Dec 2, 2015

Posted by in Loa, Vodou | 0 Comments

Maman Brigitte: Vodou Goddess of The Dead

Maman Brigitte: Vodou Goddess of The Dead
VeveBrigitte

VeveBrigitte (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo, the supreme creator of all things is Bondye, or “Good God”. Bondye is a distant deity that is far too busy with divine circumstances to be bothered with the day to day lives of mortal humans. He is thought of as an unreachable god. So, instead, Vodouists worship and pray to lesser deities know as Loa. The Vodou religion is host to a plethora of Loa that are all separated into different families. Each family has specific responsibilities and each Loa has a distinct personality complete with unique traits, behaviors, likes, and dislikes.

Maman Brigitte is the female counterpart and wife of Baron Samedi. Both are Loa of the dead and take on the role of guiding the spirits of the dead from the realm of the living into the afterlife and protecting graves in the cemetery. Brigitte and Samedi are members of the Ghede family of Loa. Ghede are often associated with ancestor worship, death, and fertility. Ghede are also known for drum rhythms and dance called the “banda”, where they will often possess the bodies of the living.

Madam Brigitte is thought to manifest in the cemetery and to bless the graves if they are properly marked with a cross. She has a Veve of her own. Veves are important symbols in the Vodou religion that serve as gateways for invoking spirits of the Loa and are often drawn on the ground with salt or flour. This practice is thought to have originated from early Native American practices of drawing sand images.

The goddess, Maman Brigitte, is known to exude sexuality and dance wildly. She is not afraid to have a good time. However, she also speaks from the heart (sometimes using obscenities) and has no patience for fools. Maman Brigitte is known for drinking rum spiced with hot peppers and for being a very strong presence. The animal associated with her is the black rooster and in Haiti, the first female burial in a cemetery is often dedicated to her. Brigitte is also the patron of gravestones, cemeteries, and fire.

Maman Brigitte is also strongly tied to the Celtic goddess Brigid. During the Diaspora of African slaves, women from Ireland were also shipped to New Orleans for various crimes, such as prostitution, and worked as slaves. These women brought with them Irish cultural tales of gods and goddesses and shared them with their black counterparts. They were also responsible for bringing small dolls called poppets. When the poppets were mixed with Vodou culture they would ultimately come to be recognized as “Voodoo Dolls” today.

Brigid was thought to be the patron of medicine, arts and crafts, poetry, and serpents, among other things. Brigid was additionally associated with early spring, which was representative of new beginnings. Like Brigid, Maman Brigitte was thought to be a healer and was worshiped especially when someone was ill and in need of a fresh start. Madam Brigitte would be the one to decide if a person would be healed, and if not, she would personally escort them into the underworld when they passed.

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