I grew up on the shore of Connecticut and spent many a summer day out on the waters of the north Atlantic. I could practically swim before I could walk (a precaution any shore-living community makes for their children - we were more like seals than kids by age two). I was never scared though I should have been, given the currents and temperament of those northern waterways! But water - and ocean water in particular - has always been a second home to me. No small surprise, I married another water person - my husband was a surfer from Fort Lauderdale and it's our total pleasure to spend a long lazy vacation on the shore every year, just getting reacquainted with our sea parents Agwe and LaSiren.
Agwe Tawayo is the great sovereign of the open oceans and seas. When he manifests in possession, the horse invariably paddles around the peristil, saluting and calling out maritime orders to those in the area. Agwe is one of Ezili Freda's husbands, and along with LaSiren, LaBalenn and other watery lwa, represents the great intuitive powers and deep knowledge of the ocean. As any water deity does, Agwe symbolizes the intuitive knowledge held within, the deep connection to eternal movements and powerful forces. Children of Agwe are often water people - sailors, swimmers, water signs of the Zodiac. Agwe moves with infinite grace and power. His domain is the deep, under currents of the oceans, which he traverses with ease in his boat, the Immamou.
In the Sosyete, we dedicate our Lave Tet each summer to Agwe and Lasiren/LaBalene. With numerous ti-fey who are Siren and Agwe's children, we make lots of trips to the Jersey shore for fresh, cold ocean water. Nothing like a salty dip in the waves to cleanse the mind and body. Salt, the great cleanser, is a perfect medium for washing away things. When I was in Haiti, we did a sea service for LaSiren. We first called in Agwe, with a conch shell horn and with undulating movements, to help him manifest. I have been privileged to serve him here at the houmfort, and when I return to Haiti, I intend to offer him a barque filled with foods, drink and a white ram.
Agwe is a great mystery in Vodou, one of the original Lwa who came down in the first wave of energies that formed on the planet. As such, He is part of the Rada nation - the older, cooler, more beneficent collection of spiritual energies. The yanvalou, the dance that mimics oceans waves is part of his repertoire of music and movement. He is often preceded in service by members of his fleet - Ogoun Bhalindjo and Ogou Badagris for example. There escorts make sure the room is set properly, that things are ready for the "admiral", before Agwe makes his grand appearance. We keep a fancy admiral hat with lots of gold braid, a jacket and a spy scope ready for Him, so He can continue to search and seek, as His mission. Ideally, service to Agwe should be performed at the ocean's edge, but He has manifested in our Temple so long as His table of food is set properly, and approved by His lieutenants.
Agwe is syncretized with St. Ulrich, for the fish in his hand, and his authoritarian air. Agwe can be offered champagne and white wine, kola champagne, and coffee with both sugar and cream to drink. He is offered sweet oils such as olive or almond, cane syrup, and such "white" foods as melon, rice cooked in coconut milk, rice cooked with lima beans (pwa souche), boiled or fried ripe banana (the small sweet yellow kind, not the large plantain), and cake. He receives whole fish (pan seared), white roosters, white ram or occasionally goat, all of which should be served baked. Agwe is further served with perfume, mirrors, naval uniforms and nautical medals, small metal fish and fishhooks, painted rowing ores, and model boats/ships. His offerings are placed on white china plates and cups.