For a Better Understanding of Vodou Magick!
The construction of wanga is one of the most often requested ceremonies for a Houngan or Mambo to perform. A wanga is a “spell”. There are many different wanga and many different ways to construct them. Some wanga are the personal secrets of a Houngan or Mambo, and some are known as traditional. Traditional wanga are wanga that are known by most Houngans and Mambos. Each Houngan and Mambo also has his/her own secrets, and wanga are just some of them. When a Houngan/Mambo does a wanga, they are usually said to have “mare wanga”, or tied a wanga. This does not mean that all wangas are tied.
Uninitiated Vodouisants perform magick too. Houngans and Mambo are thus expected to know all these things and more. We have a close relationship to the Lwa that allows us a great amount of leverage, which helps us solve our client’s problems.
Houngans and Mambos have an arsenal full of magick when approaching someone’s problem. Sometimes the magick requires the client to do some work his or herself, sometimes the Houngan/Mambo will do it, and many more times it will be a Lwa in the head of the Houngan/Mambo who will tie the magick. There are a number of different “charms” that may be used to resolve some problem.
Houngans/Mambos have to have this huge amount of knowledge to do magick. Why? The numbers of different problems brought to the foot of a Houngan/Mambo are endless. Some people wish to be rid of enemies, nicely and not-so-nicely. Some need to bring new love, others return an old lover, find a job, bring up luck, remove bad luck/magick, separate two people, business success, etc etc. The list goes on and on endlessly, as there are an endless number of human conditions.
Wanga also have their classifications. There are those that are made to “aret” or stop, and those that “lage” or release. A Houngan or Mambo may construct a pwen cho or another type of pwen. The client may be administered a bath, given a powder to spread, or a perfume to wear. In Vodou, we believe every problem has its solution. Houngans and Mambos are very good at discovering the appropriate solution and preparing it correctly.
Wanga also strengthen the psyche of the client. Wanga create change in the life of the client and empower that person to create changes too. Wanga can put the client on the right path and bring that person’s desires to fruition. Houngans and Mambos are not God, however, and the client should work toward his/her goal also.
On average, wanga should start working within a month of its construction, but even then, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to magick. The complexity of the issue or how long the problem has been in existance is a major factor in determining how long it will take to resolve. This is one of the reasons that clients get their work done by Houngans/Mambos. Even as such, magick cannot be tied down to a specific time. Sometimes results happen sooner, sometimes much later. I have even had times where the problem was resolved within hours of the magick, or even before the magick was physically done. The magick should still be tied to make the currently desired situation permanent.
The prices of wanga vary as much as wanga themselves do. Depending on the wanga, its complexity, and the skill of the Houngan or Mambo the price can vary greatly. Naturally a simple wanga will not be as expensive as another more complex wanga, but even then it depends. If the Houngan/Mambo is great at making that wanga “walk” or “work” as it is often said, he or she may charge a lot for it.
This brings me to another point. Wanga and other magickal procedures are often known simply as “travay” or work. The wanga itself either works or it doesn’t. Sometimes one may hear “travay maji” or magickal work instead of simply work. A wanga also either “walks” or it doesn’t. Saying it walks is simply another way to say that it worked. Thus the song:
“Travay O!, travay O . . .”
“Work o!, work o . . .”
Petro Lwa are very entwined with magick. They are more focused on magick than spirituality, and are often the pwen invoked when doing work. They are said to bring in results faster than the Rada Lwa, although this is not always the case. I’ve seen Rada Lwa work magick very fast, within hours of the work, but overall, Petro Lwa are seen as hotter, faster and more aggressive. Thus an opening song during Petro dances:
“Komance, Komance maji a . . .”
“Start, Start the magick . . .”
In Vodou, magick is tailored for each person. Each problem carries its own individuality. Even though two problems may appear to be the same, they often do not have the same “root”. A Houngan/Mambo searches for that root and its solution, as well as resolution for the surface problem. The Houngan’s or Mambo’s magickal capacity is also of great benefit to the client in helping him/her carry out the solution.
It is not unusual to do magick against one’s enemies. In Vodou, we attack those who attack us. We also try to prevent getting in situations in which we are attacked and actually harmed. One way we do this is by having a gad. A gad protects the person from bad magick. There are also a number of other protections that can be prepared by a Houngan or Mambo.
Houngans and Mambos know how to disperse enemies nicely and not so nicely. Sometimes, the situation will simply be nullified. Other times, the enemies will be made to move away. The Houngan/Mambo can also perform magick to harm the person, should the Houngan/Mambo “work with both hands”. The magick may make the enemy sick, have an accident, or even die.
A Houngan or Mambo cannot guarantee results. Anyone who does this is a scammer. We are not God. A Houngan or Mambo will do his/her best to rectify the situation. Houngans/Mambos do work hard to have their clients achieve their desires, but again no one is God, but God. Even as such, wanga often times do resolve things that you may consider impossible.
In Vodou, unlike other traditions, we do magickal work on specific people. To work magick on specific individuals, it is best if you can obtain something that belongs to the person for the Houngan/Mambo. At the very least, a full name needs to be had. Photos, hair, nail pairings, and dirty clothing are all appropriate when doing a work on a specific individual. We do work love magick on specific people but we can also attract love to an individual if he/she does not have an intended.
Unlike what some may tell you, magick in Vodou is done to bring physical results. We don’t tie wanga just for you to feel better. It is the intention of the magick to bring physical changes to the person’s life. If we do magick to attract a person, that is exactly what we intend to do, attract him/her to you. The ability of the person tying the wanga will be a measure of the magick’s endurance, quickness, and effectiveness.
Wanga greatly vary in complexity also. Some are more complex and elaborate than others, whereas some magick is very simple – make no mistake, however, because simple magick often brings about great results just as their more complicated counterparts. In reality, it all depends on what one needs in his/her particular situation. Preparation and even the way items are bought may have added nuances to make the magick stronger and more powerful. In the end, it has the result of achieving people’s personal goals.
One thing I often tell people when they thank me, is not to thank me. I do the physical labor but it is God and Ginen that bring that person his or her wishes. Ginen goes to work for that person and does what they have to. They then deliver to the person. I always refer the person to thank God and Ginen, the true workers of the miracles.