Contrary to popular belief, the practice of Vodou is not just about the sacrifice of living things and the ritualistic torture of someone through the use of dolls. Haitian Vodou is actually a religion based on the worship of ancient spirits and patron saints. Through this worship, they seek to gain wealth, prosperity, health, and many more things. In fact, many people believe that they can seek religious healing through the practice of Haitian Vodou. Namely, Ayizan is the loa of the marketplace and commerce, among other things.
Believers of Haitian Vodou may believe in one supreme creature or God, known as Bondye, but there are many spirits, or loa, who act as the intermediary between the believers and their God. These spirits serve specific purposes. For example, Papa Legba is the gatekeeper who opens the door for humans to contact other spirits, and Maman Brigitte is the death goddess.
Ayizan and Her Looks
Although there is not much known about Ayizan’s appearance, she is believed to resemble an old woman selling wares at marketplaces. Some believe that she wears a white dress whose pocket is filled with candies, which she hands out to children she encounters in the marketplace.
Ayizan is known to be the mother of priesthood. She is associated with priestly knowledge and mysteries and is the loa involved in the kanzo rites, along with her husband Loko. The kanzo rites are performed during the initiation of a new priest or priestess. She also looks after and oversees the public spaces where people go to worship their God. Along with that, she keeps a check on humankind, helping them balance morals with pleasures. Ayizan offers protective energy to keep her believers safe and out of trouble.
She and her husband also escort Papa Legba but are closer to humankind than he is. She can be called to answer questions about the spirit world but may not answer the call every time.
Festival of Mardi Grass
Ayizan is also the spirit of pleasure and playfulness. She inspires a festival known as Mardi Grass where people are encouraged to let loose and have fun before the Lent season begins, which is a period of serious religious observance before Easter. Mardi Grass is a fun, carnival celebration where people eat and dance merrily. Apparently, this festival is overseen by a lady and lord of misrule who make sure that people are not being uptight and are having fun. One activity in particular in this festival is inspired by Ayizan’s energies.
Here, people dance and toss grain in the air so that it falls down on everyone. This gets rid of evil and spreads happiness and goodness. Another activity practiced in Mardi Grass is that of fortune-telling. Ayizan is also associated with divination and palm-reading and can offer insight into a person’s future.
Ayizan is empowering to women. Women who want to gain power pray to Ayizan. Those who have been separated from their lovers can also remember Ayizan to achieve reconciliation. She is also prayed to for all things related to the market and commerce and governs the marketplace. However, Ayizan does not respond to minor wishes and prayers as she has more important things to look after. Although Ayizan is in general very benevolent and peaceful, she hates people who make use of small children and women. She may possess the soul of someone she dislikes but is not violent towards them. Instead, she looks to punish them in other ways.
Offerings to Ayizan
The symbol associated with Ayizan is of Palm Fronds. Her preferred colors are white, gold and yellow. To make offerings to her, one should use as much of these colors as possible. Among other things, yams, palms, bananas, and dirt gathered from outdoor marketplaces can be offered to her. She does not drink any alcohol.
Ayizan is a spirit associated with various things and hence holds an important place in Haitian Vodou. She is mostly known for looking after women and makes sure they get their due credits and rewards. She is one of the oldest spirits in Haitian Vodou and sometimes even paired with Papa Legba, although most believe that her partner is Loko, who serves almost the same purposes as she does. Ayizan is easy to please but once someone displeases her, they cannot pray to her anymore since she becomes more hostile towards them afterward.
This Article is part of Vodou Loa Series. Check out these other articles of Vodou Gods -
- Maman Brigitte: The Vodou Loa of Death
- Ayizan: The First Priestess of Haitian Vodou
- Baron Samedi: The Loa of Death
- Papa Legba: The Door Between Two Worlds
Your average college-going girl, living her life one day at a time.