The influence of negative vibrations, hatred, anger, envy, and jealousy affects everyone within the world. Even the most beloved have enemies, unfortunately. The most positive, vibrant, and loving people tend to have a large array of enemies who like to cause trouble out of jealousy, envy, and greed. Sometimes someone’s friends are actually his/her enemies and cause much hurt in the person’s life.

The direction and execution of these negativities can produce illness, blocked paths, agitation, hurt, accidents, domestic problems or any other number of problems. Foundations may collapse, the person may lose his or her job. Some people just stir up chaos (in Kreyol dezod or disorder) in other’s lives. There are a large amount of different possibilities as to the nature of the spiritual illness.

Some people are able to direct negative energy through their eyes. This has actually been proven medically with scientific tests. In Vodou, we commonly refer to this as maldjok or jeg. In other words, the world famous evil eye. There are many different ways to get rid of the effects of the evil eye, and protections against repeat attacks. A common charm, in the states, that can be found is a necklace, chain, or ring with an eye on it. I often recommend some type of mounted jewelry for someone who commonly suffers from it. I take the jewelry, and mount it specially for the person with a residing spirit. The residing spirit then protects the person against the evil eye. People who receive this also get instructions to carry out for the care of their jewelry.

Sometimes it is no attack at all, but just griyon that is accumulated on the body. Griyon is the result of negative vibrations directed your way and also just activities of everyday life. Griyon very often will be removed by the administering of a bath by a Houngan or Mambo. Sometimes when you go some places you may find that something has attached itself to you, or when you visit someone you may feel that something has attached itself to you. Sometimes it seems that everything in life may be going wrong, it might just be that you need to have all that nasty, negative stuff you’ve been picking up (maybe for years) removed.

The worst of the situations is to actually have someone direct aggressive magick in your direction. There are all types of ways to do this type of magick. Depending on how and what was sent, this magick may have a very set procedure to remove it.

One type of such magic is the expedition. When someone has had an expedition sent to them, the solution is the procedure known as the Anvwa Mo. You can get more information on the Anvwa Mo here

Sometimes the spirits may be attacking someone, thus the person may have, upon consultation with a Houngan/Mambo, an aret made for them. An aret is a stopping charm and will stop the spirits from causing further problems for the person. The Lwa may also be tied up for the person, it all depends on the results of such a reading. Sometimes power driven individuals will go to the extreme of stealing someone’s Lwa. This leaves the person without that Lwa’s protection and/or help. It is easier to maintain your Lwa rather than to try to get it back.

Work to send back negativity  Sometimes the issue is not negative magick at all. The person may be indebted to a Lwa. The Lwa, when angered, do punish. The Lwa can cause accidents, illnesses, trouble at work, make people lose their jobs, etc. An angered Lwa can even cause death. There are also cases in which a Lwa may be jealous of the person, typically Ezili Freda, thus causing all sorts of havoc in the life of the person. But these are not the worst punishments that could be had. The worst punishment by far is for the Lwa to leave the person. Without the guidance of his or her Lwa, the individual is open to attack mentally, physically and spiritually. The Lwa will not respond to the Sevite’s calls, will not assist him in his daily life, and won’t carry out requests.

There are also times that an individual has failed to serve a Lwa that is walking with him/her. The Lwa will do all sorts of things in order to try to get the individual’s attention. One of the most common is an illness without a physical remedy. The individual will continue to suffer until the neglected spirit is taken care of. This may require offerings, sacrifices, a Lave Tet or even initiation.

Negative magick may at times be difficult to remove. It all depends on its nature. If you are suffering from such maladies, contact me immediately.


Calming Agitation
A petition you can do yourself for your Ancestors
Helping yourself

There are times when our spirits may be agitated. They may be causing you confusion and problems. One reason they may be doing this is because you did something out of line with yourself, but there can be a number of things going on in one’s life. To correct you. There are also times when they may plague you with insomnia, restlessness, and general nervousness. The best way to calm your spirits and refresh them, to make them happy again, is actually to get a Lave Tet. But if, for whatever reason, you cannot have a lave tet done, here is a small, simple work that you can do to calm them, even if it is only temporary.

