of spring water. She has eyes that bulge out
and a terrible temper.
Agoué Loa of the sea and patron of fishermen
and sailors. His symbol is the drawing of a
boat. Sacrifices to him are loaded onto small
rafts and set adrift at sea. If the raft sinks,
the sacrifice has been accepted. He is associated
with Bayou st. John, Lake Ponchartrain, and
The Misissippi river.
New Orleans Loa of fish and sea plants, the
patron of fishermen and sailors. Loa Agwe is
the personification of the ocean, and the patron
of sailors and fishermen. Rituals for Agoue
are held near the sea, and offerings to him
are floated on rafts or small boats. He is associated
with St. Ulrich.
Aida Wedo Loa of fertility
and new life, especially conception and childbirth.
Wife of Damballa. Known as the Rainbow Snake,
she takes a snake form. Her symbol is the rainbow,
and her color is white. Sacrifices of white
chickens and white eggs are often made to her.
of the French Market, marketplace and herbal
healing. She is also the protector of the houngan
(temple) and religious ceremonies, who never
possesses anyone during ritual. Her symbol is
the palm leaf and her colors are white and silver.
of thunder and Loa of agriculture and protector
of the crops. He is pictured as a peasant carrying
a straw bag. His color is blue and cornmeal
or corn cakes are sacrificed to him.
Lord of Pestilence
and rightful owner of the earth, Babalu is
the orisha who controls disease. He also is
a special intercessor for the
poor. Babalu (Babaluaye, Babalawo)
of the cemetary in the family of Guédé,
a group of loas associated with Guédé,
the Loa of the Dead.
powerful of the Guédé, Papa Gede'
he is the loa of death and controls the passageway
between the world of the living and the world
of the dead. He often has information about
the dead. He is one of the Guédé
family which associate with the Loa of the dead,
Guédé. His color is black and
he prefers a top hat and dark glasses. He likes
cigarettes, food, and rum in which 21 hot peppers
have been steeped. He is said to be most often
summoned and found in St. Louis cemetery number
of the cross in the family of Guédé,
a group of loas associated with Guédé,
the Loa of the Dead.
Loa of money, who has special influence over
black magic and ill-gotten fortune. Similar
to the Catholic St. Brigid. Her color is purple
and black chickens are sacrificed to her.
Father of the loa, he represents the ancestral
knowledge that forms the foundation of Vodou.
He is the loa of new life and fertility. A snake
Loa who lives in trees near springs. On Haiti
he is called Bon Dieu ("good Loa").
His symbols are the snake and the asson, and
his color is white. White chickens and eggs
are sacrificed to him. Serpent spirit.
This was the loa or spirit god of the snake,
popular in New Orleans Voodoo.
the eldest and chief of the Loas, a primordial
serpent deity who created the world and the
Gods. He, along with his wife Ayida, is sometimes
likened to the Kundalini serpent of Hindu mysticism.
Damballah has many aspects, including his Petro
manifestation, Damballa la Flambeau (Damballah
of such great age and antiquity that he does
not speak; when possessing a follower during
a ritual, he prefers to slither on the ground
or sit in the basson.
Da, Dambala, Dambalah, Damballa Wedo, Damballa
la Flambeau, Bon Dieu Bondye
New Orleans loa of farmers. He originated from
the African Loa Danh.
Loa of thunder in New Orleans.
The great trickster
who owns the crossroads. He enables mankind
communicate with the other orisha and is always
honored first. Some say thatthere are 256 distinct
paths of Eleggua, and these correspond to the
256 oduin the Ifa Corpus. (Interestingly, the
human eye can distinguish between 256 shades
of grey.) Eleggua (Legba, Eleggua)
Love. Loa of love, beauty, purity and romance,
elemental forces, dancing, flowers, jewels,
and pretty clothes. On her fingers she wears
three wedding rings, her three husbands being
Damballa, the serpent Loa, Agwe, Loa of the
sea and Ogoun the warrior hero. She is the most-loved
of the loa, and can influence romance, marriage,
good fortune and artistic endeavors. Her symbol
is the heart and her colors are pink and blue.
