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#2571: La Sirene : Wilcken returns to the theme

From: Lois E Wilcken <makandal-ny@juno.com>

I'm enjoying reading the posts on my favorite lwa, whom I've been
tracking since I was 6 years old--but formally since 1993.  Just a few
more words.

The word "siren" is Greek, seemingly derived from the Greek verb for
"attract."  Greek poets and storytellers must have loved her, because
she's ubiquitous in their texts, the best known being Homer's Odyssey. 
(And I'm guessing that this is why the ougan-s we cited said she's
Greek.)  The Greek sirens, who usually came in pairs or trios, were birds
with the heads and voices of women.  French composer Georges Kastner, who
published an outstanding hommage to the Siren in 1858 ("Les Sirenes:
Essai sur les principaux mythes relatifs a l'incantation"), believed that
one of the siren's predecessors was the Egyptian  "ba," a psychopomp who
showed the same visual form as Homer's sirens and sang the dead into the
next life.  Kastner also used medieval bestiaries to suggest that the
siren mingled with the fish-tailed mermaid and gave her her name--and her
seductive voice--during the Middle Ages in Europe.

Regarding possessions, Lasirenn frequently visits the house of a manbo in
Freeport, New York.  I have also seen her in my house in Haiti, and Maya
Deren refers to her hissing (p. 145) as if she had perhaps heard it.

The Siren's appearances in such diverse places as the Indian Ocean, West
and Central Africa, Peru, Venezuela, Ireland, Germany, Russia, New York,
etc., etc., bring me back to my point from an earlier post about the
universality of the spirits.  During the discussion of Gran Brijit, I was
picking up on an assumption of single origin.  My own feeling is that
each of the spirits has a wonderfully complex story.

Lois Wilcken
La Troupe Makandal - New York City's #1 Haitian Roots Ensemble
621 Rutland Road, Brooklyn NY 11203
718-953-6638 / makandal-ny@juno.com