Sometimes this is all that needs to be done. This is one very basic thing that I might do for a client. Now, of course, I can also do a much more complex and elaborate procedure that will work with that client well, to bring him/her success. This, of course, depends on a variety of things that may show up during your consultation. Sometimes one cannot afford to do something more complex for them if they don’t do something to clear the way. Sometimes this is all you need. I tell my clients how to do this when it will help their situation. Now, I can just direct them here, and I hope you will benefit from it too. Again, this is an extremely basic, simple procedure.

What you will need:

•A white plate (it should have a slight dip in the center)
•Three white taper candles
•Holy water

Take your three taper candles and cut each one into three separate pieces, thereby creating nine candles total.

Melt some of the wax on the bottom of each of these so that they can stick to the white plate and hold themselves upright.

Pour a small amount of holy water onto the bottom of the plate, to create a layer about the thickness of a coin.

Light your candles. Pray the Our Father and the Hail Mary. Hold the plate to the four directions. Then speak. Talk to your spirits. Tell them you need peace, you need their goodwill, their calmness.

Place this plate on the altar, continue to talk. After you are finished talking, allow this to burn out on the altar.

When it is finished, clean the plate. Sprinkle the holy water around the front door. Save this plate to use for this purpose.

This procedure can also be used to make specific requests from the ancestors and guides, with a few specific changes. Variations are made to make this work stronger for you if that is what you need.


Building a deeper relationship with your Lwa
There are many ways in which you can develop and enhance the creation of a deeper relationship with the Lwa. I will be describing one of the best ways here to you. But there are a few important points to remember.

Firstly, one can only build a strong relationship with but so many Lwa at once. You can’t have learned about Vodou yesterday, or last month, and be serving 15 Lwa. It doesn’t work that way. The best relationships are with those Lwa who naturally walk with you. Not every Lwa you are attracted to will necessarily walk with you. You do not choose which Lwa you have, rather the Lwa will choose you. As such, many times serving a Lwa that you don’t have in your spiritual court can be at best ineffective or it can get much worse.

Thinking logistically, if you serve 10 Lwa you must divide your attention between them. You must divide your service, time, and dedication amongst them. However, if you were only to have one Lwa to focus on, your relationship with that Lwa will come along faster, be deeper, and more meaningful.

With that out of the way, now on to deepening the relationship. There are many ways you can serve the Lwa that are not all that complicated. One way is to wear the Lwa’s colors on his or her specific day. Make sure that when you do this, you do it with intent. Pick out something nice to wear, which is clean, and put it on in the name of that Lwa.

Another way to strengthen your relationship is through the use of rituals. Rituals are very important in Vodou. You can light a white ten cent candle (those small six inch emergency candles) at your altar on your Lwa’s chosen day. Have a special cup set aside for him or her. Give a drink offering. Recite an Our Father and a Hail Mary. Then you can pray to the Saint associated with your Lwa. At the end of this, you can now pray to the Lwa from your heart.

After you do this, sit there for a while with the Lwa. Spend some time with him or her. Remember you are building a relationship and it takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight. Ask the Lwa to show up in your dreams. Listen up for what the Lwa has to say to you. Always do this on the same day, on or about the same time. Make it your special time with your Spirits. You can also buy a special rosary and dedicate it to that specific Spirit. Pray this rosary in their Honor. Ask the Lwa to open you up to him/her, to communicate, and for their elevation.

Personally, when I wake up I usually set a pot of coffee on. When my coffee is ready, I take it up to the altar, close the door and drink my coffee with the Spirits. They know that I will be there basically every morning. I will drink my coffee in peace (there is no peace like the one you will feel when you do this) and chat with my Lwa.