Sweets, perfumes, desserts and white doves are
sacrificed to her.
The dark aspect of Erzuile. She is the loa of
jealousy and vengance, and is often cruel. Her
symbol is the heart pierced by a dagger and
her colors are red and black.
of the forest. Represents the forces of nature
in New Orleans religion.
The original supreme being of Haitian religion.
Some New Orleans practitioners of Vodou consider
him too remote for personal worship.
Guédé (Gede or
Loa of the Dead. Also refers to a Group of loa
that associate with Guédé and
are considered members of his family. He is
a very wise man for his knowledge is an accumulation
of the knowledge of all the deceased. He stands
on the center of all the roads that lead to
Guinee, the afterworld. Guédé
is represented as an undertaker, dressed completely
in black wearing dark glasses.
family of spirits that embody the powers of
death and fertility. They are closely associated
with the loa Baron (whose aspects are Baron
Samedi, Baron La Croix and Baron Cimetière).
Depending on the tradition followed, Baron is:
one of the Guédé
their spiritual father who has raised them from
the dead, along with Baron Samedi's wife Maman
Brigitte who is their spiritual mother
an aspect of the Guédé
In any of these configurations, Baron, his wife
Maman Brigitte, and the Guédé
rule death, the cemetery and the grave.
Well known Guédé
spirits include Guédé Nibo, Guédé
Plumaj, Guédé Ti Malis, Guédé
Zaranye, and many others. They are known for
the drum rhythm and the dance called the "banda"
and in possession will drink or rub themselves
with a mixture of raw rum or clairin and twenty-one
habanero or goat peppers.
Gede Nibo is
a psychopomp and acts as an intermediary between
the living and the dead, who gives voice to
the dead spirits that have not been reclaimed
from "below the waters".
often dress as an undertaker dressed in black
with black sunglasses. Some Guédés
will only have one lens, seeing as they do in
two worlds. The chief of the Guédés
is still Guédé Nibo. He has no
wife, and goes around flirting with the lady
Loas, except Ezili who apparently does not like
The colors of
the Guédé are generally purple
and black, and they enjoy unfiltered cigarettes
like Pall Malls, rum steeped with chile peppers,
dancing the suggestive "banda" dance
with the ladies, and they are very protective
of children, as many of the loa are.
An aspect of Erzuile who represents the sea.
She is seen as a mermaid.
Legba ( Papa Legba )
most powerful of all the loa and the guardian
of the gate between the material world and the
world of the loas. He also has great wisdom
and knowledge of the past and future. Every
ritual begins with a sacrifice to Legba. He
is the guardian of the sun and his color is
black. (Papa Legba, Papa Lebas, Eleggu , Legba,
Legba, ouvrez barriere pou moin passe."
Legba, open the way for me to go through."
Thus begins the prayers to Legba in the Haitian
tradition. Eleggua is known here as Legba. Above
you see the veve of Legba Atibon. Just as in
the Regla Lucumi, in the Haitian tradition,
Legba is the first Loa or Orisha to be propitiated
in any ceremony.
If Eleggua or
Legba is not happy, being the trickster god,
he can cause problems in the ceremony and it
will not go well. Legba is often seen in the
New Orleans voodoo tradition as an old man,
carrying a sack on his back, often smoking a
He also has
other "caminos" or roads in the Haitian
tradition such as Met Kalfou, or the Lord of
the Crossroads (Maitre Carrefour). Legba or
Eleggua is everywhere, seeing and hearing everything.
He knows what is going on with everyone. This
is one of the reasons that it is recommended
in the Lucumi tradition that everyone receive
Eleggua and the Warriors, because without them,
you cannot progress in the religion.
deity, of Congo religion, worshipped in the
African cults of Haiti, Brazi, and New Orleans.
