Asson-Sacred Rattle given during a Mambo or Houngan’s rite of passage from an ordinary initiate to the priesthood. It is a symbol and action of their power as a priest/ess of the lwa.
Atibon Legba– Name invoked for the guardian of the crossroads “Papa Legba” of Dahomey origin known there as Elegba Elegbara. All rituals start and end with Legba.
ATR-Abbreviation used meaning African Traditional Religion, used to denote any religion and practice based on African Tribal Traditions including: Palo, Santeria, Umbanda, Quimbanda, and Vodoun and many others.
Bawon– Also spelled (Baron) the husband of Maman Brigitte and father of all the Ghede. He is also the purveyor of souls and master of sexuality and health. If he does not dig the grave then one cannot die.
Bokor– A priest of Voodoo or a Voodoo practitioner that practices Ouanga or Juju Magick.
Boutey Lwa– A specifically created and decorated bottle prepared by a Houngan or Mambo to house a lwa.
Bondieu li Grande Zombi-Name given to the Grand Architect of the Universe, The Distant Great and Good God who created the world and is viewed as a Huge Serpent. Also known as Damballah Husband of the Lwa Ayida Wedo. Sometimes known as “Gran Met” The Great Head.
Dahomey– Area in Africa where Vodou was born. Referred to in Voodoo tradition as Ginen.
Djab-Group of lwa used for good and bad Ouanga whose head is Erzulie Dantor.
Doll Baby– A way of work done using Dolls that invokes the spirits and allows them to live in the doll.
Ellegua, Elegba, Eshu and Exu– Names given for the spirit of the crossroads in various traditional African based Traditions, Santeria, Palo, and Voodoo
Erzulie– Pronounced Eh-Zee-Lee, a family of lwa that includes Erzulie Dantor and Erzulie Freda as well as many others.
Fet– Creole word meaning Feast as in Fet Ghede: Feast of Ghede, etc…
Garde– a talisman used to guard the home from bad juju and spirits. Also a type of spirit put into service to act as the same.
Ghede– Name given to a Family and Nation of Ancestral Lwa(Loa) Led by Bawon(Baron) and Maman Gran Brigitte, the King and Queen of the Cemetery and the parents of all the Ghede.
Ginen– Name given to African Motherland but also the name given to the land of spirit.
Grande Cimitiere-(Grand Cemetary) Name used for the Land of the Dead and the kingdom of the Ghede.
Gran– Title given to certain Lwa meaning Great or Powerful, for instance; Maman Gran Brigitte, Gran Bois, Gran Met, etc….
Granny Bo– A lwa unique to voodoo Louzianne, widely feared and rarely talked bout. Is thought to be a spirit of death and evil sorcery. She is said to eat human victims who trespass on her land located in The Devil’s Bayou near Metairie, Louisiana.
Gris-Gris– Use and construction of Dolls, Pouches and things that are filled with all manner of root, curios and invocations to heal, or hurt. Similar to Hoodoo Mojo bags and dolls and also Native American Nation’s Sacks.
Haint– A Malevolent spirit summoned by a Bokor to cause suffering and death to a person or family. These are called Duppy in Haitian Creole and Anima Solas in Santeria/Lukumi
Hanfour– (Hanfo) The name given to a Voodoo temple and it’s congregation.
Houngan(Priest)– Male Initiate who through divination has been chosen by the lwa to receive the Asson. Also along with the Priestess (Mambo) he is the head of the Hanfour.
Ibo (see Granny Bo above)– A lwa of nature herself from Dahomey thought to have become Granny Bo when reached the American Shores. She is a powerful healer and root worker and a powerful witch prone to fits of rage ending in human death.
Jackdaw– Large Black Raven-like bird said to be the taker of spirit. In Louisiana when a person dies loud music is often played along with prayer to keep the Jackdaw from collecting the soul before Bawon can get to it.
Juju– Form of Gris Gris that includes the remains of something once alive.
Lave-Tet– Literally mean Headwashing. A blessing ceremony performed in Voodoo Louzianne to cleanse the body and the mind and to prepare as a seat for spirit.