Once a month, prepare a special meal. Make something that your Lwa enjoys eating. Make two plates. Place the Lwa’s plate on the altar lighting a white candle. Pray over the food and to the Lwa. Take the other plate and eat with your Spirit. This is a very good way to strengthen your relationship with him/her. Make sure that you finish all of your food: eat it with them. I cannot stress enough that you eat your entire plate.

Always remember God as well. Without God, there is no Lwa, there is no us, there is nothing. He is the one that gives the Lwa their power. So when you go through your prayers, don’t do it half way. Feel the words, say them with feeling, mean what you say. Deepening your relationship with God will assist you in deepening it with the Spirits. Light a white candle, on Sundays, to God. I know God doesn’t need candles, however this ritual will remind you and give you focus.


Houngan Hector


Lwa Met Tet
 The importance of the “Master of the Head”

Everyone in the world has Lwa. The most significant of the Lwa that may walk with an individual is the Lwa Met Tet. Met Tet literally means Master of the Head. This is similar to what some would consider a Holy Guardian Angel. The Lwa Met Tet of an individual is that individual’s personal guardian. The identity of the Met Tet can be that of a Rada lwa, a Petro lwa, a Gede Lwa, or even a personal Djab the individual has with them.

You do not choose your Lwa met tet. Just as you do not choose your own Mother or Father. You are born with this Lwa. The Lwa are said to “live in the blood” of an individual. This makes perfect sense, as blood itself is life. That is another reason why loss of blood is so draining, it is in part like losing some of your own power and force, weakening the lwa in your head. Although the lwa reside in the blood, the Met Tet, as named, abides in the head of the individual. This Lwa, as well as the Lwa who walk with the person, are separated from the individual at the time of death. They may then leave or be inherited by someone in the person’s spiritual or biological family.

The Met Tet is usually identified as the first Lwa to possess an individual, or the Lwa that possesses that individual most often. Yet, this Lwa will not be the only Lwa that can possess someone. Other than the Master of the Head, an individual may have a number of Lwa that “walk with him or her”. These Lwa, although not master of the head, are important to the individual and assist him/her through life. They may also appear rather frequently in possession through that individual. Unlike other traditions, where a person may only be possessed by their Head Spirit, we become possessed by a number of Lwa. On top of this, Houngans and Mambos are expected to be able to call any Lwa into their heads.

The Met Tet is not easily identified or defined. Usually people have many characteristics that are parallel to those of the Met Tet. This Lwa works on the same wavelength as that of the individual. They have similar vibes, and correspond to the individual. The identity of the Met Tet is not to be given away to people just because they ask.

It is considered offensive to ask someone who their Lwa Met Tet is. Also, the identity of this Lwa is not given away in fear that a person with such knowledge will serve that Lwa, therefore making the person vulnerable to magickal as well as other attacks. When someone asks who the Met Tet of someone else is, the usual assumption is that the person wants this information to work wanga, magick, against said individual. This is why you would not go around saying to people: “Hey my Lwa Met Tet is so and so!” The main fear is that the person will serve that Lwa better than you, and therefore make you vulnerable to magick and hardships.

With all the importance of the Met Tet, one would think that everyone “must” know this information for their own well being. This, however, is untrue. Many Vodouisants know the identity of their Lwa Met Tet way before they ever become Kanzo. The Lwa, his/herself, may have told the individual in a dream, may have come to possess the person first, or is the Lwa that most often shows up in this person’s head during ceremonies – yet, even when one goes to become Kanzo, unless one is going to take the rank of Sou Pwen or higher, this is not divined. Don’t get me wrong though, knowing the identity of your Lwa Met Tet is extremely beneficial, however, knowing the identity of this lwa is not absolutely essential, it is only so if you are becoming a Houngan or Mambo. The Lwa Met Tet is most often identified in the djevo during the Kanzo ceremony, although it may also be divined during a Lave Tet.

