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Wanga is a collection of religious beliefs stemming from the slave communities of the Caribbean (including Voudoun). Also, the term applied to the schools of sorcery that stem from these religions. It is a relatively rare form of blood sorcery practiced by vampires in the Caribbean (particularly Haiti) and Africa. Though rumored to have originated with the Samedi bloodline, modern Wanga is wielded with great prominence among the Serpents of Light.
Due to its religious themes, the source material draws distinct similarities to the Voudoun paradigm practiced by the Samedi. The source material notes that the Serpents of Light are immune to being mounted by Baron Samedi, which seems to imply that, though Wanga is somewhat separate from Voudoun Necromancy, its concepts are very similar - including the danger of Baron Samedi mounting, harassing and molesting its practicioners.
At its core, Wanga is a syncretic magic system based on the folk rituals and spiritualism associated with the various “slave religions” which evolved among whose victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade who ended up in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the antebellum U.S. slave states.
The most prominent of these religions today are Vodoun (Haiti, New Orleans, and several regions of Africa), Santeria (Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Florida), and Candomble (primarily Brazil). Wanga is similar to Setite Sorcery in that it is a religious form of magic practiced by Kindred indigenous to any of the regions where the associated religions are practiced, but it is distinct and separate.
The various spirits (loa) that are called upon by the Wangateur to support him in his sorcery vary from tradition to tradition, a vodoun Wangateur would call upon different loas than a Santeria Wangatuer. The spirit must be appropiate to the path. Amulets and talismans are called Paquets, Congo or Hands. A Wangateur also employs dozens of herbs, spices and mysterious powders. Other common paraphernalia include rum, candles, rattles, drumming, designs of sprinkled flour called Vevers - and blood sacrifice to appease the loa.
Wanga blurs the lines between rituals and paths. The invocation of its paths often requires the presence of specific materials and the vocalization of names of power. Therefore Wanga possesses its own unique web of tools, components and ritualistic items that must often be present for the magic to work. Not every ritual involves all of these tools, but the vast majority of them require at least a few. Listed below are the more common of Wanga's tools, once again, a bit of research on the players' part will turn up a wealth of additional material.
Asson - used primarily in voudoun. This is a rattle wielded by the houngan or mambo, and is considered a magical and sacred object. It is normally constructed out of a gourd to which has been affixed a wooden handle, and is often decorated with such esoteric items as snake bones and bits of coral.
Ekwele - from the Santerfa faith, this is a thin chain measuring about 50 inches in length, and broken at regular intervals by one-and-a-half inch disks made from a tortoise shell. It is used in the practice of Ifa, a form of divination.
Ese - also from Santerfa, the Ese are poetic verses used in the interpretation of Ifa. Babalawos often have hundreds of these committed to memory.
Farine - this flour used to trace the veves utilized in voudoun rituals.
Gris-gris - a gris-gris is a charm, talisman or any other small magic item. Many of the faiths refer to such charms as wangas; gris-gris is the voudoun equivalent.
Hounfour - a temple or structure used for ceremonies to the god of voudoun.
Kisengue - a human shinbone wrapped in black rags, this is a common component of Palo Mayombe ceremonies.
Ngana - a large iron cauldron filled with graveyard earth, bones, and sticks and other disturbing ingredients. It is one of the most important components of Palo Mayombe. (This term also refers to a priest or shaman of certain African religions, though it is never used in that context here.)
Peristyle - an open courtyard in which voudoun ceremonies are held. There is often, but not always, a hounfour located on the property.
Poteau Mitan - the pole that stands at the center of peristyle or hounfour. It is often carved or decorated, and represents the center of the universe and its connection with the spirit world. All dancing during the ceremony revolves around the poteau mitan.
Veve - common to many of the Afro-Caribean faiths but most prevalent in voudoun, this is a symbolic design representing one of the Ioa (or other spirit). Veves are used as the focus of rituals, and serve as a temporary altar when a more permanent construct is unavailable. Although they can be found written or inscribed on all manner of surfaces, they are most commonly constructed by pouring flour on the ground during rituals.
The following paths are unique to Wanga:
- Touch of Life: Allows to perform minor feats of blood without spending blood (assuming the blush of life etc.)
- Strength of Root and Stone: Increase physical attributes without the use of blood
- Breath of Life: Heal bashing damage without spending blood by using a special paste
- Favor of the Orishas: Use substitutes (tobacco, ivory) to fuel Disciplines
- Gift of Ashé: Grant the powers of the Path to other Kindred.
- Sheltering Hand: Granting a little bit extra fortune
- Fortune's Blessing: Granting oneself minor luck
- Fortune's Curse: Cursing an enemy to suffer a minor inconvenience
- Fortune's Favor: Granting oneself considerable luck
- Smiting Hand: Cursing an enemy to suffer catastrophic misery
- Scent of the Beast: Influencing an animal by emitting the same scent
- Hide From Hunter's Eyes: Becoming invisible to the senses of animals
- Marking the Prey: Fixing the attention of animals to a specific target
- Guiding Spirit: Manipulate the emotional state of an animal
- Mantle of the Beast: Assuming one animal feature
- Blinding Chango (Path of the Dry Nile)
- Zarabanda’s Malice (The Serpent Within)
- Path of Corruption
- Spirit Manipulation
- Path of Blood
- Path of Curses
Wangateurs have access to several rituals of "traditional" Thaumaturgy. These include many wards and other defensive rituals, divinations, various bone-related rituals and those that are designed to cause injury or consternation from a distance ("curse" rituals). In addition, Wanga has its own rich library of unique magics that call upon the spirits and the ashé around them.
