NEW! Listen to a song from Mambo Racine's upcoming CD, "Mambo Racine Ap Fe Makaya!" Click here to listen to the song for Simbi Makaya, "Jou M Angaje", sung by Mambo Racine and the members of the Roots Without End Society.

Makaya service is a part of Haitian traditional religion and magic. Makaya magic is powerful! Makaya ceremonies are electrifying, colorful, fiery and exciting. Makaya drumming is some of the most evocative, moving, emotive drumming in the entire Haitian traditional repertoire. Join with me now and learn a little about the Makaya tradition.

From left to right: Houngan Wolmer, Mambo Racine, hounsi Lento. Photo by Les Stone,


The Makaya Instructional Package

Makaya Leaf Magic with Loulou Prince

Erzulie Dantor Ceremonial Magic with Mambo Andreli

Makaya is a religion. It is very much like Vodou in some ways - there are lwa, the lwa come through possession. There is magic, there is prayer, there is sacrifice. But Makaya priests, called "Bokor", are not kanzo, not initiates in Vodou. Most Vodou Houngans are also familiar with Makaya service, although a Makaya leader can not, by definition, conduct the same ceremonies as a Houngan.

(The word "bokor" can also refer to a specialist in malevolent magic, who is not the leader of a Makaya house.)

A Makaya Bokor is a charismatic individual who attracts people to serve in his house, by having very powerful lwa, effective magic, and especially the ability to do aggressive work against other people. "The best defense is a good offense," could really be Makaya's motto!

Night ceremony Makaya tradition strongly influences Haitian popular culture. The annual, nationwide Rara celebration reflects the presence of Makaya congregations and Sanpwel groups, for example. In Haiti today, the Makaya tradition is especially strong in the Artibonite region, a rice-growing area.

In areas of Haiti where Makaya predominates over Vodou, Makaya Bokors may have large family compounds, and may serve a congregation of several hundred adults and their children. They can be asked to settle disputes between neighbors or family members, but if the Bokor is not wise, or if he has a reputation for taking advantage of people in trouble, people will not ask him to settle any more disputes!

Just like Houngans and Mambos, Makaya Bokors hold dances and services for their lwa. They have clients who are in need of physical healing, or magical assistance to attain goals or hurt enemies. And just like Houngans and Mambos, Makaya Bokors with reputations as good magicians have bigger houses and more clients.

Makaya Bokors can not do some of the things that Houngans and Mambos of the Vodou tradition can do, however. They can not, for example, hold a kanzo, or Vodou initiation, because they themselves are not initiates and do not know how to perform the kanzo. You could think of Makaya as being even "to the left of" Petro service. The emphasis is on power, personal and magical power, the ability to affect one's surroundings in whatever way is desired. There is a warm, loving feeling toward these lwa, despite the fact that they are "aggressive". This is because they are aggressive toward outsiders, but equally loving toward those who serve them.

You can serve in the Makaya tradition right where you are! You don't have to be a Vodou initiate, all you have to be is a spiritually aware person. On this page you will find instructions for performing a simple Makaya service in your own home.

This image, variously known as the Mater Salvatoris and as Santa Barbara Africana, is used in Haiti to represent Erzulie Dantor.  Scanned and digitally altered by Mambo Racine Sans Bout. The lwa Erzulie Dantor is very important in Makaya service. So is Simbi Makaya, the Master Magician and husband of Erzulie Dantor. I am going to explain to you how to do a Makaya service for Erzulie Dantor and Simbi Makaya, and I will give you the opportunity to learn to do a Makaya magical spell, or wanga, under the patronage of Erzulie Dantor.

For this work, you can cover your altar in bright colors - red, yellow, green, blue, lots of color! You can put images and vevers of Erzulie Dantor on your altar, and give Erzulie Dantor as many of her ritual objects as you can. (See the Non-Initiates' Service for Erzulie Dantor for more information on her service.)