Li Grand Zombi was the name of Marie Laveau's
snake, a huge boa constrictor or royal python
( Ball python) who was worshipped at her Nw
Orleans Voodoo rituals.
was the name of Marie Laveau's cottage near
Lake Pontchartrain this is where she kept Zombi.
Bayou St. John
was the site of the natural waterway in New
Orleans where Marie held her spectacular Voodoo
rituals. St. John's Eve, June 23, was the day
the biggest Voodoo gatherings were held where
even members of "polite society" were
invited including reporters, prominent citizens,
and the police. It is also the day that some
believers claim the ghost of Marie Laveau rises
from the dead.
Snakes are not
seen as harbingers of evil -- as in the story
of Adam and Eve -- but as a symbol of man. Women
often dance with serpents to represent the spiritual
balance between the genders. Crosses, meanwhile,
symbolize the crossroads where heaven and Earth
One of the New Orleans loa, believed to live
among the rocks. He has an insatiable appetite
and persecutes and kills people. He then eats
them. Even his own devotees are not safe from
L'inglesou A Haitian loa who lives among rocks
and ravines. He is said to kill those who offend
tree Loa, and patron of plants and healers.
He is one of the loa in the Caribbean voodoo-religion.
An aspect of Legba, he is the master of the
hounfort (temple) and loa of medicine and the
Mait' Carrefour Loa of
magicians. The New Orleans voodoo lord of crossroads.
Loa who stands in balance to Legba. He is the
loa of night and misfortune, who brings bad
luck and illness to the world. His symbol is
the crossroads and his color is black.
New Orleans voodoo Loadess who protects the
graves in cemeteries that are marked with the
cross. Her masculine counterpart is Ghede (Baron
sacred twins, considered to have balance and
be two parts of the same whole. Saluted at every
and violent loa of the Petro family.
This New Orleans Loa is a stammering loa who
causes storms of torrential rain.
Nago Shango is one of the more powerful loa
in the New Orleans voodoo religion. Sacrifices
of red roosters, tobacco, and rum poured on
the ground and set afire are made to him. He
is the patron Loa of smiths' fire. The machete
or sable is his attribute. Sango (or Shango,
Xango, Chango) spirit of storms.
Obatala is the
greatest orisha. His name means “Lord
of the White Cloth.” It is from him that
most of the other orisha take their forms. Obatala
has many roads or caminos. These can be thought
of the archetypes akin to the Platonic notion
of perfect forms. It is from these primordial
essences the other orisha take their shapes.
For instance, Obatla-Ajaguna provides the elemental
spark which becomes Shango. Obatala Oshanla
can be thought of as the source for Oshun. And
so forth. (The orisha who do not come from Obatala
are elemental orishas, such as Babalu Aye and
Olokun.) Obatla embodies wisdom, creativity,
In New Orleans voodoo religion, a powerful warrior
and the loa of all things male, including warfare,
politics, fire, lightning, thunder, iron and
metalworking. His symbol is the sword and his
color is red. (Ogun)
of Ogoun who represents the phallus.
of Ogoun who represents stability and order.
Aspect of Ogoun who represents lightning. He
is decended from the Nigerian Loa Shango, Loa
of fire and lightning.
Goddess of love,
of money and indeed of happiness. She brings
to us all the good things of life. She is the
goddess of sweet water and can be found where
there is fresh water, at rivers, ponds and especially
waterfalls. Many offerings are sometimes left
for her at the waterfalls. Many ceremonies are
done at the river bank.
Ochun is known
as Erzile. She has the same caracteristics as
Ochun, but her colors are slightly different.
