The Lwa are organized are basically organized into three groups, defined by their characteristics as well as their similarities. There are also other sets of spirits such as the Ogou spirits of the Nago Nation but here we will be covering Rada, Petro, and Ghede.
Rada Lwa ~ The Rada lwa are seen as “cool”, stable, and beneficent; they are seen as gentle in comparison to other Lwa and in a way more orderly. Also, these set of Lwa are more forgiving and slower to anger(does not mean that you could mess with them and expect forgiving). They share similar traits and white is always an acceptable color when serving them. They are very clean Lwa and tidiness goes a long way with them, one should always be as clean as possible and best if dressed in white when serving them(women should have their hair tied back and covered with a white scarf as a sign of respect).
Petro Lwa ~ The Petro Lwa are considered to be more fierce, less forgiving than the Rada, and fast to act upon enemies. To difference of their counterpart, the Petro Lwa prefer you to wear bright and colorful clothing. Red being the dominant color for them and women usually wrap their head in a red scarf. Neatness is still a factor that shows respect to the Lwa, although they are not as uptight about it as Rada. If you make a promise to any Lwa, keep it because the Petro spirits will be unforgivingly harsh in comparison with the Rada. Remember, do not promise what you cannot give. The Petro are very engaging spirits, water is not a part of saluting Petro and they prefer strong drinks such as white rum.
Ghede Lwa ~ The Ghede are considered a family of Lwa, with Baron Semetye as their father and Maman Brijit as their mother. Ghede are outrageous and interesting spirits in Vodou. There are countless of them, the first male buried in the cemetary is a Baron and the first female a Brijit. The Ghede are usually served on the floor, not being next to Rada or Petro as they do not like “smell of the dead”. The Ghede are offered funerary flowers and they drink a rum in which 21 hot peppers have been soaked in. Ghede are sometimes seen as spirits that will help those having trouble conceiving, as they are linked with fertility.
If you’re ever in need of guidance go down to the crossroads at
midnight. Bring some tobacco, matches, a loaf of bread and a small bottle of whiskey.
Go to the crossroads draw this sigil in the dirt and state your problem. Papa Legba
He usually appears as an old man with a cane wearing a broad
brimmed hat and smoking a pipe. He doesn’t need the cane to walk but he carries
it with him anyway. A dog happily trots along beside him and then sits at his
Give Papa Legba the tobacco, matches, bread and whiskey but don’t
say a word. He’ll probably put them in the pockets of his coat but sometimes he’ll
give some of the bread to his dog and add some tobacco to his pipe. Don’t say
anything until he asks you what you want.
If he can help you with your problem he will. If he can’t he’ll
try to bargain. Don’t take the bargain. Smile. Nod your head and say “I hope
you enjoy the tobacco, whiskey and bread” and walk away. Don’t look back. Don’t
ever look back.
If you’re smart he’ll smile. If you fall for his trick,
temptation or gamble then he’ll smirk. So if you’re ever in need guidance, go
down to the crossroads at midnight but make sure you have your wits about you.
Elegba (African) God of roads and opportunity in West African mythology. Elegba is a trickster god, known for playing many practical jokes, often at inopportune times. Elegba is fluent in every spoken language and serves as an intermediary between the human and spiritual world. Elegba was forced into being this intermediary after stealing yams from the High God, Elegba left footprints of the High God’s sandals when he stole them, and argued the High God had stolen them himself. As punishment, Elegba was ordered to become his messenger. He is known for causing confusion and upsetting the cosmic order of things. In voodoo religion, Elegba is known as Papa Legba. He is mostly depicted at an old man holding a crutch, wearing a straw hat, and smoking a pipe.
All names/terms are depicted with the page in which they first appear in the American Gods Tenth Anniversary Edition of the author’s preferred text.