The Nanm or Soul

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Different from the Mind, which involves conscious and unconscious thoughts generally processed by the brain, the Soul can best be expressed as what engenders the rational, the emotional and the volitional faculties in the human being, hence determining all behavior. Conceived as forming an entity distinct from the Body and from the Mind, it involves the principles of life in a person.

Not having in itself any physical or material reality, the Soul is regarded as being the immortal or spiritual part of the person which is capable of surviving one’s physical death. Acting then as the true axis of life, it is thus perceived as being perpetually in motion. It circles around its own axis and vibrates continuously like the specific part of the soul called "Nanm" does in everything else which has life. The differences that exist between the many living things, and also in the sub-particles of the Soul in the human being, are due to the vibrations which are thus generated differently qualitatively and in intensity. Those vibrations are, so, different one from another, each one of them having a particular rate, amplitude and mode of vibration.

The manifestations and influence of those movements extend to the mental activities of the human being and account for the bewildering succession of moods, feelings and other changes that one may notice fairly easily in one’s live. So, in a very harmonious manner, the Soul carries along with it in its movements the two other components of the human being, the Body and the Mind. It does so to the point where when the Soul goes well, everything else adjust itself to it and goes well too, conversely, when it is in disorder, or in disharmony or out of equilibrium, everything else follows the same way.

To define these internal spiritual entities, particles, energies or forces, Masterly Vodoun Medicine identifies:

  • A "Gwo Bon Anj", which translated in English means "Big Good Angel". In the liturgy of the Haitian people, it is named "Sè Mèdo" as it does also for the Fon people of the Republic of Benin in Africa. Undifferentiated from one person to another, the "Sè Mèdo" is the divine particle in each person. The function of the Sè Mèdo, essentially, consists at maintaining that person alive and it is viewed as the breath of life that everyone alive possess. That is why everyone commends respect and the love of others for the simple fact of their existence.

  • A "Ti Bon Anj" which translates in English as a "Small Good Angel". It is also known as the "Sè Lido", in Africa as in Haiti. Immortal and indestructible, it is the spiritual principle of the person that could be referred to as the intellect. Its function is to allow the person to know, to understand, to reinforce his attention and to develop his aptitudes. The Holistic system includes a belief in sixteen reincarnations and the experiences of the person in the previous lives are retained and fill the bag of the unconscious. The "Sè Lido" is the seat of intelligence, knowledge, reflection, memory and will. It enables the individual to make comparisons, judgments and to set oneself up in the equilibrium state that is better for the person. Very autonomous, that spirit is able to leave the body at any given time, to liberate itself temporarily and to act freely. In moments of trance, the Ti bon Anj is displaced, giving way to the intercession of the vodoun spirits.

  • The "Nanm", often referred to as the "Nyam, Djam, Djanm" may be translated in English as the "Soul proper". It is that vital energy in a person whose forces are localized in each cells of the anatomical structure and in the various organs of the sub-structure of the body. As a perfect watchdog, it controls their functioning. It may then be viewed as being also the seat of genetics and under its command one transmits one’s biological inheritance.

  • The "Zetwal", translated in English as the "Star" of a person is also known in Africa as the "Sè Kpoli". Contrarily to the other Sè, or Spirits of the person, this one is believed to reside outside of the body, in a star, as a Star in the ocean of Stars. It is from that belief that one usually says that one is born on a good or shiny Star, or on a dimly lit or bad Star. The shooting stars always indicate the death of someone or the fact that someone has left his body behind to change his spiritual condition. "He or she has passed away!" it is usually said. The role of the "Zetwal" is to serve as the guardian of the "Spiritual Calabash". This means that all the many events, good and bad, that should enrich the wisdom of a person falls from it as coming from an inverted spiritual gourd. Acting, then, in a manner somewhat analogous to what people in the western world would call fate, it provides each person with what is good for his amelioration and for his spiritual advancement.

  • The "Lwa Mèt Tèt", or the "Spirit Master of one’s Head", is one of the spiritual forces that vibrates in harmony with one of the 401 pulsating forces that sustain the Universe, generally referred to as Lwa. Everyone functions under the influence of a set of Lwa and one in particular called "Lwa Mèt Tèt" vibrates at frequencies that are characteristic to the person. Acting as an archetype, it gives the individual the major traits of his nature, making some persons calm and peaceful, and others, fiery and combative. Still others may have a changing and stormy disposition or others will have totally different basic tendencies, making them tender, sentimental, full of passion and/or with an abundant sense of humor and generosity, etc...

  • The "Lwa Rasin" or "Lwa eritaj" binds the individual to his and to her ancestors, to those ancestors who are near in time as well as to those who are "far away", therefore guaranteeing the lineage. They influence the behavior of the individuals by establishing the link with the near and with the far distant ancestors who, at times, enter the boulevard of the unconscious of the person to come and talk to him or to her in dreams, to warn the person of any susceptible danger, and to intervene at the many levels of his life.

  • The "Wonsiyon" are a series of Spirits that accompany the "Lwa Mèt Tèt" and modify somewhat the amplitude and the frequencies of its vibration or presence. Perceived as energies of very neighboring vibrations, they add their own frequencies to the one of the Lwa Mèt Tèt in order to generate new vibrations and frequencies. Consequently, they modify the amplitude or the character of the individuals by their presence. It is due to the contribution of the "Wonsiyon" that everyone attains ultimately what may be called "the irreducible personality" or the uniqueness of the individual.

"When it rains, it pours!" is a common saying in the English language. Rightfully so, probably because the disordered state of a person is the best definition of illness in this context. Illness may be translated as a physical or as a mental condition, or both at the same time, as it may also be an accident of any kind, the loss of one’s job or good fortune, the instability, the lack of peace and confusion of a member, or of many members of that family, ...etc. etc., all of those happening together and all of a sudden, in part or in whole.

Necessarily they affect the normal functions, or health, of that individual or of that household, and possibly of that society. Thus, to say that someone’s life is in disorder embraces many notions not necessarily linked to just one’s health. This is why it is customarily said that this person, as it may also be said for a society, is sick because his/her life is in disorder.


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© Max G. Beauvoir - 1998 - 2006

all  reproduction is strictly forbidden without express authorization

Author : Max-G Beauvoir
Tel :  (509) 458 1500
Le Péristyle de Mariani, Mariani, Haiti

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