Saturday, September 3, 2011

Samedi: Charm Lamp

Magickal lamps are popular items in Haitian Voudon.  Though we generally think of the jinn of the ancient Near East when we think of such a thing, lamps are often encountered burning in businesses and private homes in Haiti.  Usually constructed of a halved and scraped out coconut shell, the lamps are filled with olive oil in which a wick is suspended via a playing card or shards of bone.  Lamps are not items that people make for themselves.  These are constructed by mambos and houngans with a specific lwa’s favor in mind.

One example of this type of Voudon magick is the charm lamp.  This is constructed under the auspices of the great Rada lwa Erzulie Freda Dahomey.  It is intended to draw a lover or a business partner to the person for whom it is constructed and the Lady of love and luxury will expect something pretty for her trouble.

To construct a charm lamp, the priest or priestess puts a piece of lamb or sheep brain into a coconut shell.  This first ingredient follows the rule of like makes like as the animal’s brain is a stand in for the thoughts or will of the person to be influenced.  Other ingredients may include a magnet or lodestone (to draw the person in), a sweetener such as cane syrup or honey (to sweeten their thoughts toward the owner of the lamp) and Florida Water (a cologne favored by Erzulie Freda).  Once these ingredients are in the coconut shell they will be covered with olive oil.  A wick is then threaded through a hole in the center of a Queen of Hearts card and this is floated on the olive oil

The lamp is kept burning day and night, usually on a home altar, and more olive oil is added daily.  This ritual will continue until the favor sought has been made manifest.  At that time the lamp will be extinguished and disposed of (it is usually buried in the ground) and an offering will be made to the lwa who looked over the lamp.  In the case of a charm lamp, a nice piece of jewelry or some French perfume would doubtless be appropriate.

Header: Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (an image frequently used to represent Erzulie Freda)


Timmy! said...

Wow, that sounds kind of messy, Pauline...

Pauline said...

Oh it is; but if it gets the job done, who is to argue?