Ezili Danto

Ezili Danto
August 01
Ezili Dantò is an award winning playwright, a performance poet, author and human rights attorney. She was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and raised in the USA. She holds a BA from Boston College, a JD from the University of Connecticut School of law. She is a human rights lawyer, cultural and political activist and the founder and president of the Ezili’s Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN). She runs the Haitian Perspectives on-line journal and the Ezili Dantò Newsletter. Ezili’s HLLN is the recognized leading and most trustworthy international voice in Haiti advocacy, human rights work, Haiti news and Haiti news analysis. HLLN’s work is central to those concerned with the welfare of the people of Haiti, Haiti capacity building, sovereignty, institutionalization of the rule of law, and justice and peace without occupation or militarization. Ezili Dantò is also an educator who specializes in teaching about the light and beauty of Haitian culture; the Symbolic and Archetypal Nature of Haitian Vodun; the illegality and immorality of forcing neoliberal policies on Haiti and the developing world... Since the UN-imported cholera outbreak on October 2010, Ezili' HLLN has insisted that environmental clean-up, clean water and sanitation are the only permanent solution to stop the UN cholera spread. Zili Dlo is a humanitarian project that provides free clean water. For more go to the Ezili Danto/HLLN websites at http://www.ezilidanto.com/ and http://www.ezilidanto.com/zili

JANUARY 7, 2010 7:47PM

Avatar parallels: Warrior Mother, Vodun and the Sky People

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Ezili Dantò of HLLN onstage performing Journey of the Serpent and the Moon in Red, Black & Moonlight: Between Falling and Hitting the Ground


Avatar parallels

in real-life Haitian history, mythology and as reflected in Ezili Dantò's Vodun Jazzoetry performance series
(Part 1)

In the Avatar sci-fi movie (which I wrote a review about - The Avatar Movie From A Black Perspective), the white invaders are called the Sky People. I decided to post this information on the spiritual mother of Haiti; the archetype for love or the vibrational energy of the warrior mother and this Carnegie Hall video because a line from the Carnegie performance reminded me of the Avatar movie.

In Cameron's film, psyching up the Na'vi for war against the human invaders, Jake Sully, the liberator of the Na'vis, says something like this:

The Sky People have sent us a message: that they can take whatever they want and no one can stop them. But we will send them a message. You ride out as fast as the wind can carry you, and you tell the other clans to come...and tell them Toruk Makto calls to them! And you fly now, with me, my brothers, sisters. And we will show the Sky People, that they cannot take whatever they want! And that this... This is our land.

In real life, my people the Haitians, spent 300-years under Euro-enslavement in the land of the Taino called Ayiti (Haiti). The Africans who became Haitians in the land of the Taino/Arawak Amerindians were enslaved by the Sky People to use Avatar parlance - first, under the Spanish and than the French. Haiti is the place in the Western Hemisphere where the white settlers first committed genocide - they mostly annihilated the entire native population of Tainos before transporting Africans they enslaved to work the gold mines and sugar plantations. Haiti's liberator is the African warrior, Janjak Desalin (Jean Jacques Dessalines). (See, Haiti’s Founding Father - The Women who Influenced him, his Ideals and Legacy and the Three Ideals of Dessalines.)

When I wrote the performance piece, Red, Black & Moonlight, over a decade ago, I was recounting the triumph of the African ancestors over the enslavers, the role of the warrior mother, and what the noise of the continuing Haitian struggle still does to me. The paragraph in my performance piece which has a parallel in Avatar's script, is this:

Dessalines had reconstructed the very soul of the Sun.
Tearing a fork deep inside a flying clothe's, not one, not two, but 300-year gravitational pull.
He'd arched the sky spirit back into mother earth again. Igniting Alkebulan's liquid fires, raising the first flame: Petwo's redemptive red.

