Ezili Freda Dahomey

Saints: Mater Dolorosa, Our Lady of Sorrows

Colours: White and pink; in some houses pink and blue or pink and gold

Beautiful, refined, coquettish, flirtatious, charming, and radiant, Ezili Freda is the epitome of traditional femininity wrapped up in a diamond-encrusted pink bow and smelling of the finest perfumes. At her best, she is a spirit of compassion, love, beauty, and joy, but at her worst she is spoiled, spiteful, and vengeful. However, she is one of the most beloved of lwa, and can be generous, a blessing and a joy to those who serve her, and is generally said to be a white or biracial woman. Her rivalry with her sister Ezili Dantor is legendary, and a vodouisant who marries one generally marries the other as well both for balance and to stave off jealousy.

One of the keys to understanding Freda is understanding the difference between the ideal and the actual. Freda sees the world for what it could be–the Edenic perfection, and is filled with sorrow at the the imperfect reality that exists. She is known for weeping at the end of her possessions in many a house, and this is frequently chalked up to never having enough to be satisfied; while this makes for a fine mundane explanation, truly understanding her means we know why she actually weeps–she mourns for the loss of an unspoiled perfection that perhaps never truly existed. The realistic ugliness of the world wounds her. And yet her compassion is boundless if you can move her heart, she will move the world for you in return. However her dark side is the stuff of nightmares, and will make you wish you’d never been born. When William Congreve wrote that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, one is forced to wonder if he had an awful experience with a manifestation of Metres Ezili Freda!

As a refined spirit, Freda always expects the best of everything–a small bottle of very expensive perfume is always preferable to a larger, cheaper one. A single, handmade chocolate is better received than a box of mass produced ones. Whatever area is given her must be kept scrupulously clean, free of dirt and dust, or anything with a less than pleasant odor.

In many houses, Freda has three husbands–Dambala, Agwe, and Ogou. There is variation here, as she is sometimes said not to have them as husbands at all, but as lovers; in this sense Freda reflects the experience of many biracial women in colonial Haiti, who would have been too light to be trusted by the enslaved and too dark to be a proper wife for a European. In this case she represents the gens de couleur, a sort of middle class bourgeoisie (fitting for a lwa who is so bougie). As such a woman, a human Freda would have relied on her looks and charms to get her through life and to prosper, always with the sad knowledge that that those looks will one day fade.

However, not all iterations of Freda are in this predicament; my own in wed to one spirit in particular, and I know of at least two other people whose Fredas have found their sole husbands.

We offer her fine foods and chocolates, sweet fruit, pink champagne (which she doesn’t drink, but for which she has uses), perfume, cosmetics, jewelry, Italian sodas, bananas fried in sugar, rice pudding, sweet coffee, and many other things.

Click here for the Freda deep dive.