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An American Vodou House

Sosyete du Marche, Inc’s Library

Ayizan Velekete: The Primal Mambo, Mother of the Initiates

ayizan_fringeWhere Loko Atissou is seen as the father of all kanzo initiates, Ayizan is said to be the Mother of the Kanzos. Elevated ancestors who were at one time living persons, they now lend their stories and their ashe to the servitors of Vodou.

Ayizan Velekete is her full name, and she is often envisioned as a very old woman, with an apron that has deep pockets.  Ayizan is a root Lwa, bringing the mysteries of life and death to us here in the Marketplace.  The Yoruba tradition refers to the earthy plane as the Marketplace, so it is fitting that Ayizan is the one who brings traverses this realm, bringing forth new life and new initiates, replenishing the “servitors” of the human race with her holy children.  Ayizan_veve

Ayzian’s veve is comprise of her initials, the “A” and the “V” intersecting across each other.  The veve is sometimes further decorated with stars and whirls to imitate the royal palm frond, shredded and worn by every initiate of Vodou.  The Royal Palm tree is her sacred repository. This particular species grows very straight and tall in Haiti. The palm frond is not opened – during the chire ayzian (tearing ayzian), the frond is symbolically stripped by initiates until it resembles a huge ostrich feather, fluffy and full of Ayizan’s ashe.  It is then run around the temple, sweeping the poto, the drums and everyone in its path, before being placed within the holy djevo.  Ayizan is seen as the spiritual energy that tears into the djevo during the Chire Ayizan, purifying it for the hunyos (the spirit children), who will birth into Mambos and Houngans.

Chromolithographs of Christ, usually Christ being baptized by St. John are used in association with  Ayizan. Her symbol is the royal palm branch, frayed and covering her  face. Offer her palm fronds, yams, dirt from a market cross road and water.


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