Nightcat is a practicing witch who loves to write about Wicca and many of the Gods and Goddesses she’s had the pleasure to encounter.
Meet the Serpent Father
Wise, benevolent, loving. Dambala is all these things. Father of the human race in tradtitional Vodoun, he carries the World Egg in his massive jaws. Described in countless ways, a pure white boa, a dark brown boa, even a rainbow colored serpent. His perfect mate is Aida Wedo. Many say these two lovers are the halves of a complete whole, that the wise and loving Dambala has always been both male and female.
As you approach the great tree with your offerings, movement comes from somewhere above. Seeing nothing you set a single white egg in a mound of flour. Bowing your head, you silently ask Dambala to accept your gifts. Warm air caresses your face and you look up.
The great serpent has heard your prayer and come down to accept your gift. His massive white head is inches from yours. He is the most beautiful of all serpents, and his crystal blue eyes radiate only love. His perfumed breath passes over you. Without words he lets you know you have his blessings.
Suddenly sleepy, you relax back into the tree and he is instantly around you. Protective, warm. His loving embrace is not that of a predatory boa, but that of a loving father greeting and nurturing his child. Just as you are being lulled to sleep you see Aida Wedo, beautiful female, lovely rainbow lwa come to complete the encircling warmth.
All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. If you are the original owner of any material used herein and would like credit and a link please contact me. PS Doesn't Papa look cute cuddled around his World Egg?
These and any other objects shown are used with his most gracious permission and he is proud to show off his favorites.
Dambala, giver of wealth holds his treasure. A metaphor, kittens.
Dambala Wedo comes from Africa, where in the oldest legends, he is both father and mother of the human race. He carries the earth in his massive coils, protecting it as a snake protects her precious clutch.
The warmth from his body heats the earth itself, and his sheltering benevolence brings the rains to fertilize the earth. There his form may be a massive regular boa, brown boa, or very rarely the rainbow serpent. Some say that his scales are clear or like crystal, or such dazzling white that he reflects rainbows back.
He is seen as absolute purity, but still has healthy sexuality so he may fertilize the earth. There is no trace of a mate in any African stories of him. Though some link him there to Erzulie Freda in her African form, as, you guessed it, a serpent goddess. There is also one legend of the snake who fell in love with a woman. He seemed to be a god or divine sort of being...but that is for later.
It isn't until his arrival in Haiti that we seen the lovely Aida come into her own. There she is seen as the lovely rainbow serpent, arching above the earth. When Dambala arrived in Haiti, he saw her and fell in love. As he was shy and mild in his approach she fell in love with him as well.
To see the double rainbow is to see both our our parents stretched above the earth. To see a rainbow above a waterfall is to witness the sacred sexual dance that ensures fertility for the earth and all her inhabitants.
SALUTATION PAPA DAMBALLAH
Not her traditional icon, but it works for me.
She is not, so far as anyone knows, ever served alone. For one thing she is extremely shy. Despite her wondrous beauty and enchanting manners, she simply won't be approached without her beloved Dambala nearby.
She likes sweet things, also in white like her husband. Some say she eats what he brings or leaves for her, or you can make a double offering of his foods. You will most often have to leave these on your altar or in nature as she is very shy until she knows you.
Some see her as a beautiful serpent, either pure white, or rainbow, as she is the rainbow. Mine most often appears as a fiery red serpent, perhaps to assure herself she is brave enough to approach. She's isn't a coward, she just does not trust people for whatever reason.
But her scales glitter like her rainbow, and she brings kindness and prosperity in her wake. Please remember her on your Dambala altar. Even if you feel she is Dambala's female half, she will reward you in time with her precious love.
I'm including her here to honor the tradition of never approaching her without her loving husband nearby. She can appear as an elderly woman of any race, a serpent, or anything else she chooses.
I've noticed she likes music any Egyptian Goddess would adore. Rattles, sistrums, anything sweet and gentle as befits her nature. Some cool water as in possession she likes to take to water or the trees. You could scent the water, but as she is so pure I don't. Yes, a plain bottle of water can do in a pinch.
PS Some people feel she is the female half of the perfectly balanced Dambalah, so serving either way is fine by me.
Given his purity, Dambala is given only things in pure white. His altar cloths may be anything, including paper if it is all you have, but in pure white and kept clean. A white candle, a bowl, bottle or other container of fresh water.
