Black Spirituality Religion : The Rada and Petro of Haiti

Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by Sekhemu, Jan 18, 2010.

  1. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    In Haiti the Lwa (Vodun) are often categorized into nations or nanchon. The Rada, Petro, Kongo, Nago, Igbo, Gede Vodou etc. The Rada and Petro are the two principles Lwas In Port-au-prince and present contrasting views among devotees.

    One way to describe the distinction between the Rada and Petro is the former are associated with family members or what is known as insiders while the latter are associated with outsiders.

    One of the glaring changes that took place during the Maafa was the socialization of the cosmos. In other words divinities that preside over natural phenomenon like storms, disease and drought became slightly marginalized by the temporal power of French slave masters. This refocusing of cosmic power is bron out in the characterization of Rada and Petro as insiders and outsiders and is typical of most Traditional African Religions.

    The word Rada comes from the town of Allad in ancient Dahomey, and is known as Lwa Rasin, "root lwa" or "Lwa Gine," African Lwa. The Lwa are associated with the "right hand" and what is known as downward direction, and directly related with Gine, Africa. The spiritual home for ancestors and spirits which Haitians locate in the water under the earth. The names and attributes of the Rada have counterparts in Africa.

    The Rada surround and surround their loved ones on a constant basis. Their protection is voluntary and have what is called "know leaves" or a vast knowledge of herbal healing. Rada are often the elders of the family and on occasion can be very stern as well as benevolent. If a sacrifice is promised to a Rada and there is a lack of resources to provide it, the Rada can be to wait a later date. The central mode of conciousness is that of a group consciousness and the preservation of the group.

    The origins of the name Petro are not altogether clear. Some people contend that the name came from a spanish Vodun priest named Dom Pedro, however the historical evidence for this is lacking. The Petro are associated with the "left hand", and the upward direction, with leaping flames and heat. The Petro Lwa are fierce, severe and uncompromising. Promises to the Petro must be kept and rituals must be carried out with the utmost caution. Rules should not be bent or broken when dealing with the Petro. The ritual "vocabulary" of the Petro are that of the slaveholders. These Lwa are served with fire, small explosions of gun powder, cracking whips, and shrieking police whistles. The Petro essentially represent an effort to expropiate the power of the slaveholder and their historical legacey i.e. oppression, racism, economic discrimination etc and to use this power against itself.

    The Petro lwas are the outsiders, strangers who tend to look alike and act alike. When people are mounted by them they have personalities that are less distinguishable from one another as opposed to the Rada. There is the saying that if you feed one you feed them all. However, the Petro are highly individualistic in their mode of existence. Devotees seek them out for personal or partisan reasons. The Petro represent the coercing of powers for the pursuit of personal ambition.
     
  2. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Thanks, I'm just gethering some of my notes to add on to the thread. I'll post it on Wednesday.
     
  3. Blackbird

    Blackbird Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Ayibobo...

    Ase!!!
     
  4. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Good to see you again :)

    The next post will be on Ogou and Gede
     
  5. DARKSIDE MAGICK

    DARKSIDE MAGICK Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    DARKSIDE MAGICK --- They Talk, We Live, We see what They say, They say, They say
    They Talk, We Did, Who cares what They say, They say, They say--JAY Z
     
  6. Sekhemu

    Sekhemu Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Voudou priests in haiti, miami and new york.maintain their services to the lwa in favor of the right hand although many say it would be foolish to completly cut themselves off from the left hand

    In western Vodou, the Ogou are recognized as Nago spirits. This name is Dahomean for the Ketu Yoruba. Nevertheless, these days it is felt that the Ogou should also be classified according to the binary system set up by the Rada and Petro pantheons.

    The Rada are associated with water and the Petro with fire. From this perspective, Ogou appears to be clearly Petro. Ogou has a fiery nature and bonfires are lit to him. Those who serve him wear red and when possessed by him become agressive. Afraid of water and being captured, ogou Balendyo the escort of the Rada sea spirit Agwe. Ogou Balendyo is somtimes identified with Ogou Batala is known for his herbal knowledge.for these reasons and because Ogou is clearly a root lwa with strong ties to African, many adherants maintain that the Ogou are Rada spirits as well, for example Ogou Yanson. Thus there is the understanding that the Ogou can manifest themselves equally well as eithe rada or petro

