Particular attention is given from the pop culture the last century, to the religion simply called Voodoo. From films, songs to literature Voodoo aesthetic always fascinated people. But is it analyzed accordingly? Or is it just been exploited to create false impressions, recycling stereotypes from the past?
Actually, Voodoo is the western term for the religious practices in Haiti culture, called Vodou(a spiritual entity in Fon language). We can track Voodoo references from the 17th century, in French colonies from tribal religions of West Africa, brought to Haiti by slaves.
Between superstition and academic research, historic facts can restore the questionable reputation of Voodoo. But first, we have to understand we are going to examine the darkest spot in modern history, the slavery trade, where hundreds of people partitioned in different places to work in plantations. Voodoo practices are the key element for the slave revolts against colonists and the same reason for its violent suppression. Superstition myths supported these succeed rebellions were caused by voodoo magic and not from the resentful, mistreated people.
Voodoo cosmology and dolls
For purposes of clarity, we should explore the content of Voodoo beliefs. Since the beginning of 17th century and the French colonial period with slavery trades, serious efforts were made to suppress the Voodoo religion and converting it to Christianity. Therefore, we have a divine creator called Mawu, Bondye (Good God) or Granmèt (Great Master), a Voodoo pantheon with spirits, ancestry and the power of the Earth, principal forms of communication like prayer, praise, offerings, and orchestrate ceremonies. These ceremonials were ensuring the protection of the practitioners from the spirits with offerings and honors, a better understanding for the misfortunes of mankind or just an appeasement of the miste, the Voodoo pantheon, collectively called ‘mysteries’ (miste).
Priests and practitioners are servants of the spirits and not commanders with dark purposes, using symbols and rituals as tools to their communication with the Divine. A famous symbol worth mentioning is a Voodoo doll, where mistakenly is portrayed as an instrument of evil where it actually is used for various benevolent purposes. The person who wants to express his questions to the spirits or ask for healing can create a voodoo doll and attach a picture or a lock of hair on it, to personalize the doll and make an easier contact. And here is the interesting part; pins were usually used for these attachments on the doll and not as means to cause pain.
The Voodoo religion has an undeniable huge role in the history of mankind and it is important to separate the facts from superstitions.
The restoration, establishment and academic research of the religion begun in the early 90’s and counts millions of followers worldwide today.