Papa Legba

The veve of Papa Legba

The first and last spirit invoked at any Voodoo ceremony is the gatekeeper, the father of the crossroads – Legba Ati-bon. He opens and closes the doorway, and allows other Loa passage. As with other respected Loa, he is usually referred to by the honored title “Papa”.

He is the guardian and keeper of the crossroads – the interaction of the physical and metaphysical worlds. His nature is that of the cunning trickster and he is a master linguist – necessary for him to carry out his role in allowing, or denying, communication between the worlds.

His Rada aspect is the benevolent old man, Papa Legba. He hides immense wisdom in his seemingly crippled and withered body. He usually appears as an old man on a crutch or with a cane, wearing a broad brimmed straw hat and smoking a pipe, or sprinkling water.

In his Petro aspect, Legba is Kalfu – a young, virile man who favors the color red, and rum laced with gunpowder. Like his Rada aspect, he controls the crossroads, and may grant or deny access to all other Loa. Kalfu is also inclined to allow bad luck, misfortune and destruction to cross-over, to remind us that there is good and evil in the world.

When Kalfu mounts a person at a ceremony, he claims that he is known to all the important Loa, and works closely with them all. He is a feared and respected Loa, believed to be the master of sorcery and charms, and is closely associated with black magic.

Despite being known to the other Loa, Kalfu is very much a loner – when Kalfu possesses someone, they are only aware of him, and rarely feel the presence of any other spirits or Loa.