This week's Goddess is another Goddess with West African origins, Aida-Wedo, the Rainbow Serpent.
She features in legends of both the Yorùbá and Fon peoples (from the areas of modern Nigeria and Benin, respectively), and is considered very ancient, with a part in the beginnings of the Universe.
According to the Fon creation myth, in the beginning there was only Ashe, the life force or creative energy. Ashe desired to become material; and in thinking this thought became Olodumare, the Creator, or God. But this was not balanced, and so a female divine force also came into being: Nana Buluku, Who gave birth to the twins, Mawu, the Moon Goddess, and Lisa, the Sun God. (Incidentally, Yemaya is linked with Nana Buluku.) These two then made the Great Divinities, Who desired to create and further enlarge the Universe. But They knew that a balancing force would be needed, one that bound the expanding Universe together; and so Dan Ayido Huèdo, the Rainbow Serpent, was created. This Rainbow Serpent is wrapped around both the earth and heaven, binding them together and linking the two.
In Yorùbá legend the serpent has two balanced parts: one in the sky, called Danh, and one in the sea, Aida Hwedo.
In Haitian Vodoun, which is in large part rooted in Fon beliefs (rather than Yorùbá), the Lwa Danbala was a large snake Who held the Earth together. When the first rains came, Aida-Wedo the Rainbow Serpent appeared; and They fell in love and were married. Aida-Wedo and Danbala are considered Rada Lwa, meaning spirits of the family that originated in Africa, held to be 'cool' or calmer in nature than the Petwo Lwa, Who originated in the Americas under slavery and are thought of as 'hot' and fierce. Aida-Wedo and Danbala both bring fertility, wealth, and good luck.
Aida-Wedo is associated with water, unsurprisingly, and is said to dwell, with Her husband, in rivers and springs.
So this card then signifies unity, balance, matters of water, wholeness, and integration, which leads to integrity. The Rainbow Serpent is thought to encircle the entire earth in a complete circle, and is not just the arc that is visible in the sky. Last week was about Source, and, I think, or at least it seemed to have been a theme for me, about attributing sources properly, not just on the superficial level as in an academic context, but on a deeper level of figuring out and honoring where ideas and beliefs have come from. This week I think the message flows from that, with another watery Deity; it's both about proper attribution, honor, and respect, as well as seeing origins clearly, and it's about integrating and binding the elements together and seeing the whole picture. And about intuiting out what you can't see, too, I think, in the way that the rainbow continues below the horizon, out of sight.
What does She say to us this week?
An arch is strong; a circle is stronger. Pressure from outside only holds it together all the more. Strong enough to hold the world together. Squeeze an egg evenly and it will not break. Water and sunlight, air and cloud, and illusion keep the world from unraveling.
Persist. Persist. Find where the snake bites its tail, where the end is returned to the beginning. Uncover what the snake guards and holds; what it coils around. Find the hidden parts, the parts underwater, underearth, Underworld, the full half that is not seen. Persist. Seek. Discover. Uncover. Remember wholeness.
What do you think?
African Mythology, by Jan Knappert
The Encyclopedia of African Religion, edited by Molefi Kete Asante and Ama Mazama
MythHome: Yoruba Religion