The Ghede Lwa

Fete Ghede at Hounfo Racine Deesse Dereyale, 2010

Ghede are among the most famous and most beloved spirits present in the Haitian Vodou religion.  These are the spirits of the forgotten dead, those who no longer have anyone to remember them, who have been reclaimed by the Baron himself to dance amongst his escort, and these Spirits really do DANCE!

Ghede embodies everything that is life.  They are the spirits of fertility, and even touching Ghede can ensure pregnancy, and a safe healthy child at delivery.  More than just fertility though, they also embody the act that conceives, they are a sense of raw sexuality, and although they can not indulge in it themselves, they dance the banda, a dance that is beyond suggestive, mimicking the very act of sex.  They will bump and grind around the peristyle, laughing and singing and enjoying our obvious nervous discomfort in their antics!  They once were as we are now but they’ve moved past all our limitations and taboo’s.  Nothing is off limits to them, they are beyond social convention and they love to have fun!  Songs for them reflect this aversion to “polite conversation” such as when we sing:

Ghede Mazaka La Kwa dances before the drums, in possession of Mambo La Belle Deesse Senior

Si koko te gen dan li tap manje mayi griye
Si paske li pa gen dan ki fe li manje zozo kale!

If a vagina had teeth it would eat roasted corn
It’s because it has no teeth, that’s why it eats peeled penis!

Ghede delight in telling jokes just like this song, the kind of jokes that would make even a  sailor blush! They love to party, to sing, to dance, to drink and to eat, and when the Ghede come there will be plenty of all of that!  They will laugh, sing, feast, drink and tell everyone what they need to hear.  Ghede are more than just jokers though.  As the spirits of death they are also great healers, and if it is not someones time to die, they can heal a person no matter how close to death they may be.  They are particular fond of children, for children are the future of humanity, and they will often bring healing to a child presented to them very quickly, so long as it is not in contradiction to Gods plan, because no one can change the moment when Bondye has decided that our time on this earth should end.

Ghede Mazaka La Kwa in possession of Houngan Liam

Any sickness that has a magical or spiritual cause can be placed into the hands of Ghede.  They can remove any negative or evil Spirit and return it to the grave, a djab or work has been set against a person?  Again, this is Ghede’s expertise, and once he has had is fill of food (and no doubt while he is still drinking, dancing and singing) he will take care of it, if he’s asked just right, and given what he needs.

Ghede are also excellent diviners and can see very far.  If you have concerns, questions, desires then you can turn to Ghede, and take him aside at the ceremony, and you will get a well thought out and truthful answer.  You are assured that Ghede’s answers will always be honest because Ghede can not lie.  He is always honest, sometimes brutally so, and so if he gives you advice, take it … it will be wise and in your best interests, even when it makes no sense.

There are more Ghede spirits than could ever be counted.  More and more Ghede are added by Baron by the day, but some of the most common served in our Hounfo are:

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Kwa Baron (Baron’s Cross) with candles lit in memory of ancestors, at Fet Ghede 2014
Gambling Luck Travay on the point of Ghede
  • Baron Cimitiere
  • Baron la Kwa
  • Baron Noir
  • Baron Samedi
  • Baron Kriminal
  • Gran’ Brigette
  • Manman Brigette
  • Jean Zombie
  • Captain la Kwa
  • Mazaka la Kwa
  • Brav Ghede
  • Ghede Nibo
  • Ti Charle
  • Ti Charles la Piss
  • Jean Simon Brutus
  • Wawe
  • Trace Fouille
  • Ti Piss la Kwa
  • Ghede Winsou Winsou
  • Demeplait la Kwa
  • Ghede Nou Vavou
  • Joumalonge
  • Komance la Kwa