Voodoo is portrayed as a dark religion, but in reality it’s not. Voodoo has been practiced for hundreds of years and it all started in haiti, which is known as the home of voodoo. It’s been a crutch for many African Americans and slaves when they had nothing else to turn to. Although Voodoo originated in Haiti and was mainly practiced by African Americans. It is now practiced by millions of people of all races all throughout the world. The dominant religion of Haiti is voodoo (Corbett).
Haitian voodoo is also called Sevis Gineh or “African Service” (“About Haitian Voodoo. “). “Voodoo is a creolized religion forged by descendents of Dahomean, Kongo, Yoruba, and other African ethnic groups who had been enslaved and brought to colonial Saint-Domingue (as Haiti was known then) and Christianized by Roman Catholic missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries. ” In the Fon language of African Kingdom of Dahomey, the word voodoo means “spirit” or “deity” (McAlister). Bondye is the one God (Corbett).
The most important voodoo ceremony in Haitian history was the Bwa Kayiman (Bois Caiman) ceremony of August 1791 near the city of Cap Haitien that began the Haitian Revolution, led by voodoo priest named Boukman” (“About Haitian Vodou. “). Voodoo, which is a traditional Afro-Haitian religion, is a worldview surrounding philosophy, medicine, justice, and religion. The core principle is that everything is spirit and people are spirits that inhabit the visible world (McAlister). Voodoo is built upon a dynamic relationship between the living and spirit realm (Than).
The most important key of Voodoo is healing people from illness. Healers will use different herbs, faith healing, and today, western medicine (Corbett). To truly understand what voodooist believe, you must understand how they see the world (Haas). The most important of Voodoo is to sevi lwa, or serve the spirits. They will pray and perform different devotional rites directed at God and certain spirits in exchange for protection, health, and favor (McAlister). It is said to be about twenty-one nations, or “nanchons” of spirits, that are sometimes referred to as “Iwa-yo” (“About Haitian Voodoo. ). “The living give birth to the dead; the dead become the spirits; the spirits are the multiple expressions of the divine. ” (Than) They believe that their is a visible and an invisible world, and that these world come together.
“Death is a transition to the invisible world, so our predecessors are still with us in spirit” (Hass). Spirits are divided into two categories depending on their nature, hot or cool. Cool spirits go under the Rada category, and hot spirits go under the Petwo category. Rada spirits are familial and mostly come from Africa, Petwo spirits are mostly native to Haiti and are more demanding and require more attention to detail than the Rada, but both can be dangerous if angry or upset. Neither is “good” or “evil” in relation to the other” (“About Haitian Vodou. “). The Lwa, also known as Loa, are the spirits which are served in Haitian Voodoo (“Lwa”). Lwa, are the various spirits of the family members: the spirits of the major forces of the universe-good, evil, reproduction, health, and all aspects of daily life.
They will interact with people of the earth and “mount” onto people during religious ceremonies and give messages. Iwas can even cause good or bad things to happen to the people (Corbett). “In Haiti, during the days of slavery, while performing their religious ceremonies, the slaves honored the ancestral Spirits of all the ethnic groups living on the plantation. ” “The Lwa were given to us to act as intermediaries between humans and Bondye. ” Lwa are mostly ancestors, and some are older than others (“Lwa”).
The twin spirits are known as the Marassa of the voodoo faith. (“Marassa”) “A curious and rather mysterious set of forces of contradictories: good and evil, happy and sad etc. ” If they are honored in a religious service, they will help you have a better side of life (Corbett). They are small children, but they are wise and powerful. The twins are considered to be the first children of God (“Marassa”). The dead are mainly the souls of family members who have passed but not yet been “reclaimed” by the family.
Dead family members that are ignored are dangerous, but honored and cared for family members will help (Corbett). Baron Samedi is a Loa of the dead, and head of the Ghede family of Loa, possibly even their spiritual father. Baron is known under other incarnations such as, Baron Cimetiere, Baron La Croix, and Baron Kriminel (Lawrence). Danballah Wedo, The Great Serpent, is considered to be the primordial creator of all life forms, and also carries all of the ancestors on his back, which makes him our first ancestor.
A nanchon is a group of spirits that are specific to an area of West Africa, where they originated. During the days of slavery in Haiti, the slaves would honor the ancestral spirits of all the ethnic groups living on the plantation. Each group’s spirits are given their proper due and split into different nanchons. During the ceremony, each nanchon of spirits were invoked and honored in their own turn, which formed a hierarchy of Spirits that directly played a part in present-day voodoo rituals (“Lwa”). Preparing for a ritual will take a few days by cooking food and setting up altars. Corbett)
There are many types of rituals and ceremonies that are conducted. (“Vodou”) They will honor the spirits with different type of food and songs. (Corbett) Some are open to the public to view, and other for private clients. (“Vodou”) A lot of people associate voodoo with black magic or conjuring evil forces but it is a very common misconception. Another is that animal sacrifice is widely practiced, which it is, but it is not embraced by all. If sacrifices are still practiced, it mostly in remote, rural areas.
Animal sacrifice is an offering to the spirits, depending on what the community practices (Rosenberg). Voodoo priesthood contains men, known as houngan, and women, known as mambo. They will heal people, perform religious ceremonies to call or pacify the spirits, hold initiations for new priests(tesses), tell the future and read dreams, cast spells and create protections, and create potions that can vary from love spells to death spells (Corbett). Houngan or Mambos will hold a public ceremony for free, but it is appropriate and correct to bring in some type of donation. “Vodou”) If a Houngan or Mambo holds a service to free a loved on from a spirit, then only the family is allowed to watch. They can summon spirits and ask them to show them what is causing the trouble and they will guide them in the right direction to go (“Haitian Voodoo”). In most ceremonies, the spirits will “mount” on to the Houngan or Mambos (Corbett).
“While a Bokors, which could be described as a sorcerer of sorts, do exist, Karen said the darker aspects of Voodoo are not common practice. It’s extremely rare and often looked down upon by many Vodouisants themselves,” he said. ” Blood and sacrifice aren’t always the most important feature of the religion. Vodouisant honors nature as a whole, specifically including trees, mountains, plants, and stones. Some Haitians blame voodoo for a lot of the natural disaster that happened in Haiti (Rosenberg). A lot of people turned to voodoo after the tragic events in search for comfort (Than). Voodoo is feared because of ignorance, and it should not be reprimanded as much as it is (Rosenberg).