Gods and Goddess of Voodoo
The Court Loas
Papa Legba: The trickster, the opener of the way and the guardian of the crossroads, both physical and spiritual. Comparable to Hermes or Mercury in the European tradition, Legba makes the impossible possible. He lifts us beyond the limitation we impose upon ourselves in daily life. He is identified with portrayals of St. Peter and St. Nicholas. His favorite offering is candy and tobacco and coconuts. He is the chief, or king, of the voodoun Loas, and is symbolized by the sun, and gold. He is the origin and male prototype. Legba is the synthesizing god of Voodoo, and as such, you must first ask him to carry your words to the other Loas. He is the Orient, the East, the chief cardinal point, the point of space which presides at or governs the magic. His wife is Maitresse Erzulie.
Erzulie: The origin and the female prototype, she is the moon. She is represented as a dark-skinned Ethiopian woman. She is necessarily dark because she is burned by her husband, the sun, Papa Legba Antibon. She is the magic principle of wealth and prosperity. She is invoked by all who desire a change of fortune or who wish to become wealthy. Her symbols are the rainbow and the moon, and favors silver. She is associated with the Virgin Mary. She is good will, perpetual help, she can also be envy and discord when angered.
Obatala: The “old man of the mountain”, responsible for the creation of our physical bodies. Literally “chief of the white cloth.” Obatala’s help is sought in ethical dilemmas and the problems of self-discipline. He is generally identified with the crucified Christ. Obatala is androgynous and very old: he is gentle, a sky god, and taught the people how to do Ifa, the table divination system.
Yemaya: Literally “mother of fishes”. She rules birth and the surface of the oceans, and works closely with Olokun, who rules the depths. She works through dreams and intuition. Her waves wash away all sorrow. Her compassion nurtures her children through any spiritual or emotional crisis. Her love sustains life. She is identified with Mary, Star of the Sea.
Oshun: The Goddess of love and abundance. The power of desire is hers, and she often uses s this power to transform. She is beauty, laughter, and generosity. The erotic is her sacrament. She is often compared to Aphrodite, and is identified with the portrayal of Our Lady of Caridad. Oshun likes to heal hurt with love, and plants seeds of change in people. She can also be the Mystere of jealousy and vengeance, she shares these traits with Maitresse Erzulie.
Oya: A revolution in constant progress, Oya brings sudden change. She is a whirlwind, an amazon, a huntress, and a wild buffalo. Lightning and rainbows are signs of her presence. She also rules communication between the living and the dead. Think of Hecate or Artemis. She is identified with St. Catherine and St. Theresa.
Chango: Chango is a king, and his name is synonymous with justice. He lived in historical times and ruled as the fourth Alafin (or chieftain) of Oyo, a city in modern day Nigeria. He is a knight in shining armor. He uses lightning and thunder to enhance the fertility of the earth and of his followers. Myths concerning his death (or rather the fact that it did not occur) link him to the European figure of the Hanged God. He is identified with representations of St. Barbara.
Ogoun: God of iron and machines, Ogoun is a smith, a soldier, and a politician. In modern times he has come to be known as the patron of truck drivers. He is the spirit of the frontier, cutting paths, through the wilderness with his ever-present machete. Although Ogoun clears the way for civilization, he often prefers to dwell alone in the wilderness. He is identified with St. Anthony.
Guede Baron Samedi: Lord of the crossroads and the cemetery and death. The baron revives, kills or enslaves, and often grants deviations which can bring on or ward off death. His colour of course is black, his ritual food offerings must be fish and black chickens. Otherwise, he has a fondness for whiskey and cigars. When he takes possession, his horses often laugh evilly, conceal their eyes from light. Like all the Guede Mysteres, he is a caustic character, and a prankster.
The Voodoun Pantheon
There are thousands upon thousands of Voodoun Gods. It would be nearly impossible to list them all. Every voodoo rich culture brings more into the list, as Houn’gan or Mambos die, they too, are added into the fold. They are easier to classify in the various rites, or divisions of Voodoo. This is also called the Mysteres. Sometime a specific Mystere will cross over into another Rite, or be part of all the different Rites. A mystere generally belongs to the rite he or she is served in, with the exception of the Guinin mysteres who prefer to keep themselves traditionally pure. The loas of death and the cemeteries are classed separately because they all have several noms vaillants, a name they appear under because they do not wish their real names to be known.