You may use snakes statues, the saints that represent him such as Saint Patrick, a spirit bottle, or whatever calls to you. An egg to represent the world egg if you like. He really doesn't require much in way of an altar. As long as it is kept clean and you remember to visit him, he will be happy.
You might want to put it in a quiet place as like all serpents he isn't happy in constant activity. Of course since he is a spirit and not truly a snake or even a man, he will be happy with your best efforts. Mine is greatly pleased with where he is.
He has white lace on the altar, snakes statues, gifts of jewelry, and a shed skin. Aida's statues and gifts are there too, along with prettys they both like. He likes the scent of roses, and some say, Florida Water.
Note: Some folks do offer mild cigars or alcohol, but this may be from seeing him as Obatala. My Dambala at least shows no interest in smoking, though he will happily look into tobacco leaves. If you are offering them take the time to find pure tobacco, no additives.
You may use his veve, or picture symbol instead of a statue. My Dambalah would like you to know he has a fondness for St. Patrick's Day swag. So long as it has some shamrocks, or green and white in it. Shamrocks are fertile and green this time of year and would be so lovely to be in for him.
He likes white candles, though you may try a serpent-shaped one if you can find it.
Sacred Songs and Books
Dambala Wedo is also called Damballah Weddo, Danbala, Danh, and some claim his is Obatala. His is the creator of the human race, male and female in perfect harmony.
He is a racine, or root lwa. Meaning an original lwa that goes back to even before the creation of the earth. He is both rada (cool) and petro (hot).
Dambala's day is Thursday. Saints used for him include St. Patrick and Moses.
Like Obatala his is seen as a protector of children, the infirm and any others needing his protection.
His favorite offerings are all white. White flour, a pure white egg, milk, salt. But anything white including non-alcoholic daquri mix (he likes sweet) is taken.
Each Dambala has his like and dislikes. Listen to yours. Mine loves tea eggs, tea, rice, and omlettes.
Never offer alcohol or cigars. He is so pure he will refuse to come if you are smoking or drinking.
Dambala loves women and is one of the lwa who often marries them. Seen as the richest and mightiest of lwas he is a favored husband.
Dambala cools hotter lwa like Ogu, making them safe to deal with.
He is an opener of the way. While Legba opens gates, and Ogu makes roads, Dambala Wedo makes them smooth and easy to travel.
He removes obstacles.
His colors include white, green, and green and white. Some say rainbows (due to his eternal love for Aida) or boa brown. Gold is also favored as a sign of his riches. His hottest paths enjoy red and silver.
Although most often cool in his hottest aspects his is a warrior, ready to fight for his children and those he loves. Then he is more like a cobra or other snake like a rattler. Though you must remember snakes only attack when provoked or cornered.
When human he is seen as a masculine African or African American elder clothed in pure white. He is said to have amazing blue eyes in this form.
You should never swear, spit, or do any crude behavior in front of him.
Dambala dislikes the sight of blood. He will refuse to show up if it is offered or spilt in his presence.
He is sometimes said to be winged, so he can look a lot like a dragon. Remember the oldest dragon legends are winged serpents.
Note: Damballah never speaks during a possession. Being a snake he makes sounds some people can understand and translate. He can't get up and walk in possession either. But he can communicate just fine if he is visiting you in dreams or waking hours.
Why is he shown as St. Patrick?
Both share tributes and the slaves had no choice but to use a stand in for Dambala's true images. Still he is St. Patrick in a way. Elderly, and often seen walking with a staff.
He is powerful and respected, Patrick is often seen as a bishop. St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, and Dambala is seen as a serpent and father of snakes. He doesn't however, cure snake bites so be careful.
Both have the colors of green and white, and St. Patrick often has abundant green hills behind him. Dambala brings us the rain to sweeten these hills.
To some they share the feast day of St. Patrick's Day and the St. Patrick's Cathedral is seen by some as sacred to Dambala Wedo.
St. Patrick Items
Remember in a way he IS St. Patrick. These items can be used to honor the saint or Dambala himself.
Dambala's Tea Eggs
These eggs are fantastic and the original recipe goes back hundreds of years in China. Adapted from A Kitchen Witch's Cookbook by Patricia Telesco to suit Dambala's sense of taste and cleanliness. White eggs are a traditional offering to Dambala, but I find mine adores these and the cup of tea to go with.
