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Iwa (spirits)

There are countless lwa (spirits), found in diverse regions and temples. Besides the lwa, other beings are worshipped as well: the divine twins (Marasa), the deceased, and the family gods. There is no cult or worship devoted to God (Le Bon Dieu) – He is regarded as beyond approach.

Just like human beings, the lwa have typical characteristics: a favourite colour or favourite food, a preference for certain sacrificial animals or offerings.Their abodes are in certain places in nature, such as trees. Vodou practitioners are taught the characteristics of the lwa and control over spirit possession during initiation. Only then may they take an active part in the rituals and in the vodou community. People who are possessed will imitate and ritually enact the characteristics of the respective lwa: an individual possessed by the god Damballah, who is symbolized by a serpent, will crawl on the floor with wriggling movements, and is fed raw eggs.

(From a text at the exhibition in Berlin)


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