New Orleans Voodoo Tarot - the THREES - my take

Little Baron

Ok. Now, I might need to really concentrate here. Things seem to be deviating from any structure I am currently used to [which is not a bad thing, and is quite refreshing]. But I will hold my head up, research and read on with the pure mind of Damballah Wedo.

Now, consider this. The 'threes' are the home to the family of Guedeh spirits - they fit within the third vessel of the Tree of Life, 'Binah'. The Guedeh, apparently, are the forgotten ancestors. These loa hold safe the nameless, so that they are honoured and not forgotten. The wild card in this deck [Les Barons] are also ancestors. But they are known, rather than annonymous.

To try and comprehend the ideas of Sally Anne Glassman even further, I will add that the sub-title of this selection is 'Sex, Death' in the accompanying book. These are considered as twin forces. Sex offers continuation in the physical world that we live in. Whereas death promises continuation in the Invisible world. This is where the ancestors dwell, I believe, if I am picking all of this up correctly. And Binah, in Kabbalah, is understanding. The whole section of cards is referred to as 'The Womb-Tomb'.

The four spirits in this section are -

Guedeh, the loa of air

Guedeh la Flambeau, a dancing spirit of fire, who swings a girl around amongst flames.

Oya, the Santeria orisha of earth.

ManMan Brigitte, shown as an old woman of water

Guedeh la Flambeau is one of the cards that always left me a little uncomfortable, initially. It shows a large, topless man, dancing with a petite girl. He wears dark glasses and purple trousers. I would say that he is attractive .. and knows it. He literally swings her around the card. He is so much bigger than her and much stronger. I found this overpowering a little off-putting and intimidating at first, as I also did the hand between his legs, holding his crotch.
Fire leaps from his heels, backside and arms. This card, from the suit of Petro [fire], to me, has very strong sexual overtones. It might not be a surprise then that he is named the 'Little Death', which is a word used to describe the orgasm. He is the moment of seduction experienced by the moth before it's body joins with the flame.
All in all, force and strength of a sexual nature is described in this card.
Within the words of the book, Guedeh la Flambeau is connected to arrogance on occasion.

This is one card that I find difficult to grasp, due to my previous knowledge of general tarot getting in the way. I wonder how this card relates to the numerological three and it's growth [maybe it doesn't ;) ]. Or is it this feeling of 'continuation from one world to another?

As a story, sexual play does seem to follow through chronologically in the first three cards of the Petro suit, however, as we see the birth of fire, it's connection with another in the '2' and an 'arousal and seduction' as it burns to the 'max' in the '3'. But as it burns brightly, I wonder if this card shows the brightest dance of passion that can exist before it burns out completely in the constrictions of the number four. Sex is sex. And death will soon be death.

Is this card, the mating dance between two people? Is this card less literal than it seems. Is it just a show .. or symbolic? Does it suggest making the most of what you have attracted, while you can? Is the dance the result of the action produced from the '2'? It might be 'having fun'; enjoying your body and those of others. At first, I worried that it does not fit with any tradition that I know, but to be honest, Waite's own '3 of Wands' is pretty vague, also. And who was to say that he was right?


Little Baron

Manman Brigitte and Guedeh are married. And both of the couple watch over the cemetary. As a judge and lawyer, Brigitte is one of the highest powers that we can plead our case to in Voodoo. She is shown as a corpes-like woman, sitting on a throne of bricks in a graveyard. Being that the 'three's' are subjects of life and death, ManMan Brigitte holds the balance within her, and like the archeytypal major, she offers fair judgement. To be happy, this balance needs to be exerted and this is what she judges and understands. You can not understand one with out the other, and understanding death opens up the possibility of access to the pleasures of life.

Her husband, however, is that little more sombre. Beneath him, we see three coffins. Inside them are skeletons. All three are in the position of prayer. We are told that Guedeh has one dark eye. This is due to one of the lenses on his glasses being smoked. The reason being for this, is to keep one eye on this world and the other on the world of the invisibles, whom he protects.
But one eye is turned inward in refection. He is reflecting on the more sombre aspect of praising the nameless, I imagine; and this is a more sorrowful and unhappy edge to this card. This is one key that does run on a parallell with both the RWS and Thoth, since sadness is indicated. As we look at a continuation between one world to another, and the family Guedeh are praising the nameless burried beneath them, I think that it is safe to say that there is some kind of release or move on from the darker part of this card. In that sense, it does seem to draw havily on the traditional 'Three of Swords', symbolically.

In terms of Oya, there seems little useful commentary in the accompanying book. I had always disliked this card, because it reminded me of a handful of chips with legs, but now, I read that she is a woman, dancing, while covered with pieces of torn cloth. She grabs hold of two strikes of lightening. We are told that Oya is the mother of all storms. She is shown dancing on top of a tomb, covered with the 'growth' of eggplant. This spirit, like the other three, stands between the worlds. She is a door from one to another, so the theme of continuation and change follows through in the Santeria orisha. Oya's lightning brings change, and we are told that for those in the marketplace or business, her influence is a good one.


