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Veve for Damballa
Honored in
Haitian Vodou, Folk Catholicism

Damballa or Damballah is one of the most important of all the loa. Damballa is the Sky Father and the primordial creator of all life. The veve of Damballa comprises two serpents prominent among other emblems.


Alternative names include Damballa Weddo (son of Odan Wedo), Danbala, Danbala Wedo, Damballah Weddo, and Danbhala Weddo.[1] He is usually addressed respectfully as "Papa Damballa" or "Bon Dieu" (meaning 'good God' in French).

Damballa in lore[edit]

As Vodou is a monotheistic religion, Damballa is one of a pantheon of spirits called the Loas that are used by practitioners to communicate through to the divine. In lore, Damballa, as the serpent spirit and "The Great Master," creates the cosmos by using his 7,000 coils to form the stars and the planets in the heavens and to shape the hills and valleys on earth. By shedding the serpent skin, Damballa created all the waters on the earth. In the sun showing through mist, the rainbow Avida Wedo is born and becomes the wife of Damballah, with whom he sires six children.[2]


He is both a member of the Rada family and a root, or (Old French) racine Loa. In New Orleans and Haiti he is often depicted as a serpent and is closely associated with snakes. He is considered the father of all loa as all Spirits are aspects of him. His wife/companion Ayida Weddo, the rainbow serpent (Damballa is also married to Erzulie Freda), is likewise a Loa of creation.

Symbols and offerings[edit]

Common altar symbols used to represent the Damballa include white cloth, owls, bones, ivory, cotton, and chameleons. As a loa of the Rada nation he is associated with the color white and white is his particular color. His day of the week is Thursday.

Some of his ritual songs indicate that he "carries the ancestors"[1] on his back to Guinea (spiritual home of the Loa, and the afterlife). Damballa's offerings are very simple and he prefers an egg on a mound of flour, but loves everything white. Toni Costonie relates that Priestess Miriam Chamani recommends cold water, milk, coconut, and coconut milk, honey, shea butter, rice, mild cigars, bread, and cookies. Some houses also serve him with anisette and corn syrup while kola nuts are also acceptable.[3] Traditionally, it is taboo to give Damballah tobacco or alcohol in any form.

Function and presentation[edit]

Damballa rules the mind, intellect, and cosmic equilibrium. Damballa is the patron protector of the handicapped, deformed, crippled, and albino. When he presents himself in possession, he does not talk, but makes hissing and whistling noises[1] like a snake in Rada rite. But in Haitian Petro loa he is known as "Dumballah Nan Flambo," and it is believed he can be heard "speaking through a flame".

Damballa is syncretised with the Catholic St. Patrick who drove snakes out of Ireland, Christ the Redeemer, Our Lady of Mercy, and, sometimes, with Moses whose staff turned into a serpent.[4]

The enslaved Fon and Ewe that were brought over to the New World syncretized Catholic Saints with the Loas in order to continue their practice of their traditional religion despite being forbidden to do so by their Catholic masters.[5]

Cultural references[edit]

The novel "Voodoo Dreams-- a novel of Marie Laveau" by Jewell Parker Rhodes follows the story of the historical figure Marie who is often possessed by Damballah allowing her to do miraculous feats. This book gives more insight into the original beliefs about Damballah and Vodun in the Americas and abroad.

Damballah is worshipped by voodoo practitioners in the Southern Gothic horror stories "Black Canaan" and "Pigeons from Hell" by Robert E. Howard. Damballa is also The Deity referred to in the Horror/dark comedy film series Child's play, During Charles Lee Ray's Hoodoo incantation he calls on Damballa to give him the power of immortality.

The "Heart of Damballa", an amulet, is also referenced in the movies Child's Play and Bride of Chucky.

The musician Exuma recorded a song "Dambala" for the album Exuma I in 1970. This song has also been recorded by Nina Simone.

He is also mentioned in the movie Dr. Terror's House of Horrors.

A song with the same name was performed in the first ever famous Greek rock opera Daimones (demons) by Nikos Karvelas and starring Anna Vissi, which played for two seasons in 1991. In 2013, after 22 years, the play is on stage now and is making records in selling 1,000 tickets a day.

In the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die" a witch doctor character, who handles snakes during the villain's voodoo rituals, is named Damballa.

Erzulie, Papa Legba, Baron Samedi, and Damballa, all appear in the WildCats original comic series, assisting Voodoo against Mait' Carrefour.

In the Child's Play movie series, Charles Lee Ray can be heard calling to Damballa in his attempts to put his soul into first the doll, then his host of choice for the movie in question. This can be heard in all, or at least, most of the series.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c [1] About.com article Damballah-Wedo Vodou Lwa and His Veve
  2. ^ Perrault, Alix. "Vodou and the Loas". The Vodou Element. 
  3. ^ Costonie, Toni., biography Priestess Miriam and the Voodoo Spiritual Temple InstantPublisher.com, 2004
  4. ^ Old Testament, Book of Exodus 4:1-17
  5. ^ Perrault, Alix. "Vodou and the Loas". The Vodou Element.