Papa Gede


Erzulie Dantor

The Lwa of Vodou


Other Names: Lasyrenn, Labalen (the whale)
Spheres of Influence:

Queen of the ocean, and Lwa of fishes

Nation: Rada
Colours: Blue-green
Symbols: Mirror, comb, trumpet, shells
Offerings: White doves, perfume, mirrors, sweet white wine. Never offer Lasiren fish.
Catholic counterparts:
St. Martha
Other associations:


  • Mami Wata

"Lasyrenn is connected to Mammy Water, whose shrines are found throughout West Africa. Some suggest that the mermaid persona, also common for Mammy Water, was derived from the carved figures on the bows of the ships of European traders and slavers. Thus the Vodou lwa Lasyrenn may have roots that connect, like nerves, to the deepest and most painful parts of the loss of homeland and the trauma of slavery. It is therefore fitting that she also reconnects people to Africa and its wisdom. In many stories, people are captured by Lasyrenn and pulled under the water, down to Ginen. Sometimes these stories are descriptions of tragic drownings or of suicides. But as often as not such tales are strategies used by the poor and otherwise disenfranchised to gain access to the prestigious role of healer.

"The stories have a common pattern. A person, usually a woman, disappears for a time -- three days, three months, three years. When she returns, she is a changed person. Her skin has become fairer, her hair longer and straighter. Most important, she has gained sacred knowledge. Immediately after her return, she is disoriented, does not talk, and does not remember what happened to her. But gradually a story emerges, a story of living for a time 'below the water,' where the spirits instructed her in the arts of diagnosis and healing." [Brown 1991:223-224]

Copyright © 2001, 2002, 2004 by B.C. Holmes. Last updated March 17th, 2002

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