Ochun's color is yellow and gold, due to the
association with money. Ochun is associated
with Our Lady of the Caridad del Cobre. Cobre
means copper in spanish, and the first money
slaves saw in Cuba when they arrived was made
of copper. So they identified Ochun with Our
Lady of the Caridad del Cobre. Whatever you
call the african goddess of love and money,
she is the same energy. Her help is often sought
when there are problems in a marriage, or when
a woman wishes to get married. Her function
as an Orisha is very important. Our Lady of
the Caridad del Cobre is the patron Saint of
Cuba and the people love her dearly.
The great woman
warrior. She watches over both the New Orleans
many cemeteries and the French Market marketplace.
New Orleans voodoo Loa who acts as an intermediary
between the loa and humans. He is also the Loa
of the crossroads; he opens the road to the
spirit world. He taught mankind the use of oracles
and how to interpret them.
Legba ( Papa LaBas) is commonly depicted as
an old man sprinkling water or an old man with
a crutch, and is also known as Legba or Legba
Ati-Bon. In any vodoun ceremony, Legba is the
first loa invoked, so that he may "open
the gate" for communication between the
worlds.The dog is his symbolic animal. Ogun
(or Ogu Bodagris): spirit of war
The Petro are a group of spirits which are easily
annoyed. They are symbolized by a whip. Family
of loa who represent the dark, agressive side
of life. Many of the loa have an aspect in both
the Petro and the Ranga family. These loa are
often violent or angry, and can ask a high price
for their services. They originated in Hati
during the times of slavery.
A loa which is held responsible for making floods.
Pie, a grave soldier, lies at the bottom of
ponds and rivers.
Rada The benevolent and gentle loa who originated
in Africa. They are the protectors of the people
and their worship follows the traditional African
ries of the loa.
of rainfall and fresh water, he oversees the
making of charms. Simbi is one of the three
cosmic serpents of New Orleans voodoo-religion,
the water-snake loa. His color is green and
his symbol is the water snake. Speckeled roosters
are sacrificed to him.
New Orleans voodoo spirit, particularly of thunder,
one of the a loa. Sobo looks like a handsome
New Orleans voodoo Sousson-Pannan is an evil
and very ugly loa whose body is all covered
with sores. He is known to drink liquor and
Ti Jean Quinto
Ti Jean Quinto is an insolent spirit who lives
under bridges. He usually assumes the form of
Ti Jean Petro
A New Orleans Voodoo snake deity, the son of
The holy mother
of the world. She rules over the ocean. She
is a special intercessor for mothers and gay
men. YEMAYA is called the GREAT MOTHER because
she is the Mother of many of the ORISHAS. She
is also called the great mother due to her great
COMPASSION for mankind. We are creating this
page to do just homage to this great ORISHA.
In the Santeria/Lukumi
pantheon, Yemaya is the Orisha of the ocean.
Her colors are blue and white. She is associated
with the virgin Mary, and with La Siren, an
aspect of Erzulie, a loa of Voudon. ( Yemanja,
Jemanja, Yemoja, Imanja, Ymoja)
these intermediaries are called Saints; in New
Orleans Voodoo, they are Loas. So the slaves
secretly paired off the Saints and Loas who
shared similar attributes. St. Peter, for example,
became the counterpart for Papa LaBas, the Loa
who guards people's entrance to the spirit world.
In this way, slaves could pretend to worship
St. Peter while they were actually praying for
Papa LaBas. This enabled Africans to maintain
their own faith and please their masters at
the same time. On Spanish islands, this melding
of Catholicism and African religion became known
as "Santeria," or "The way of
the Saints," and is still widely practiced
in Cuba, New Orleans and Miami today.
On French colonies
it was named "Voodoo" and remains
the primary popular religion in Haiti. Scholars
are still uncertain when French-speaking Haitian
immigrants brought Voodoo to Louisiana, but
court records incorporate some of its lingo
as early as 1773.
Vodun is sometimes
called Voodoo, Vodoun, Vodou. Religions related
to Vodun are: Candomble, Lucumi, Macumba, and
The houngan and mambos confine their activities
to "white" magic which is used to
bring good fortune and healing. However caplatas
(also known as bokors) perform acts of evil
sorcery or black magic, sometimes called "left-handed
Vodun". Rarely, a houngan will engage in
such sorcery; a few alternate between white
and dark magic.
