Understanding Voodoo

Understanding Voodoo

Voodoo is a religion and magical practice that originated in Africa.  It is the predominant religion in countries like Haiti and is common in all the Caribbean and in Louisiana.  It is a religion that has African origins but has Christian overlays.  It is every bit as real as the most major religions in the rest of the world.  They believe in a single god, which is called Bondye.

The Lwa and Ancestors

The other spiritual beings include the Lwa.  These are the spirits of ancestors and other family members and the spirits of all the major forces of the universe, including good, evil, health and reproduction.  Lwa are able to interact with people on earth.  The twins are the dual spiritual forces of good and evil or happy and sad.  They are honored in certain religious ceremonies.  The dead are spirits of ancestors that have not been reclaimed by the family members.  If the dead are ignored by family members, they become very dangerous to the family.

What Voodoo can Do

Voodoo strives to heal people from sicknesses.  This involves about sixty percent of all the spells a voodoo practitioner does.  They heal people with herbs, healing using faith and other medicinal techniques.  Those in the priesthood of voodoo include houngan, which are men and mambo, which are women.  They function in healing purposes and perform specific religious ceremonies that call on the spirits or pacify the spirits.   They hold initiation ceremonies and foretell the future.  They interpret dreams for people and create love potions or even death-related potions.  They cast spells and create protective talismans for individuals.  Most voodoo practitioners receive fees for what they do but some do not and work for free.

Voodoo Rites 

The religious rites of voodoo are usually held outdoors under a roof with a center pool.  The rites are directed by a houngan or a mambo.  Drums are used to make the music used in these rites and there is often a great deal of dancing.  Everyone participates in the service—not just the houngan or mambo.  A hounganikon is an individual who directs the dance and music.  Women called hounsi are used to serve people in the ceremony.  The participants of the ceremony are often “mounted” or connected to an Lwa.

When Lwa mount a person, they take over the person’s body for a period of time.  The person disappears and the Lwa takes their place.  Only the body of the person is left behind while the Lwa uses it for dance.  Animal sacrifice is common in voodoo services.  It releases the life of the animal and helps to remove the exhaustion the Lwa experience because of their work in the world.  The rejuvenated Lwa is healthier after the sacrifice.

There are two kinds of voodoo.  The first is called Rada and is a type of voodoo related to happy family spirits and peaceful Lwa.   Another type of voodoo is called Petro or Congo.  It is black magic and involves mean Lwa that can cause dangerous things to happen.  Wild and sexual orgies can be associated with the Petro type of voodoo.

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