Usually, during divination, a Houngan or Mambo will identify Lwa that are walking with you, AT THAT TIME; this means that these are not necessarily the Lwa that are always with you, they are the ones that are willing to handle your situation, to work with you to come to a resolution. The Met Tet should be identified in person. Again, the best way to know the identity of the Lwa Met Tet is through a Lave Tet or Kanzo. However, Houngans and Mambos may have an idea of which Lwa it is before that time. It may turn out that they were right, or it may turn out during the Kanzo or Lave Tet that it is another Lwa altogether. Usually, it is the Lwa that walk with you, though, that can be defined much more easily. This is again because the Met Tet is often ellusive, as it should be in order to protect your well being.

Service to the Met Tet provides a number of benefits to the individual. It will make him or her stronger, his or her magick better and more effective, and clear obstacles in the life of the individual. Although, once again, this is usually known to a Houngan or Mambo, who is thus able to serve their own Lwa Met Tets for their own success.

The Met Tet, however, cannot be identified with a simple Tarot card reading, as some unscrupulous Houngans and Mambos are claiming they are doing. Again, it is under the context of a ritual, in a special ceremony, that this Lwa is identified. That doesn’t mean however that individual Houngans and Mambos will not try to identify that Lwa through other means. Especially when trying to work malevolent or aggressive wanga against an individual.



The “Angels” of the Vodou

As you read these pages, you will come to the word Lwa quite a bit. This is because they are the essence of Vodou and they are the basis of everything we do. It recently occurred to me that you may not just know what a Lwa is. You may not know how God is viewed in Haitian Vodou. So let me give you some explanations.

God in Vodou is most often seen as distant and not readily accessible to humans. Yes, Vodou is a monotheistic tradition. Oftentimes, God is considered as not accessible because simply “he is too busy.” Meaning that God has the whole universe to take care of, he has many things to do. This is understandable. We see God in the same way Roman Catholics do. He is a good, kind, loving God. Most Vodouisants are also Catholic. We attend mass and church services. One thing about God is certainly true, we listen about God (when we go to mass), we hear about God, but we do not see God. We worship God. Due to all of this, God has invested power in the spirits we know as Lwa.

The Lwa, unlike God, are readily accessible to us. A Lwa is, at its most basic definition, a spiritual entity. Lwa can be contacted through possession. Now, this is not considered demonic. Possession is essentially what all Vodou ceremonies are directed to achieve. This is what we want. We seek possession. In fact, the Kanzo (Vodou initiation) is aimed to invoke possession and improve the ability of its candidates to become possessed.

We, Vodouisants, do not worship the Lwa. The Lwa are served. We serve the Lwa by giving them their favorite foods, wearing their colors, observing their sacred days (by abstinence), through Vodou ceremonies, etc. The Lwa in turn serve us. They confer upon us material blessings, physical well being, protection, abundance, etc. See this is a double sided matter. Without us the Lwa would not exist, and without them we would cease to exist as well.

Now that you have that basic understanding, let’s get a little more complicated, shall we? The Lwa are organized into groups. This makes it easier for us to serve them, as well as define certain characteristics of those Lwa. These Lwa may have a number of different things in common. Vodou liturgy is divided into three separate groups.

The first of these is Rada. The majority of the Rada Lwa come from Dahomey. Dahomey is now known as Benin. Some lwa that come from Dahomey are Danbala Wedo, Ayida Wedo, Sobo, etc. They are spirits that traveled from Africa over to Haiti. The Rada lwa are considered to be cool, stable, and beneficent. They are associated with the color white. Their stance is more defensive than aggressive.

At the end of the Rada liturgy, you have the service of other Lwa from different areas of Africa, most notably Ogou. The Ogou lwa are much more like a family of similar spirits, they are the spirits of the Nago Nation. In fact they are more frequently referred as belonging to the Nago nasyon (nation) rather than a family. They came from Nigeria. In this nation you have spirits such as Ogou Shango, Ogou Batala, Ogou Badagri, Ossanj, etc. These lwa have their own drum beats, their own protocol, and their own ritual.

