Ezili Dantor

Saints: Black Madonnas, especially Our Lady of Czestochowa, Santa Barbara Africana, Mater Salvatoris

Colours: Vary depending on House, but blue and red are common, as are green and gold

Ezili Dantor is a fierce lwa, mother of the Petwo nation of spirits, and the mother of Haiti itself, which is one of the reasons the colours blue and red are given her, as they appear on the Haitian flag. As a hot spirit, she moves quickly and expects payment for her work just as quickly. She represents a powerful aspect of femininity–not the coquettish and flirtatious strength of her sister Freda, but the might and fury of the she-bear defending her cubs, and the bloodier side of justice. As with any mother, Dantor knows what is best for her children–what they need rather than what they want, and she’ll ensure they get it, be it loving support or a firm smack in the side of the head. She is the most firmly protective of all my own lwa, and has routinely thrown people out of my life when their presence becomes more pain than she thinks they’re worth. As a mother, the Madonna images with which she is associated are appropriate, each containing a child in her arms.

She is often portrayed with marks upon her cheek; we call them twa mak, meaning “three marks”, although two of them are common in depictions. While these marks are a memory of tribal scarification in Africa, there are many stories told about how Dantor got them, some involving her sister and others involving battle during Haiti’s fight for independence. Dantor’s esko (her crew of attendant spirits) include some of the fiercest of the female lwa, including Ezili Mapyang, Ezili Ge Wouj, Mambo Zila, and Ezili Ke Nwa. None of these are lwa one wishes to anger lightly!

The Haitian Revolution was sparked during a ceremony at Bwa Kayman in the north of the country; stories tell us that Dantor was the spirit who came and set it all into motion, unleashing the righteous fury of enslaved people onto colonial landowners.

Dantor is famous for not being able to speak, her tongue having been cut out, and for making instead a staccato “kekekeke” sound when she comes in possession. However there are versions of her from the north of the country who can and do speak, and when they do one would be wise to listen carefully, for she frequently dances with her cherished dagger or daggers in her hands.

Offerings to her frequently include “hotter” fruits such as mangos, oranges, pineapples; red wine; whiskey; pork (especially griyo); brightly coloured flowers; a dagger; Reve D’or perfume; and a chodye twa pye.

Click here for the Ezili Dantor deep dive.