One aspect of African-based religion that distinguishes it from other faiths and belief systems is the phenomenon of spiritual possession. It is through this phenomenon that the Loas, or the forces, come to serve the people, heal the sick, assuage the human spirit, aid the poor, feed the hungry, and otherwise bring comfort, joy, and solace.
The Loas are God's workers and messengers. Each and every person has a Loa that governs them, much like what one would call a Guardian Angel or Saint. Understanding the Loa that one has can lead a person to better understanding of self. Each Loa has a color, a day, a symbol, a territory, and from time to time a year that they govern.
Below are examples of several of these forces: their descriptions, their territories, their attributes, and pictures and video clips captured of them in spiritual possession on Gro Mambo.
The Petro Mother of All. The Blessed Mother. A mother to all who need a mother, Erusile Dantour is the highest Petro Loa and represents the force of the ocean; however, her force is evident in water everywhere. Her realms include family, stability, and order. Her color is blue.
|At the beach||In Ceremony||Giving the bath at the ocean|
|Giving the bath at the ocean||Giving the bath at the ocean||Giving the bath at the ocean|
The Petro Father of All. The name Ogu never changes. Throughout the world and regardless of differences in language or culture, Ogu is Ogu. His color is red. His territory is fires above the earth and metals, and his realms include money, business, strength and fortitude, and most importantly faith. 2007 is his year. Whenever a path needs to be cut for any direction to be taken, Papa Ogu is the one who cuts the way.
The Loa of Pure Love. Erusile Freeda represents the force of the river, but can also be found in the force of fresh water everywhere, from lakes and streams to springs and waterfalls. To gain a full understanding the power of Erusile Freeda, a journey to Niagara Falls would be in order. Her color is pink. Whenever one is praying for love or dealing with any other matter of the heart, it is Erusile Freeda who answers that prayer.
|Dancing in ceremony||In ceremony||In ceremony|
|Dancing in ceremony||In ceremony||At a party in her honor|
|Dancing in ceremony||Dancing in ceremony||Dancing in ceremony|
Papa Agwe is the Loa of direction. His territory is currents: the winds above land and sea, and the waves deep, deep under the ocean's surface. He provides light and direction whenever an individual needs them in times or turmoil, loss, or indecision. His color is turquoise.
|Coming in from the ocean||Dancing with Mambo Rinmin La Via Bel at the beach||Giving the bath at the ocean|
|Giving the bath at the ocean||Giving the bath at the ocean|
The Grandmother of the Voodoo. Mali Louise is from the Couzin family of Loas, where Couzin Zaka is also found. This Petro Loa is famous for her role in the Haitian revolution, for when the men were decimated or sick and no longer able to fight, the women of the land of Haiti called upon her so that they could fight in the stead of the men. It was Mali Louise who set Haiti free. Her colors are blue denim and red. She is the Loa of destiny, and her realm is the forest.
|Preparing a ritual Mud Bath||At Prince William Forest Park||At Prince William Forest Park|
|At Prince William Forest Park||At Prince William Forest Park||Video In ceremony at LePeristyle Haitian Sanctuary|
The Loa Baron has a saying: "I'm the last one you see while you're alive, and the first one you see when you die." Baron Criminel is the Loa who governs the cemetery, and it is through this Loa that all matters of ancestors, spirits, and the like are dealt with in the Voodoo religion. His colors are purple and black. He is a master of medicines and healings, particularly in cases where one is close to death. He also deals with matters of fertility and sexuality, particularly with men. While this Loa falls outside of the family of the other Loas, his role in the Voodoo religion is just as important as, if not moreso than, that of any other Loa.