Who Is Damballa? The Voodoo God From ‘Chucky,’ Explained
“Ade due Damballa, give me the power I beg of you.” Or at least that’s what Chucky says.
He says it a lot. Usually, it’s the preface to some supernatural hijinks – transferring his soul into a Good Guy doll or trying and failing to take over the body of a frightened child actor. The chant has become a regular staple of the franchise. It must have come from somewhere, right?
It did, kind of – the part about Damballa, especially. Longtime fans of the Child’s Play movies will know that Charles Lee Ray and his on-again, off-again cuddlebug Tiffany get their supernatural powers from voodoo rituals, either thanks to being regular practitioners or having a Voodoo for Dummies book nearby. “Voodoo for Dummies.” I just got that. Good stuff.
Clearly, the franchise isn’t pulling from a place of solemn reverence – the third season of Chucky sees the Lakeshore Strangler visiting a Voodoo doctor’s office, complete with examination table, stethoscope, and sphygmomanometer. But it does draw inspiration from at least one sliver of real Voodoo beliefs.
Damballa – which can be spelled in many ways, but we’re sticking with this one – is about as high in the echelons of Voodoo loa spirits as you’re likely to find. Depending on which variation of the various faiths you follow, he’s either the guy who created the universe or the first spirit made by the guy who did. Creation myths surrounding him describe Damballa as an unfathomably large white serpent who formed the Earth with the curves of his coils and formed the oceans by shedding his skin. There’s an argument to be made that the gathering storm clouds that accumulate whenever Chucky invokes Damballa’s name are a visual reference to the spirit’s association with water. There’s an equally relevant argument that the clouds show up because thunder and lightning are spooky and cool. In either case, they don’t reflect on Damballa’s character within Voodoo beliefs, where he is depicted as ancient, tired, quiet, and generally speaking, pretty chill. He likes eggs and flour if you’re in a giving mood – pretty far from what you can imagine Chucky getting psyched to sacrifice.
All of which makes you wonder: How did Damballa – an exceptionally laid-back giant snake, as giant snakes go – become the go-to favorite for the Midwest’s most prolific killer doll? The answer seems deeply rooted in “making stuff up.” There’s no “Heart of Damballa” or any mythology surrounding the spirit helping murderers turn into the holiday season’s hot toy. In a recent interview with Pop Culture Planet discussing the third season of Chucky, Child’s Play mastermind Don Mancini doesn’t talk much about the cultural origins of Chucky’s favorite supernatural deity. Instead, he sees Damballa as a lens through which to explore new corners of the universe’s lore.
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