Then you have the Petro Lwa. Petro Lwa are associated with the color red. They are considered more aggressive, fierce in fact, faster to act to against enemies, and particularly effective in the quickness of their magick. The real differentiation of the Lwa Rada and Petro is their origin. Petro Lwa tend to be Kongo, Kreyol spirits, or in fact from a number of different African tribes. Within the Petro rite, we have many other nasyon. Examples of these are the Ibo, Wangol, and Kongo. The origins of the Petro Lwa are also more obscure. Right in there with the Petro lwa, you have the Lwa Marinette. The Lwa Marinette was once a living person. She conducted the ceremony at Bwa Kayman to Ezili Danto, sacrificing a black female pig, thus marking the beginning of the Haitian Revolution.

You also have the Gede lwa. They are seen as a family, with Baron and Brijit. The Lwas Baron and Brijit bring about the rebirth of the spirits of the deceased, who then become Gede Lwa. They are countless. It is because they are constantly being given rebirth that there are so many Gede lwa. There are also some Gede lwa that are “rasin” (have root aspects). One of these is Brav Gede Nibo, often seen as the first ancestor.

Besides these three groups of lwa, one may also hear of djab. A Lwa can be referred to as a djab when he or she is working in an aggressive manner. But more usually, when one talks about a djab, one is talking about a personal spirit. This is a spirit that belongs to a specific person. Oftentimes, the way this relationship is struck up between the person and the djab is through a magickal contract. Djabs are more about magick, and less about spirituality. They work to get rid of enemies, increase one’s wealth, and create other material successes. Djab are fast to punish if their services are not correctly attended to. Djab also usually punish their servant quite severely, including punishments of death. I have a djab that I inherited, you can check her out here: Empowerment

Those are the liturgical groups of Lwa. Now, you need to understand that this is how they are served, in the liturgy. Many are from different nations. They have their own drumbeats, protocols, etc.


But am I on the right path?
Many individuals jump into a tradition that they do not fully understand, only to later find out that there is another that would have been better suited for them. It is easy to get confused, or to leap before really researching because there are so many traditions within the Caribbean. To top it all off, most of these traditions do not feature English as their native language, making research by English speakers that much more difficult.

There are a variety of paths within the Caribbean traditions, and for each and every person in the world there exists the right path just for him or her. I am going to describe a couple of different traditions, which are closely related to Vodou. I have been initiated in them since a young age, and thus know about them quite extensively. Now these traditions, if you understand them, may be better suited for you. I will also be outlining some things you can ask yourself so that maybe you can better decide which path to walk, and live happily as a successful, joyful, and content human being.

Let me name and describe the traditions, about which so little information is actually available, so that you may be able to find the path that is best for you:

Espiritismo de La Mesa Blanca: This is Spiritism. At its most basic level, it invokes God and the Positive Spirits to divinate for and assist the person. There is the use of a table covered with a white cloth, a large bowl full of water, and a crucifix. There are no initiations into this tradition and people work together at gatherings called Misas.

Sanse: Sanse is a cross between Spiritism and the 21 Divisions (see below). In this tradition, the dead and the Lwa (or Misterios) are worked with spiritually. There is an initiation called a Bautizo (Baptism) and people work with all sorts of different spiritual tableaus, or frameworks. If you would like to know more about this tradition click here

Dominican Vodou: Also known as the 21 Divisions. This is working with the Lwa/Misterios in the form that they are known and served within the Dominican Republic. This tradition has three levels of initiation, but these initiations do not serve the same purpose they do in other traditions. If you would like to know more about this tradition click here

Haitian Vodou: This is working with and serving the Lwa as traditionally known in Haiti. In this tradition, people are initiated and have set rules and regulations. If you would like to know more about this tradition click here

Where do I belong?
Here I will give you general guidelines that will help you decide which tradition is the right path for you to take.

You should consider Mesa Blanca if:
•You are a medium.

•You work independently.

