The Petro Lwa

The Petro lwa are some of the most famous lwa around the world.  They are known as the spirits of the revolution because it was these spirits that were called upon during Bwa Kayman, and it was these Spirits that in 1804 assured Haiti it’s independence.  These are the Spirits of the Haitian soil, and although some of them may find their roots in the Spirits of the Kongo and Dahomey, they are the spirits of Ayiti’s land.  Many find their origins with the Taino, the native people of ‘Ayiti, they are born from the hero’s of Haitian history, those who fought against the slave traders, and who ensured that Haiti was the first black republic in the world.  Heroes like Boukman, Mambo Fatima, and others; who became the strongest, hottest and fiercest of the Haitian spirits.  Mambo Maronet, Ti Jean Petro, and of course the Queen of Petro, Mambo Erzulie Dantor, these are the Spirits who fought for the Haitian people, who spilled their blood upon the soil and who are the parents of a Nation.

Served with the kwa kwa, these spirits are served throughout Haiti, in some of the hottest and rawest rite of Haiti.  They are also fundamental in the Kanzo cycle.  The ceremonies such as Bat Ge and Mere Paket are petro ceremonies that ensure that the initiates are strong, powerful and have strong pwen from which to work.  They are the Spirits of immediate change, and they work extremely quickly when wanga or pwen are performed through their rites.  The songs and dances are staccato, and when these Spirits come in possession they are unmistakeable.  They are spirits of magic and chance, and spirits of the hottest of places, the crossroads, marshes, forests and cities.  Be it Gran Bwa with his knowledge of all herbs and plants, or the Simbi who rule over magic of the water, Kalfou, the point through which all magic passes or Amminno who is one of the spirits of the Gad cycle, these spirits are profoundly powerful.  They are also demanding.  What you promise them you must give them, and if you don’t they will exact their displeasure just as quickly as they brought what you desired.

These spirits are served in Red and Blue, the colours of the Haitian flag, and are some of the most well known spirits in the Haitian Vodou tradition, some of them being:

  • Legba-nan-Petro – Legba served in Petro, the keeper of the keys to the petro rites
  • Marassa-nan-Petro – the Marassa served in petro, hot, moody, strong
  • Kalfou – The spirit of the crossroads, all magic passes through his realm
  • Simitye – Force of change, bride beween the rites of the Petro and the hottest of the Ghede
  • Gran Bwa – Spirits of the Tree’s, of the leaves and of the night forest, holder of the knowledge of Pile Fey
  • Simbi Dlo – The spirit of fresh water, maker of magic
  • Simbi Andeazo – Spirit of two waters, of Fresh and Salt, the Spirit of the magic of rain and of the baths
  • Simbi Makaya – The spirit of hot magic!  The bridge between the rites of the petro spirits and the Makaya nation
  • Bossou – The Spirit of the bull, spirit of change, the power to overcome
  • Toro – Companion to Bossou, strong and constant
  • Ti Jean Petro -Companion to Erzulie Dantor and Father of Ti Jean Dantor, he is the spirit of Fire, of force and the male spirit of the revolution
  • Ti Jean Dantor – The son of Erzulie Dantor and Ti Jean Petro, fun loving in every sense of the word, womaniser, he love to party
  • Jean Racine – He is a strong and fierce spirit, bathed in fire and born from the blood of the revolution.
  • Marinette – One of he fiercest of Lwa, she is the revolution with all of it’s pain and suffering, blood shed, fire and lies.
  • Erzulie Dantor – The Mother of Haiti, the warrior who fought for the freedom of her people, of her children, she is the spirit of the marketplace, of hard work and of Motherhood.
  • Erzulie Ge Rogue – She is what happens when Erzulie Dantor is angry, she is still the Mother, but she is the disciplinarian, and the strongest protector of her children.
  • Erzulie Balliane
  • Erzulie Mapangue
  • Erzulie La Flambeau
  • Erzulie Couer
  • Erzulie Noue
  • Mambo Zila
  • Anmino
  • Manzie Marie Louise – The wife of Kouzen Azaka, she is the market woman who makes takes her husbands crops and turns them into wealth.  The spirit of agriculture and of farming.
  • Linglinsou – One of the hottest and most violent spirits of the petro rite, he vomits blood and is constantly pierced by the blades, he is the spirit of revenge.
  • Ti Quita
  • Ti Zandor – He is the gossiper, the companion of Ti Jean Dantor, there are no secrets from Ti Zandor and nor will he keep them for you.
  • Sayilo

Of course these are only amongst the most well known of the Spirits of Haiti.  I have not talked about them all, some of them can not be regulated to a sentence of two.  They are spirits of revolution and strength and the history of Haiti.