Welcome to the Vodoun Section
The word "vodoun" derives from vodu, meaning "spirit" or "deity" in the Fon language of Dahomey.
Dahomey is the birthplace of Voudou or VooDoo as it is sometimes called.
Vodoun priests can be male (houngan or hungan), or female (mambo). Caplatas (also known as bokors) are the Dark priests of VouDon. They perform acts of evil sorcery or black magic. They are responsible for creating zombies by placing a living person under the influence of powerful drugs. Zombies are not dead that have been resurrected. This is a notion that originated in "Hollywood".
A Vodoun temple is called a hounfour (or humfort). At its center is a "poteau-mitan", a pole where God and the spirits communicate with their followers. An altar is often elaborately decorated with candles, pictures of Christian saints, and other articles related to the loa.
Vodoun is a product of the slave trade. Slave traders forbade slaves to practice their native religions. This was enforced with acts of torture and death. Slaves were often baptized as Catholics. Catholicism became superimposed on native rites and beliefs, which were still practiced in secret. This suppression continued until the Haitian revolution of 1791 CE.
As a result of the religious persecution that the French government administered with an iron fist, tribal deities, or loa, took on the forms of Catholic saints. The mixture of africans brought to Haiti as part of the slave trade, saw the addition of the saints as an extension of their faith, and incorporated Catholic statues, candles and holy relics into their rituals.
Vodoun is marked primarily by a belief in the "Loa". The Loa are the gods that form the voudon pantheon. Devotees of voudon believe that all things serve the Loa and so by definition are expressions and extensions of deity. The Loa are very active in the world and can possess devotees during ritual. Rituals are practiced primarily to make offerings to the loa and to entreat the loa for aid or personal fortune in ones life.
Religions related to Vodoun are: Candomble, Lucumi, Macumba, and Yoruba.
Yoruba traditional belief included a chief God Olorun, who is seen as remote and unknowable. He authorized a lesser God Obatala to create the earth and all life forms.
There are hundreds of minor spirits. Those which originated from Dahomey are called Rada; those who were added later are often deceased leaders in the new world (Haiti) and are called Petro.
Followers of Vodoun believe that each person has a "met tet" (master of the head) which corresponds to a "Christian" patron saint.
Followers of Vodoun believe that each person has a soul which is composed of two parts; a "gros bon ange (big guardian angel), and a "ti bon ange" (little guardian angel). The ti bon ange leaves the body during sleep and when the person is possessed by a Loa during a ritual. There is a concern that the ti bon ange can be damaged or captured by evil sorcery while it is free of the body.
Basic Elements of Vodoun Ritual:
A feast before the main ceremony begins.
The creation of a "veve". This is a pattern of flour or cornmeal on the floor which is unique to the Loa on whose behalf the ritual is to be conducted for.
Often, Vodoun ceremonies begin with a call to the Grand Père Eternel (Great Eternal Father), and is followed by the the Lord's Prayer and Hail Mary.
The raising of energy by shaking a rattle and beating drums which have been cleansed and purified. This is often accompanied by chanting.
Dancing by the houngan and/or mambo and the hounsis (students of Vodun). The dancing will typically build in intensity until one of the dancers (usually a hounsis) becomes possessed by a Loa and falls. His or her ti bon ange has left their body and the Loa has taken control. The possessed dancer will behave as the Loa and is treated with respect and ceremony by the participants.
Animal sacrifice; this may be a goat, sheep, chicken, or dog. They are usually humanely killed by slitting their throat, and then the blood is collected in a vessel. The possessed dancer may drink some of the blood. The hunger of the Loa is then believed to be sated. This is called :feeding the Loa". The remainder of the animal is then cooked and eaten. Animal sacrifice is a method of consecrating food for consumption by followers of Vodun, their Loa's and their ancestors. This is a practice that is found in many belief systems.