Vodou Series | Lwa II

Q: But what exactly is a Lwa? Who created it? Is it a dead person? (Part 2)

A: I find this question a little difficult for me… those older than us are not able to say where they come from, where this energy comes from, but what I do know: Lwas come from Guinea. When our ancestors came to Haiti and had the Bwa Kayiman ceremony, they brought down a lot of different energies and forces and that’s where we found TiJean Petro and Ezulie Dantor…

A Lwa | Spirit is an energy, it’s a force. It was not a human like us. We need food sex etc., it doesn’t need all that. They’ve just always been around – God, life, created them. The term ‘Vodou’ means nature and Lwas are just a part of the natural world. They are everywhere. They’re in the trees, in the waters, in rocks so I can’t say where they come from. We inherited some of them from our African ancestors, which we brought with us when we were traded as enslaved people. The others were already on this island. Let’s not forget that Haiti was already filled with Spirits, like the spirits of the Indigenous Tainos who once lived here.

We have Lwas and we have Guardians. A dead person can also become a Guardian. In Vodou there is a ceremony that is done referred to as ‘brile zen bat bouroum’ for someone. It is a ceremony done for the dead to help that person transition through the next phase of their reincarnation. We submerge that person’s soul under water and after 1 year and 1 day, it is removed and their spirit, with the power of God, can become a ‘Gede spirit’ or a guardian of the house, or they may choose to reincarnate in another form.

For example, I can give you a story on Erzulie Mapyang. She was a slave who used to get raped very often. One day she got fed up and said enough was enough. She avenged herself by killing one of the people who used to rape her but was caught, tied and burned. Before they lit her on fire she screamed ‘mapyang’ – mapyang means revenge. Mapyang is now a Lwa, a guardian who stands up for all women who have problems with men, who needs revenge. If you are a man who is used to beating women, who mistreats women you shouldn’t dare say you serve Erzulie Mapyan laugh. We do not really know where Lwas come from. This is why the elders used to say ‘bagay yo se mistè’ because it is! It’s a mystery.

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