While Pethro or Congo Rites are termed here as the paths of “black” magic, in reality they are not necessarily evil.
A listing of some of the Rites:
- and the Guedes
The Rada Mysteres
This is main pantheon of benevolent gods, those that are called upon to do “white” magic.
|The Voodoo Pantheon|
|A Dan-hi||Adanhi Loko||Adanmansih Wedo||Adelaide|
|Adya Houn’to||Aganman, Caimon, Anolis||Agaou Comble||Agassou Allada|
|Agoueh R Oyo||Agoueh Tha Oyo||Aida Wedo||Aizan Avelekethe|
|Amisi Wedo||An Oue-Zo||An Tha-hi Medeh||Aroyo|
|Assato||Ate Gbini Mon Se||Ati Dan-hi Ibo Loko||Avadra Bo-roi|
|Azaca Medeh||Bade||Bade’sih Cala Houn’sou||Baron Cimetie|
|Baron La Croix||Baron Samedi||Bayacou||Belecou-n|
|Boco Legba||Captain Debas||Clairmesine Clairmeille||Cousin Zaca|
|Dame Houn’to||Dan Pethro||Danbhalah Grand Chemin||Danbhalah To Can|
|Danbhalah Wedo||Danbhalah Ye-We||Erzulie Dos-bas||Erzulie Freda|
|Erzulie Severine Belle-Femme||Fleurizon||Gougoune Dan Leh||Grand Bois Megui|
|Grande Ai-Zan||Grande Allaba||Grande Brigitte||Grande Miroi Ze|
|Grande Sim-ba||Grande Sobo||Grande Vavo||Guede Agu Roi Linsou|
|Guede Mazaca||Guede Nibbho||Guede Nouvavou||Houn|
|La Baleine||La Belle Venus||La Sirene||Legba Ati (n) Bon|
|Lihsah||Linglessou||Loco A Dan-hi-co||Loko Azamblo Guidi|
|Mademoiselle Flordia||Maitre Ka-Fu||Maitresse Mam’bo||Maitresse and Grande Erzulie|
|Manman Diamant||Marassah||Marassah Guinin||Marie-Louise|
|Mawu-Lihsan||Ogou Bacouleh||Papa Houn’to||Papa Pierre|
|Quebiesou||Quebiesou Dan Leh||Roi Louanges||Silibo Vavo|
|Sim’bi Yandehzo||Sim’bi Yanphaca||Sim’bi Yanpolah||Sim’bi d’l’eau|
|Sobo||Sobo Quersou||Sophie Bade||Ti Jean|
|Ti Pierre Dantor||Ye Dan-Gbe||Zan Tha-hi||Zinclizin|
|Zo||Zo Man Kile|
The Rada-Dahomey Mysteres
|A smaller Rite dedicated to the benevolent gods.|
|Ate Gbini Mon Se||Ye Dan Gbe||Ayidohwedo||Maou-Lihsah|
|Lihsan Gba Dya||Legba Atin Bon||Quebiesou||Ai-Zan|
|Sobo||Bade||An Que Zo||Sophie Bade|
|Erzulie Freda||Grande Sobo||Zan-Madone||A Dan-hi Loko|
|Erzulie La Belle Venus|
The Nago Mysteres
|A smaller Rite dedicated to the benevolent gods of Voodoo.|
|Ogou Fer||Ogou Bha Lin Dyo||Ogou Bah Tha Lah||Ogou Chango|
|Adoum Guidi||Lam’ba File Sabre||Ogou Bha Da Gri||Ossangne|
|Ogou Yamsan||Ogou Cancannican||Ogou Bhacouleh||Ti Pierre Dantor|
|Ti Jean||Bo-Sou Ashadeh||Ashadeh Boco||Bolishah|
|Ogou Baba||Ogou Balisere||General Jules Canmil||Jean-Pierre Poungoueh|
The Pethro Mysteres
|This is one of the two major Rites dedicated to the “evil” gods, or “black” magic.|
|Ogou Chango||Sim’bi Y-An-Kitha||Lem’ba File Sabre||Ti Gougoune|
|Lem’ba Zaou||Zaou Pem’ba||Manman Pem’ba||Mackandal|
|Sim’ba Maza||Danbhalah La Flembeau||Linglinzin||Ogou Yamsan|
|Guede Mazaca||Guede L’Orage||Zazi Boulonnin||Ogou Cancan Ni Can|
|Criminel Pethro||Prin’ga Maza||Brise Macaya||Brize Pem’ba|
|Erzulie Toro||Erzulie Ge Rouge||Erzulie Mapian||Ashadeh Boco|
