A journey into the spirit of my ancestor (entry 6)

Teaching myself how to love: Traveling Diaries to West Africa

Entry 6: Understanding the different divinities.
Vodoun is filled with various different deities, that are often misunderstood, but at the core of spirituality each deity fall into a sample category which is at the root of the backbone of the spirituality. In this last entry of our mini series titled A journey into the spirit of my ancestors I break down in a easy and sample way the principles that are at the core of the spirituality.

Who are the voodoo divinities?  The wrong answer to this question has been at the root of the miseducation of the practice of voodoo.

 Myth #1 Voodoo is polytheistic

Let’s start of by defining a few terms; a polytheistic religion is one that praises more than one god. This has been the wrong term used for years by people to define what voodoo is. The correct term that we should apply when referring to voodoo is animism. Animism is the attribution of a soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena. (click here to read this article that I wrote for Black, girls in Om on the power/souls of herbs)


Myth #2: the divinities are evil spirits.

As stated in my previous blog, (entry 5), The divinities are moral principles of life based on the 4 element of nature: water, air, fire, earth. They are spirit that provide the practitioners with assistance in his or hers self -discovery journey; they help you navigate the physical and spiritual realms through the powers of nature. As stated in the …… book “the spirit mirror the full range of possibilities inherent in the particular aspect of life over which they rule over”  thus they are not saints, but rather serve as a reminder that the purpose of life isn’t to avoid conflict but rather to make conflict work to your benefits. They also serve as a reminder that life exists in a state of balance and that too much of anything isn’t beneficial to the organism thus you will often see in Voodoo the same spirit that brings you health can also bring you diseases.



The hierarchy of the voodoo Gods


Mao Segbo-lisa




Tohouson        Dambala          Ogu +Xebioso       Sabata


The concept of duality

Male & Females

In voodoo both females and male divinities are invoked to create equilibrium, as above so as below both males and females can hold powerful roles in the community as Priest, Priestesses, Ifa seer and healers.

 Body & Soul

In voodoo the world is divided into two concepts

Ye-gli: the physical self that essentially is returned back to the earth

Ye-gaga: the immortality self that returns back to the consciousness of all, and that can be implored as an ancestor in times of turmoil


The representation of the element of nature: earth, fire, water, air.

Although there are many pantheons of voodoo divinities, each of the various  divinities fall under the ruling of 4 major voodoos; each of these ruling voodoos represent the element of nature.


Water –Tohousan

Spiritual significance: emotions

Characteristics: flows 

Deities of water: represents aspects of our emotions


Spiritual significance: The mind,

Characteristic: shifts

Deities of air: represents aspects of our mind


Fire –Ogu + Xebioso

Spiritual significance:  Represent energy

Characteristic: Transformation, repre

Represented by two deities :

            Ogun: Element of fire manifested on the earth (iron)

            Xebioso: Element of fire manifested in the sky (thunder)



Spiritual significance: Representation of the material world

Characteristic: Rules over matters of the physical like diseases etc...

Deity: Sabata