That Voodoo That You Do 2: Erzulie Who?

The last demon for a month…

Okay, don’t freak out when there’s no demon next week; starting Thursday, we’re having October is Zombie Month instead! Every day in October, I’ll have a zombie-related post. It’s going to be cool (Well, probably more like room temp, or the ambient temperature of whatever location you’re in.).

In November, we’ll return to your regularly scheduled demons

That Voodoo That You Do 2

Okay, are voodoo loas demons? Personally, I have no clue. But they fulfill the roles of spiritual messengers between Bondye (“Good god”) and mere mortals, which means they do the job of the angels in the Christian tradition, and demons were originally angels… So let’s call them spirit people and include them in the blog. (Plus, they tend to be snappy dressers, which most demons aren’t, and we could use some fashion sense around here.)

Erzulie Who?

Erzulie is the chief female loa — or maybe she’s a whole family. With voodoo, it’s often hard to tell these things. Is she a different spirit, or just in one of her moods? Only the mambo knows for sure.

erzuliefredaveveAs Erzulie Freda, she’s part of the beneficial Rada loa, and is sexy and stylish–the perfect woman, in fact. As Erzulie Dantor, she’s part of the less kind Petro loa. Scarred and ugly, she carries a big old knife that she’ll use on you if she feels like it, thank-you-very-much. But the paradox that is Erzulie doesn’t end there… Erzulie Freda hates females and treats them all as rivals, sometimes demanding that married men give up leave their wives to serve her (that’s the good Erzulie, remember?). But Erzulie Dantor (supposedly less kindly) uses her knife to protect women and children above anything else.

ErsulieDantorNo sane voodoo-loving woman would serve Erzulie Freda. If she did, she’d probably be rewarded by the loa ensuring that she never got married. But most female practitioners do worship Erzulie Dantor. Go figure.

Erzulie Freda is a mixed-race beauty who parades around in fine clothes and lots of sparkly jewelry. She wears three rings, one for each husband. She’s married to the voodoo loa Damballa, Agwe and Ogoun… And any other human guy she decides she wants–she just lets him know, through signs and portents, dreams and signals, that he’s supposed to drop what he’s doing (and who he’s doing it with) to devote himself to her.

It’s kind of awkward if he’s already married, but that has never stopped her before.

Sources

Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft, and Wicca
The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft, and Wicca
(Paperback)
by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

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That Voodoo That You Do 1: Pulling my Legba

Okay, are voodoo loas demons? Personally, I have no clue. But they fulfill the roles of spiritual messengers between Bondye (“Good god”) and mere mortals, which means they do the job of the angels in the Christian tradition, and demons were originally angels… So let’s call them spirit people and include them in the blog. (Plus, they tend to be snappy dressers, which most demons aren’t, and we could use some fashion sense around here.)

Pulling my Legba

Papa Legba is absolutely the most important guy in the voodoo universe. He isn’t the most powerful by any stretch, but he definitely comes first because, well, he comes first!

Papa Legba, a natty dresser in his straw hat, using a cane and smoking his pipe–often with a dog at his heels–is the first guy to show up in any successful voodoo ritual. He fills an important place by being the guardian of doors, entries, paths, and crossroads. And that includes the crossroads between the worlds. If you want to talk to anyone on the Other Side, including another loa, you’ve got to go through Papa Legba. Legba is the guy who opens that gate so anyone can come through.

The Veve acts as a beacon for a spirit to come to the place of summoning

The Veve acts as a beacon for a spirit to come to the place of summoning

Legba is one of the Rada loa, which means he’s more on the serene, beneficial side of things. So long as you give him his pipe, he’s pretty much happy. A good thing since you can’t talk to the other spirits without his help.

Now voodoo is one of those religions that’s difficult to get your hands on. It’s kind of slippery, and meant to be that way. You see, voodoo developed in Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean during the times of slavery as a way for the people to worship their own African gods while seeming to follow Catholicism. So loa are usually associated with Catholic saints–“Stick a picture of the Virgin Mary up on that altar. Any outsider who comes will think the altar is for her, but we’ll all know it’s really for Erzulie…”

This is the slippery part: Rosemary Ellen Guiley and others say Legba is associated with St. Peter. There’s a case for that, since he has to lead things. But Zora Neale Hurston says he’s associated with St. John the Baptist. And there’s a case for that, too, since John had to come before things.

Hurston also records this incantation for Legba:

Papa Legba, ouvirier barrier pour moi agoe
Papa Legba, ouvirier barrier pour moi
Attibon Legba, ouvirier barrier pour moi passer
Passer Vrai, loa moi passer m’a remerci loa moin

Here’s my crappy French translation:

Father Legba, open the barrier for me [word I don’t know]
Father Legba, open the barrier for me
Attibon Legba, open the barrier for me to pass through
Truly pass, loa let me pass, I give thanks to you

Or something similar to that.

Now, considering that when a loa ‘passes’ through, he (or she) takes over someone’s body, I’d think twice before trying this one at home, kids.

Sources

Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft, and Wicca
The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft, and Wicca
(Paperback)
by Rosemary Ellen Guiley