Grip Dellabonte

Wow. Your definitions were deep and the book's were shallow. I feel like I need to leave the shallow side of the pool, but I'm not going to go to the deep end without my floaties!
Martinie and Glassman have a couple different views on why this group represents the threes.
Binah (as Love) is the home of the loa, Guedeh. Binah joins with Chokmah (as Will) to birth Daath, which is where the Barons live (I don't understand all this as yet, but I hope I will at the end!). So far this corresponds with the traditional tarot in that one becomes two, issuing a third. I have to study more on the Voodoo aspect of this, and on the Tree of Life aspect, but for now...this is one of their justifications for this group being a Three.
Then, love combined with sex = life ("souls are born into this world"), and love combined with death = afterlife ("ancestors are born into the world of the Invisibles"). Both are considered passages, or initiation. So we could say these are cards of Initiation.

Now. Guedeh La Flambeau.
Their take on it is that this card signifies force and strength but of a sexual nature.
In terms of Initiation he could be initiating something simply because he's attracted to her, or she may be going through a rite of passage, and he's the channel.
You defined the sexual energy of the man very well.
I noticed that he appears to be a bit of an aggressor. She, on the other hand, is not leaning into him, but almost pulling away. Yet he is trying to pull her back.
To take the concept of "three" even further, they neither of them are looking at each other. Could they both be looking at a third party, and is it the same third party?
It seems as though he has swept her off her feet. But while he looks to be enjoying himself, I don't think she is having a good time.
Words you used to describe this card were "uncomfortable", "intimidating", and "off-putting". I agree. He's a bit of a bully to me.
Very powerful, aggressive, and I bet a bit insensitive.
But, since he lives in Binah with the other Guedeh, his role in the life/death cycle is on the side of life. So his is a Life Initiation. A beginning stage of something, but also a learning process.

This one is tough for me. Manman Brigitte is the loa of change, and she resides in the cemetary with her husband, Guedeh. But where he sits and keeps one eye on the Visible World and one on the Invisibles, she sits and waits to pass judgment on those who are still living. She holds the balance between life and death. Her message is that to understand and fully appreciate life, you must face the truth about death. If you don't she has no patience with you. She doesn't like falsehoods.

If she is also an Initiation card, I guess her rite of passage would be the recognition stage....when you have come before her for an answer and she has told you that life is about change, and you have to accept the change before you can move on. That decision to accept change or not is another rite of passage. (Sure don't see the three of cups in THIS card!).

This Guedeh's role is on the side of death. So his is a Death Initiation. He keeps one eye turned outward amongst the living, but one turned inward to protect the Invisibles. This is an ending stage, but also a learning process.
In this picture he is watching over three departed ones.

The two Guedehs are closely linked because in order for this Guedeh to manifest, something must have had a beginning in order to be at an end.
And with Guedeh La Flambeau, something must have just ended in order for there to be a beginning. They cycle each other (or re-cycle even! HA!).

He is smoking and has some food and jugs by him. I notice offerings to Guedeh would include cigars and rum, so it wouldn't hurt to have a little of those around, I guess, if something particularly painful was about to end for you!

The Egyptians believed the scarab to be a symbol of creation, resurrection and everlasting life. So this interpretation could have some validity as well as the beetles representing the light that appears at the darkest hour.

The divination part of the card talks of the gaity and joy that comes in the wake of the release of sorrow.

So, this card is the "dark night of the soul" card, but the beetles speak of resurrection, creation, rebirth, and joy that follows sorrow.

The first thing that came to mind was that Oya was "dancing on someone's grave". So my gut reaction was that someone was benefitting from someone else's bad luck. That may be too literal an interpretation of this card!

There are eggplants healthily producing all over the place. Eggs are little universes of life and possibilities in compact containers. Eggplants are sacred to Oya.
I would say that from the definition of the card, something fruitful is growing out of something that was dead.
You have death and life on the same card again so there is the balance aspect returning.
They say her dance between the worlds of life and death have a more wrenching quality when they pass from one to the other - abrupt change. But the card doesn't really leave me with that impression.

Little Baron

Thanks for that Grip. I will have to read it all through a few more times and digest it.

I find the threes quite difficult to get an understanding of. I appreciate that some people say to leave the usual tarot meanings we know behind, but I need some kind of connection - as to why it is a three and why the cards are all part of the same collective. And here, it is difficult for me to get my head around them. With the 'two's' and even the four's, I could make sense. But here, it is not so easy.

I will need to pull the cards out and go through them with your text. And also to look back over what I wrote.

Do you feel you have a hold on them?


Grip Dellabonte

"Do I feel I have a hold on them?"!
Not at all.
Even while I was writing I revised stuff so many times.
This deck is going to be a real education!
Some of the cards a person can see in the context of traditional tarot, like maybe the aces. But I just don't know if I can ever see Manman Brigitte in the same light that I see Three of Cups. I think more cards are going to turn out to be like that one. She just is what she is, and even if they say she correlates to 3 of cups I don't know if I'll ever make that connection.