Voodoo otherwise known, as vodou is one of the most dominant religions that is practiced in Haiti. Voodoo can be translated as “sacred, of god” in Haitian Creole. (National African Religion Congress par 1) Voodoo is approximately 10,000 years old. (Ream par 2) The religion has is also practiced in west and central Africa in countries including: Benin and Nigeria. Haitian voodoo is not only practiced Haiti but is regularly practiced in the United States of America, The Dominican Republic, France and Montreal. (Rock par.
2) The goal of Haitian voodoo is to cure or heal individuals from sickness. (Corbett par. 3) Since Haitian voodoo is seen as the main culture/religion and is practiced by roughly seven million people it is seen as a religion that has greatly affected Haitian culture as a worldview. (Rock par 2)
Haitian voodoo commenced when the Europeans colonized the island and was kept as an on going religion through the slave trade. Initially, voodoo was carried to Haiti from the African slaves that came with the colonization of the country.
Catholicism is another dominant religion of Haiti therefore the African slaves were forced to convert. Until Voodoo became an official practiced religion in 2003, Voodoo had always been compared to witchcraft. (Guynap 2) After the French colonized Haiti, Voodoo became a religion that was only practiced under secrecy. (Guynap 2) Now, most Haitians believe practice both Catholicism or Protestantism, and voodoo. Lynne Warberg, a photographer of Haitian voodoo has even said, “ One common saying is that Haitians are 70 percent Catholic, 30 percent Protestant, and 100 percent voodoo.” (Guynup 1)
Haitian voodoo requires the belief of several numerous spirits however there is only one main god. This god is known under the name of Bondye. This one god connects voodoo to other monotheistic religions such as Christianity or Judaism. (Corbett par. 3) After the belief in Bondye there is the belief in the Loa otherwise known as the ‘holy spirits,’ ‘Lwa’, and ‘Loua.’ The Loa are messengers that transmit prayers from god to practitioners. A Loa accompanies each individual that practices voodoo at birth. This Loa controls there that individual’s life as a force responsible for life decisions. (National African Religion Congress par. 5) For example, during religious ceremonies, may attach themselves to their individual in order to transfer messages. (Corbett par. 3) It is believed that the Loa are inherited through maternal/paternal connections. (Haggerty, sec. 3) The Loa are not the only spiritual beings that are involved in Haitian voodoo. There is also ‘the twins’ as well as ‘the dead.’ The twins are known to be forces that resemble good and evil. They may resemble the well-known yin and yang. (Corbett par. 3) The dead however represent dead family members that have been ignored. (Corbett par. 3) Voodoo has a priesthood system made up of both females and males. Male priest are known as hounagans while female priestesses are known by the term mambo. Practioners known as bokor look up to hounagans and mambos.
These priests and priestesses are responsible for healing, performing religious ceremonies, casting spells, creating potions, and holding initiations. The hounagan, mambo, and bokor are considered to be voodoo officials however; there are less important religious officials who help practioners during ceremonial practices. The most well known is the hounganikan (master of ceremonies.) (Corbett sec. 4) There are numerous religious rites or rituals involved in Haitian voodoo. Most of the ceremonies are held outside and are directed by a priest/priestess. Voodoo ceremonies are always participatory. Everyone that observes the ceremony must contribute to the priest/priestess’ work. It is common for the Loa to take control of observers bodies during these rites therefore every participant is at risk of being included in the ritual. Most importantly, there are two main types of voodoo. These are called Rada and Petro. Rada voodoo represents voodoo of the happy and peaceful Loa while Petro is usually associated with black magic and the angry/dangerous Loa. (Corbett par. 4) The type of voodoo greatly influences the kind of religious rite that is held. Haitian voodoo ceremonies vary and often include readings, spiritual baths, sacrificing, and spiritual possession.
Firstly, there are readings. Readings are meant to give insight to an individual’s life direction and are performed my priests/priestesses. The result of the reading will then determine the type of ceremony that must be performed in order to aid the individual. Secondly, there is the spiritual bath. A spiritual bath is a ceremony where an individual is bathed and accompanied by prayers from a priest/priestess. This ceremony may be prescribed if an individual is suffering from illnesses such as diabetes, heart diseases, cancer and AIDS. Thirdly, there is sacrificing. Sacrificing of animals as well as food is very common in Haitian voodoo. The offering of sacrifice can be offered to the Loa to thank them for their help. In a typical ceremony animals such as, goats, and sheep will be sacrificed to the Loa and then eaten as holy meat. In these ceremonies the animal is respected and seen as ‘holy’ because it will result in participants/practioners being rewarded by the Loa. Lastly, there is possession. In numerous ceremonies or religious rites, the priest/priestess is overcome or mantled by the Loa. This means that their body loses consciousness and is taken over by the spirit. When the Loa has possessed a priest/priestess they typical portray spiritual messages in form of speech and sometimes dance. (National African Religion Congress par. 10 – 13) Since the majority of Haiti’s population practices Haitian voodoo, the religion helps create a worldview of the culture to natives as well as foreigners. According to the textbook “Cultural Anthropology” by Schultz et al a worldview can be defined as “an encompassing picture of reality created by members of a society.” (Schultz et al) Haitian voodoo has become a great importance to Haiti’s culture as it is seen as a way of life. The religion structures how the natives have built their beliefs/principles into their lifestyles.
Haitian voodoo is a form of worldview. This Haitian worldview has given Haiti a positive and negative reputation. Foreigners often believe that there is only Petro voodoo and are not aware of Rada voodoo. To foreigners practiced voodoo is portrayed as witchcraft that is dangerous to all. This negative reputation is given off through media as well as input transmitted from uninformed individuals. Even though Haitian voodoo is a worldview is one with a somewhat negative reputation it can also be seen in positive light and voodoo is connected to benefits. Lynne Warberg has also said, “Participation in voodoo ritual reaffirms one’s relationships with ancestors, personal history, community relationships—and the cosmos. Voodoo is a way of life. ” (Guynup 2) The religion is beneficial to understanding history, ancestry, and the community of Haiti as a country. Altogether, Haitian voodoo is an stimulating religion that is practiced by the majority of Haiti. The complex religion is made out of numerous religious rites/ceremonies and involves the majority of the population on Haiti. The religion is looked upon/practiced by natives as well as foreigners leading it to become a worldview.
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Cite this History Of Haitian Voodoo Religion
History Of Haitian Voodoo Religion. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/haitian-voodoo/