Ezili Dantò performs at Carnegie Hall

Ezili Dantò of HLLN performing 'Red, Black & Moonlight' at Carnegie Hall (2004) from her one-woman Jazzoetry Vodun show - The Red, Black & Moonlight Performance series. For more information, see also the Bio of Ezili Dantò, the spiritual mother of Haiti. The archetype for love, vibrational energy of the warrior mother

In Vodun, Ezili Dantò is the symbol of the irreducible essence of that ancient Black mother, mother of all the races, who holds Haiti's umbilical chord back to Africa, back to Anba Dlo. Calling on her essence, breath, vision and cosmic power brought forth Haiti's release from 300-hundred years of brutal European enslavement. Her parallel in Avatar could be Eywa, the Na'vi mother earth diety.

Symbol of Ezili Dantò, the Haitian Warrior Mother

Ezili Dantò Symbols of the Great warrior mother and goddess
Vodun is as old as creation and it's the Light and Beauty of Haiti; The Return of the Divine Mother: Ezili Aset and Isis- (Photos); Bio of Ezili Dantò, 1791; Haiti Epistomology ;  and the Kayiman Links

In Vodun, Ezili Dantò watches over and cares for her children. When the enslaved Africans where forcibly converted to Catholicism in Haiti, they chose the image of the Madonna holding a child, specifically the dark Mater Salvatoris you see above to represent their Vodun warrior/goddess, Ezili Dantò. They chose the Saint Patrick iconography to represent Danbala and Ayida Wedo, the Haitian god and goddess of creation, because the snakes at St. Patrick's feet were the form of Danbala and Ayido Wedo's Kongo and Dahomean symbols, their vèvè.

Vèvè are ritual drawings used to consecrate sacred spaces. They are sacred Haitian hieroglyphics, divine drawings traditionally painted on the ground at a Vodun ceremony, representing a particular divine spirit, natural element or an irreducible essence of our African Ancestors. The act of drawing a vèvè is a calling forth of that particular sacred energy.

The Danbala and Ayida Wedo vèvè are serpentine in form. This vèvè symbol means the out and in breath, the contract and release of birthing, the yin/yang, the male and female, the form of waves of energy coming and going at the subatomic human cell level or the DNA. Danbala and Ayida Wedo or both together Ayida Dan Wedo / Danbala-Wedo, are the Haitian archetypes for creation. Wholeness in Vodun requires both female and male energy, both Rada and Petwo, both Yin/yang, both the contraction and release, inhale and exhale, et al, in ONE.

Usually one honors the warrior spirit Ogou in the form of Sen Jak (St. James). The priests where not aware that the enslaved Africans were using the Catholic lithographs of saints to call up their own spirits. Not aware that when the enslaved in Haiti prayed at their churches to the Virgin Mary, for instance, they were seeing the Haitian lwa (spirit/archetype or mistè- myteries), Ezili Dantò. You'll notice in the Carnegie video the dress I wear has a heart with a dagger going through it. That is the Haitian hieroglyph or vèvè - divine sign for Ezili Dantò. The mother Goddess takes out her sword to cut out evil with good. As there is but one race and all on the planet are her children and creations, for her to draw her sword from the heart means while she is using the sword to bring back harmony, she bleeds painfully.

In my writings, stage blocking and dance choreography, I often use Ezili Dantò's vèvè. The drawn form is used to call upon her love for strength and protection.

She is inherently my most powerful energetic vibration, my mèt tèt. In Vodun we are each manifested onto this realm for a purpose and carry one collective energy of a universal archetype, psychology or spirit more so than another. That energy is called your mèt tèt. If you live your life in line with lifting up that energy you will be successful, have met your purpose for being born. A manbo or hougan - Haitian priest/(ess) or more precisely, spirit master - can decipher your mèt tèt, if you cannot. But it's better in my opinion if you choose from the various archetypes. What you choose, chooses you. If you see love you will be love. See health to be a healer, et al...

With a focused temperament and emotional make-up that is mostly Petwo (fire, hot, passionate) and that of Vodun's protector/nurturer, Ezili Dantò, I tend to lift up that collective life-force in my writings, advocacy and art. If I were of the Rada nations (cooler energies), I could have been the more detached, Ayida Wedo or the cool herbalist and healer archetype, Simbi. Both Rada and Petwo are essential for creation, harmony, health and balance. These vibrations exist together in greater or lesser proportions in each human being. When meek and accepting are more present, there may be more suffering and oppression depending on the tone of the planet's overall transmigrated powers/mass consciousness at any given stretch of time. Dessalines taught Haitians to say no. The Haitian Revolution came to pass when the Petwo nations* came forth with Rada at their base.

