The Vodou Twins
The twins have fundamental importance among many African societies and, for example, were venerated in Dahomey. Somehow this importance was transmitted to Haitian Vodou through the Marasa. In this short article, I would like to discuss the concept of Marasa at Vodou and try to highlight its importance.
In his 2013 article, Pressley-Sanon quotes the historian Edna Bay who reveals that in Dahomet, twins and pairs were extremely relevant as they represented the totality achieved by complementarity. One of the examples used by Bay is the complementarity between the visible and invisible worlds. I have already discussed here a few times how I consider Vodou to be especially concerned with this transit between the visible and the invisible - in a way, it would not be entirely wrong to bet that Vodou also seeks this totality that derives from the sum of the complementary .
Pressley-Sanon draws attention to the fact that after the twins ( Marasa ) it is important that a third element comes - a child after the twins. In this case, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we may be talking about triplets ( Marasa twa ). That is, the two twins are born and then a third element comes. It is necessary to consider that the third element is fundamental, since it is the birth of complementarity: that is, it is a representation of creation. Here, the allegories with the creation of life itself, in which two are added to generate a third, are evident.
This formula of one plus one generating three is what expresses the concept of the Marasa . Thus, we clearly see that they represent expansion and growth. As I have already written, they also represent creation. Therefore, the Marasa have a special place among the Lwas . The Marasa are considered very powerful and are served right after Papa Legba (sometimes right after also Papa Loko and Ayizan). Some practitioners consider that the Marasa were created before Legba, but as he opens the gates - you must serve him first.
To reinforce the importance of the Marasa, it is worth quoting Mambo Vye Zo Komande LaMenfo, who says that they are so powerful and divine that no horse could bear being possessed by them. Therefore, she claims that the Marasa never possess anyone. Maya Deren, on the other hand, affirms that they can indeed possess horses - and that when they do, they exhibit childish behavior. In addition, Mambo Vye Zo Komande LaMenfo also claims that they are so special that they are part of the fundamental triad of Vodou : “ Lwas , Ancestors and Marasa ”. In other words, the importance of the Marasa is so great that they are placed in a separate category for this Mambo .
Although they are obviously not children, they manifest themselves as such. Therefore, they can be served with children's elements - such as toys . Maya Deren says that the food offered to the Marasa can only be shared with children. Anyway, the important thing when we are dealing with them is to never forget to serve everything in double. After all, we are talking about twins. Also, it is especially recommended to serve the Marasa to those who have twins in the family, as it is understood that the terrestrial twins are representations of them.
I wrote above that Vodou seems to follow the idea of complementarity generating totality. That is, the Marasa formula. Following what Maya Deren wrote, we have that the Marasa seem to represent the half mortal and half immortal parts of human nature. The sum of this would, of course, be fullness. It is this fullness that we can understand that the Vodou practitioner seeks when navigating the visible world making its connections with the invisible. Thus, it is clear that the Marasa teach us about the very nature of the human journey and that they should be the subject of frequent meditations.
Pressley- Sanon , T. (2013). One Plus One Equals Three: Marasa Consciousness, the Lwa , and Three Stories. Research in African Literatures , 44 (3), 118-137. doi : 10.2979 / reseaphrilite.44.3.118
Mambo Vye Zo Komande LaMenfo . Serving the Spirits.
Maya Deren . Divine Horsemen: the living Gods of Haiti.