You can serve Erzulie Dantor with kleren (single-distilled rum, called "aguardiente" in some Hispanic areas), and this is one of the few cases where I will even recommend that you go buy and cook some pork! Because most people in the United States are not in a position to sacrifice pigs, I recommend this, but in Haiti the Makaya sacrificial offering par excellence is a black Creole pig. Creole pigs, a type of pig native to Haiti, have almost all been exterminated due to the influence of the American government - strange but true! Thus the contemporary animal of choice is a black pig, the bigger the better. If the pig is a male, it is not to be castrated; and if it is a female, the tiri or unbred female is preferred.

In any case, it is well to remember that the life of the animal, represented by the blood, is for the lwa. The meat is for the congregation. So in offering purchased pork, you are not really offering sacrifice to the lwa, you are simply making a food offering. Cook enough that you can give both Erzulie Dantor and Simbi Makaya separate bowls of food, and have enough in excess that you can feed yourself and one or two other people.

Here in the United States you can rarely hope to know the color or sex of the animal when you buy pork, but in any case, salt, pepper and broil or grill the pork and put it in a large bowl, preferable a wooden bowl. Boil sweet potatos, and green bananas if you can get them, and Caribbean "pumpkin" or squash. Offer the Makaya lwa kleren or white rum if you can not get kleren. There are special candles called bouji that are used in Makaya service, so if you can obtain one use it. The Makaya Instructional Package includes a bouji. If you don't have one, yellow and red candles are a good choice.

Rara dancer possessed by a zombi Once you have offered food and drink to the Makaya lwa, it's time to make magic! The Makaya Instructional Package teaches a magical wanga, or spell. To do this magical spell, you will need a knife, fork and spoon, in addition to the things in the Package.

If you know how to do magic in other traditions, give it a try! All magic is magic.

One thing that we very commonly do in Vodou is to make something called a lanp, in English a lamp. It's a lamp, all right - it's a floating wick in a small vessel of oil. Under, in or around this vessel are other things, and magic is performed in a certain way, which involves the lamp being lit for a specific period of time. The oil used in these lamps is very often "lwil maskrati", a locally produced, thick, chocolaty-smelling oil made from the nut-like fruit of a particular tree.

A magical lamp used in Makaya service Most Houngans and Mambos know how to make a lamp, but some people really specialize in them! In our house, Houngan Babou aways knew where to find and how to prepare the specific plant materials we use to hold and float the wick. I wondered why he was so practiced at it, and then I found out that his wife, who is now Mambo Andreli, another initiate of mine, had been working for clients since she was quite young, and knew how to set up and work a lamp. She's really a lamp specialist! And so, in this working, I am making it possible for all of you to meet Mambo Andreli, and see photographs of her, and of a lamp of the sort I am describing. This page will also make it possible for you to work with Mambo Andreli, and commission an authentic Makaya lamp to be made and lit for you in Haiti by Mambo Andreli.

Medsen fey Loulou Prince brings sacred leaves into a ceremony In addition, our medsen fey or herbalist, Loulou Prince, prepared for me an herbal mixture appropriate to Makaya service. He is offering this mixture for sale on his website. The leaves can be used to prepare kleren or rum for the lwa, to rub into candles or boujis, to spread on your altar, or for other purposes.

Loulou is not quick to reveal the secrets of a medsen fey, how he calls the leaves, pays the lwa, or prepares his mixtures. He learned to work as he does through an oral tradition, and has employed his knowledge of that tradition to provide an herbal mixture that will please the Makaya lwa, "heat up" your magic, and empower your service.

With none, any one, or all of those resources - the Makaya Instructional Package, the opportunity to have a lamp made and lit for you by Mambo Andreli, and the herbs available from medsen fey Loulou Prince - you can make a strong, effective service to the Makaya lwa, develop your understanding of Makaya and of magical principles, and quite possibly attain the goals for which you invoke while doing your magic!

The discussion of the Makaya Ceremonial Service for Non-Initiates takes place on the Vodou Forum. If you are not a member you can easily join, because approval of membership is automatic. It's a moderated forum, so it's a safe, happy environment to learn more about Makaya and about Vodou.

Return to The VODOU Page.