Possession, Ecstasy, and Law in Ewe Voodoo, 1-2








Gorovodu families






Northern slaves



Who possesseth whom?



Personhood in Afa





p. 1 – grammatical noun-plural is formed in Ewe by suffixed /-wo/ {cf. Kemian (antient Aiguptian) grammatical noun-plural formed by suffixed /-w/}
















kola-nut (/goro/ in Hausa)









"ancestral reincarnation soul"






"divinized spirit of a specific ... northern slave"



"assistant priest ... charged with ... waking up the gorovodus in the morning"



Afa sign (whereof there are 256)






"person who takes care of trosiwo ... spirit hosts in trance ... clothing them with the appropriate costumes"



priest / priestess (a Twi word used by the As^anti)



linguist, interpretor



offering, sacrifice

p. 21 the Yewe pantheon






"ribald female impersonator of males"

Vodun Da

snake rainbow

Aholu / Sakpata


Egu (= Yoruba Ogun)


Anana / Nana Bluku


p. 25 praeternatural voice; conversation with the wind

"Even objects and animals and the vast elements of the universe have their conversing sounds that Ewe called "voices" (gbewo)."

"If there is no one to hear us speaking ..., then we must enter into conversation with the wind. ... In Eweland, entering into conversation with the wind is a way to snatch an audience with the gods."

p. 48 deities






[Yoruba] S^ano


Aholu / Sakpata

[Fon & Nago] Tsampana

Sacred Forest

Togbui Nyigble

{[Yoruba] Oko}

pp. 250-251, n. 2:2 worshipped by Baule in northern Gold Coast : aequivalents to Gorovodu deities

pp. 250-1

"Nana Tongo (Nana Wango?) near Zuarungu"

p. 251

"Senya Kupo (Sunia Compo?) at Senyon, near Bole"

pp. 43, 52 Gorovodu offices; Gorovodu shrine

p. 43

"A Gorovodu worshipper (gorovoduvi or troduvi) who never goes into trance has the option of becoming a guide (senterua), a caretaker of the spirit hosts while they are in trance. One may also become

a song leader (ehadzito),

a drummer (ehufofoto, nearly always a man),

a praying priest (kpedziga), or

a caretaker (kpomega) of the shrine and Vodu yard."


"Some of the material vodus are placed in separate grottoes in one of the walls; others are placed on low ... mounds on the floor. Costumes for spirit hosts in trance hang on other walls, as do Hausa drums (adodo) and brekete drums".

p. 52

"only a bona fide bosomfo, who had gone to the Sacred Bush for expensive ceremonies, could kill a bull; the soul of the bull might return to bother a sacrificer who had not taken full ritual precaution."

pp. 50, 55, 189 religious laughter

p. 50

"Ceremonies sometimes turn burlesque and parodic. Gods make fun of their worshipers and of themselves; they dance and mimic, shout and laugh, with hands on hips, mouth open to the sky. Adepts and onlookers alternately break into laughter at the comedy and become awestruck by the uncanny power unleashed during these performances."

p. 55

"Trosis in trance ... shrieking, squawking, yelping, crying out, laughing harshly and grotesquely, smiling seductively."

p. 189

"The gape of each individual’s stomach hole is matched by the gape of the open mouth, ... praying, and laughing. The gape of the open mouth during trance is the vector of god’s voices, sometimes howling, shrieking, groaning, laughing mightily." ["It is significant to note that Legba statues and other anthropomorphic god-objects often have mouths created as gaping holes, wide open as though gasping in wonder or as though the source of an unearthly sound." (p. 174)]

pp. 51, 63, 252 kola nut in Goro-vodu

p. 51

"kola nuts (goro), both red and light green, the characteristic food of the gorovodus."

p. 63

"Kunde’s and Ablewa’s preferred food is kola nut, or goro. All prayers are accompanied by gifts of kola or the eating of kola nut, which has already been offered to the vodus (placed upon the god-objects) and so has already been eaten by them and turned into gorovodu. {Consecrating food to be eaten as eucharist by offering it as prasada (food ‘set before’ an idol) is a practice in Astika temple-worship; the absorbing of blessings from a guru, by eating left-over foods tasted by that guru, is also.} Upon eating such kola the adept has eaten tro itself."

p. 252, n. 2:11

"The kola nut employed in Gorovodu ritual in Togo may come from the Akposso region (Togo) or the Volta region (Ghana)."

p. 60 /tro/ = /vodun/

"tro appears to be used more often among western Ewe, and

vodu is heard more often among eastern Ewe, Adja, Oatchi, and Guin."

pp. 63, 111, 256


"Gorovodu communities ... also have Togbui Kadzanka and Allah, a couple of grandfather-grandmother gods (Allah being the grandmother) who are said to come from ... Islamic peoples. ...

