EDGARD OF HAITI HOSTS VODOUN HEADWASHING CEREMONY
“Washed and . .
. where’s my shampoo?”
by A. Pustanio
Papa Edgard is an 82 years young Haitian
Vodoun priest of fantastic charisma and
amazing powers. Tall and wiry with bright
eyes and a mischievous smile, he is, nonetheless,
an imposing presence.
His visit, possibly the last he will make
to the US, was on behalf of Manbo Sallie
Ann Glassman whom he initiated and set on
the path of Vodoun many years ago in his
During his two week stay with Manbo Sallie
Ann, Papa Edgard met with many people for
individual counseling and healing sessions.
The headwashing ceremony was the highlight
of the visit and open to anyone.
A large group of white-clad participants
showed up this night and we all came together
in Manbo Sallie Ann’s temple to participate
and be washed by Papa. The Temple, a large
room in the rear of Mambo’s New Orleans
Bywater home, is painted entirely black
and is dominated by two huge columns and
a large altar to the Vodoun loas and the
Orishas of the Santerea. Along one wall
is a small altar to Kali, or Durga, with
various offerings of the penitent and faithful.
As the room fell to a hush, Papa Edgard
began to chant and to summon the Spirit.
Soon, with the help of the Mambo and her
assistants, Papa began to trance, and the
work over the water took place. A large
metal bowl containing a mysterious emulsion
that looked like yam juice but smelled like
pineapple sherbert, was chanted over and
worked over while Papa and Mambo Sallie
Ann went around the room anointing the heads
of participants with cornmeal and Florida
water. Next, Papa took a whole raw egg and
passed it over the heads of each participant;
this is believed to absorb all negativity.
Then Papa settled in beside the bowl and
each of us was called forward to be washed.
Kneeling beside the bowl, head bowed, Mambo
Sallie Ann began to soak scoop handfuls
of the yam-colored water over my head, while
Papa chanted and occasionally instructed
her with “you missed a spot”
pointing and nods. When my head was saturated,
Mambo moved on to wash my face and arms,
and to place a white bandana over my hair.
Then, blessing me, she gave me a tremendous
hug and pointed me back to the outer circle.
Finally, Papa Edgard made the circle again,
taking the arms of each of us and, pulling
down, seemingly pulling the negative vibrations
away from us. As he reached the end of the
fingers he would shake his own hands, thus
shaking away the bad vibes and letting the
good flow in with the washing.
As we left we were admonished by Papa Edgard
to keep our heads covered overnight and
that no one should have “relations
of any kind.”
Designed to release negative energy and
let in the positive power of renewal, I
was surprised to find how quickly it was
able to produce just those results in my
personal life. A feeling of peace and optimism
seemed to stem from this very night, and
this was reinforced when Papa Edgard, in
closing, told us that we had all taken the
first step on the path of Vodoun, and that
now everything in our lives, even the smallest
thing, was of extreme significance on this
new path. The experience was truly transcendent.
Manbo Sallie Ann Glassman
will be hosting a similar headwashing ceremony,
invoking the power of the great priestess
Marie Laveau, on the shores of Bayou St. John
at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23rd. The ceremony
is open to the public. For more information
please visit Manbo Sallie Ann’s website
VODOUN HEADWASHING - FOLLOW UP REPORT:
JUNE 5, 2004
It has been one month since I participated
in the Ritual Headwashing by Papa Edgard
of Haiti and in that short expanse of time
so many positive things have happened that
it is simply astounding - even to a believer!
Here, in brief, is the rest of the story:
Almost immediately upon receiving the headwashing
a feeling of lightening occurred. It was
as if the proverbial “weight”
had been lifted from my shoulders and my
spirit felt lighter and happier, and moreover,
free to express itself.
At first I thought sleeping with a white
bandana on my head all night, soaked with
the fruity aroma of the headwash permeating
my hair beneath it, would be uncomfortable
and would keep me awake. But, quite the
contrary, I enjoyed a full night’s
sleep (something unusual for me even under
the best of circumstances) and was disturbed
by no dreams. When I awoke in the morning
and, according to Papa’s and Manbo
Sallie Ann’s instructions, showered
and washed my hair, it truly seemed that
something was washing away down the drain
taking my troubles with it.
In hindsight I can almost identify what
went down the drain that morning - troubles
and worries from the past, things I had
been carrying around for years, and things
that I had added to my burden only recently,
all seemed to be washed away leaving only
a lingering feeling of content and well-being.
In the weeks that have followed my adventure
and the first step on the path of Vodoun
many things that had previously seemed essential
worries of my life have come to lose their
significance; suddenly, there are more paths
opening and more ways are revealed to solve
problems and meet challenges than had shown
themselves before. Old flames flickered
out and new flames flared, friends and foes
seemed to approach me with clear intention,
or I was seeing them clearly for the first
Although nobody’s life is perfect,
everyone’s life can use a little improvement,
and whatever power was transferred through
Papa and Mambo Sallie Ann to improve my
outlook and condition I sincerely thank
them for bringing me. Not only this, I must
at this time thank someone who has been
a friend and guide to me literally through
all the years of our life, but most recently
in very realistic ways, every day I live
- this is my cousin Ricardo Pustanio. He
has been a guardian angel and has lit the
way through many dark moments over the past
years. I would just like to say that whatever
blessings are yet to come my way from this
washing away of the old I truly want to
share them and send them back to Ricardo
and to Papa Edgard and Mambo Sallie Ann
for their selfless good work and sincerity.
I am looking forward to great prosperity,
to ever increasing love and security and
to the best times of my life in the years
yet to come. I am glad I took the first
step and took the hands that were extended
to me! Ashe!
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