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.
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
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
Lord of Pestilence and rightful
owner of the earth, Babalu is
the orisha who controls disease.
He also is a special intercessor
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
of the cross in the family of Guédé,
a group of loas associated with
Guédé, the Loa of
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
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.
is 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
is 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.
Spellings: 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 to
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.
(Gede or Ghede)
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,
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:
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.
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.
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".
Guédé 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 him.
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
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, Eleggua, Echu)
Legba, ouvrez barriere pou moin
"Father 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
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 pipe.
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
Maison Blanche 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.
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
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 his hunger.
L'inglesou A Haitian loa who lives
among rocks and ravines. He is said
to kill those who offend him.
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 healing arts.
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 Samedi).
sacred twins, considered to have
balance and be two parts of the
same whole. Saluted at every ritual.
and violent loa of the Petro family.
This New Orleans Loa is a stammering
loa who causes storms of torrential
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.
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, and judgment.
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.
of Ogoun who represents the phallus.
of Ogoun who represents stability
Aspect of Ogoun who represents lightning.
He is decended from the Nigerian
Loa Shango, Loa of fire and lightning.
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
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.
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
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
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
New Orleans voodoo spirit, particularly
of thunder, one of the a loa. Sobo
looks like a handsome soldier.
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 a policeman.
Ti Jean Petro
A New Orleans Voodoo snake deity,
the son of Dan Petro.
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.
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)
In Catholicism, 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.
is sometimes called Voodoo, Vodoun,
Vodou. Religions related to Vodun
are: Candomble, Lucumi, Macumba,
sorcery: 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.
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 zombies.
pins 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
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-
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.
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.
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
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.
(Legba, 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.
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.
(Ogoun) 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
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.
(Xango, 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
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
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 of kundalini.
(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.
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.
(Yemoja, 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
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.
(known 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.
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