Kadzanka is more exacting and unforgiving than Kunde."

p. 256, n. 4:11 "It is possible that the name Allah in Gorovodu actually comes from Igbo country in Nigeria, where the earth god is called Ala."


[entry into state of trance-possession] "If it is Kunde or Kadzanka you will eventually stand up on the bench and stretch out your left hand to greet people. ... If it is one of the other vodus, you will reach forward with your right hand." ["Allah and Ablewa greet with the right hand, as do Sunia Compo, Nana Wango ... ." (p. 252, n. 2:12)]


"Gorovodu ... deities include "the Muslim God, Allah," considered female and married to Togbui Kadzanka, a fierce male spirit. ... these two gorovodus had been found in Bolgatanga in the north of Ghana."

pp. 60, 62-68, 71-72 Gorovodu spirit-possession; deities

p. 60

"When the vodu comes upon someone [in trance], the person is transformed into a lion, a dog, a horse. ... The trosi become the tro itself; then s/he turns back into a woman or a man. With the tro, a man can become a woman; a woman can become a man, a domestic or wild animal."

p. 62



Kunde’s wife Ablewa


is __

"both a lion – dzanta – and a rider of lions"

"a panther – ekpo"; "a seller of kola nut"


eateth __


white sheep


weareth __

animal skins



acteth like unto __

"a very old man who can hardly walk"

"a very old woman"

p. 63

"Kunde’s and Ablewa’s preferred food is the kola nut, or goro."

p. 64

"A Suniasi [spirit host of Sunia] wears blue or green (the only Gorovodu host who wears these colors). ... We never know whether this one is a boy or a girl. S/he eats pigeons roasted whole ... . ...

The Banguele pantheon, brothers and sisters of Sunia Compo, begins with Sacra Bode, the eldest, who is often called a horse."


Sunia Compo, of "ambiguous gender", "the youngest of Kunde’s and Ablewa’s children, ... able to pass unnoticed, capable of changing colors or becoming invisible to enemies." "Sunia Compo is the chameleon, queen or king of flies, changer of colors. A Suniasi [spirit host of Sunia] wears blue or green {cf. "green rainbow" in the Apokalupsis of Ioannes} (the only Gorovodu who wears these colors). Sunia is Ablewa’s favorite. ... We never know if this one is a boy or a girl. S/he eats pigeons roasted whole; s/he is a solitary eater who cannot tolerate eating in the presence of others."


"Sacra Bode, the eldest, ... the first-born of Kunde and Ablewa, ... is the big brother ... . [A Sacra-si may] wear ... white and red mixed" while possessed.


"Sacra’s younger brother, Banguele {Bangele} ... gives his name to the collectivity of hot gorovodus". Bangele "is a hunter, soldier, and policeman. He is a wearer of guns and knives, a weapons master. ...

p. 65

He [his host] often wears red, black, and white in broad stripes. ... [Bangele] is ... an owl (azehevi; literally, witch bird)." The Bangele-si "moves flamboyantly, with arm gestures that resemble the wide wing movements of the vulture. {cf. aequivocation between tecolotl ‘owl’ and cozcaquauhtli ‘vulture’ of the Aztec day-sign} She dances with knives ... . [Bangele] is the real amedzagle – crazy person. He carries an apia [a trident with little balls made of ... sanka wood ... distributed along the handle ...]. This apia is what Banguele uses to catch people ... . The [Bangele] fetish is made of ... owl claws ... and the wings of the Kpalime vulture (so that this tro of the Sacred Bush may fly high and ... never be eaten). He does the same work as Egu, the iron god (Ogun in Yorubaland ...). ... The Banguele fetish includes ... a porcupine quill. He has a knife inside him and a gong for a mouth (the clapper is his tongue)."

p. 66

"The Banguele group of spirits includes Sacra (the firstborn), Banguele himself, Tsengue, Surugu, Gueria, M’bangazou, Mossi, and Kangba. ... Some people consider Banguele to be female." "These other members of the Banguele group are raid to be his tools or weapons – knives, arrow shafts, spears, skin scrapers, and the like. Yet they possess personhood. Each has traits of specific birds or animals, and they are characters in narratives." {cf. myths in Oregon Territory of animal-deities transformed into utensil-implements}


"Surugu is like a certain bird – avalifo – always on the road, for he is deaf. He does not know that you are coming until you are upon him. ... He waits by the road to accompany the others to judgements. ... He always remains alone, does not like to be touched, and holds his head in his hand. ... When he says no, he means it. ... Surugu knows by watching lips everything that everyone is saying, even though he is deaf. He can change into the bird – avalifo – when he wants and wait in the road to hear what people are saying to their children. ... A Surugusi wears white and black mixed, in broad stripes."