8 white eggs
1 and 1/2 tbs of salt
3 tbs colony sauce
1 tbs pepper
4 tbs prepared tea
2/3 tsp of ground cloves
1 tbs of sugar (for tea)
Start with cool clear water, gently insert pierced eggs. Bring to a boil, boil twelve minutes. Remove from heat, strain. When cool enough to touch, crack shells with a spoon. You can speed things up by cracking them with a soup spoon while hot. The more cracks the more flavor the eggs take on.
Clean your pot. You will have some type of white residue, clean it out. Even if my Dambala said rather wistfully it reminded him of snakeskin that was shed. He thinks the eggs boiling look like a clutch of serpent eggs too, mind you. While you clean you can heat water for a cup of tea. I use Earl Grey for the lovely taste. Brew five or six minutes, strain bag. Take out four tablespoons of tea, set aside. Now present the remainder of the tea with that tablespoon of sugar.
It keeps Dambala happy while you finish. OK, pot clean? Put in cool clear water. Add the four tablespoons of tea you saved, colony sauce, salt, pepper, and cloves. If you can't find colony sauce, the original book called for soy sauce.
Bring to a boil, boil for thirty minutes. Use this time to natter at Dambala, talk to him for a while. When the time is up, strain and allow to cool. Do not rinse! You will lose all the flavor. When cool enough to eat, yet still warm, present to Dambala, along with the tea if you like, or milk works too.
You will have to listen to him. I like to also put two under his tree on some flour, but sometimes he insists I eat with him instead as he has blessed the food. I always invite Aida to feast as well. Most eggs get the crackled appearance you see, but if the shell slips off they go a lovely deep brown color. They also result in snaky adoration and loving hugs, so be prepared.
A Kitchen Witch's Cookbook
Find the original tea egg recipe and hundreds more. A wonderful book for the festivals of the year and everyday kitchen witchery as well. OK now that you know about the book maybe Papa will stop hugging me in excited happiness.
Considered to be the father of all humanity, he also has a family of lwa which he tends too, including several wives.
Baron Samedi- If Dambala is the life force or gives life, he is balanced by Baron Samedi who must guide us into the next one. Without the Baron's balance, all life would become overabundant, starve, but never die. Sickness would destroy health, but again, no one would be set free of suffering. The Baron clears the way for new life. He is also in some cases, a healer.
Aida Wedo- His most favored wife and perfect mate. She is sweet and compliant, yielding to her gentle husband and giving whatever he asks. Some say she is his female aspect or missing half. Wise beyond words, she is mother to the human race.
Erzulie Freda- Wife to Dambala and the lwa of love and human inspiration. She has the duty to see that the human race and all living things multiply. Very loving toward men, reminding them to join her in the dance of life. She also loves women seeing us as her sisters or daughters, no matter what you've heard otherwise. Sweet, most often reminds me of my gentle Bastet. The veve shows the union of the two lwa.
Ogun Balendjo- Although he is gentle enough compared to other Oguns, Dambala arrived part and parcel with mine. As an elder and leader of all Oguns, he shares traits with Dambala such as coolness, being seen as elderly, and patience.
A Dambala legend?
His spirit box. Not all people use them, but he likes his.
I can't remember the original African tribe the story comes from. Interestingly, the same story appears the world over. In Native American legends the snake lover can shed his skin, and in Caracas a local saint or Goddess was said to have a snake fall in love with her.
Once there was a beautiful maiden. She worked hard, took care of her lazy parents' goats and fields. She swept the house, did all the cooking. It was a shame, people said, that such a beautiful young lady had no suitors. But her parents were as greedy as they were cruel, and they demanded far too high a bride price for her. The idea of giving gifts to the groom's family filled them with horror.
As the maiden was filling her water jugs by the river, she wept. Her tears and sadness attracted the attention of the giant serpent who lived in the river. He was sad and lonely too, for he longed for a wife to care for him. Seeing the young lady's beauty, he feel deeply in love. Being able to see into her heart, he knew he had found his bride.
Rising to the surface of the water, he beheld the maiden with joy. She too was overjoyed, for the serpent looked loving and kind. He laid gifts of gold and pearls at her feet, and told her of his love. He begged her then to come marry him.
The girl wanted to return and ask her parents' permission, but the wise snake begged her not to. In his gentlest voice he said: "Dearest wife, if you return home they will only beat you again and steal your gifts. I would never see my beloved again and would surely die."
