Typically, in African Traditional Religions initiates are adorned with beads that have been consecrated and ritually fed.
ELEKES - worn in the Orisha/Lukumi Tradition | Photo Courtesy: Shango Lade
In the Orisha/Lukumi Tradition, Elekes are beaded necklaces in patterns and colors of the Orisha. Once an individual’s head is crowned to an Orisha, other adornments such as bracelets for Oshun, Yemaya and Oya, in addition to an Ide - an intricate beaded bracelet indicating the initiates head Orisha, is also worn.
In Haitian Vodou, none of the aforementioned accessories exists within our spiritual/initiation system - with the exception of a sacred beaded necklace, known as Kolye. Kolye’s are long in length and stylized for a particular individual, which includes the representation of all Lwa. Ritually fed and presented, this is a badge of initiation into Vodou.
We do not have a single strand beaded necklace for Legba, in whatever color(s) folks are debating belong to him, charged at the crossroads.
No cutesy, pink & gold beads for Freda, ritually dipped in champagne. Blue & crystal beads cleansed in the ocean for La Sirene & Agwe don’t exist. Red and blue for Danto or Ogou? Black and Purple beads for Gede & Manman Brijit charged in a cemetery?! No. Traditionally, we do not have handmade bracelets, waist beads, anklets, or amulets that are “ritually charged” under a full moon, to “open doors”, aid in protection, love or prosperity in the name of Lwa. This is Millennial Internet Vodou for monetary gain. This is an individual who is clearly arrogant to think “Vodou Lwa Necklaces” exists, and it’s acceptable to create this nonsense. If someone is making and selling these Etsy/FB/Insta trinkets to you, please know you are simply wearing jewelry - void of any energy from Lwa. If this person is a Manbo or Houngan: THEY KNOW BETTER!! Use Discernment.
KOYLE - worn by Hatian Vodou initiates | Photo Courtesy: Loraj Gwonde Bon Manbo | Soysete Nago
Just as Elekes are received in a beautiful ceremonial fashion, Kolye is ritually washed, prayed and sung upon, by an entire community, with an animal sacrifice included - it is empowered! It is ACTIVATED by initiated hands, with license to do ritual work. It is then placed upon the neck and crossed across the body of the initiate, which indicates priesthood into Vodou - KANZO, which seals the commitment to be a servant of Lwa until death.
Lukumi and Vodou have many similarities, but they are two vastly different spiritual systems. They should be respected and treated as such, when ritual implements/tools & regalia is concerned.