Saints: Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Colours: White, pastel or rainbow colours; white and sky blue

Rooted in West Africa as a male spirit, the feminine Haitian Ayida is the great rainbow serpent, rarefied, supernal, transcendent, and the companion of Dambala. To some they are spouses, to others, siblings, and to still others, halves of an undivided whole. Like the Marassa they are a sort of cosmic binary, showing us earth and sky, ascent and descent, material and spiritual. Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is an image many give to her, due to the presence of the scintillating colours of the rainbow evident in it.

Ayida, attired in the shining colours of the rainbow, is the celestial serpent, a spirit of peace, harmony, and promise. When the rains have stopped and the rainbow arcs across the sky, we see her. She comes less frequently into possession than does her companion Dambala, but she brings the same peace and the same need for purity and cleanliness–no smoke, alcohol, or fire near her. Ayida is, in a very real sense, the descent of spirit into matter.

Ayida’s rainbow serpent image is not only present in Vodou–but is also found among Australia’s Aboriginal people and the Aztec of classical Mexico.

Appearing as twin serpents, Dambala and Ayida form an artistic and mystical motif that is found across cultures. Not only are they frequently depicted coiling about the poto mitan in peristyles, but they are also familiar from the caduceus, carried by Hermes; Sumerian art; Celtic and Nordic art; and more. We can see them in the spiraling, double-helix of our DNA and note their serpentine movements in how waves curl and crash or how energy moves.

Where Ayida comes there is purity, there is peace, there is rest, and there is healing. Rare are we ever truly worthy of her appearance, for Ayida is grace.