“There was a girl who every day went to a spring to get water. She always met an unknown man there who courted her. For a long time she ignored him, but after so much insisting, she ends up giving in and marries the man. She was unaware, however, that the man was, in reality, a snake that lived at the bottom of the well. On the wedding night, the groom returns to his natural state and strangles the bride with his embrace”.
Legend taken from the article “ Voodoo myths in Haitian literature ” by Asselin Charles in the journal Comparative Literature Studies .
This is a story that could seem absolutely simple, but it has several layers. What I'm going to try to do is peel off some of these layers in order to make an “exegesis”. The terrain here is virgin and we will explore freely , but not too complexly yet .
The first thing you need to realize is that the story is about a girl. Automatically I think here of the feminine and that this is not an accident – it just so happens that here it seems to be a reference to the term Hounsi that probably derives from Vodounsi – Vodum's wife . We might think that the girl here is then nothing more than an initiate or someone who is on the path to initiation.
The fact of fetching water every day doesn't seem to be random either. Water is essential, as the Lwas manifest themselves in watery ways. Seeking water is like cultivating this water path that will lead to spirits.
The stranger who woos her could be in this understanding the connection with the spirit that is lacking a bridge, of attention, but which, of course, we ignore. The focus, even of those on the path, is usually in constant need of “harmonization”, of “tuning”.
When the initiate finally realizes and recognizes the connection, it is time for marriage and marriage is when the real nature of spirit and connection with oneself is revealed. The death and the fact that the wife was probably devoured seem to point to a rebirth where merging with the spirit is achieved.
Going further, it is clear that the fact that man is a serpent indicates a probable connection with Damballah , as does water, the typical element of this Lwa . Although we could also talk about Simbi . So who it is exactly? We can't know here and it doesn't matter that much, as the history accepts variations in interpretation.
Death, in this case, can be interpreted as a commitment that cannot be broken. There are, of course, other possible interpretations. However, this idea of death by the spirit seems to me to be very consistent with this notion of fidelity.
I'm doing this exercise to briefly demonstrate how we can play roleplaying based on what we know. This “gymnastics” may help to reveal new perspectives and thus we will be able to understand Haitian Vodou from another angle.