Vodou Serpent Simbi Slithers Between the Living and the Dead

Three Kings, Sun, Moon, and Star by Lilith Dorsey

Simbi is a Haitian Vodou Snake Lwa whose realm is magic, mystery and communication. January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, is the traditional time for honoring this Lwa or God. The Simbi snakes are said to reside in the trees, descending to the earth to deliver their divine magic to the world. Like the serpent of Biblical legend, this snake too has great wisdom and power. In the modern world Simbi has taken on the domain of technology. With lightning speed this Vodou spirit carries knowledge via the internet and wi-fi. The veve, or sacred ground drawing, for Simbi most often features a snake slithering through the crossroads. It is almost as if this sacred power crosses over the realm of magic to communicate his message to the world. The crossroads is said to represent the realms between the living and the dead, the visible and the invisible, the known and the unknowable.


A Snake By Many Names

Marie Laveau Snake Painting in the Voodoo Spiritual Temple. Photo by Lilith Dorsey

The are many different Simbis. The Great Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau was said to have a large serpent that she worked with named Simbi, this could be where the bastardization into her connection with Zombies comes from. I don’t know if I give any credence to that theory, but I have heard it whispered around. Some people also believe Simbi to be another manifestation of the Lwa Damballa, while others are more specific in their classification. There is Simbi Dlo, the water Simbi, Simbi Andezo, the two water Simbi, Simbi Anpaka, in charge of leaves and poisons, Simbi Makaya the sorceror, Simbi LaFlambeau, the fire serpent, and Simbi Ganga, the warrior spirit. Elizabeth MacAlister, who I had the good fortune to meet a few years ago, chronicled her experience with the Simbi, and shared the Simbi Ganga song she was given.


Simbi O Simbi Ganga E, m’a rele Simbi Ganga E
Yo mete pote kouto, yo mete pote poinya m’pap pe yo
Simibi Ganga e m’pap pe yo, Simbi Ganga!


Simbi O Simbi Ganga E, I’m calling Simbi Ganga hey!
They can bring knives, they can bring swords, but I am not afraid of them,
Simbi Ganga I’m not afraid of them, Simbi Ganga!


Please check out the Simbi track and more Vodou music on Smithsonian Folkways’ Rhythms of Rapture: Sacred Musics of Haitian Vodou for more Simbi music and other sacred Haitian offerings.



Color: Green and/or White

Sacred Water: From springs, streams, rain or lightning storms

Offerings: Mangoes, Rum

Representations: The Three Kings ( because of the Epiphany,) St. Anthony and Moses.


For more history about Simbi and the indigenous Taino connection I recommend HoodooQ 


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