Gran Bwa

Saints: Saint Sebastian

Colours: Green and Red

Gran Bwa, whose name means ‘big wood’ or ‘big tree’, is the master of botanical knowledge and plants, and knows the names and uses of every tree, root, leaf, bark, berry, and plant. According to some, he is Papa Loko in the Petwo rite; others say they walk together (mache ansanm). Either way, Gran Bwa is the perfect lwa to turn to when one needs to know more about this topic.

Saint Sebastian is the image often associated with him, not because of the arrow-pierced saint, but because of the tree behind him.

Gran Bwa is said to live deep in the forest, far away from people, and in my dreams he always brings me there when he wishes to speak to me. As a spirit of flora he might be seen in the foliate mask of English folk lore called The Green Man, or many remind fantasy aficionados of Treebeard from the Lord of the Rings. These would be fitting, although non-traditional, representations for him.

Gran Bwa plays an important role in the kanzo initiatory cycle of asson-lineage Vodou, and along with Kalfou and Baron is often counted among the master magicians of the Lwa (due to their role in Haitian secret societies).

Offerings to him include botanical materials (fruit, leaves, etc) and he is frequently not hungry, having told me that he eats slowly all day. Yet the offerings are appreciated, and I frequently give him local plants, he then instructing me in their uses.