"Mossi is like a young ... woman who controls fires : ezotsito [literally, fire-water

p. 67

person or ... putting out fires]. If you go hunting and the brush is burning, she will put out the fire. ...


Gueria is a virgin wearing white ... garments, who behaves elegantly ... . ...


Tsengue is the knife man, and the Tsengue vodu is always made with seven knives.


Kangba is a trickster who always mixes everyone up."


"Nana Wango, or Grandmother Crocodile, ... is always placed on the far right in the lineup of vodus inside a Vodu house (Kadzanka, Allah, Kunde, and Ablewa are to her left). ... she [in her spirit-hosts’ bodies] moves on the ground with the leg movements of the crocodile. ... She eats duck. She [her host] wears black pagne and cowries sewn together to resemble as crocodile skin. She employs a wand during trance and wears a gourd as a head covering. The wand is used as an oar during her dance, or as a canoe {gondola} pole, placed first on one side and then on the other. {cf. Oregon-Territory shamanic simulated canoe-voyaging; [Sumerian] poling by Gilgames^ to visit Ziusudra} When a Wangosi first goes into trance she must have water poured on her body while bending low or crouching on the ground like the crocodile ... . ... Then she sits on the Wango stool ... . ...

To make Nana Wango, cowries representing crocodile skin need to be placed on the statue. Plants are placed inside Wango’s head. ... We must go to the riverside to call the crocodiles; pray; ... and then take some water and put it on the Wangotsina ... .

p. 68

When someone begins to be taken by Wango [in trance] she must have rituals performed ... at the river, where she enters the water with drums playing and people singing and dancing. Eggs must be thrown to her while she is in the river. She eats the eggs thrown to her from the banks. ... ... Wango is also the piroguier or ferryman {cf. Kharon; "encounter with the ferryman" in Pyramid Texts, Utterances 300-311, 503-522 (BT, p. 367)}, the one who takes us across the river on a raft that is in fact a crocodile. ...

We take Wango’s tsina ["an oval object ... around Wango’s neck, sometimes said to be her baby" (p. 67)] to the riverside to tell it what we want, so that the crocodile spirits can hear."


"Kunde and Ablewa ... in Bobokpeguede."


Bangule "is Asante ... at Kpoga".

p. 71

"Wango came from Bluma ... . So Wango is a Bluto (Fante)." {but crocodile-worship is prae-eminently an Ivory-Coast practice; so it may have come from there to the Fante}

p. 72

"Sunia was brought ... [from] Ghana [Gold Coast]. [The bringer] got Sunia without learning which leaves were used [to make it]. ... Sunia itself came and showed him the plants in a dream. Then he found the plants in a field. ... Sunia eats pigeon roasted with no ... pepper; this meat should be eaten outside, never sitting at a table."

BT = Gregory Yuri Glazov : The Bridling of the Tongue and the Opening of the Mouth in Biblical Prophecy. Sheffield Academic Pr, 1999.

gendre as sides (left & right)

p. 252, n. 2:12 "the left-hand greeting of grandfather gorovodus. It marks the difference between male and female ... . Allah {Allat} and Ablewa greet with the right hand, as do Sunia Compo, Nana Wango," [all these who "greet with the right hand" being female].

{The Chinese likewise associate the left side with the male, the right side with the female.}

pp. 68, 188 remembering by souls of the dead

p. 68

"The spirits of violent death are gbogbowo [breath souls]; they all remember what they lived as human beings and how they died."

p. 188

"Violent-death spirits are gbogbos; they all remember what they lived as human beings and how they died."

pp. 70-72 meats eaten by deities















"pigeon roasted with no salt or pepper; the meat should be eaten outside, never sitting at a table."

p. 71 cult-centres

"Kunde and Ablewa ... in Bobokpeguede. ...

Banguele is Asante ... . ... Banguele ...was ... at Kpoga ... . ...

Wango came from Bluma ... . ... Wango is a Bluto (Fante)."

Judy Rosenthal : Possession, Ecstasy, and Law in Ewe Voodoo. U Pr of Va, Charlottesville, 1998.