Saints: Highly variable; sometimes Andrew due to the cross (crossroads); the Just Judge; Christ carrying a cross

Colours: Black and Red

Kalfou (also Kafou) is a lwa with a fearsome reputation, that is neither wholly deserved nor undeserved. His name means ‘crossroads’, but this is a title; he has another name among initiates. Often called the brother of Legba (an appellation that requires more unpacking than I’m doing here), it is Kalfou who is associated with the crossroads–the point of intersection between the worlds. It is through Kalfou that movement between the worlds, and thus magic, occurs. A great deal of confusion has arisen regarding Kalfou and Legba, and the lines between them are blurred heavily outside of Haiti by those with only a superficial knowledge of the lwa.

Kalfou is said by some to be the Legba of the Petwo nation; this is not at all the case in my own lineage, and they are quite distinct. The sort of stories one hears about people making deals at the crossroads at midnight (ex blues legend Robert Johnson) are properly referencing Kalfou, not Legba. The awful portrayal of Legba in American Horror Story‘s third season might have been a bit more forgivable if it was Kalfou being portrayed. Emphasis on ‘might’.

Kalfou is also associated with the moon, although many today are increasingly giving a lunar connection to La Sirene due to the moon’s influence on the tides; however in Haiti the moon is Kalfou, not due to an inherently lunar nature, but because he is associated with the night. According to some, he rules over the lougawou (shape-changing spirits that hunt at night) and other nocturnal spirits.

Along with Gran Bwa and Bawon Kalfou is frequently numbered among the great magicians of the lwa; their patronage of various secret societies in Haiti is one of the reasons for this.

Kalfou personifies a necessary force in the universe–he is endings, as Legba is beginnings, he is night to Legba’s day, the moon to Legba’s sun. We see here again the balance of complementary opposites, personified in toto by the Marassa, and expressed in such pairings as Dambala and Ayida, or the watery Simbi Dlo and the fiery Simbi Makaya. However, Kalfou is not malicious as some have described him; gravity does what it does by its nature and doesn’t care that you didn’t mean to step off the roof. The devilish chaos sometimes mentioned in connection with him is simply an example of a higher order we may not readily understand; he is not Lovecraftian in character although some may be forgiven for thinking him so erroneously.

He can be a great bringer of luck, but can also abandon one in the crossroads; amorality is a key element of his character that needs to be remembered. Offerings to him, for those who have the training and license to serve him, include cigars; bourbon; gunpowder in rum; food either raw or burned; plantains; red beans with rice; black beans with rice. He is often saluted with two boujis, either one red and one black, spiralled together, or twisted into the form of a cross, or one red and one yellow, depending on the house.