So she went with her beautiful bridegroom to the bottom of the river. To do this she trustingly entered his massive jaws so he could safely carry her through the waters. Even so gently he took her into his mouth. As he traveled, he managed to sing to her, soothing his new bride. Arriving at his underwater kingdom he rose up onto the dry rock of the countless caves his kingdom consisted of. There he ever-so-tenderly deposited his new bride.
All around her his serpent subjects rejoiced because the king was happy at last. There was music, chanting, singing and dancing. A feast was brought out and all the riches of the kingdom set before her. Being humble and sweet, the fair maiden wanted only to sit at her husband's side during the wedding feast. This delighted the subjects even more. They didn't mind a bit that she was human. For the young maiden would lovingly hold all her subjects and never refused to help them. So they loved her just as the king did.
In due time, the happy couple brought forth children. For a while all was bliss, but as children will, they started to ask why all the subjects looked different from them. Why didn't they look like dad? Why didn't she? So with a heavy heart the queen asked the king if she could return to her village.
The king wept for he has foresaw her leaving. "Your parents will refuse your return to me, and I will die without you my sweet queen. But if you truly want to go, so be it. Take treasures with you as well." The king saw her off, but as soon as the queen left his sacred river he collapsed in despair.
A Serpent King And His Queen
All went as the king had foretold. Her greedy parents welcomed the young queen and children only because of the gold and jewels she brought. They figured if they kept her, the king would have to give them more gifts. They would never let her go.
The girl not only refused, she pined for her husband, for he was the sweetest and gentlest of spouses. She soon sickened as did the children. Her parents didn't heed the warnings of the other villagers to set her free. Sensing danger from this cruelty, all the villagers left, sad at being unable to cause their hard hearts to soften. The girl would only cry "My beloved husband, please let me see him."
The king meanwhile, could no longer stand being apart from his bride. So the great serpent arose from the river and went to the parents' hut. Tears blurred his vision and he could barely move for he had not eaten and barely slept since he lost his beloved bride and children.
Three times he came and begged for his wife to be returned to him. Three times he was refused. Then the great serpent did something he had never done before, he got angry. No, he got enraged. He burst down the side of the hut, and safely engulfed his wife and children in his massive jaws.
Then he thundered down into his river, the mighty wake destroying the village, and the wicked parents with it. Ever after, even to this day the king and his queen lived in peace at the bottom of the river.
Videos About Damballah
Videos about him. Some are traditional chants, some are modern songs that call on him. Also a modern practitioner speaks about him. Keep in mind that in Vodoun all beliefs are valid.
- Damballa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Damballa From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Damballah-Wedo Veve - Voudoun Symbols - Voodoo Symbols
Damballah-Wedo is depicted as a serpent or snake. His veves reflect this aspect of him. When he possesses a human, he does not speak but instead only hisses and whistles.
Thoughs on the lwa
- Damballah article on Spellmaker.com
Great article and advice.
Post them here please.
Damballah Thoughts or experiences?
Nightcat (author) on May 21, 2014:
@elliott-vickory: That sounds like him, elliott-vickory. He can do amazing things in critical situations. Thanks for sharing your miracle!
elliott-vickory on May 21, 2014:
I saw him when I was put out for surgery. I had been stabbed by a mugger while walking to a party. Luckily, I called friends who came for me, and brought cops and EMT's. While still in the ambulance, I heard them talk about how badly injured I was. And I prayed. For something, somewhere, to just let me wake up from the operation. When I was on the table and my eyes finally closed, I saw nothing but radiant white. Then a figure. He was transparent, but formed as man, with cloud white eyes. He came closer and without saying a word, placed his palm on my forehead. And I woke up in my recovery room.
Nightcat (author) on January 26, 2013:
@VspaBotanicals: Thank you, VspaBotanicals. I think it is one of the most touching love stories I've ever heard. Thanks for the visit, hugs! :)
VspaBotanicals on January 26, 2013:
Truly amazing story.
anonymous on October 05, 2012:
What a beautiful story, if only all could be loved this way, the world would be much better
Nightcat (author) on May 30, 2012:
Thank you so much for the beautiful praises jean Chatelain. Between him and Ogu Balndjo cancer will one day be a dim meomory. Dambala is such a wise and loving father he will surely provide for all our needs.
anonymous on May 30, 2012:
Damballah wedo is the wise serpent who lives in all us.Please help us find the treatment for all ills even cancer and aids.he has the power to transform us all and cure all ills.God is a power and life is a response.May Saint Patrick and Immaculate Conception bless us all.Peace on earth!