Monsieur Yawovi standing beside the Appelli that guards his house
Wood carver in the nearby village of Adokowoe beside ancestor statues
Each cluster of houses has its own shrine where villagers perform ceremonies and hold fetes. The shrines vary widely in structure, but they are usually the size of a small room with a door in the middle of one side. On each side of the door is a cement ledge for seating. There are two rectangular holes on each side of the door. Next to these holes, offerings are hung to please the gods: the bones and meat of animals, crops such as corn, cassava, peanuts, and beans from the recent harvest, etc. The front of shrines is always painted white.
Shrines can be covered by a tree planted in their centers or by metal / palm thatch roofing. Within the interior, there is a second cement ledge holding back a mound of earth. Cola nuts from previous ceremonies cover the ledge, and various iron tools are planted in the ground in front of it. Cola nuts are considered the food of the devil, and villagers eat them throughout the fetes. The devil leaves the tools behind after he visits. I got very confused trying to find out whether the devil was a good or evil deity. I was told that these tools protect a villager and that when a mean person tries to attack them these tools will make the attacker fall to the ground so they can’t get up and the villager can escape. There also exists an overseeing ‘God,’ different from those designated for natural elements and animals, and I’m not sure whether he is considered good or bad either.
A small voodoo shrine next to the local azeto’s house
Villagers who have sickness in the family can come pray to deities at the shrine to make them better. There are also certain days of the week when people are not allowed to enter the shrine. While visiting a friend in a nearby village, he enthusiastically showed me the local shrine and then, eyes downcast, told me to come back the next day because entrance isn’t permitted on Mondays.