“Sending the Dead”
An anvwa mo literally translates to the sending of the dead. Usually, a Houngan or Mambo conducts this ceremony for one of two ends. First, to send a “mo” against an enemy – to send them after a person. But anvwa mo ceremony is also used to send away the “mo” or “zombi” for a client who has been a victim of this attack.
Divination may, at times, reveal that a person’s problem stems from that individual having “mo” attached to them. A “mo” being a spirit of the deceased. Sometimes the person may also have a number of “zonbi” on them. The zonbi I am referring to here is sometimes known as the zonbi astral, or spiritual zonbi. I am not referring to a physical zonbi. Zonbi astral speak out of the air.
Once the Houngan or mambo knows that the client is a victim of the “anvwa mo”, he or she knows what to expect and do. The mo, once attached, will do a number of things to the victim. Victims of the anvwa mo become physically ill, spit up blood, and are led on a road to disaster, and the main purpose of the procedure: death. The mo will try as hard as possible to push the person to death’s door. The mo often makes the person go crazy. Victims of the anvwa mo often know that they are being attacked. They may hear voices coming from nowhere. They quickly grow thin from illness, and have its accompanying problems. The mo oftentimes will inhabit the body.
The procedure used to remove the anvwa mo from the victim is also known as the anvwa mo. We (Houngans and Mambos) remove the mo that are attached to the individual and send them back to where they came. As with many things in Vodou, there are many different ways that the anvwa mo ceremony can be done, depending on its purpose. It all depends on the recommendations of a Baron Lwa.
Usually, the treating Houngan or Mambo will call his or herself into possession by a Baron lwa to consult him. Baron will then let the people know the specifics of the ceremony. Baron will tell them how many “mo” or “zonbi” the victim has attached to him, where the wanga are hidden, and sometimes, who did it. Baron may give a number of precautions that need to be taken by the victim or even others there. Baron may add variations to the ceremony, or additional procedures. The Houngan or Mambo may, alternatively, perform “an expedition” in order to find the information out. As with all things, there is however, your basic ceremony.
When the Houngan or Mambo returns, the shopping for all the various items begins. All the various herbs and other items will be gathered for the ceremony. The works start too. The client is taken to the cross of Baron on the peristyle grounds. A specially prepared leaf covered mat will be prepared for the client to lie down (though not always, there are other ways too).
The Houngan or Mambo will then begin to call the mo out of the client’s body. Sometimes the mo will try to speak from the victim’s mouth, refusing to leave. Sometimes there will be moans and groans from the victim. When this happens, the treating Houngan or Mambo will just redouble his work and force for removing them. They will be called and sent out to the crack of a whip. The mo are sent back into the cross, sent back to the sender of the deed, to attack him or her.
The Houngan or Mambo will pass animals, usually chickens and roosters, over the victim’s body. He or she may pass any number of other items; again things may vary according to the case. Oftentimes though, at least two animals, a rooster and a hen, are used to clean the victim. The victim may also receive a spiritual bath and massage during the removal.
The treating Houngan/Mambo will continue until all the mo are removed, thus releasing the victim from their death hold, and the victim can now try to recover. The person may be laid down for a night in the Kay mo or the Rada badji. A special lamp will be prepared for him or her. There he is taken care of. Family will bring him or her food and drink, and will care for him. He will return home as soon as he is able to walk again (sometimes people plagued by the anvwa mo can’t even walk, or can barely walk – they grow that weak).
But before all of that goes on, the cross of Baron will be presented with offerings. The cross will often be set aflame with rum, will be presented pine wood, candles, and other specific items. The animals used for the cleansing are usually buried alive. Some Houngans/Mambos may let one or two go, depending on the number of animals used for the cleansing. Sometimes the animal, usually a hen, is buried under a baby tree. If the tree lives, the person will die. If the tree dies, the person will live.
Then the ceremony is over.
But, the client is usually tired and weak. He/She returns home, where he/she is cared for, fed, and massaged, etc. There he or she will continue to undergo treatment and be cared for by family. He or she will be nourished and nursed until he or she regains full strength. This may take a few days. Within a short period, the client regains his strength and feels better, lighter, and happier.