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1 Dancing, Hereditary Lwa Samantha Howcroft University of Florida I have something in my head, its when Im in trouble. They will see whats in my head. Im going to see whats in my head. But when Im in trouble, my mothers lwa are unchained. Lwa in Haitian Vodou have a hereditary nature : they can be passed on to children from both the mothers side and the fathers side. If the family performs in home ceremonies, the child grows up seeing certain famil y members possessed by certain spirits, which can lead to an association of a lwa with that family member. The speaker refers to his mothers lwa becoming unchained when he is in trouble, referring to the lwa of his mothers family coming to his aid wh en he is in trouble. This could also refer to the lwa who would possess his mother coming to his aid ; having a spirit associated with ones mother come in a time of need offers an empower ment and is a sign of the emphasis in Vodou on family her itage The repetition of in my head at the end of half of the songs lines is significant in that it repeatedly refers to the possession of a Vodouist by a lwa Danse nan t t refers to the notion that the lwa dance in the head of the possessed after sending away the Vodouists ti bonnanj or consciousness. The lwa possess the Vodouist and have access to whats in [their] head which can be both comforting and concerning depending on the situation. The lwa can provide reassurance to the possessed when [they are] in trouble by entering their bodies and minds. This reassurance can be intensified if the lwa brings the positive connotation of a beloved family member.


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Dancing, Hereditary Lwa, Samantha Howcroft
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00001362/00015
 Material Information
Title: Dancing, Hereditary Lwa, Samantha Howcroft
Series Title: HAI3930, ANT3930, LAS3930, REL3938
Physical Description: Course Material
Creator: Raitano, Megan
Publisher: Hebblethwaite, Benjamin
Raitano, Megan
Felima, Crystal
Place of Publication: University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
 Subjects
Subjects / Keywords: Caribbean Area   ( lcsh )
 Notes
Acquisition: Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Megan Raitano.
Publication Status: Unpublished
General Note: This is a collection of student essays from the Haitian Vodou class offered at the Universtiy of Florida. These essays are the results of a combination of in class material and independent research on individually chosen topics. The writing styles, citation styles, and views expressed in the essays are established by the students and do not necessarily reflect those of the professor or the Archive.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the submitter.
System ID: IR00001362:00015

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Dancing, Hereditary Lwa
Samantha Howcroft, University of Florida

I have mvwietilng in my head,
it's when I'm in trouble.
They will see what's in my head
I'm going to see what's in my head
But when I'm in trouble,
my mother's lwa are unchained.

Lwa in Haitian Vodou have a hereditary nature: they can be passed on to children from
both the mother's side and the father's side. If the family performs in-home ceremonies, the child
grows up seeing certain family members possessed by certain spirits, which can lead to an
association of a lwa with that family member. The speaker refers to his "mother's In I/" becoming
"unchained" when he is in trouble, referring to the lwa of his mother's family coming to his aid
when he is in trouble. This could also refer to the lwa who would possess his mother coming to
his aid; having a spirit associated with one's mother come in a time of need offers an
empowerment and is a sign of the emphasis in Vodou on family heritage.
The repetition of "in my head" at the end of half of the song's lines is significant in that it
repeatedly refers to the possession of a Vodouist by a lwa. Danse nan t0t refers to the notion that
the lwa dance in the head of the possessed after sending away the Vodouist's ti bonnanj, or
consciousness. The lwa possess the Vodouist and have access to "what's in [their] head", which
can be both comforting and concerning depending on the situation. The lwa can provide
reassurance to the possessed "when [they are] in trouble" by entering their bodies and minds.
This reassurance can be intensified if the lwa brings the positive connotation of a beloved family
member.