Aida Wedo

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In the beginning, a large snake encircled the Earth to protect it from crumbling into the seas. When the first rains began to fall, the Haitian deity, Aida Wedo, the rainbow Lwa, appeared, and the serpent (who was really the Lwa Danbala) fell in love with her, and they married. It is said that the semen of men and the milk of women are actually the spiritual nectar of Danbala and Aida Wedo being passed through each generation. The two Lwa taught humanity about the link between life and blood, menstruation and birth, and the ultimate power of (blood) sacrifice in Haitian Vodou.
This sort of creation story involving powerful male and female spirits is not unusual. Many world religions share similar creation myths, where contrasting yet complementary forces join together to conceive the Earth and its habitants. Often these deities form close ties with their creations and share with them the great secrets of life in hopes that they might lead more spiritually meaningful and fulfilling lives. These unions are so strong that it becomes difficult to separate these deities and speak solely of one without touching on the other; such is the case with Aida Wedo and Danbala. Although Danbala is the more primary of the two, Aida Wedo holds her ground. Powerful of her own accord, she nevertheless is made even stronger through and because of her consort.
This creation tale also reveals the complexity of male and female principles in Haitian Vodou. The Lwa can be at once male and female, and this fluidity of gender pervades their sexuality as well; it is not unusual for goddesses to couple with goddesses, whether acting as female spirits or playing the role of a male deity. During ceremonies, women are routinely mounted by male Lwa and men by female Lwa, blurring gender boundaries, as these devotees, cbwal of the Lwa, take on these different gender and sexual roles with other participants.
Aida Wedo represents fertility along with Danbala, and together the two bestow luck, happiness, and wealth on those who serve them. Aida Wedo's colors are blue and white. Her day is Thursday. Her trees are the cotton and silk trees, and, along with her husband, worshippers offer her white foods: cauliflower, eggs, rice, hens, milk, and white corn. She dwells in springs and rivers along with Danbala, which makes their realm water; they are both part of the Rada family. Aida Wedo's symbols are rainbows and rainbow serpents; Danbala's symbols are snakes and eggs, which symbolize their role in the dawn of Life. Aida Wedo is commonly associated with fertility.
The couple Aida Wedo-Danbala Wedo owes its existence to the Fon couple Aida Wedo-Danbada Wedo from the Vodou tradition of Benin, West Africa. This comes as no surprise because many of the Africans who were taken to Haiti by force during the European slave trade came from that region of Africa. There are many parallels—“dual deities,” male and female creator-spirits—in other religions, although in each tradition the pair of dual forces varies from brother and sister to husband and wife or even rivals. In addition to the original Fon couple, other African creator gods and goddesses who resemble Aida Wedo and Danbala are Aido Hwedo and Mawu (Nigeria/ Yoruba), Isis and Osiris (Egypt/Egyptian), Olorun and Obatala (Nigeria/Yoruba), and Papa and Rangi (Polynesia/Maori).

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Further Reading

  • Crosley, R. (2000). The Vodou Quantum Leap. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn.
  • Derren, M. (1953). Divine Horsemen: The Vodou Gods of Haiti. New York: Thames and Hudson.
  • Desmangles, L. (1992). The Faces of the Gods. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Metraux, A. (1958). Le Vodou Haitien. Paris: Gallimard.