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An American Vodou House

Sosyete du Marche, Inc’s Library

The Lwa of Vodou: From many nations came a mighty family of Spirits

Who are the Lwa of Vodou? Although they are often taken to be gods,  they are not. In Vodou, there is only one God, and the Mysteries which  serve under Him/Her/It, or however you choose to define Deity.

The Lwa of Vodou are many things - energy patterns long establish through prayer and ritual; entities that once were human;  spirits that have never had corporeal bodies. Think of them as the  Ancestors of the human race, elevated to the status of Lwa or Saints.  The Catholic church continues to elevate simple human beings to  supernatural status every year. Here in Philadelphia, we have the great  Lwa Mother Katherine Drexel. She's a saint by definition of the Church,  but a lwa by any other name. People pray to her and serve her by going  to mass, holding pieces of her clothing against their bodies and asking  her to effect cures for them or family. Hmmm...sounds like a Vodou Lwa  to me!

Folks who come to Vodou often want to work with the  main Lwa of the Rada or Petro pantheons; I tell my students, start with  your family Lwa first. When they look at me like I am crazy, I gently  remind them that all Vodousant serve their family lwa first - their  ancestors. Bring your Great Grandmother her favorite drink regularly to  your ancestor altar, and watch her go to work for you! Bring your family into your circle, and they will always reward you.

It's not unlike making friends. Would you approach a  stranger on the street and ask for their help, or would you go to  someone more familiar? Family is even a better bet - after all, they  have a vested interest in you succeeding. It makes them look good by  vicarious association. The Lwa of Vodou are much the same.

The other major mistake is to think of the Lwa as  didactic in nature - good or bad, easy or hard. The groupings are not a  reflection of their natures, per se -- but are the indication of their  African origin. Rada spirits come from the West African coastline, and  include the tribal affiliations of Arada, Dahomey, Senegal and Ibo. The Kongo nation of spirits are from the Congo. Petro is the name given to  the spirits who were born on the island of Haiti - Dantor, Ti-Jean  Petro. Think of nations as ‚Äústyles of servingÄĚ - for instance, Ogoun is  served both in the Rada nation as Ogoun but also in the Petro Nation as  Ogoun Feray. Another way of thinking about - if the American ambassador  went to Japan, they would fet him Japanese style. He would still be an  American. So Ogoun is Ogoun - but in Rada service, we work one way and  in Petro service, we work another. That is why one doesn’t just pick a  Lwa and wing it - there is a right and a wrong way to do the work.  Practicing Vodou is a lifetime of work, understanding and growth. The  Lwa are here to help, but we must make the effort to approach it  correctly.

I've listed here the main  players of the various nations. Again, there are many, many variations  on a theme, but these are some of the primary energies one encounters  in Vodou work.








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