Ezili Dantò of HLLN performs in Miami with Sanba Yatande, Manno and TiRouj -- May 2008


In the performance piece, Ceremony Bwa Kayiman which is a poetic depiction of the actual Haitian Vodun ceremony and political congress that, on August 14, 1791, began the Great Haitian Revolutionary War against France, England, Spain and even a US embargo, I wrote:

i didn't know what i was. How i came to be created Kreyòl or much about Vodun until after i had returned from Haiti and started feeling the tones of Red, textures of Black and cold distance of the Moonlight. But, it is the unified Petwo/Rada nations, living within my psychic heritage, that call to me with this vision of a world that's reached past its divisions, angers, hatreds and envies to where many "nations" coexist. i'm practicing remembering that the amalgamated Africans in Haiti had no money to bribe or amass and wield power with; no gun arsenals for shows of force to control or subjugate the masses and classes with; no laws to shoot hope and dreams, forever deferred.


The Africans, who became Haitians, in the land of the Taino/Arawak Amerindians expected the tools of combat to crawl from their bodies and mind, and it did. Their veins are the vortexes for a unified African PSYCHIC FORCE: and they surrendered to that. (Ceremony Bwa Kayiman)

The Return of the Divine Mother: Ezili Aset and Isis - (Photos); Bio of Ezili Dantò, 1791; Haiti Epistomology ; Bwa Kayiman Links; Dessalines' Three Ideals; Vodun Konbit and Vodun Lakou ; The Pivotal Point; The Goddess Remembered at Bwa Kayiman ; Black Women: Mother of All the Races ;  and, The Avatar Movie from a Black perspective.


*Alkebulan is an ancient, pre-colonial, name for Africa

**Petwo are the African spirit nations, particularly form the Kongo, of aggressive action. The more temperate nations are called Rada.



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nice!! like the dress!! what year was the video??
my sig.other just read my comment & said I messed up and didnt compliment you properly, so here goes. she says she admires you as an artist & thinks you're very inspired, and inspiring in your recital. she says after I say all that, then I can compliment you on the dress =) .. anyway this deserve EP & thanks for sharing!!
lol. Lovely, simply lovely that significant other of yours, Vzn. I say you're a very lucky man. Maximum respect to her! And thanks, Vzn.
yeah, lucky...
saw the middle section on symbology & archetypes.. cool stuff. yeah it does seem like some significant parts of the avatar movie came from haitian mythology. have you ever read about jung? one of my faves
The other day I sent out to the Ezili Listserve:

Chimamanda Adichie's enlightening presentation: "The Danger of A Single Story." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg

The video shares a critically important viewpoint. It highlights well the necessity for authentic Black education and multicultural tolerance. I got many feedback on it. One in particular was too poignant.

Referring to this powerful African woman - Chimamanda Adichie's "single story" presentation, the commentator, wrote:

"This reminds me of when in school at Saint Louis de Gonzague (in Haiti), we all would recite our history lesson to the "Cher Frere" as loud as possible: "Nos ancetre les Gaulois avais des cheveux blonds et des yeux bleus!""

Isn't that so, so, so sad. The "benevolent" white savoirs, accomplices to the imperialistic ones so violate the Haitian child's psyche, so mess up the African and Black mind, so strum up dependency as to perennially have a gig in Haiti, that they teach Black children at their Pèpè schools to recite:

"Our ancestors the Gauls had blond hair and blue eyes! "

No wonder Haiti's schooled class are sooooo lost! This is what they do in Africa also. That's why our brothers and sisters are our enemies. They learn early, in so many ways- overt, covert and subliminal ways, to defend the white cultural and imperialistic interests, not their own at all cost!

Ezili Dantò of HLLN