Marinette is a lwa of the Petwo nachon, born and bred in
Haiti with no ties to Africa or Europe. She is a sorceress, sworn to “work with the left hand” until time ends or she herself is destroyed. She is called up by the bokor (pronounce baw-kaw) who are priests and priestesses but who work only “black magick”. They are the person a voudonist would consult to have an enemy killed, raise the dead for the purposes of necromancy, or bind someone in blind love. Almost without fail, these kinds of workings involve summoning the gleefully malevolent Marinette.
Sometimes known as Marinette-Bwa-Chech, “of the dry arms”, she is imagined as a skeleton who is accompanied by her symbol, the screech owl. She is thought to reside in wild places like swamps and forests where she will appear only at night. Her devotees do not keep altars to her but go to such places to bury her offerings. She in turn will come and dig them up, consuming them under cover of darkness so that she is not forced to share her bounty with any other lwa. She is worshipped in these wild places where gasoline, salt and dust are thrown onto a bonfire in exchange for the skeletal lady’s help with malicious magicks.
Marinette is the particular protector of lougarou, a secret society of people who believe themselves to be shape shifting werewolves or, in the case of some women, vampires who suck the blood of children. Special precautions are taken against people of this socyete including charms tucked into children’s bedding and the sprinkling of hoholi, sesame seeds, in coffins to prevent the dead body being dug up and misused for evil.
Like most lwa, Marinette is partnered with one who is thought to be similar to her, if a bit less cruel. This is the much mythologized leader of the Haitian Revolution called Don Pedro. He is known as the hougan who called up the original Petwo lwa to help the slaves fight for their freedom. After his death, he himself became the lwa Ti Jean Petwo (Little John Petwo) and married Marinette. He is the lwa of violent struggle against subjugation and is pictured as a dark skinned dwarf missing a foot. Like his wife, Ti Jean will assist the bokor who serve him.
Though Ti Jean has been known to possess voudonists in ceremonies, Marinette rarely manifests in this way. She is considered a lwa who is far too dangerous for the average worshipper. The Lady of the Screech Owl is best known and then bypassed all together. Voila un avertissement ~
Header: Riding the Dead by Jean Michel Basquiat