One belief unique
to Vodun and New Orleans is that a dead person
can be revived after having been buried. After
resurrection, the zombie has no will of their
own, but remains under the control of others.
In reality, a zombie is a living person who
has never died, but is under the influence of
powerful drugs administered by an evil sorcerer.
Although most Haitians believe in zombies, few
have ever seen one. There are a few recorded
instances of persons who have claimed to be
in "voodoo dolls" was once used as
a method of cursing an individual by some followers
of Vodun in New Orleans; this practice continues
occasionally in South America. The practice
became closely associated with Voodoo in the
public mind through the vehicle of many horror
In the Yoruban
tradition that is parent to the Lukumi and Palo
faiths, the Orishas are emissaries of God, ruling
the forces of nature and the fortunes of mankind.
Their aspects are generally determined by their
elemental natures. Thus, the Orisha of lightning
is also the Orisha of sudden inspiration, vengeance,
and dance; the Orisha of the Ocean is the Orisha
of motherhood, femininity, and creativity. In
this way, they represent ancient archetypal
forces, a concept reflected in the phrase "Siete
Potencias," or seven potentencies, another
way of referring to these powerful Orishas.
In Vodou, they are called Loas- "laws."
In Yoruban myths,
the stories of the Orishas are as dramatic and
full of intrigue as those of the Greek gods-
and in fact bear many eerie parallels to the
Greco-Roman myths. Unlike the distant deities
of many modern faiths, however, the Orishas
frequently interact with humanity- in Lukumi,
through the Bembe, a ritual drumming party (Similar
rituals in Vodoun are called Tambors). During
a Bembe, an Orisha may choose to 'mount,' or
possess, one of his or her priests, and each
Orisha has his or her own songs, colors, and
sacrifices that are used to entice them into
appearing. Once an Orisha has mounted, he or
she may dance and sing, converse, or dispense
advice and counsel.
An initiate of
Lukumi and most other sects is dedicated to
one Orisha during a special ritual, and that
Orisha will be his "Head," and determine
his spiritual destiny. Once a person is accepted
by an Orisha and becomes a candidate for initiation,
he enters a long and complex initiation period,
which culminates in a large, expensive party-like
ritual called an Asiento, where he/she is permanently
dedicated to the deity.
In the South
American and Cuban traditions, each Orisha is
associated with a Catholic saint. Although religious
strictures no longer force believers to conceal
their faith, this syncretism is still popular.
In South America and the Caribbean, representations
of Santos (Saints) are more often representations
of Orishas than objects of Catholic devotion-
although they are often both!
Seven African powers
The Seven African
powers are the most well-known and celebrated
divinities of the Yoruban Pantheon, and are
common to all Yoruban faiths, although they
are not always considered to be the same deities.
In Macumba traditions (Candomble, Umbanda),
they are called Orixa; in Vodoun, they are called
Lwas (Loas); in Palo, Nkisi. In all of these
traditions, the Orishas have many aspects (Caminos),
which are often quite diverse.
Exu, Eshu) is the Orisha of crossroads, doorways,
and gates. He is the messenger of the gods-
no Orisha can be contacted except through him,
and his dress and conflicting mannerisms reflect
this double-sided nature (he is sometimes depicted
with two faces, especially in Yoruban art).
Eleggua is also the guardian of the doorway
between the earthly and divine realms. He has
been compared to the Greek God Hermes, with
whom he shares many attributes, and to the Hindu
Ganesha. In Brazil, he is sometimes equated
with Baphomet, and his symbol is a pitchfork.
In Santeria, his colors are black and red, and
he is associated with St. Martin de Porres.
