THE DIVINE TWINS
The Three Virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity In following with Vodou’s African Roots, twins are held in a sacred light. They are considered to have great magickal powers, and the ability to heal. Twins in real life usually are able to manifest different abilities easier than most. It is a natural talent. The power of the Lwa Marassa is strongly with them, thus they are able to control things and make magick of their own variety.
In Haitian Vodou, the Marassa are served right after Legba and are given a high place of importance. The image we use to represent the Marassa is St. Cosme and Damian, which are associated with the Rada Marassa. Marassa are also served in the Petro rite being referred to as Marassa nan Petro. The Petro twins are also referred to Marassa twa, or twins of three, truly being triplets. These triplets are most usually associated with the Three Virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity.
Families that are known to have twins within their past or present are usually required to serve the Marassa. Festivities for the Marassa feature the feeding of both living and dead twins. All children, in fact, are invited to eat their fill. The children enjoying the food are expected to eat sitting on the floor and with their hands.
The Marassa love to eat. They will eat their fill and complain that they are hungry and haven’t eaten. Only when completely satisfied will they attend to the people. Along with food, like most children, they love toys. They are terrible when punishing and great care is made not to excite that side of them. Rarely appearing in possession, they act like children when they do make an appearance. They are known to have clairvoyance, the ability to heal, to bestow good luck in general, and the power to double (or triple) anything. They can produce rain at will and many human twins also have these abilities.
The range of what constitutes a twin is quite wide. Children born with extra fingers or toes are considered twins. The saying goes that they ate the other child while in the womb, thus the extra digit represents their other half. They are often referred to as avelekete. Children born with webbed feet or hands are also considered marassa. The child born after the twins (dosou for male, dosa for female) is considered more powerful than the twins combined. Extra care is taken of this child. The child born before isn’t given any special recognition other than the fact that they are said to have brought the twins in. There are Marassa associated with every nation of the Vodou tradition, so in fact there are many different sets of twins and different ways of serving them.
The Marassa aren’t always the easiest Lwa to deal with. This is why many will only serve the Marassa if they have to. If their family is known for twins, there is no choice. Or if called by the twins to serve them, again they will be served. They are choleric, touchy, have tantrums, and can be violent sometimes. The twins can be punished if the action is just for that, however they can create a lot of trouble, illness and chaos if they feel they were punished unjustly.
They must be treated exactly alike, even if great pains have to be endured to achieve this. To do otherwise may upset one of the set causing jealousy and trouble. Twin dolls are a wonderful gift to these Lwa. They love candy, popcorn and other junk food.
During the salutations for the twins, a child will be taken around the peristyle with a laye (straw tray) to throw some of the twin’s food in sacred areas. The candy and other foods are passed around until the laye is empty. Vegetables and leafy items are not offered to the Marassa as they are said to destroy their powers. In fact, it is considered a major insult. The Marassa are served in double and triple plates, special for them, that are often joined as one.