•You don’t feel a need to identify your spirits.

You should consider Sanse if:

•You desire to elevate yourself spiritually.

•You have a connection with your spirits.

•You have spirits that come from an array of different locations (for example Gypsies, Orichas, Lwa, Arabs, Chinese Spirits, etc)

•You want to elevate and work with all your
spiritual tableaus or frameworks.

•You don’t want to depend on an initiator to teach you.

•You don’t mind working alone, or prefer it.

•You don’t like strict rules and regulations.

•You are self reliant.

You should consider 21 Divisions if:

•You desire to work with the Dominican Mysteries or feel that you are being called to them.

•You don’t want to totally depend on an initiator to teach you, but you do want someone who you can go to if you need help.

•You want some example as to how it’s done, but still desire flexibility.

•You want the Spirits to teach you.

•You do not want to travel to Haiti.

You should consider Haitian Vodou if:

•You feel as though you are being called by the Lwa of Haiti.

•You like a set form on how to do things. (i.e. tradition)

•You are good at following rules and regulations.

•You are good at working in groups.

•You are willing to study hard.

•You understand the need for structure.



A Participant’s Account

By S.F.

  At the end of February I went to visit Vodou priest Houngan Hector of the Sosyete Gade Nou Leve (‘Watch us Rise Society’) in New Jersey for a Lave Tet ceremony. Hector is a Houngan Asogwe in Haitian Vodou and also works in the Sanse, Dominican Vodou and Mesa Blanca traditions. You can read what he has to say about the Lave Tet ceremony here

After the three days of the ceremony were over a ‘party’ (what we at CUPS would call an open ritual) was held to celebrate and thank the lwa (spirits) for their assistance. I am not here to discuss my Lave Tet but I would like to share my experiences of the party with you, since they are very different to the kind of ceremony we Brits normally see. Any errors are my own.

The party was to be held at Hector’s family home, although for larger ceremonies he might have hired a hall. First the room was cleaned thoroughly with help from the Sosyete members, and the altar table (a lot of space would be needed for all the necessary paraphernalia) was set up. Although one may perform Vodou without props, at a party of this nature the lwa are expected to visit in person through possession, and when they come certain drinks, coloured cloths, perfumes etc. are traditionally provided – in much the same way that one may wish to furnish a king or queen with their favourite food if they honour one’s house with their presence.

A pristine white table cloth was spread out on the altar and a beautiful white canopy was stapled to the ceiling above it. A gorgeous yellow and blue statue of Mary was placed in the centre and surrounded by flowers, coloured cloths, perfume bottles, favourite beverages and at least four different cakes, all of which were very beautiful and costly (see photograph, left). The House members were dressed in white and the women complemented their dresses or skirts with white satin head scarves, although this is not a prerequisite. Meanwhile, two huge platters of food were brought in and placed in the oven to keep warm, while crates of beer, water, Pepsi and other soft drinks were unloaded into a large ice bucket for the guests (the party would play host to a full house, many participants having travelled some distance to be there, and although none of them paid to see the ceremony, all must be fed).

Although larger parties might hire a Haitian drumming ensemble, these are not actually required and can be very costly. In this case there were no drummers, but as I quickly came to discover the atmosphere buzzes simply with the sacred songs, the shake of the rattle and the awed exclamations of the crowd as the lwa appear.

When it was time to begin the ceremony the Houngan spoke the Lord’s Prayer three times, followed by three Hail Marys. This is done in order to honour God or Bondye as is traditional in Vodou. Many Vodouisants are also Catholic, and the Houngan recommends that we attend church or at least remind ourselves that there is a higher power of some sort (the stress is on God first, then Gineh, the lwa, second). This may seem very strange to us coming from a Pagan standpoint, especially if we are polytheists used to working within a particular pantheon, all of which are ‘gods’, but it has to be made clear that in Vodou the spirits derive their power from God and are not deities in their own right. For this reason the lwa are often likened to angels or saints; indeed for every lwa there is a Catholic ‘mask’. They are not usually seen as identical to the saint used to depict them however; Damballah, for example, is represented by images of St Patrick, not because he and St Patrick are similar but because there are snakes in St Patrick’s icon.