Of all the Orishas,
he has the most aspects (forms), including Pombagira
(Candomble), a wantonly sexual prostitute, and
Papa Legba (Vodoun) an elderly man. He is considered
a trickster, a player of pranks; in some traditions
he is malefic, bringing harm to those who neglect
their obligations. In Lukumi, he is a guardian
of doorways, and effigies of Eleggua are used
to protect homes.
is the chief of the warriors, the God of War,
blood, and iron. He is the guardian of the forge,
and the patron of civilization and technology.
Not just a martial deity, Ogun is the archetypal
force that drives technology. He is responsible
for tools of progress like farming implements
and surgeon's knives. He is movement, impetus,
force. Because of this, Ogun is associated with
locomotives, and offerings are often made to
him at railroad tracks. In Candomble, he is
associated with St. George, the dragon slayer;
in Lukumi, he is syncretized with St. peter.
Because of his
association with blood, Ogun is often petitioned
for aid with blood diseases. However, because
Ogun enjoys blood offerings, it is considered
inadvisable to petition Ogun while menstruating
or with a bleeding wound.
Shango) is a warrior, the Orisha of lightning,
dance, and passion. He is the epitome of all
things masculine, and the dispenser of vengeance
on behalf of the wronged. Shango was likely
once a Yoruban King.
He is associate
St. Barbara. His colors are red and white, and
his best known symbol is the oshe, a double
bladed axe. He is sometimes associated with
Vodoun's Petro Loa, Erzulie Dantor.
Obatala is the
creator God, of whom all of the Orishas are
but aspects. His color is white, containing
all the colors of the rainbow. He rules the
mind and intellect, cosmic equilibrium, male
and female. His counterpart in Vodoun, Damballah,
takes the form of the primeval serpent. Obatala
is considered to be beyond the sphere of direct
communication; however, Damballah does possess
his followers in Vodou rites. Damballah and
his wife Ayida-Wedo, the rainbow serpent, are
often compared to alchemical and yogic concepts
Oya (Yansa) is
the Goddess of Storms, Lightning, and cemeteries.
She is a warrior, the wife of Chango. Her color
is maroon, and her saint is Theresa. She epitomizes
female power and righteous anger.
In Vodou, Oya
is called Manman Brigitte, the swaggering, rum
dringing wife of Baron. She may be directly
related to the Greek warrior goddess Minerva,
through her Irish counterpart Brighid.
Iemanja) is associated with the Virgin Mary
and Isis, and the most beloved Orisha. She is
the Goddess of the Ocean and the moon, guardian
of women, childbirth, fertility, and witchcraft.
She rules the subconscious and creative endeavors.
Yemaya's counterpart in Vodoun is called Lasiren,
the mermaid. She is related to Mamiwata (Mamma
Water), the African water-spirit. Lasiren's
symbols are a mirror and comb, giving her an
odd connection to the Pictish sea goddess.
There is a common
legend about Yemaya choosing her own students;
occasionally someone will disappear, sometimes
for seven years, and return with tales of having
learned the ways of magick and healing in her
undersea abode. In Lukumi, Yemaya's colors are
blue and white; in Vodou, blue and green. Her
offerings are often doves, but never fish.
as Oxum in Brazil) rules the 'sweet' waters-
rivers, brooks, and streams. Oshun is closely
related to Yemaya, and their aspects sometimes
overlap. She is the goddess of love, passion,
and sensuality, as well as money and prosperity.
Her preferred offerings are honey, copper jewelry
or coins (usually in multiples of five). She
is most often associated with St. Cecilia, and
in Lukumi, she is Our Lady of La Caridad del
Cobre, the protectress of Cuba. Her colors are
yellow and gold.
In Vodoun, Oshun
is known as Erzulie. Erzulie's colors are shades
of pink. While Erzulie and Ochun are very much
alike, Erzulie has a vengeful, implacable aspect
when angered. Her aspect Erzulie Dantor is a
fierce protector of women, an avenger of domestic
violence, and a patron of lesbians.