A vèvè or symbol is used to represent a loa (spirit) in Haiti and other African diaspora traditions. However, this type of symbology is by no means unique to Africa or African people groups. Though Haitian Vodou vèvès are probably among the widest known among all traditional spiritual practices.
Though much debated, the origin of the vèvè is thought to have originated in Africa. The practice of using a symbol to represent a deity in traditional practice can be traced to modern-day Congo. Many African diasporans can track their roots and lineage back to this sacred land of our forefathers.
The ultimate purpose of a vèvè is to attract or summon a spirit. Vèvès are commonly drawn during Vodou rituals in Haiti and other places where this form of spirituality is practiced. Each loa has a unique vèvè that serves as its calling card. Many loa have several vèvè, though the average practitioner may only be aware of one or two of them. The vèvè themselves are symbolic of the loa’s attributes and primary signature.
Vèvès may be constructed from a number of substances including cornmeal, gunpowder, ashes, cayenne pepper, or other powder-like substances. They are typically drawn on the ground prior to a Vodou ceremony. And thereafter, ceremoniously destroyed through dance and movement during a ritual or celebration.
These symbols may also be worn as jewelry and adornments or engraved on one’s apparel. It has become increasingly popular to incorporate vèvè in various forms of clothing and decor. In such instances, vèvès are carefully crafted and embedded into a fashionable design. Ultimately, vèvès are a very unique way of paying homage to the astral forces that guide, protect, and support us.