|Boco Legba||Linglessou Bassin-sang||Marinette Bois-Cheche||Marinette Lumin-di-fe|
|Ti Jean Pethro||Jean-Philippe Pethro||Guede Baron La Croix||Guede Baron Cimetie|
|Baron Samedi||Grande Brigitte||Similor||Guede Nibbho|
|Ibo Can-Man||Maitre Pem’ba||Dan Pethro||Ti Jean Pied Cheche|
|Simalo||Jean Zombi||Captain Zombi||Guede Agu Roi Linsou|
|Ogou Tonnerre||Brise Pem’ba||Maloulou||Madame Travaux|
|Sidor Pem’ba||Grand Bois Megui||Escalie Boum’ba||Trois Feuilles, Trois Racines|
|Marinette Pieds Cheches||Ogou Dan Pethro||Marie Louise||Trois Carrefours|
|Zo Flanco Pethro||Toro Pethro||Kanga Pethro||Six Milles Hommes|
The Congo Mysteres
|This is one of the two main divisions dedicated to the left handed path, or “black” magic|
|Sim’bi d’l’eau||Grande Alouba||Grande Aloumandia||Canga|
|Zin’ga||Lem’ba Za-ou||Man Inan||Madame Lah-Oue|
|Laoca||Zaou Pem’ba||Manman Pem’ba||Roi Ou-Angole|
|Marassah Congo Bord-de-Mer||Maitre Pem’ba||Sinigal||Roi Louanges|
|Caplaou Pem’ba||Maloulou||Sidor Pem’ba||Zilah Moyo|
|Reine Congo Franc||Djobolo||Bazou|
Mysteres Belonging To All Rites
|Assato||Aganman, Caiman||Adya Houn’to||Maitresse et Grande Erzulie|
|Sim’bi d’l’eau||Sim’bi Yandehzo||Sim’bi Yanphaca||Sim’bi Yanpolah|
|Houn’to||Quebiesou Dan Leh||Grande Sim’ba||Zo|
|Zo Man Kile||Danbhalah Grand Chemin||Maitresse Mam’bo||Maitre Ka-Fu|
|Papa Houn’to||Dame Houn’to|
|Guede L’ Orage||Guede Cinq Jours Malheureux||Guede Ti Puce Lan d’l’eau||Guede Ti Wawa or Ti Oua-Oue|
|Guede Ti Pete||Guede Vi||Guede Bon Poussiere de la Croix||Guede Sabalah|
|Guede Doube||Guede Fatraas||Guede Ti Clos||Guede Docteur Piqures|
|Guede Souffrant||Guede Ratalon||Guede Morpion||Guede Samedi|
Also called the Loa or Mystere, an Orisha is a particularly powerful spirit of a type called “the Incarna”, who all live in a Far Realm called the Dark Kingdom of Ivory, a spirit-kingdom outside of the reach of most Mages and Werewolves. In Voodoo, the place where the spirits reside is Ife, a land in Africa from where all things in Voodoo are traced back to. In Haiti, the place where the ancestral spirits dwell is called La Ville Aux Camps.
They have magical ties to certain parts of the Earth, ties that wax and wane depending on the area, the time of year, and the phase of the Moon. They are natural spirits for the most part, and very ancient: they were old when humanity was new. These magical ties allow them to freely travel back and forth between their Kingdom and the realm of Earth.
The Orisha aren’t immortal, but they are extremely long-lived. They’re not omnipotent, but they are extremely powerful. They’re not omniscient, but they can fake the illusion of omnipresence, especially in areas where they are established as powers. They are not infinitely divisible, but they do divide themselves without diminishing their power and show certain facets to some, and other facets to others. They’re very discerning. They’re incredibly intelligent, very wise, and very knowledgeable.
