March 17, 2023
As someone with an Irish heritage, Saint Patrick’s Day has a special meaning.
And, as someone with an interest in Haiti Saint Patrick takes on an entirely different aspect as the Voodoo community uses illustration of Saint Patrick chasing snakes to represent Damballa the God of War’
Damballa, also spelled Damballah, Dambala, Dambalah, among other variations (Haitian Creole: Danbala), is one of the most important of all loa, spirits in Haitian Voodoo and other African diaspora religious traditions such as Obeah. He is traditionally portrayed as a great white or black serpent, originating in the city of Wedo (Whydah or Ouidah) in modern-day Benin.[1] Damballa is said to be the Sky Father and the primordial creator of all life, or the first thing created by Gran Met. In those Vodou societies that view Damballa as the primordial creator, he created the cosmos by using his 7,000 coils to form the stars and the planets in the heavens and to shape the hills and valleys on earth. In others, being the first thing created by God, creation was undertaken through him. By shedding the serpent skin, Damballa created all the waters on the earth. As a serpent, he moves between land and water, generating life, and through the earth, uniting the land with the waters below.[2] Damballa is usually syncretized with either Saint Patrick or Moses.[3][4] He is counted among the Rada loa. 
Damballa is seen as benevolent and patient, wise and kind, yet detached and removed from the trials and tribulations of daily, human life. His very presence brings peace, and he represents a continuum which is “at once the ancient past and the assurance of the future.”[5] As a serpent, and due to his extreme age, he does not speak, but may whistle or make a soft, hissing sound.[2] 

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