The most simplest way to categorize the Loa is to call them dead, or undead. This isn’t exactly accurate, nor technically all-encompassing, since the Loa carry life in them and they do not exhibit signs of decomposition or decay. They may eat, drink, sleep, and even dream. Death, however, is forever out of their reach.
Perhaps Immortals, then? Except that these behaviors have become voluntary and, more damning, they have lived a mortal life and died. They have passed through death’s cloying rancid grip and been made into something different. Their footsteps, if taken absently enough, can lead them into the heart of the population of loss, and they now traffic in the very substances that symbolize life and death.
So, we call ourselves the dead, when we do not ascribe to the Loa myths, or when we want to be more general, for we know that New Orleans cannot be our only home.
Birth of a Dead Man
How does a Loa come into being? Unlike polite society, the Loa are born in several ways, each carrying dangers to those involved beyond the simple act of Dead procreation. Ew.
By Ritual Reborn
Most Loa in a given population are created via a ritual that consecrates them body and soul to the population of the dead. The ritual varies from House to House, and will occasionally include more than one participant; invariably, however, it includes the following steps.
The Draining of all Life from the intended Loa
This can take the form of blood or semen; flesh is possible, but leaves a cursed creature
The mixing of their Life with Ichor brought from the Other World
This step can be skipped if the Loa has brought the intended into the Other World already
Feeding the mixture (or their Life) back to them in small part
This is crucial, and can easily be done wrong; most Loa mix it with rum to ease it going down
Death in the Beyond
A member of polite society who has somehow wandered, or been abandoned, in the Other World will rapidly find themselves the victim of those who dwell there. This death is often brutal and horrific, but should some of their Life fall back across their lips after body is drained of all of it, they may rise as a form of Loa.
This is a common practice for House Ghede if they feel betrayed by a human vassal.
Opening the Eyes
And finally, some people simply become when they pass. They have often been connected with a Loa in the past, but this experience is not universal. This is extraordinarily rare, but it is believed this is how the Loa first appear in new populations.
There are some who believe that this is a reaction from the world itself when the Dead have no one to tend to their eccentricities, but many Loa scoff this off as hokum.
To Kill the Undying
As stated, the Loa can’t die, per se. They possess no Life of their own, and so losing what Life they carry simply results in them lacking it when they need it. They can, however, be injured. Severely.
A headshot, surprise, will cripple and incapcitate a Loa. Just like anything else. Except that the Loa will still experience its surroundings mutely, as if from a distance. Same as severing its head. It is still there, it can still comprehend and experience. It simply cannot interact with the world around it.
So, removing its head and burying it in a separate grave is a common way of “executing” the Loa. Burning their body has a similar effect, but only if the ashes are spread to the winds, or it is believed that they will eventually reform (there is very little data supporting this, however). The Loa do not have any specific weaknesses in the world of polite society to be exploited, except folklore rituals; and even then, only if performed perfectly.
In the Other World, however, the same fire that threatens the Dead can cause real harm to a Loa. It doesn’t just consume Life, but Death as well, and wounds inflicted by this flame do not heal by any means, ever. They are forever scars of twisted flesh and exposed bone boiled black.