Damballa

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In Vodou, Damballah is one of the most important of all the loa (also spelled lwa). Damballah is the Sky God and considered the creator of all life. He is both a member of the Rada family and a root, or racine Loa. In New Orleans and Haiti he is often depicted as a serpent and is closely associated with snakes. He is considered the father of all the loa as all Spirits are aspects of Damballah. His wife/companion Ayida Wedo, is also a Loa of creation. Damballah rules the mind, intellect, and cosmic equilibrium. Common altar symbols used to represent the Sky God include white cloth, owls, bones, ivory, cotton, and, strangely enough, chameleons.

Some of his ritual songs indicate that he "carries the ancestors" on his back to Guinea (spiritual home of the Loa, and the afterlife.) His wife is the rainbow serpent Ayida Weddo (he is also married to Erzulie Freda). As a loa of the Rada nation he is associated with the color white. His particular color is white. His day of the week is Thursday. Damballah's offerings are very simple and he prefers an egg on a mound of flour or salt, but loves everything white. Toni Costonie relates to us in her biography Priestess Miriam & The Voodoo Spiritual Temple that the current Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, LA Priestess Miriam Chamani herself recommends cold water, milk, coconut and coconut milk, honey, shea butter, rice, mild cigars, bread and cookies. Some houses also serve him with anisette and corn syrup while kola nuts are also acceptable. Damballah is the patron protector of the handicapped, deformed, cripples, albinos, and young children. When he presents himself in possession, he does not talk, but makes hissing noises like a snake in Rada rite. But in Petro he's known as "Dumballah nan flambo" and you can hear him speaking through a flame just like God spoke to Moses in the burning bush.

He is syncretised with the Catholic figures of St. Patrick, Christ the Redeemer, Our Lady of Mercy, and, sometimes, with Moses whose staff turned into a serpent.

Alternative names include Damballa Weddo (son of Odan Wedo), Danbala, Danbala Wedo, Damballah Weddo, Danbhala Weddo, Obatala.

In popular culture

Damballah is worshipped by voodoo practitioners in the Southern Gothic horror stories "Black Canaan" and "Pigeons from Hell" by Robert E. Howard.

He is referenced in the movies Child's Play and Bride of Chucky.

Exuma (musician) recorded a song "dambala" for the album "Exuma I" in 1970. This song has also been recorded by Nina Simone.


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