Renvoi: l'expedition d'un message

by Guidel Presume

Renvoi: expédition d'un message


The jug at the center of this painting is a pwen, a container of spiritual energy in the form, most likely, of a dead soul-- a pwen can do magical work of one kind or another, and is sometimes called a zombi astrale. The best and most auspicious pwen are inherited; it is a religious duty for believers to retrieve the souls of their ancestors from the afterworld beneath the waters and safeguard them in such vessels. But there are also pwen acheté, which can be bought and sold, like genies in bottles-- the metaphysical counterpart of the corporeal zombi slave. A pwen acheté, because it is bound to serve unwillingly by the bokor that bottles it, may be dangerous to whoever buys it for his own magical purposes.

The chair on which the vessel sits belongs to Legba, the lwa of the crossroads and of changes, who controls the passage between the world of the living and the world of the dead, from which the gods emerge. The vévé beneath the chair, with candles lit at the cardinal points, invokes the theme of the crossroads, as do the crossed brooms. Sacrifice is offered in the form of both money and blood.

"Renvoi," in this context, usually means "return to sender," a means of reflecting a maleficent spell back upon whoever sent it, and of curing the intended victim. That phrasing is the only clue to what sort of message is being sent.

Interpellation des Demons