    Ogou's mediating role is illustrated by libations poured to various vodou spirits. The central elenent in libations for the rada is water and for the petro its fire. Ogou is given libations of rum, which are poured on the ground and set on fire, or, mimicking rain, sprayed upward through the air in a fine mist (please don't try this at home)

    Ogou's mediating role finds further expression in fitual sequence. Large drumming and dancing ceremonies, of the sort that are in common in urban Vodou, begin with an invovation of the Rada spirits in the order of their importance. A similar set of invocations for tje Petro spirits follows. The Ogou model a way of being in the world that mediates between family members and foreigners, insiders and outsiders, the home and the larger world outside of it. They are intimate like the Rada spirits, yet powerful like the Petro. Ogou power, unlike that of the petro cannot be managed by adherence to rule and principle. Ogou's power is rooted in feeling, specifically in rage. In haiti it is said "Ogou loves to give people gifts even when he is angry; he will reward at the same time he punishes."

    Gede

    The only other group of spirits that functions in the ritual process as the Ogou do as mediators, are the Gede. To the extent that ritual process mirrors the process of life, the Gede and the Ogou can be seen as the two major options that the system of Vodou provides for handling situations of change.

    The Gede is similar to legba of dahomey and esu of nigeria. Legba's "trickyness".and his sexuality appear to have been taken on by the Gede. The Gede are simultaniously the spirits of the dead, protectors of small children, guardians of human sexuality and satire. They are known to steal, beg, tell dirty jokes and engage in anti-social behaior.

    The Gede appear to be the most open and growing group of spirits. Sponge-like spirits, they soak up new roles. Many of these roles having to do with newly introduced proffessions and technologies

    The Gede mediate power differently from the Ogou. Their approach to pain and suffering is by the use of humor. A laugh can emerge from a devotee who only a minute ago was possessed by a Rada. The same transition occurs in a store, at home and at work
     
  7. Blackbird

    Blackbird Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I will discuss my experience with these powerful spirits later.
     
  8. Onyemobi

    Onyemobi Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Interesting enough, Ogu is also the name of an Igbo spiritual force that deals with warfare and justice. Its typically symbolized in the form of a rod.
     
  9. Blackbird

    Blackbird Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    In Vodou, they speak about 21 nations. 21 nations that came together to make Haitian Vodou what it is. Igbo or Ibo is one of those nations. One thing I might suggest is the relationship between, if you subscribe to Greenburg's classification of African languages, the Kwa language group. The Fon/Ewe or the Gbe speakers call the force of warfare and justice Gu or Gun, the Yoruba speakers call it Ogun, and here you have just informed us it is Ogu in Igbo. It is fairly consistent along these lines. Metal, rod or blacksmithing in general. It speaks also to the role of the blacksmith as a purveyor of justice. I believe Diop did a treatment on this in Pre-Colonial Africa where he detail the various attitudes of the non-blacksmith peoples towards blacksmiths and the roles of the blacksmiths across a geographical and ethnic range in Western Africa.

    Ogou in Haitian Vodou is a class of different spirits as Alagba Sekhemu highlighted. Many of the Ogou spirits are seen as Nago because Ogou is a rasin Lwa and it evident in the names - Ogou Batala, Ogou Balenjo and Ogou St. Jacques (Sango), Ogou Feraille (Ogun or Gu proper).

    I persoanlly know Ogou as a cigar smoking, copious rum drinking boisterous individual. When he comes down, he almost always makes a big scene. He likes for everyone to greet him like a man, firm handshake, bows and spins. He is never seen without his machete and red scarf. Rum is ushered in his hand as soon as possible. He will quickly ask for his rum if it's not there in a timely fashion. Ogou once helped me with a stomach problem I had at one party. He called me out and roughly raised up my shirt in front of everybody. He blew cigar smoke on and ran his machete slightly over my belly. I was a little embarassed because he handled me like a doll and exposed my stomach to those gathered. It was with love and we both understood. I love Ogou for who and what he is. Ayibobo...
     
  10. Onyemobi

    Onyemobi Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Same thing for other deities. In Igboland, we have deity called Agbala. In Dahomey you have Legba, and the Yorubas call it Elegba (which is short for El-Agbala).

    The Fon have the Fa deity for divination, and Igbos and Yorubas have Afa and Ifa respectively.

    :em2300: What is a random possession?
     
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