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Understanding The Basic Principles Of Voodoo

1935 words - 8 pages

Server of the spirit, or Voudouist is the name given to a practicer of Voodoo. While the former may be interpreted with an air of darkness, the opposite is most often true. Mainstream media has given a false identity to Voodoo and has instilled fear in the general public. The intent of Voodoo is not one of evil or dark magic, rather one of community and strength. “As a very dark remnant is left from the history of slavery and discrimination in the West, African religions are still some of the most maligned and misunderstood religions in the world.” (Mama Zogbé) Voodoo, Vodoun, or Vodun, is far more complicated and spiritual than the misunderstandings surrounding it would lead one to believe; through its practices, beliefs, and priests/priestesses, it has served many Africans through conflicted times, and has remained strong even after thousands of years of opposition and practice.
To understand the basic principles of Voodoo, it seems necessary to understand the very word itself. The original spelling was “Vodun,” which is Louisiana’s derivative of the French word for spirit. The word has many other spellings, all of which were created to capture the pronunciation of the Haitians. However, many of the various spellings can also be linked to American scholars who first studied the religion. It would appear that their goal was one of two things: to spell the word in such a way that it was obvious that it was something unusual, or to make the concept feel more digestible. It seems to be in the same fashion of Harry Potter, for example, when everyone is too afraid to say Voldemort aloud, so they instead refer to him as “he-who-must-not-be-named.” The same idea presents itself in a similar manner in the context of the scholars discussing Voodoo.
Although the word itself was instated French Louisiana, variations of Voodoo have been practiced since the beginning of human civilization. The beliefs and practices the that led to the formation of Voodoo were found throughout all of Africa, however, the form that is seen today takes its deepest roots in Haiti. The structures identified with today’s Voodoo began during the European colonization of Hispaniola. As it turned out, what the European colonists thought would occur from the desolation of the area’s ethnic groups, led to the opposite. The enforced immigration of the peoples provided the necessary circumstances for Voodoo to develop. In their horrendous lives as slaves, Haitians were able to find one silver lining, and one common thread: Voodoo, (or what would later become that). Because ethnic groups were in a conglomeration of different peoples, they began practicing beliefs, and partaking in rituals from cultures outside of their own. The result of such fusion was that the various ethnic groups merged their ideas, thereby creating Voodoo.
The beliefs of Voodoo do not separate themselves far from more accepted religions such as Buddhism. The central message held is “vous deux,” meaning “you two,...

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