Saturday, April 30, 2011

Samedi: Maryaj Lwa

I have done my damndest over the course of the last week to completely tune out the “royal wedding”.  I’m an American; it really has no effect on me.  I hope those two people are happy but all the rest of it is a bit much, I think.  That said, Voudon has its own kind of “royal wedding” where in a common mortal may be chosen by a divine spirit and elevated to the status of their husband or wife.  This is the maryaj lwa or spirit marriage.

Generally speaking, a man or woman will be called by their met tête or dominant spirit to take a vow of marriage with them.  This occurs through dreams, which is the way almost all voudoisants experience communication from the lwa.  On far more unusual occasions, a lwa not previously involved with the person will ask for marriage which sometimes prompts that person’s met tête to also ask for vows.  Frequently jealousy issues arise between the lwa when this happens and it can be hell to be popular (for the mortal involved) in such a case.

The human partner has large responsibilities in these marriages.  They will have to arrange a not inexpensive ceremony including bridal clothes, rings, cake and other foods favored by their bride or groom as well as guests and a prêt savann, or bush priest, to perform the ceremony.  The costs can be ruinous, and that’s just the wedding.  After the marriage the mortal is expected to wear wedding rings, both theirs and their lwa spouse’s, at all times.  They are to keep a separate bed in which they will sleep with their spirit spouse one night a week.  Any deviation from this routine – and in particular any sexual congress with another mortal on that day/night – will bring the wrath of the lwa down on their husband or wife.  It goes without saying that an altar must be kept to the lwa spouse and offerings made regularly.

In return the mortal spouse will be given special attention by their lwa.  They will be favored in those areas that the lwa controls and given precedence in intersession of prayers over the lwa’s non-spouses. 

As you may have imagined, the lwa are polygamous not only with humans but among themselves as well which can lead to some awkward interactions.  The lwa most likely to ask a mortal to marry them are Erzulie Freda, and her sisters La Siren and Erzulie Danto.  The gentlemen most frequently seen in maryaj lwa are Danbala, Ogou and Agwe.  This is where the trouble can start because Danbala, Ogou and Agwe are all married to Erzulie Freda.  While Danbala’s first wife is Ayida Wedo, Agwe’s main wife is La Siren and Ogou’s is Erzulie Danto.  To make matters worse Erzulie Freda and Erzulie Danto despise one another.  As if the pot could not be stirred up any more, Erzulie Danto will sometimes ask a woman to marry her, putting her at odds with both male and female lwa. 

Some connections are dealt with by multiple marriages to calm any potential jealousy.  A woman who marries Danbala will also marry Ogou, for instance, while a man who marries Erzulie Freda will invariably also marry Erzulie Danto.  This may make the lwa happy but it is a lot for the human spouse to take on.

Though it may sound spiritually glamorous to be called to maryaj lwa, most of us are thankful to have been overlooked.  While I love the lwa, I’m happy to simply tend to my relationships on this side of the gate.

Header: The Long Engagement by Arthur Hughes c 1859


Pauline said...

Timmy! left a comment (albeit at the wrong blog) asking about same-sex marriages. Yes! They are all good in the spirit world although it seems that they mostly occur between one particular female lwa (Erzulie Danto) and women.

Please refrain from any "hot girl-on-girl" comments, Timmy!

Timmy! said...

Sorry about the error on my attempted comment post, Pauline and thanks for the clarification...

I'll try to be good, but you know me... ;-D

TornadoRoc_09201990_SGT3 said...

I'm afraid of marrying a Lwa because feeding them and wearing their colors are expensive, but that's nothing compared to the consequences. I'm scared of being labeled as an adulteress if I marry them. Why can't they just stay with their spouses instead of picking humans to marry them? It's not right on their part.