Given that he comes from the island nation of
– as do all Petwo lwa – Gran Bwa is a bit of a paradox. There is probably no place on Earth more deforested than Haiti ; what was once a lush rainforest has become a near desert. Trees have been cut down for fuel, for building materials and, sadly, to try to turn the people away from their spirituality. Both the Catholic Church and Protestant fundamentalists have ravaged the island’s countryside, destroying trees they knew to be sacred to voudonists. The devastation is striking and immediately evident. Flying in to Haiti feels almost like circling a moonscape. Port-au-Prince
And yet Gran Bwa remains. He inhabits the demambwe, the wild land where trees still grow. Here houngans and mambos go to learn the secrets of root work and curing with herbs. It is here, too, that bokor come to learn to do harm with the same vegetation. Gran Bwa is not judgmental; he will offer his knowledge for good or ill if the one who seeks it is sincere in their devotion to him. In this he is representative of not only Petwo lwa but of Voudon in general. Gray areas are readily accepted in this spirituality where they are shunned in organized religions that see everything in terms of good and evil.
Gran Bwa is represented with the colors red and green, which should always be prominent on any altar dedicated to him. He is fond of rum and coffee, and pouring a little of either onto a tree’s roots (not too much) is a fine offering to the Lord of the
Forest. He also enjoys rice with honey. Gran Bwa is often represented by St. Sebastian, because he is tied to a tree.
If you work with herbs or if you have a close relationship with your garden (or would like to), consider cultivating a relationship with Gran Bwa. It may take you a while, but the sincere effort will be well worth it.
Header: St. Sebastian from a prayer card in my collection