Saints: Cosmas and Demian

Colours: Light blue and light pink, or pastel green and yellow (depending on house; as with all things they vary and other combinations are common)

Once Legba has been called and saluted at a fet, we turn to the Marassa, the Divine Twins. Twins hold a rarefied and sacred position in West African beliefs, and I should note that the definition of “twins” is significantly different than we are used to in English; it can include children born with extra fingers or toes, or otherwise marked as different from birth.

The Marassa are not lwa in the same sense as the others. They represent a fundamental cosmic structure inside which natural forces (the lwa) operate; if the lwa are actors, the Marassa are the stage. If we liken the lwa to the objects in the physical universe, the Marassa would be likened to spacetime. They represent the cosmic binary–paired opposites which are not antagonistic, but complementary. The concept is perhaps more familiar in the Taoist yin-yang symbol, or as Boaz and Jachin (the Pillars of the Temple of Solomon, also visible on the High Priestess tarot card, and in Masonic lodges). In the Rada rite there are two of them–twins, not triplets.

The birth of twins creates a rift in the cosmic order, and this rift is addressed either by the child that precedes them (the Dossa) or who follows them (the Dossou).

Since they represent cosmic nature of the most ancient degree, they are incredibly old–portraying them as children is not indicative of recent birth, but of primeval antiquity. However, since we represent them as children, and they manifest this way in possession, we give them things children would like such as candies; chocolate; soda; popcorn; chips; and sweets. No vegetables, mineral water or alcohol for them. A ceremony is offered for them periodically in which local children are celebrated and fed; if the children are happy and satisfied, the Marassa will be as well. We use a special sort of terra cotta double basin that looks like two bowls stuck together with matching jugs (plat marassa) to serve them. You may also see a woven tray called a laye carried about at a fet, containing a mix of food dedicated to them.

Offerings to the Marassa need to be equal in all ways–any parent of more than one child has experienced the agony of Johnny’s piece of cake being even a little larger than Sally’s; hell hath no fury like that of a child’s perceived injustices, and the Marassa are no different! It is absolutely worth the effort–and, indeed, is advisable–to count out individual candies and so on to ensure balance in these things. The Marassa can double all blessing, but equally they can double all misfortunes as well.

A special Legba, Legba Soley (Sun Legba) is present in our house and cares for the Marassa; we represent him with St Nicholas.