Ezili Freda

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Ezili's (also sometimes referred to as Erzulie) full name is Metres (Mistress) Mambo Ezili Freda Dahomey. Each name makes reference to the different aspects of this Lwa of the Rada pantheon of Vodu in Haiti. She is by far the most popular female deity in Haiti, where she rules over love, romance, luxury, gambling luck, abundance, and refinement. Indeed, she is the symbol of love, femininity, and beauty. As a result of this close association of Ezili with womanhood, she is also perceived as the symbol of sexual fertility, the giver of children. It is to her that one appeals in conception and childbearing matters.
The colors that symbolize Ezili are pink and white. Traditionally, she is served on Thursday because this is her sacred day. She is depicted as a rich woman, and in order to serve her, one must present the most expensive and elegant gifts in attempts to gain her affections and endowments. Pink champagne, jewelry, flowers, cakes, fine cheeses, chocolates, and white doves have been known to gain her esteem. However, Ezili is known to never be satisfied and to always want more of what she is given. If she is not appeased, then tears will surely ensue.
Being a member of the Rada family entitles Ezili to the title of Mambo. Alongside her beauty and exquisite taste, she is also powerful, and her presence alone is known to nullify negative wanga (witchcraft) and poisons.
Ezili is said to dislike women due to an overall jealousy of women and their relationship with men. She seldom touches them when in possession. When in another woman's presence, she merely salutes her with her pinkie fingers. In fact, she is known to cause problems between men and women. This is because she wants all men to herself and believes that she should have complete control over all of them. Her love for men and romance are both enduring and profound. When in the company of men, she is known to shower them with kisses and hugs. She even, quite often, requests their hand in marriage. Along with this marital bond to Ezili come abundant gifts and blessings for which she is known.
It is not only with male humans that Ezili Freda forges special bonds, but also with some of the Lwa because her often tumultuous relationship with the Lwa Ogou Feray, Danbala Wedo, and Agwe is well known.
She is conceptualized as a wealthy, upper class mulatress, that is, a light-skinned Creole/Kreyol woman drenched in gold jewelry and wearing dresses made of silk and satin, as well as expensive perfumes. In Haiti, class membership is gained and/or illustrated linguistically, with French functioning as the socially and economically dominant language, a direct legacy of slavery and imperialism. For this reason, during Ezili's possession performances, she only speaks exaggerated French, which is seen as prestigious, and refuses to speak Haitian Creole.
Her symbol is a heart pierced with a knife, as rendered by her vèvè (ritual drawing). This is said to be a depiction of her everlasting loyalty to all things surrounding love and romance. Ezili clearly derives from the African Vodun Azili/Ezili of Benin. She also presents much resemblance with Oshun of the Yoruba pantheon.

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Further Reading

  • Deren, M. (1972). The Divine Horsemen: The Voodoo Gods of Haiti. New York: Delta.
  • Desmangles, L. (1992). The Faces of the Gods. Vodou and Roman Catholicism in Haiti. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Métraux, A. (1958). Le Vaudou Haitien. Paris: Gallimard.