Damballah Wedo is the powerful serpent god of Voodoo mythology. In the sky above the island of Haiti he manifests himself in the company of his wife, Ayida, as a rainbow. They encompass the world, an entwined air of serpents representing sexual unity.
On earth the river snake Simbi acts as a lesser Damballah: he is the patron of springs and rains. Dan Petro, however, is the stern ‘snake up the tree’, a legacy of the revolt of slaves against the Napoleonic forces that, by 1804, had made Haiti the second free colony in the New World, following the United States of America. Yet the three cosmic serpents, Damballah, Simbi, and Petro, are rather aspects of the life-force than opposed deities. In iconography Damballah Wedo is identified with St Patrick, the sender of the serpents of Ireland into the sea.