To perform a ritual, a wangateur must wield an asson, an ekwele, a kisengue or other religious talisman, in addition to listed components. Wanga rituals require a roll of Intelligence + Occult versus difficulty of the ritual's level + 3 (maximum 9). A failure on this roll indicates that the magic has not been properly invoked; any required components are still consumed, and must be replaced if the caster wishes to try again. Botches indicate the orishas' displeasure and often pervert the intent of the ritual, causing an effect exactly opposed to that which was intended.
Many of the rituals draw upon components and practices taken from a specific religion (Voudoun, candomblé, etc). These are usable by any wangateur; if, however, a character is willing to dray only on one faith, she might have to make use of a modified variation of the ritual. Players should feel free (in fact, feel encouraged) to do some research in that direction if they're so inclined.
Some rituals, such as Grandfather's Gift, Ori Sight, and Shackles of Blood, call specifically upon ancestral spirits. The Ara Orun, while often generous and helpful, can also be malicious and cruel on whim. Any time such a ritual is attempted and failed, the Storyteller should secretly roll the caster's Charisma. If this roll fails or botches, the failed ritual bay be considered a botch, rather than a simple failure – at the Storyteller's discretion; the Ara Orun have proven exceptionally hostile this night.
Level One RitualsEdit
- Singing Charm
A small item is enchanted to send out a call that only the caster can hear. This "song" is audible for many miles, and the magician can always determine direction and approximate distance to the charm. On Sunday night, the caster slices off an earlobe, which is then placed in a pot or other metallic receptacle. To this is added one point of the caster's blood and the tongue of a bird. The entire mixture must be buried and the remains mixed with the ashes of a cremated corpse. This ash is then placed in a small leather or hide pouch (perhaps the size of an apricot), which must be sewn shut.
Level Two RitualsEdit
- Craft Garde
The caster creates gardes (also called paquets Congo), talismans designed to protect the bearer against hostile magics. The garde may look like nearly anything – a small leather pouch, a doll or bit of ornamental jewelry are all common forms. The caster mixes two points of her own blood with various powdered healing herbs (such as jurubeba), exactly nine drops of rum and some sample (hair, fingernail, etc.) from the intended recipient of the garde. The garde thus created will function only for that person. This ritual does not allow the caster to create a talisman to protect herself.
- Craft Gris-Gris
Also called "Craft Wanga," this ritual is referred to by its voudoun-specific name in order to avoid confusion with the practice of Wanga. The wangateur creates a gris-gris that will bring harm and misfortune to the recipient. The victim feels ill, suffers from ailments such as headaches and muscle pains and is unable to concentrate. The caster must mix two points of his own blood, the finger bone of an infant, nine pinches of graveyard dirt and a sample taken from the intended victim. The gris-gris must then be hidden within a few feet of the victim's home or haven.
- Grandfather's Gift
The wangateur contacts the Ara Orun and asks them to grant her their skills and knowledge. The caster must fix one handful of graveyard earth and an offering to the spirits into a small container. This offering should consist of rum, fruits, cigarettes, pennies and any other gifts she feels appropriate. If successful, the spirits grant her temporary knowledge.
Level Three RitualsEdit
- Curse Candle
On a Friday night, the magician creates a black candle incorporating the brains and bones of a dead man, nine pinches of cemetery dirt, pepper, the leaves of an itching plant and other herbs. By burning the candle for 20 minutes each night while concentrating on the victim, the magician plagues the victim with poltergeist-like activity such as thrown objects or furniture that moves to trip him. This only happens when no one else is looking. Other people will soon think that the victim is crazy, clumsy or both. Most of the time, the curse is merely a nuisance. If the ghostly force shoves the victim while he walks down a steep flight of stairs, though, or throws something while the victim drives a car, the victim might be seriously injured.
- Ori Sight
In voudoun, the ori is the soul, of both the individual and her family, that resides in the head. By petitioning the Ara Orun, the magician may attempt to use the senses of someone else's ori, thus seeing through the subject's eyes and hearing through her ears. The caster must burn one of her own eyes and ears (removing these causes three levels of unsoakable aggravated damage, which can be healed in the normal fashion). The resulting ash must be placed inside a human skull and mixed with a splash of rum, tobacco and an eyelash or drop of blood from the individual in question. The resulting paste must be applied to the caster's empty eye socket and the flesh where her ear used to be. She may then see and hear everything the target experiences.
Level Four RitualsEdit
- Candle of Rage
This is constructed much like the Curse Candle, save that the brains and bones must come from am an who died violently, and that nightshade is substituted for pepper. By burning the candle for 20 minutes each night while concentrating on the victim, the caster may influence the victim's emotional state. The most common result is to drive the target into a rage, but other options exist.
Level Five RitualsEdit
- Shackles of Blood
The wangateur must spill three points of her own blood, numerous herbs (with both healing and hallucinogenic effects), various peppers, tobacco and the heard of a recently deceased person (male if the intended victim of the ritual is female, female if the victim is male) into a nganga. The mixture is then stirred with an iron rod as many of the orishas, including the Ara Orun, are invoked. This takes three full hours of stirring. The result must them be strained through unbleached cotton. The liquid produced, when drunk by the subject, creates an instant – though temporary – emotional attachment that is equivalent to a blood bond. This occurs even if the victim has never fed from the magician. The bond thus created has all the characteristics of the regent-thrall relationship.
^ Flow of Ashé
|Flow of Ashé||Blood Sacrifice: The Thaumaturgy Companion||P. 78-79|
^ Orisha's Fortune
|Orisha's Fortune||Blood Sacrifice: The Thaumaturgy Companion||P. 79-80|
^ Voice of the Wild
|Voice of the Wild||Blood Sacrifice: The Thaumaturgy Companion||P. 80-81|
^ Other Paths
|Other Paths||Blood Sacrifice: The Thaumaturgy Companion||P. 77|
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