Each Orisha has several areas of influence in which they can affect everyday life and existence on Earth. These areas are not very specific, and occasionally overlap. For example, Oshun could be called upon for a divination on romance in someone’s life, but so could Obatala, the Orisha of divination. Yemaya could be asked to help lost sailors on the sea, as she is the Mother of Oceans, but so could Legba, who is the patron of directions and the lost.
What is important is that the Orisha are not mindless, heartless, or thoughtless entities. They’re characters in and of themselves – they have feelings, thoughts, plans, strategies, agendas, and quirks. They’re quite human in many ways. Whether this is because they were once human beings, or because their interactions with humans have forced them to be so remains to be seen. A Divine Motivation What is it that the Orisha want? Well, first and foremost, like all of us, they want to survive. The prevailing rule of reality these days being counter to the survival of the Loa, they have endeavored to imbed themselves deeper in the consciousness of the world – with varying levels of success.
They also wish to thrive. They have managed to create a few places in the world where their power can still be felt. New Orleans is still one of them. Some parts of Africa in the deep jungle and the island of Haiti are another. Their power is spreading throughout Miami with the rise of Santeria, which is a similar but different religion.
Although in recent years they have become much more cooperative with each other, the old rivalries do flare up. Sometimes it’s Oya versus Chango. Sometimes its Ogoun versus Chango, or Yemaya. Sometimes Oshun makes Legba jealous of Chango, or Chango unwisely bans Legba, or Baron Samedi shows up to try and take one of them to Death. It’s all an integral part of their personality. Everything is so contrary that each Orisha isn’t always sure where their true allies are – and often don’t know for certain who’s what until they take a stand and see how the chips fall.
Finally, they can’t help but play Deity where they have power. They pursue their old spheres of influence, and through their Voodoun, try to learn more about the state of the world around them. Slowly, but surely, they’re entering into the 20th century, just in time for the 21st.
Keeping it simple…. The character cannot make an Orisha Ride them. It’s that simple. The Voodoun can beg and plead, but it’s purely up to the whims of the Orisha/Storyteller. When the Voodoun is actually Ridden, he will take on the personality traits and habits of the Orisha. The Voodoun is pretty much helpless. A Willpower roll vs. 10 minus Knowing for that Orisha will allow the Voodoun to make one action per success. This, however, may anger the Orisha. Keep that in mind.
Essentially, the Orisha are Incarna-level spirits who create a kind of spirit bond with a normal mortal. Through that bond, they filter a kind of specially flavored Quintessence (Mojo) that allows those mortals to have an effect on the world. What is actually happening is that the Mojo itself forges a brief spirit link with the Voodoun, and the Orisha himself is the one who actually does “the magic.” The spirit bond is totally up to the Orisha, but technically, if a Voodoun wished to escape his bond, he could be cleansed of it by someone sufficiently knowledgeable in spirit magic.
The reason no Paradox is involved is because the effects tend to be coincidental in nature, and when they’re not, they’re explainable as “voodoo” – the mythic thread that the Orisha exploit just to exist.
In Mage Terms: A Voodoun could be temporarily crippled by a Spirit 4 Ward which cut him off from his Orisha. Spirit Mages can use their sphere to undo some effects from a Working, but not always all. Unweaving a Working requires knowledge of, at the very least, Spirit 2.
During chargen, you will select an Orisha to be your primary. This is usually the one who first Touched you and brought you into the Voodoun life. With this in mind, your character’s lifestyle and Nature should closely match the goals of the Orisha who have chosen him. For example, Oshun wouldn’t have any real interest in a street gang assassin with Bravo or Monster Nature. She would, however, grow close to a doctor (mental or physical) with a Caregiver or Visionary Nature. Only under extreme circumstances (usually involving a change of Nature and lifestyle), can you have more Knowing in any Orisha higher than the knowing in the primary you chose in chargen. Such a change is very difficult and may anger the Orisha have just turned your back on. Not wise.
It has been known to happen that an Ancestor Orisha has ‘transcended’ in the Shadowlands and actually become reborn in a human body. Some believe that Marie Laveau, the one-time Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, will do this one day. Although the reincarnated Ancestor must begin her relationship over with the Orisha, she is born a Mambo, already Initiated.