In healthcare various cultures are encountered several times through out a day. It is imperative that medical staff be culturally competent and understanding that these different cultures come with their own set of beliefs that differ from their own. “The United States is often referred to as the Great Melting Pot, a metaphor that connotes the blending of many cultures, languages and religions to form a single national identity” (U.S. Department of State, 2010). In this paper, three non-mainstream religions, Vodun, Rastafari and Taosim, are going to be discussed and compared to Christinaity in regards to their spiritual perspectives of healing, their critical components to healing and what health care providers should know when caring for people of these cultures.
Vodun, also known as Vodoo comes from the God Vudon of West Africa who lived during the 18th and 19th century. According to Relgious Tolerance (n.d), over 60 million people practice this religion world wide now. Like Christianity, Vodun is a religion of many different traditions and each group follows their own spiritual path. As with Christianity, Vodun believes that there is a higher power that has created earth and all life forms, which they call him God Olorun.
Spiritual Perspective of Healing
Vodun beliefs are that the natural world isn't distinguishable from the supernatural world. “There tends to be a division of illness between a natural origin, also known as maladi pei or country disease and supernatural origin, also known as maladi bon dei, or disease of God” (Miller, 2000).
Critical Components of Healing
Maintaining an equillibrium between hot and cold is the critical component of healing for those who follow Vodun. When a person falls ill the treatment will be the opposite direction than the imbalance so that equillibrium is restored. Another component to Vodun healing is dancing rituals that call upon Loa, which is a spiritual figure who is believed to bring good fortune or aid in the healing of the hill. During this dance ritual a male priest, called a hungan, or a female priest, called a mamo, start dancing, and the dancing intesntity will increase until one of the dancer becomes possessed by a Loa and falls to the ground. When the Loa falls to the ground, it is believed that the soul has left the body and is now possessed by a spirit. This spirit will be given blood from a sacraficed animal to quench its thirst in hopes to pleasing him or her. Once the spirit has been satisified they will leave the body and good fortunate will be come to the community or healing will be start to take place.
Those who practice Vodun have a distrust for Western medicine and its health workers due to the negative impact that media has played on their spiritual beliefs. “Articles aimed at Western biomedically trained providers tend to view Voodoo as a folk belief system of the uneducated and superstituious and voodoo rituals are either presented as...