What I learned about Voodoo

The spirit of Zagozi (given to me at a Voodoo ceremony)

The spirit of Zagozi (given to me at a Voodoo ceremony and now in Australia)

The Creole Voodoo of Haiti is a small part of a ritual. The word Voodoo represents mysterious powers that control the world. The priest is there to serve the spirits. Voodoo is not a religion; it is rather a physical and spiritual experience… The Voodoo practitioners believe in a higher entity that cannot be communicated with, therefore the prayers are directed to “lower” entities and those are the spirits…
The spirits are divided in to 21 “nations” and each is related to a different Catholic saint. Each spirit nation is related to a “family” and each “family” has a different description like military, women, agriculture, fertility, death etc. For example, there is a spirit called Au’aga. This spirt is of the thunder, Hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In Haiti the spirit of Zagozi is the representative of this spirit.
There are 401 spirits families.

According to Jean-Daniel (a friend and a Voodoo priest), when entering a door at the temple one needs to knock three times, and let the spirits know that you are entering. One must say “honor” and wait for a reply “respect”, and then light a candle. Then one needs to pour water on the floor three times and all that represent the four basics: earth, air, fire and water.

According to Haitian beliefs, we need the spirits, and the spirits need us to survive. Voodoo is not a religion of God; it is a connection between us and God. There are a number of dates where Voodoo ceremonies are always held. One is the Saturday after Easter, where you open the temple, and wake up the spirits that did not work during the holiday. Also there are Voodoo ceremonies for “initiations” where one is “finding” again some elements of his being. For example, one goes through an initiation when becoming a Voodoo priest, or when starting a career as a drummer, or to become a ruler. To become a priest, one needs to go through number of initiations.

It must be clear that Voodoo is not a religion, but there is a religion in Voodoo. Voodoo is a way of life, it is a philosophy with strong elements of religion, and a strong belief in the existence of spirits. For instance, when drinking coffee, we drop three drops on the floor, in memory of our fathers, the spirits and the earth. We also light a candle in memory of our fathers as well.

The Haitians clam that their Voodoo is the richest in the world. The Haitian Voodoo is a mix of many Voodoo practices of many African tribes with influences of Greek and European mythology. Furthermore, there are elements in Voodoo of Jewish, Islamic, and Christian rituals.

Jean Jacques Dessalines the founder of independent Haiti became its first emperor in 1804. He tried to abolish Voodoo following and drove the practises underground, After the passing of Jean Jacques Dessalines, the Voodoo practises started flourishing again.

The Voodoo doesn’t have a “Satan” or “bad” spirits, although there are violent spirts, exactly as like there are violent people. The spirts are the reflection of humanity.
(More of the story of Voodoo and Haiti to come)…

One Response to “What I learned about Voodoo”

  1. Man-this is so great! You’ve thrown a powerful desire on me to get to Haiti! I’ve been working for 20+ yrs looking for small vestiges of Hoodoo and African-based spirituality in the American South. Going to Haiti would probably cause me to explode! We gotta talk soon!

Leave a Reply