Loa

related topics
{god, call, give}
{food, make, wine}
{@card@, make, design}
{black, white, people}
{church, century, christian}
{woman, child, man}
{service, military, aircraft}
{day, year, event}
{area, part, region}

The Loa (also Lwa or L'wha) are the spirits of the voodoo religion practiced in Louisiana, Haiti, Benin, and other parts of the world. They are also referred to as Mystères and the Invisibles, in which are intermediaries between Bondye (Bon Dieu, or good god)—the Creator, who is distant from the world—and humanity. Unlike saints or angels however, they are not simply prayed to, they are served. They are each distinct beings with their own personal likes and dislikes, distinct sacred rhythms, songs, dances, ritual symbols, and special modes of service. Contrary to popular belief, the loa are not deities in and of themselves; they are intermediaries for a distant Bondye.

Contents

Syncretism

As a way to keep their European masters from interfering, and to appease the authorities who prevented them from practising their own religions, the African slaves in Haiti syncretised the Loa with the Roman Catholic saints - so Vodoun altars will frequently have images of Catholic figures displayed. For example, Papa Legba is alternately St. Peter or St. Lazarus, Ayizan is Saint Clare, and so on. Syncretism also works the other way in Haitian Vodou and many Catholic saints have become Loa in their own right, most notably St. Philomena, St. Michael the Archangel, St. Jude, and St. John the Baptist.

Rituals

In a ritual the Loa are summoned by the Houngan (Priest), Mambo (Priestess) or Bokor (Sorcerers) to take part in the service, receive offerings, and grant requests. The Loa arrive in the peristyle (ritual space) by mounting (possessing) a horse (ritualist) - who is said to be "ridden." This can be quite a violent occurrence as the participant can flail about or convulse before falling to the ground, but some Loa, such as Ayizan, will mount their horses very quietly.

Full article ▸

related documents
Unknown God
Callisto (mythology)
Dian Cecht
Nótt
Anteros
Pasiphaë
Cercopes
Vanir
Bhrigus
Dinka mythology
Coyolxauhqui
Herse
Maia (Middle-earth)
Minerva
Obatala
Faun
Sedna (mythology)
Nefertem
Baldr
Radagast (Middle-earth)
Lofsöngur
Nusku
Iroquois mythology
Bifröst
Ninhursag
Oshun
Helen
Zipacna
Thyrsus
Io (mythology)