After the Lord’s Prayer and a litany the Houngan began the Priye Ginen, which is a beautiful mix of langaj (the sacred language of Vodou) and Kreyol. Nobody knows what some of the words in langaj actually mean. The song creates a sacred space and works by call and answer. It can be very long, and will vary according to the Sosyete; for this reason it is not always easy to find examples of the Priye online. The beautiful melodies, call and answer, and occasional exclamation reminded me just a little of being at church, only more colourful and much more exciting. As the unfamiliar words continued I felt that the already friendly atmosphere was beginning to heat up.

At a particular point during the party, it became time for salutes to be made to the lwa. An initiate is provided with the sacred rattle, and a special cloth known as a moushwa in the lwa’s sacred colour is draped around his/her neck. They are joined by one person holding a white candle and another person holding (for example) Florida Water or rum. They salute in a complex manoeuvre that is a lot harder than it looks, involving spinning and rattling in the four directions (“because we do not known from which direction the spirits may come”), followed by the altar (or in Legba’s case, the door). The rum or other liquid is poured out in three drops before the altar and the lwa’s sacred song called out. At this point, it is hoped, possession will occur, though Damballah Wedo (the snake lwa, and father to all others) must come first if his children are to follow.

Damballah in possession is characterised by snake-like movements. When he came to our party, the ‘horse’ (possessed person) was wrapped in a white sheet and fed with a white egg on flour; this seemed to signify the blessing of the lwa and the opening of the way. After that, further salutes were given and more lwa came to ride their horses. I suppose I ought to consider what we mean by ‘possession’ at this point. Speaking from my own experience – which may be different from yours – and without going into too much detail, I would suggest that possession and invocation are two different things. Most of the invocations I have seen in private and public ritual appear to a greater or lesser extent to be personal in nature. This is not universal, nor is it undesirable, but quite often they have had a certain amount of particular meaning for the person invoked, who may recall some or all of what happened to them afterwards. They may feel as though they entered a heavy trance during which the gods spoke ‘through’ them, channelling a certain wisdom to fellow participants, or they may have had a light sensation of being filled with the energy of that spirit. Quite often the person invoked feels very moved and much closer to the deity or spirit in question, as though they have made a deep and lasting connection; perhaps they will also feel personally empowered (this is certainly my experience when working with invocation).

In Vodoun possession, however, the horse often has no recollection of what transpired during the time that he was ‘ridden’. His memory of the incident is so non-existent that witnesses to the event will not say “You did this as Ghede,” or “When Ogoun possessed you, you said…”but instead they will say “Ghede did this when he came” or “Ogoun asked me to tell you…” More importantly, perhaps, the lwa rarely come for the benefit of the horse. The reason so many people had travelled to the party is that they wished to speak with the lwa to gain their blessing and insight or simply to see them; participants felt understandably blessed by this communion. The lwa come through for the benefit of the congregation, not the priest; in some instances they may even berate their horse or provide a message to the person from whose mouth they are speaking (thus the book title, Tell my Horse by Zora Neale Hurston). Thus although there are certainly parallels between possession and ceremonial invocation, I do not think that they are generally the same.

One thing you can certainly say of the lwa is that they have strong personalities; it is almost impossible to mistake one for the other even if you have only read about them before. I suppose you could say that they are very ‘human’ in their individuality, not like some of the nature spirits who are certainly powerfully felt but may not have much to say. Once experienced ‘in person’, the lwa are impossible to forget. La Sirene the silent mermaid who loves to be sung to, Erzuli Freda with her general disdain of other females and enjoyment of handsome men (some of which she may propose to), and the beloved Anaisa simply cannot be compared. This is absolutely not the case of “all goddesses are one goddess…” or “all lwa are one lwa” and I imagine the suggestion could be deeply offensive to some of them! The deep and commanding voice of machete-bearing Ogoun Feray could not be any more different to the Ghede’s nasal intonations as he mischievously offers you his ‘zozo’, and in the excitement it is almost possible to forget that serpentine Damballah’s horse is actually a man with legs.

