Unlike a hoodoo mojo, which is separate from the individual who uses it in the form of a pocket piece or a bag, a gad is part of a person. Generally speaking there are two kinds of gad. The first is applied to the skin in the form of a tattoo, carving or brand. The second is ingested, usually in liquid form. At this point, it is doubtless very apparent that a gad is a serious thing, that should not be undertaken lightly. We will address that issue at the end of this post.
A gad is an invocation of an individual lwa, using their symbols and herbs related to them to accomplish the protective magick. This means that the spirit involved has a stake in the ritual and will expect the person who receives the gad to serve them in return for their protection. The lwa invoked is usually of the hot Petwo nachon so the potential for backlash is redoubled.
An houngan or mambo will prepare for the gad ceremony with sacrifice to the appropriate lwa. The person receiving the gad will participate in a ritual bath and then be scarified or branded, after which herbs sacred to the lwa, usually along with charcoal or ash, will be rubbed into the wound. Tattooing is also a popular form of modern gad, with the herbs rubbed on the tattoo once it is completed. The gad is usually applied to the shoulder and it is expected that the voudonist will “feed the gad” with liquor or herbs on a regular basis.
Alternatively, a gad may be in the form of a libation which the voudonist drinks. These gads are said to not only protect again evil magick but also against poisoning.
The gad must be renewed regularly, usually on a yearly basis. The ceremony is repeated, with herbs rubbed on the physical gad or the individual once again drinking the decoction of appropriate herbs. Failure to renew the gad will result not only in its loss of power, but in potential retribution from the lwa originally invoked.
It has become popular, particularly in New Orleans Voodoo, to have a favorite lwa’s veve tattooed on one’s shoulder or elsewhere on the body. While this has all the outward seeming of a gad it is in fact a poor substitute. Serious thought should be applied to such undertakings as the chosen lwa may not be in tune with the individual receiving the tattoo. One should – at the very least – make sure they are very well acquainted with their lwa of choice and feed their tattoo with appropriate herbs or liquor on a regular basis. Prendre garde ~
Header: Veve Baron Samedi