wedo’s veves generally depict two snakes rather than just one.

Damballa rules the intellect, the mind, and keeps cosmic balance. He is the protector of the handicapped, deformed, cripples and albinos. He is married to Erzulie Freda, the flirtatious goddess of love.

In his Petro aspect he is Damballah Nan Flambo – Damballah of the Flame – and is believed to speak through flames and fires.

He is believed to have manifested through St Patrick, who drove the snakes from Ireland, and sometimes said to be linked with Moses, when his staff turned into a serpent.


May 20 2011

Baron Samedi

The veve of Baron Samedi

The veve of Baron Samedi

In Voodoo, Voodun or Voudoo, Baron Samedi is one of the five leaders of the Ghede nanchon, along with Maman Brigitte, Baron Cimitiere, Baron Kriminel and Baron La Croix. He is usually depicted with a top hat, black tuxedo, dark glasses, and cotton plugs in the nostrils, as if to resemble a corpse dressed and prepared for burial in the Haitian style.

He has a white, frequently skull-like face (or actually has a skull for a face) and speaks in a nasal voice.

He is a sexual Loa, frequently represented by phallic symbols and – like other Loa of the Ghede nanchon  – is noted for disruption, obscenity, debauchery, and having a particular fondness for tobacco and rum.

Additionally, he is the Loa of sex and resurrection, and in the latter capacity he is often called upon for healing by those near or approaching death, as it is only Baron who can accept an individual into the realm of the dead.

Baron Samedi spends most of his time in the invisible realm of voodoo spirits. He is notorious for his outrageous behavior, swearing continuously and making filthy jokes to the other spirits. He is married to another powerful spirit known as Maman Brigitte, but often chases after mortal women. He loves smoking and drinking and is rarely seen without a cigar in his mouth or a glass of rum in his bony fingers.

Baron Samedi can usually be found at the crossroad between the worlds of the living and the dead. When someone dies he digs their grave and greets their soul after they have been buried, leading them to the underworld.

As well as being master of the dead, Baron Samedi is also a giver of life. He can cure any mortal of any disease or wound, if he thinks it is worthwhile. His powers are especially great when it comes to voodoo curses and black magic. Even if somebody has been afflicted by a hex which brings them to the verge of death, they will not die if the Baron refuses to dig their grave. So long as this mighty spirit keeps them out of the ground they are safe.

He also ensures all corpses rot in the ground to stop any soul being brought back as a brainless zombie. What he demands in return depends on his mood. Sometimes he is content with his followers wearing black, white or purple clothes or using sacred objects; he may simply ask for a small gift of cigars, rum, black coffee, grilled peanuts or bread. But sometimes the Baron requires a voodoo ceremony to help him cross over into this world.

Baron Samedi is one of the leaders of the Ghede, a nanchon of Loa with particular links to magic, ancestor worship and death. These lesser spirits, all dressed like the Baron, are all as rude and crude as their masters. They help carry the dead to the underworld.