Quite often the lwa will perform certain feats to demonstrate the truth of their possession. Most of them spoke in Kreyol and we were lucky to have several attendants capable of translating. Anaisa likes to take Florida Water in her beer, which simply could not be stomached normally; Feray baptises participants with fire, yet they do not burn unless he wishes them to (see photo, above). The lwa frequently know things that their horse couldn’t possibly have guessed; apparently the Ghede finds particular pleasure in shouting out the personal secrets of those who deserve embarrassment. Participants may be treated to a blessing or cleansing act, thus Erzuli Dantor threw Florida Water over us and Feray handed out the Champagne!

At the end of the evening everybody was exhausted and I personally felt as though I hadn’t slept in years. The party had taken several hours and normally would have taken much longer as the House Ghede left earlier than he usually does. Participants had consulted the lwa and received advice from them. They has enjoyed a feast with the Sosyete and taken photos of the proceedings. Had it been worth it? Looking around at peoples’ smiles, at the food and drink which must have cost the equivalent of a small wedding, and at the sparkling, colourful decorations on the altar, I couldn’t help but feel a little moved. Of course, everything’s not always going to be perfect; sometimes the lwa will be angry or offended, sometimes a guest will attend the party and leave a bad taste in everybody’s mouth – much as can happen at the public rituals over here. It’s possible to attend a party and view it as nothing more than entertainment; you get back what you give out, in terms of your interaction with the lwa and whether or not you take their advice, and whether you believe what you have seen and heard and felt. As far as I was concerned I felt honoured to be there, and there was a real sense of genuine help being given to participants, which is, I suppose, what public ritual is really all about.

Mariaj Lwa

Mariaj Lwa
  Learn about the mystical marriage ceremony!

We will be discussing the pros (and cons) of this mystical ceremony!

The mariaj lwa, or the marriage to a lwa, is a ceremony that is conducted by Houngans and Mambos, making a participant the spouse of a specific lwa. The lwa to be married is usually divined before this decision is made. Lwa may also ask to be married to a certain human spouse. Dantor often asks to become the wife of women and Freda often asks to become the spouse of men, sometimes people marry both! In some Vodou houses, there are really specific rules as to who can marry who, in whose head the lwa may turn up, and when marriages can take place.

Why would someone want to marry a lwa?
•The lwa that is the spouse offers protection, health, luck, patronage, blessings and support.
•To make a deeper connection, a better relationship with the lwa, or because the lwa demands it (a lwa sometimes demands marriage with a specific person through dreams, possession, or a reading by a Houngan or Mambo).
•The person does not want to initiate (kanzo).
•The person does not want to be obligated to any specific person.
•The person made a promise to the lwa.
•The lwa made a contract with the individual for specific work.
•The person wants to work with that lwa very closely.
•Cheaper than the kanzo ceremony.
•Communication with the lwa through dreams.

Why people do not want to marry a lwa?

•Restriction on sex (this is actually the reason I hear most often). This is because the human spouse of a lwa is expected to observe up to two days a week, on which they must sleep alone and not have sex. The lwa then comes and visits his or her spouse on that night in dreams. This is a lifetime commitment.
•There is no divorce! Once one is married to a lwa, there is no undoing.
After the ceremony, which is conducted the same way it is in the Roman Catholic church, there is a huge wedding reception with all the lwa’s favorite foods and items. The person is also given time to speak with the lwa with another Houngan or Mambo guiding the conversation. 
HOungan Hector


Anvwa Mo
   “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.
Houngan Hector

Wanga- Vodou Magick

Wanga (Magick!)

 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.

Houngan Hector