Friday, November 1, 2013

Erzulie Spirit of Motherhood

The Taíno were a pantheistic nation with several female deities.  In the 19th century the native practice blended together with West African slave worship of female deities Erzulie, Ayezan, Ayida.  When Catholic devotion to the Our Lady of Perpetual Help was introduced, the image of Our Lady was conflated with one or more of these.  Erzulie is the goddess most commonly conflated with Mary in Haiti.  Erzulie, also spelled Ezili, represents the spirit of motherhood, single motherhood in particular.  Today if you ask to see an image of Ezili in Haiti, you will be presented with the image of Black Madonna of Częstochowa.  The origin of this image in Haiti is believed to be in copies of the icon of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa brought to Haiti by Polish soldiers fighting on both sides of the Haitian Revolution from 1802 onwards.   Worship of Our Lady in Haiti is not devotion in the European Catholic sense of that word.  Haitian devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help aka Ezili is associated with the black creole pig of Haiti which is said to be her favorite animal sacrifice.  Other altar offerings include creme de cacao, rum, perfume and strong unfiltered cigarettes.  

Ezili became a mythic figure of heroic proportions during the revolution of 1791. “The Revolution which created the nation of Haiti was inspired by the divine decree of the warrior love goddess known as Ezili Dantò who danced in the head of the great Haitian priestess, Cecile Fatiman, on that famous Haitian night in 1791, on a red hilltop, at a forest thicket in Haiti called Bwa Kayiman. Led by the powerful warrior spirit of Ezili Dantò, Cecile Fatiman crowned the African warrior Boukman with her royal red Petwo scepter, ushering in the Haitian war which forever slashed the chains of European slavery in Haiti to create Africa’s sacred trust, Manman Ayiti – the first Black nation in the Western Hemisphere. Ezili Dantò is the symbol of the irreducible essence of that ancient Black mother, mother of all the races, who holds Haiti’s umbilical cord back to Africa."