L’ange de Congolese– A form of speaking in tongues that illegitimate people in the French Quarter use in their ceremonies. Not a true form of practice of Voodoo but rather a form more a kin to a circus act or a tourist show than anything true voodoos would practice.
Lwa(Loa)– Spirits or intercessor who act as facets or faces of the Distant God. These spirits handle the earthly cares of men and women and all are reached first by invoking Legba. Each Lwa is syncretized in Voodoo Louzianne with a particular Saint. Lwa originate in Dahomey and are the same as the Orisha of the Yoruba peoples.
Mambo-Priestess– Woman equivalent of Houngan who also has been given the Asson.
Maman Gran Brigitte– Mother of the Ghede and wife of Bawon. She is syncretized with St. Brigit and also with the Goddess Bride. She is depicted as a stout cigar smoking, whiskey drinkin red haired Irish woman who speaks with a raucous and raunchy language with an Irish accent. She is responsible for the transmutation of the spirit to becoming a lwa or a Ghede or if worthy of becoming one with Bondieu li Grande Zombi.
Mamz’elle Marie Laveau– Most famous and powerful of the NOLA Voodoo Queens, much legend and controversy surround her. Suffice it to say that here that she is responsible for the evolution of Vodou from Africa and Haiti becoming what we know as Voodoo Louzianne. She was a devout catholic and attended mass everyday of her life. On Sundays she went to church and then conducted Voodoo ceremonies in Congo square on Sunday Afternoons. She was a Free woman of color and ran several successful businesses including a hair salon and a Maisson la Rouge( Red House) aka a Brothel. She was wealthy and very powerful. She is rumored to be buried in St. Louis number 1 as the Widow Parris. She had a daughter who carried on and became a Voodoo Queen in her own right named Marie Laveau II. Mamz’elle is a Voodoo Saint, an Ancestor of all Voodoos and also a Voodoo Louzianne Lwa as well.
Met-Tet– Spirit of the Head or the Lwa that one is born with. This is determined by a Houngan or Mambo during a divination that will tell them the exact lwa who is your personal Guardian.
Nacion– Term used for the different tribes of Lwa spirits. The most commonly invoked Nacions in Voodoo Louzianne are:
Rada, Petro, Nago, Ghede and Zandor
Ouanga-To Hex or Curse someone. Also spelled Wanga
Pere Antoine– a Spanish Capuchin, Fray Antonio de Sedella, became the chief prelate in the New Orleans Catholic Church for the first decades after the Louisiana Purchase. Always, at conflict the authority, he independently established many practices unique to New Orleans. Since most of the persons attending Mass in those times seem to have free women of color, Marie Laveau and Voodoo became among his familiars. Known for personal charity, society with black communities, and work in the Yellow Fever epidemics he became very popular. On September 16, 1801 he baptized Marie Laveau. In 1819 he performed her marriage and subsequently baptized her children. His history of ecumenical liberalism and inclusiveness gives rise to the theory he and Marie Laveau began the acknowledged integration of Voodoo and Catholicism in New Orleans.
Peristyle– Entrance or porch to a Hanfo.
Priere de Ginen(Prayer of Africa)– Prayer that opens every Voodoo Ceremony that calls on the powers of God, Mary, The Saints, Legba and all the Nacion Lwa bein called. In full can last a total of two hours, shorter versions are used though. They are typically chanted or sung with a call and response method.
Veve/Vever– sacred symbolic sigil or calling card of the Lwa that is either painted or drawn on the floor with Cornmeal and flour durin Fets and other ceremonies.
Vodooeinne/Vodousi– Terms used interchangeably for any male or female, initiated or not who practices Voodoo Louzianne
Zombi– Word meaning snake or venom poisoned. Also was name of Marie Laveau’s pet albino python who, she believed to be Bondieu li Grande Zombi incarnate. Zombi also is a term given to folk poisoned with a powder made by some Bokors to make them mindless slaves in a death like trance.