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  • Writer's pictureVoodoo Vixen

Damballah: Creator Lwa & Giver of Prosperity

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

The great white serpent Damballah is said to be the first of the Lwa, lesser deities, created by Bondye, the overarching creator dog. Damballah then assisted in creation by moving through what Bondye had created to make the world as we know it today.

He is now an ancient god who takes little interest in human affairs. But he can bestow great wisdom or great wealth if he so chooses.

Damballa as a great white serpent around an egg
Damballa as a great white serpent around an egg

Damballah the Creator

The very first thing created by Bondye was Damballah, also known as Damballah Wedo, a great white serpent who would make a nest for himself under the earth and prevent the earth from falling into the primordial sea. But, while the first Voodoo Loa stayed still for a very long time, eventually he had to move.

His movement created mountains and valleys in the earth and threw the stars up into the sky. His movement also allowed the primordial waters to mix with the earth, creating oceans and seas, and eventually sentient life.

The mixing of land and water also created rain, resulting in the first rainbow, which became the Lwa Ayida-Weddo. The god fell in love with her instantly, and they are still in love today.

Damballah still moves between the oceans and seas, giving life wherever he travels. He represents life’s continual cycle of transformation and renewal. He reminds us that things never really end, they just change.

Despite being in the earth and the seas, the god is also considered the Sky Father, since he inhabits all of creation.

The Haitian god is called Damballah Wedo because he is thought to originate from the city of Wedo in t eh Dahomey empire, which is modern-day Benin. This seems to give Wedo the prestige of being the origin point of all life in the universe.

Great Bestower

As such an ancient Loa is extremely knowledgeable. He can share that knowledge when he wishes. Those looking to access the deepest knowledge within the universe often set themselves up to study before the altar of Dumballah.

As a devotee of eternal (but not monogamous) love, he is also often called on by lovers. He can bind two people together in something more than lust, but rather an eternal partnership. He teaches lovers how to help one another and become better together, rather than tearing one another down. While Ayida-Weddo is his wife, the Lwa Erzulie Freda is also his lover.

Serpents are a symbol of wealth and good luck, and Sky Father can also bestow wealth where he sees fit. He will often do this by revealing the location of hidden treasure, or exposing hidden opportunities.

Damballha as human with snake's lower body
Damballha as human with snake's lower body

Communing with Damballah

If Damballah wishes to speak to you, he will often appear in your dreams. But when he does appear he cannot speak, since he belongs to a time before the creation of human language. Instead, he will whistle or hiss. But he will show you signs to communicate his message.

Practitioners can also call on the Loa to possess a devotee during a Haitian Vodou ritual. He must be given a white sheet on the ground to lie upon and should be fanned with another white sheet to keep him cool.

Women, and on occasion men, can call on Dumballah to make a divine marriage. This will invoke the ongoing protection and favor of the Lwa, ensuring security and prosperity.

He should never be exposed to anything impure, including blood, whether that be from an accident, menstrual blood, or a sacrifice. If animals are sacrificed to him, they should be killed and treated elsewhere so that he does not need to encounter the blood. Never smoke near his altar.

Damballah likes all things white, including milk and white foods such as rice, flour, and coconut. The very best sacrifices involve a bed of these dry ingredients on top of which is laid a pure white raw egg.

Damballah is also very fond of orgeat syrup, a thick white almond-flavored syrup. He will also accept a sacrifice of Lotion Pompeia, but nothing with a stronger scent, as he does not like very strong aromas.

Damballah Symbolism

Damballah is symbolized by a great white serpent, or a man with the lower body of a serpent, appearing a little like a merman.

He often appears coiled around himself, since it is said that his 7,000 coils form the shape of the heavens and the earth.

The veve of Damballah always includes two serpents, coming together in some form. The two serpents of the veve may represent the Wedo Loda and his wife intertwined. But the two may actually be the male and female elements within a single being and remind us that everything in life is fluid.

In Haitian Voodoo (or Vodou), veve are ephemeral symbols drawn by practitioners to call the attention of the loa that the practitioner wishes to communicate with.

Damballah Veve with two serpents
Damballah Veve with two serpents

Ayida-Weddo - Wife of Damballah

Ayida-Weddo is also a great serpent, known as the Rainbow Serpent. While she is often referred to in the feminine as the wife of Damballah Wedo, she has a dual nature. Sometimes the red part of her rainbow is considered masculine and the blue part feminine.

Despite being the Rainbow Serpent, she is almost always represented by a green snake, and her ceremonial colors are green and white. But her symbols are the rainbow and the paquet congo. This is an object made by Vodou priests and priestesses (known as houngans and mambos). It is a collection of magical ingredients and offerings including things such as herbs, which are then wrapped in fabric and elaborately decorated with feathers, ribbons, and sequins.

Like her husband, she likes white things, and Vodou offering should include white chickens, eggs, rice, and cotton.

Images of Ayida Weddo
Images of Ayida Weddo

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