Date of Discovery
It is speculated that Maman Brigitte came into being when African tribes were forced into slavery and were relocated to Haiti during the 1700s.
Her name is Maman Brigitte, or Manman Brijit, which in English roughly translates to “Mama Brigid.” In other regions, she’s also referred to as Saint Brigid or Gran Brigitte.
Maman Brigitte is the only fair-skinned loa and the consensus is that she didn’t originate from Africa like her fellow loa. Instead, Maman Brigitte is thought to come from Ireland, a representation of the Celtic Goddess Brigid, or the Christianized version of the pagan deity, Saint Brigid of Kildare.
While it may seem strange that a European deity would be in the company of loa that originated from Africa, it’s theorized that due to the trend of indentured servitude that brought many English, Scottish, and Irish people to the Caribbean and United States. These indentured servants were overwhelmingly female in number, so they brought with them the tradition of the Goddess Brigid, who came to keep company with the loa that were brought with the enslaved peoples of Africa.
Mythology and Lore
Due to a heavy Catholic influence upon voodoo, Maman Brigitte is often referred to as a sort of Mary Magdalene; because of her origins, Maman Brigitte is portrayed as a red-headed, fair-skinned and wispy woman. Like her consort, Baron Samedi, she is part of the family of loa who has authority over the cemeteries and death. Maman Brigitte stands guard over graves and tombstones; in typical voodoo tradition, in a new cemetery, the first woman who has been buried within bears a special cross at her grave and is said to belong specifically to Maman Brigitte. Maman Brigitte is associated with death, but also with life–her particular brand of power is healing, especially sexually transmitted diseases, fertility, and divine authorities and judgment. While she heals those who deserve it, she is also a champion for those who have been wrong, by severely punishing the wicked.
Devotees of Maman Brigitte will leave this loa an offering of candles, black roosters, as well as pepper-infused rum. As the protector of women, she is primarily worshipped by females and she is often called upon to assist women who are battered, cheated on, or during rough childbirth.
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