Saint: Frequently none; sometimes St Clare (if so, better with the palm rather than monstrance)

Colours: White and yellow

Just as her husband Loko is the primordial, first priest, so too is Ayizan the first priestess and mother of initiates. Frequently symbolized by a palm frond, it is Ayizan who purifies the djevo and makes it ready to receive the prospective initiates. When they rise from the djevo as newly made priests, their eyes are covered by a carefully shredded palm frond called a chire ayizan. The importance of the palm in her mysteries is the very reason a palm-bearing Saint Clare is sometimes used to represent her.

In a very real sense, the initiatory chamber we call the djevo is her womb, a place between the worlds and beyond time where candidates gestate in a spiritual sense and undergo various rites and ceremonies. While Loko is served by many priest/esses, Ayizan is the mother of all initiates, including non-priests, and can therefore be served by anyone whose head has been made in the djevo. She is also celebrated in a specific rite that involves a white draped chair and her specific, special food.

In parts of Haiti she is not limited to being the mother of the djevo and its initiates, but is also a lwa of commerce, although not in the sense of a market woman. Rather, she is the market itself. She frequently shows this side of her to myself in my dreams, appearing with a pocket from which she can pull anything, no matter how big. Like the marketplace, it’s all there if you look!