I always thought Voodoo, was bad, satanic and evil. Society’s perception of voodoo rites and rituals have been distorted by Europeans to only place focus on the evil or malicious side of things. There are healing spells, nature spells, love spells, purification spells, joyous celebration spells. Spirits may be invoked to bring harmony and peace, birth and rebirth, increase the abundance of luck, material happiness, and renewed health. The fact is, for those who believe it, voodoo is powerful. It is also empowering to the person who practices it.
Voodoo is one of the world’s oldest religions, it has been purposely characterized as barbaric, primitive, sexually licentious practice based on superstition and spectacle. Much of this image, however, is due to a concerted effort by Europeans, who have a massive fear of any and EVERY thing African, to suppress and distort a legitimate and unique religion that flourished among their enslaved Africans. When slavers brought these peoples across the ocean to the Americas, the African’s brought their religion with them.
Yet upon researching, I’ve discovered that it’s not evil at all. Sure you can do some pretty nasty things to those who piss you off, but “Voodoo (Vodun) is a derivative of the world’s oldest known religions which have been around in Africa since the beginning of human civilization. Some conservative estimates these civilizations and religions to be over 10,000 years old.” Ironically, it was the enforced immigration of enslaved Africans from different ethnic groups that provided the circumstances for the development of Voodoo.
European colonists thought that by desolating the ethnic groups, these could not come together as a community. However, in the misery of slavery, the transplanted Africans found in their faith a common thread. They began to invoke not only their own Gods but to practice rites other than their own. In this process, they comingled and modified rituals of various ethnic groups.
The result of such fusion was that the different religious groups integrated their beliefs, thereby creating a new religion: Voodoo. The word “voodoo” comes from the West African word “vodun,” meaning spirit. This Afro-Caribbean religion mixed practices from many African ethnics groups such as the Fon, the Nago, the Ibos, Dahomeans, Congos, Senegalese, Haussars, Caplaous, Mondungues, Mandinge, Angolese, Libyans, Ethiopians, and the Malgaches.
However, since slavery included stripping the slaves of their language, culture, and heritage, this religion had to take some different forms. It had to be practiced in secret since in some places it was punishable by death, and it had to adapt to the loss of their African languages. In order to survive, Voodoo also adopted many elements of Christianity. When the French who were the colonizers of Haiti, realized that the religion of the Africans was a threat to the colonial system, they prohibited all African religious practices and severely punished the practitioners of Voodoo with imprisonment, lashings, and hangings. This religious struggle continued for three centuries, but none of the punishments could extinguish the faith of the Africans. This process of acculturation helped Voodoo to grow under harsh cultural conditions in many areas of the Americas.
Voodoo is a practical religion, playing an important role in the family and the community. One’s ancestors, for instance, are believed to be a part of the world of the spirits, of the Loas, and this is one way that Voodoo serves to root its participants in their own history and tradition. Another practical aspect of Voodoo ceremonies is that participants often come before the priest or priestess to seek advice, spiritual guidance, or help with their problems. The priest or priestess then, through divine aid, offer to help such as healing through the use of herbs or medicines (using the knowledge that has been passed down within the religion itself), or healing through faith itself as is common in other religions. Voodoo teaches a respect for the natural world.
Within the voodoo society, there are no accidents. Practitioners believe that nothing and no event has a life of its own. That is why “Vous Deux”, you two, you too. The universe is all one. Each thing affects something else. Scientists know that. Nature knows it. Many spiritualists agree that we are not separate, we all serve as parts of one. So, in essence, what you do unto another, you do unto you, because you ARE the other. Voo-doo. View you. We are mirrors of each other’s souls. God is manifest through the spirits of ancestors who can bring good or harm and must be honored in ceremonies. There is a sacred cycle between the living and the dead. Believers ask for their misery to end. Rituals include prayers, drumming, dancing, singing and animal sacrifice.
Music and dance are key elements to Voodoo ceremonies. Ceremonies were often termed by whites “Night Dancing” or “Voodoo Dancing”. This dancing is not simply a prelude to sexual frenzy, as it has often been portrayed. The dance is an expression of spirituality, in connection with divinity and the spirit world.
In most of the United States, however, white slavers were successful in stripping slaves of their Voodoo traditions and beliefs. Thus, Voodoo is, for most African Americans, yet another part of their heritage that they can only try to re-discover.
Nuwla contributor – Dr. Shewanna Johnson
The images may be subject to copyright.
Source: http://www.africanholocaust.net/, Voodoo – African Spiritual Religious Systems
Dr. Shewanna aka Conscious Queen is a 42-year-old Washington, DC native who currently resides in Charlotte, NC. She is A wife, a mother and a Clinical Psychologist with a natural desire and dedication to uplift the black community diaspora. Dr. Johnson is a Howard University, Tennessee State and University of Phoenix grad working now on her P.H.D. in Psychology. “I describe life as a passion cocktail. Mixed with love, experience, knowledge, and pain. It’s the pursuit of happiness with a side of reality.” Discovering who you truly are is not defined by wealth, education or financial status. It’s the struggle of your spirituality at war with this alternate reality we live in. The heart will always transpire you within. Good or bad I regret nothing out of respect for what it taught me.