Vodou Ranks

Which Vodou rank is right for me?

Many people don’t understand why the ranks in Vodou are
different. What the different responsibilities and sacrifices
that one must make at each level mean. That is also why so
many people have decided to become Houngans and Mambos
in an instant, before they really know what it requires.
Very few have explained what it really entails.
Although our House REQUIRES a divination before
initiation, this page can assist you in deciding what you
are really looking for and what you are really willing
to sacrifice.

Hounsi Lave Tet

This is an initiate that receives the Lave Tet ceremonies, which
are also known as the Sevis Tet. Anyone can receive this ceremony
as it is very beneficial no matter what stage of spiritual development
you have achieved.

One of the many benefits of this ceremony is that it can be performed
here in the United States
, unlike the ceremonies for the Kanzo ranks.
The Lave Tet also gives your Lwa, which walk with you, recognition.
It refreshes and strengthens, assisting and empowering the Lwa to help
you more. A person who receives the Lave Tet gets a strong spiritual
cleansing
, that no other cleansing can even compare to. It baptizes
the head, making it more receptive to possession, enhancing psychic
ability, and spiritually giving the person a clean slate.

The Lave Tet requires three and a half days of commitment in terms
of time.
During the ceremony, the person’s Met Tet, or Master of the Head, will
be divined through a special ritual. This Lwa serves to protect and guide
the individual. It too is also strengthened and empowered. Other Lwa that
walk with the individual are also divined and revealed to the individual.
All the person’s Lwa are fed, strengthened and reinforced. It aligns the
spiritual forces
of that person, giving them a sort of “spiritual antenna”
to connect with the Lwa.
The Hounsi Lave Tet is then a member of the Vodou Society.
However, the tie that binds the individual and the initiator is not the
same as the one in the Kanzo. The Lave Tet recipient is free to leave
the Society and go off on his or her own. It is respect that binds the
individuals together, however either party may decide to end the
relationship.

A Hounsi Lave Tet has the following responsibilities:

  • To serve his or her Met Tet and the Spirits that walk
    with him/her
  • To set up an altar to them
  • To take care of their Po Tet (Head Pot)
  • To attend ceremonies at their initiator’s home/temple
    (if the relationship is kept between initiate and initiator)

Some people decide to receive the Lave Tet for the following reasons:

  • To align themselves with their Lwa
  • To have their Met Tet and other Lwa divined
  • To ease possession
  • To refresh their head and Lwa
  • To give their Lwa the proper attention
  • To receive a strong cleansing
  • To strengthen their Lwa

Hounsi Kanzo

The Hounsi Kanzo undergoes the Kanzo ceremony.
The word Kanzo actually refers to a specific part of the
ceremony where the person undergoes a trial by fire.
This makes one not only a member of the Society but also
a member of that spiritual family
. This ceremony is also
referred to as Simple Kanzo (Kanzo Senp) or just Kanzo.

A person becoming a Hounsi may be looking to receive
a strong form of protection. They may also undergo the Kanzo
to deal with their Lwa in a more firm manner. The Hounsi Kanzo
undergoes everything an initiate at the rank of the Lave Tet
ceremony undergoes, and then some more ceremonies.
The person may be looking to improve their health, finances,
love life, and more.

The majority of the ceremony is secret so not much can be said,
but in addition to what happens with a Hounsi Lave Tet, this
person also undergoes the trial by fire, giving them a protection
that the former does not have. This initiation can only be done
in Haiti.

In addition to the reasons above, a person may become Hounsi
Kanzo for the following reasons:

  • To form a stable bond with a Vodou family
  • To improve their life
  • To receive a strong form of protection
  • To bless their family by receiving the ceremony

In addition to the above responsibilities, the person also:

  • Must go to ceremonies at their Initiators House
  • Must assist in preparation for the ceremonies
  • Must do spiritual chores for the House
    (for example, iron the garments of the initiates,
    assist in cooking the Lwa’s food, physically and
    spiritually cleanse the house before ceremonies,
    etc)
  • Be able to sing the Priye Ginen

Houngan/Mambo Sou Pwen

In addition to the previous ceremonies, a Houngan or
Mambo Sou Pwen has also received additional ceremonies.
He or she is given an Asson to “borrow”. They can use
the Asson, but they cannot confer it.

Being Sou Pwen is a huge responsibility! Very few really
know that, but it is. A Sou Pwen initiate can serve in
a House in a variety of positions. He may be Laplace or
Houngenikon. He or she might be the one who dresses the
Lwa, or gives them the bottles and mushoirs. There are
many roles he or she must be able to fulfill, therefore,
there is much to learn.
In addition to the above responsibilities, the person will
also need to feed and make blood sacrifices to his/her Lwa.
He or she will also need to hold dances for his or her Lwa,
and assist in performing ceremonies with his/her initiator.
They will also need to know everything the ranks below them
know as well as the knowledge of their own rank, plus be able
to sing and lead the Priye Ginen.

People that become Sou Pwen can work for friends and family.
Some of them keep a small clientele of close people as well,
but most work for themselves, friends, and family. He or she
can usually work a regular job during the day.

Houngan/Mambo Asogwe

In addition to all the ceremonies above, the person will need
to undergo even more ceremonies. Most importantly, the suleliye.
Here they will receive the asson from Papa Loko and be able to
confer it to others
. They will be fully empowered to work with
it as well.

They must know how to do all of the above. In addition, they will
need to know how to perform a Kanzo themselves and confer the
asson. They will need to create new initiates within the tradition.
They will also need to know how to perform all ceremonies,
cleansings,baths, protections, gads, wanga, kanzos, lave tets, etc.
They must know and be able to lead the Priye, lead an entire dance
with ceremonial order, and more. This, of course, takes time to learn,
but it must be learned.

In addition, Houngans and Mambos Asogwe work for themselves,
their friends, their families, and clients. In fact, every
Houngan and Mambo will eventually be unable to work a regular
job: Doctor, Lawyer, Nurse, Janitor, Mechanic, etc.
The Lwa will make them work for them and them only.
They will work for the Spirit.

They cannot act like other people.

Let me teach you a little lesson,
in the form of examples. A Houngan or Mambo is never tired.
The more they work, the more they have left to do. They must be
upstanding individuals with a good moral structure. They must be
able to tolerate even the worst of conditions, and without complaint.
When one becomes a Houngan or Mambo Asogwe, one leaves all
complaints and excuses behind
. There are no excuses and there
are no complaints.
They must hold yearly ceremonies for their Lwa. Sacrifice animals.
It can be 2 AM but if the Lwa says he or she wants some rum now,
you must get out of bed and get it for him/her. You must perform
accurate readings
and great wanga. Houngans and Mambos rarely
get mad, that is unacceptable. Anger equals temper tantrums,
and none of those are allowed.
God must come first. Then the Lwa. Then everything and everyone
else. You must know how to serve every Lwa, and everything
about them. You must contribute to your community. Attend all
ceremonies
. You will also need to learn how to do things and
do them correctly at a very fast pace. THAT is what being a
Houngan or Mambo entails.

Think carefully before you jump into a rank that you cannot handle.
There is much work and many responsibilities.
You have your whole life to become an initiate.
Slow down, learn, and take your time.

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