Erzulie's Gift

Item acquired by the Curator in July 1979
Origin: Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1967


Small bracelet, statuette of the Virgin of the Seven Sorrows (representation of Erzulie Danto), offerings


 Testimony by Gideon


Female Orisha of the rivers, represents femininity, charm, flirtatiousness. In Haiti, she goes by the name of loa Erzulie. She has several characteristics: under the name of Erzulie Freda, she symbolises the virgin and feminine seduction condemned to emotional instability.
Erzulie Danto, represented by the black virgin, is the mother and protector of children; she represents fertility.
Erzulie Gé-Rouge (red eyes) is anger, the dark side of the loa.
In the tarot, the Moon, the symbol of Erzulie, bears the number 18.

Port-au-Prince, 1967

Mambo Marinette Racine Coupée listened to the young lady very attentively. The young Creole woman was crying because she was unable to bear children. She was already 24 years old and still no child had come forth from her barren womb. And yet she was pretty, although a bit skinny in the priestess' view. Her husband was thinking about replacing her with a new wife, because to a Haitian man nothing could be worse than not being able to provide for a joyous household.
The doctor had told her that little could be done, which is why she had returned to the mambo, who was said to possess great powers and to be regularly mounted by the loa Erzulie Dantor

Mambo Marinette drew the veve of Papa Legba, shook her asson in the compound rhythm of the loa and asked him to open the doors separating the world of the spirits from the world of humans. She then invoked Erzulie Dantor and her trance began.
Her voice suddenly changed, her eyes rolled back in her head and she spoke a few words: "The bracelet of the fertile moon".
"Make a bracelet consisting of 18 coloured glass beads. Offer three to Papa Legba and choose the number of children that you would like to have. Count them on the bracelet. The bead on which you stop will answer your question. If it is white, you will remain barren; if it is red you will have more boys than girls; if it is blue you will have more girls than boys; if it is green you will have twins; if it is black you will die giving birth to your first child." The mambo continued her litany.
"To thank Erzulie, you will henceforth wear clothes and jewellery in the colour of the designated bead. Don't forget to thank him, no matter what he answers."

The young girl named a figure between 10 and 20; this might seem like a lot to us, but it wasn't to her. I won't tell you which number she chose, because if the loa is still associated with the bracelet you will find out soon enough. She fastened her bracelet so as to offer three beads to Papa Legba, the guardian of the gates, and then counted in one direction followed by counting in the other direction.

"I have one of the earrings of the querent, who is now in her fifties and rather rotund. It is the same colour as prophesied because I was her first child and we all wear an identical one in memory of Erzulie. All you have to do is ask the bracelet if you want to find out," Gideon told me as he handed me the bracelet.


I first made an offering of perfume to Erzulie, then attached the bracelet as the mambo had explained. I counted a number between 10 and 20 in one direction and then in the other and ended up on a red bead. The colour of the earring and also the colour of the clothes worn by my friend's mother. He confirmed that this was indeed the number of children in their family.