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  • Writer's pictureVoodoo Vixen

Erzulie: Voodoo Goddess of Water, Love, and Femininity

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

Erzulie is a Lwa within Haitian Voodoo considered the goddess of love and femininity.

We say goddess, but Voodoo is a monotheistic religion under the all-powerful creator god Bondye. But he is not concerned with the affairs of men and he is beyond man’s comprehension. The Lwa are lesser divine entities that do intercede in the world and Voodoo practitioners interact with them.

Erzulie or Ezili is a feminine and maternal goddess that is often called on as a protector of women. But she is also associated with material wealth and unlimited desire and can teach the secrets of gaining what you want most in the material world. She is called on in different guides and with different names: Erzulie Dantor, Erzulie Freda, and Erzulie Mansur. She is often portrayed as a Black Madonna.

The different faces of Erzulie
The different faces of Erzulie

Haitian Pantheon

Within Voodoo, the Lwa (or Loa) are divided into various families, such as the Gede family associated with the dead and led by Baron Samedi.

Erzulie straddles two families, the Rada, and the Petwo. The Rada are considered soft gods and empathetic gods. Associated with water, they are kind and empathetic. They map closely with deities worshipped in West Africa and brought to the New World.

The Petwo are associated with power, war, and destruction. They are considered more powerful but are also harsh and more unforgiving than the Rada. Their form is often credited to their creation under the conditions of slavery. But drawing a straight dividing line between the groups on this basis is too simplistic.

The Many Names of Erzulie

Erzulie has many epithets and takes on many different forms. As a Rada deity, she is known as Erzulie Freda or Lady Erzulie and is considered a flirty goddess of love who cries tears of compassion like as a suffering mother.

She is also known as Erzulie Mansur, Erzulie the Blessed, as a representation of maternal love and a protector of children. In this aspect she is sometimes considered an incarnation of the Virgin Mary.

The Loa is also called on a Granne Erzulie, or grandmother Erzulie, as a kind of female elder who can share female experience and maturity.

As a Petwo deity is she often called Erzulie Dantor, Erzulie of the wrongs, and is called on to pass vengeance against those who mistreat women and children.

The Voodoo goddess is also Erzulie Balianne, or Erzulie the silenced, who can be called on to keep secrets and help people forget painful lost loves.

As Arzulie Mapiangue, Erzulie the suckler, she supports women through childbirth.

In the guise of Erzulie Yeux Rouge, red-eyed Erzulie, she takes vengeance on unfaithful lovers.

When she is Erzulie Toho she assists those who have been slighted in love.

Erzulie as Black Madonna with child and knife
Erzulie as Black Madonna with child and knife

Forms of Erzulie

In her many guises, Erzulie is consistently associated with romantic love and maternal matters from birth to the protection of women and children. In a way, she embodies all the unique aspects of womanhood and femininity, and both the powers and the challenges that exist within that state.

She is the maternal factor in many elements of the world, combining with the masculine to maintain important elements. As such, she has three husbands: Damballa, the Lwa of the sky, Agwe, the Lwa of the sea, and Ogoun, the Lwa of fire and iron. She wears three wedding rings to reflect this triple marriage.

But she is not just a mother, Erzulie is a lover, and she is known as an insatiable flirt, with both genders. She can be called on to catch love, seek vengeance on an unfaithful lover, or forget a painful past love. She is simultaneously loving and giving and angry and vengeful.

Rituals that involve Erzulie often involve possession, where the Lwa is invited into the body. To achieve this, practitioners are recommended to embody the Lwa by dressing evocatively and embracing tears of sadness.

Material Success

Erzulie is associated with all things luxurious, including jewelry, dancing, flowers, and more. She is associated with material wealth and success in the material world.

Erzulie is also often called on to share the spiritual knowledge required to find success in the physical realm. And, unlike many Lwa, the success that she gives is never “fool’s gold” or short-lived. It is the kind of tangible success that can pass between generations.

But remember that Erzulie is a vengeful Lwa, and if you offend her, she can take away what she gives just as quickly.

She can be associated with greed, as she is covetous and is sorrowful that she cannot have all the things that she desires. She is often in tears due to her despair at the limitations of life’s abundance. She is a beacon to the ambitious, but also a warning against unrestrained desire.

Symbology of Erzulie

Erzulie is either depicted as a Black Madonna with two scars on her face, or as an upper-class woman, usually light-skinned and mixed-race, in fine and expensive clothing. In contrast to Maman Brigitte, who is vulgar in her dress and behavior, Erzulie, while a flirt, has impeccable manners and a secretive allure. The colors of the goddess are pink, blue, white, and gold.

She always appears with her three rings, and often with a dagger, which may pierce her heart representing the pain that often accompanies the joy of love.

Due to her association with love, it is no surprise that her veve is based on a heart. Veve are symbols drawn on the floor in cornflour at the start of a Voodoo ritual as part of the summon of the Lwa. While the Veve of each Lwa must contain important elements, practitioners can create their own individual versions.

When sacrificing to Erzulie, she is pleased to receive anything considered decadent. Her favorite things include jewelry, perfume, sweet cakes, and fine liqueurs.

Voodoo Veves of Erzulie
Voodoo Veves of Erzulie

Erzulie in the Tarot

In the Tarot deck, Erzulie Freda in her Rada form is associated with the 7 of Swords and is an air sign within the deck. She represents the Venus factor. But while she is splendid, she is also in tears, representing the superficiality of many of the things that we chase in life and the temporary nature of the emotions that we let govern our actions.

Her card is often associated with the heavy feeling of creating a pyramid of unattainable aspirations, and the emptiness that often follows getting what you wish for.

Erzulie Dantor in her Pewto form is the 7 of wands, a fire element card. She represents burning with overwhelming passion and the fine line between passion and rage. Erzulie Dantor is the creator of forceful energy as she dances to grind corn into something usable, but she is also desperately seeking a satisfactory outlet for that energy. This can manifest into something beautiful when properly challenged, but also something dangerous.

Erzulie Tarot cards
Erzulie Tarot cards

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