Paiting depicting the ceremony of Bois Caïman.
The Kongo nation of Vodou is composed of two different types of lwa, kongo bo- lanme (seashore-kongo or Fran Kongo) and Kongo Savann (swamp Kongo or wild kongo). It is from these mysté we have the concept of the pret savann, the wild priest, the one that is thought under the lantern of Gran Bwa himself the mysteries of vodou. Kongo savann are healers and possess the knowledge of herbs. Kongo bo lanme is considered to be more versatile and more complex.
From the Kongo is born five other nations, which are the Kanga, the Kita (both the ti-kita or small/honest kita and Kita sèch, dry Kita), the Caplaou, the Moundong and the Boumba nations have strong Kongo roots.
The central mysté of this nation and rite areas follows according to Andre Louis in his book Voodoo in Haiti from 1843:
Bazou, which is also called Angola fran Kongo, Dyobolo, Grann Alouba, Grann Aloumandia, Kanga, Caplaou, Penmba, Laoka (Kongo Legba), Lenmba Zaou, Madanm Lawe, Maloulou (Kongo Petro), Man Inan, Manman Penmba (Kongo Petro), Marasa Kongo Bod – me, Met Penmba, Renn Kongo Fran, Sidò Penmba (Kongo Petro), Simbi Dlo, Sinigal (Senegal Kongo), Wa Lawn (Kongo Rada Lowango), Wa Wangol (Angola Kongo), Zaou Pemba (Kongo Petro), Zenga, Zila Moyo.
The following mysté are stretching from Kongo to the heart of Nago nation:
Achade Boko, Atoum Gidi, Bakousou, Bolicha, Bosou Achade, Grann Obatala, Jan-Pye Poungwe, Jeneral Jil Kanmil, Lenmba File Sab, Ogou Baba, Ogou Badagri, Ogou Bakoule, Ogou Balendyo, Ogou Balize, Ogou Batala, Ogou Chango, Ogou Feray, Ogou Kankan Nikan, Ogou Palama, Ogou Tonnè, Ogou Yansan, Olicha, Osan’y, Ti-Jan and Ti-Pyè.
What is not only interesting, but of great importance is that these listings of spiritual forces are rarely speaking just about specific lwa, they are also listing up unique spiritual phenomena, situations and concepts, hence revealing a distinct perception on the vodou world. In this listing, to take an example, if you knew sufficient about Ogou Ashade a listing like this will give you more keys and more contexts for understanding this mysté. We know Achade is a quality of Ogou, but we find here in the listing the reference to Boko and Bosou, all of these having in common the memory of Dahomean king Tegbosou (1740-1774) who is the founder of the Bosou rite, himself being understood to be a manifestation of Ogou carrying the quality of the bull (bosou) and the founder of the Bokor tradition whose patron we today call Ogou Bokó Ashade a principal Kongo mystery with his own rite. Hence more clarity is given to our understanding of a given mysté.
It is here in the Kongo nation we move very close to the burning pots of vodou to the honest fire that started the asogwe tradition and that led up to the birth of the Petro spirits. The Kongo nation is in reglement, practice and flavour very similar to what we find in the Haitian French Tomb tradition of Palo Mayombe encoded in smaller families in the Kongo nation with names like Penmba, Ganga, Poungwe and others – and interesting as this subject is we will leave that topic for another day.
In this article let us focus on the Ibo – Kongo – Petro triad of Vodou that are three matriarchs of Petro Vodou, namely Ibo Lelele, her older sister Grann Aloumandia and Erzulie Dantor. This triad was established in 1791 with the slave revolt at Bois Caïman.
Veve of Aloumandia.
When Mambo Cécile Fatiman was taken over by Erzulie Dantor and sacrificed with the cutlass a black pig whose blood was used to swear allegiance and loyalty of those attending that fateful August night in 1791 in the Bois Caïman when Boukman called upon all spirits petro through the assistance of Dan Petro. Dan Petro most likely being the hierophany of Boukman’s successor Don Pedro who since 1768 gained fame with his unusual repertoire of hot mysteries we today largely refer to as the petro nation. Hence we can say that it was in this moment that the petro nation was truly born, born from the mysterious womb of Aiyida Wedo, aided by Dan Petro, sworn to Erzulie Dantor. Hence Erzulie Dantor is the true ‘owner’ of all petro lwa and is why we also find her as taking the supreme position in more hot nations, societies and cults, like Zandor and Bizango.
In this moment on august 14th we also find the presence of two important lwa, the root of Ibo nation, Ibolele and the root of Kongo nation, Grann Aloumandia, the former presiding over the mysteries of transmigration of souls and Aloumandia being the messenger of lwa. Properly enough her feast day is on the 29th of September, Michaelmas, emphasizing her link with the angelic that further manifests in her initiation of Aiyizan Velekete as the first mambo due to Aiyizan’s prophetic gifts.
Grann Aloumandia has many forms, she is half mermaid, half vegetation, and she is the seashore finding itself in the design of greenwood. She herself represents what is as solid as stones and rocks and coals. As a Mother Kongo* finding her way into the Petro rites she is said to be the mother of Azaka Hazagou, Lemba and Limba, the latter two being viewed as hostile and cannibalistic mysteries, more like baka spirits that lives in stones and rocks. Azaka Hazagou is associated with perpetual fire, stones (Lemba and Limba) set on fire, hence we find here the hunger of Azaka transposed on the way fire can consume and heat up a stone, a coal or a piece of iron.
Grann Aloumandia is hunger and memory, she is the vastness of the ocean and the lustful spread of greenwood, the appetite of continuation between mambo and mysté, the bridge between the visible and invisible world. Her younger sister Ibolele rules over the funeral rites and the journey back to the abysmal waters whilst Erzulie Dantor rules over this realm where lwa falls into their horses and ride this world with protective fire and eerie clairvoyance, a knife in her hand, two in her heart and more 100 in her hair.
*It is also possible to see her as mother of all Ogous.