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Most people associate Voodoo with pin-filled dolls, designed to inflict pain on a cursed individual.
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SCIENCE & TECH:
The Origins of Voodoo, a Misunderstood Religion

In 64 ADVERTISEMENT, a fantastic fire broke out in Rome for 6 days and ravaged much of the city. According to the author Tacitus, “Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.” The “abominations” dedicated by the early Christians were stated to be cannibalism and incest, based upon reports distributing in Rome at that time which originated from a misconception of the Eucharist.

This episode in the history of the early Church demonstrates how quickly a religion, specifically a reasonably deceptive one, can be misunderstood and misrepresented. A comparable case can possibly be seen in the religion called Voodoo (likewise called Vodou or Voudon).

For numerous, the word ‘Voodoo’ summons images of wonderful dolls with pins stuck in them to cause discomfort on one’s opponents and the resurrection of the dead as zombies. These images are the outcome of the misstatement of Voodoo by pop culture, and do not precisely represent Voodoo as comprehended by its professionals.

Many people associate Voodoo with pin-filled dolls, developed to cause discomfort on a cursed person. ( Public domain )

What are the Beliefs of Voodoo?

Voudon describes “a whole assortment of cultural elements: personal creeds and practices, including an elaborate system of folk medical practices ; a system of ethics transmitted across generations [including] proverbs, stories, songs, and folklore… voudon is more than belief; it is a way of life,” composed Leslie Desmangles, a Haitian teacher at Hartford’s Trinity College in “The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal” (Prometheus Books, 1996). “Voudon teaches belief in a supreme being called Bondye, an unknowable and uninvolved creator god,” reports Live Science , and describes:

“Voudon believers worship many spirits (called loa or Iwa), each one of whom is responsible for a specific domain or part of life. So, for example, if you are a farmer you might give praise and offerings to the spirit of agriculture; if you are suffering from unrequited love, you would praise or leave offerings for Erzulie Freda, the spirit of love, and so on. In addition to helping (or impeding) human affairs, loa can also manifest themselves by possessing the bodies of their worshipers. Followers of voudon also believe in a universal energy and a soul that can leave the body during dreams and spirit possession.”

Voodoo stuffs, Akodessawa Fetish Market, Lomé, Togo . ( sarlay /Adobe Stock)

The History of Voodoo

Although the specific origins of Voodoo are unidentified, it is usually concurred that this religion has its roots in West Africa. Modern Benin is considered as the birth place of this religion, and the name ‘Voodoo’ itself suggests ‘spirit’ in the regional Fon language.

It has actually been recommended that Voodoo in West Africa progressed from the ancient customs of forefather praise and animism. The types of Voodoo practiced today, nevertheless, are the outcomes of one of the most inhumane episodes in modern-day history – the African servant trade that happened in between the 16th and 19th centuries.

Zangbeto, a voodoo guardian of the peace under Yoruba religion. Zangbeto typically worked as a casual authorities service to impose the peace in rural Benin. ( pauli197 /Adobe Stock)

When African servants were given the Americas to deal with plantations, they brought Voodoo with them. Their white masters, nevertheless, had other strategies concerning the spiritual practices of their servants. A 1685 law, for example, restricted the practice of African religious beliefs, and needed all masters to Christianize their servants within 8 days of their arrival in Haiti.

Although the servants accepted Roman Catholicism, they did not quit their conventional beliefs either. Rather, the old and the brand-new were syncretized, producing some special outcomes. Lots Of of the Catholic saints were related to conventional Voodoo lwas (spirits) or held a double entendre for the professionals of Voodoo. For example, in Haitian Voodoo , St. Peter is acknowledged as Papa Legba, the gatekeeper of the spirit world, while St. Patrick is connected with Dumballah, the snake lwa.

Although African servants were given Haiti and New Orleans about the exact same time, i.e. the 1720s, the advancement of Voodoo practices in each location is rather various. In Haiti, Voodoo ended up being a force that provided strength to and sustained the servants through their difficulties and suffering. In between 1791 and 1804, a series of servant revolts motivated by Voodoo practice culminated in the expelling of the French from Haiti.

The Spread of Voodoo Practices

The colonists who made it through gotten away to New Orleans, some accompanied by their French-speaking servants who were Voodoo professionals. It is from these brand-new arrivals that Voodoo started to grow in New Orleans . Although Voodoo was practiced because part of the United States prior to 1791, it was not as strong a force as in Haiti, and it was extremely reduced each time it emerged. It was just in the 19th century that Voodoo practices in New Orleans were codified by the enigmatic Marie Laveau.

Portrait of Marie Laveau, allegedly d. 1888

Picture of Marie Laveau, supposedly d. 1888. ( public domain )

Voodoo has actually considering that infected other African countries, the Caribbean, along with North and South America. In Benin and Haiti, Voodoo is now formally acknowledged as a religion. Nonetheless, Voodoo is still a rather misunderstood religion due to its unreliable representation by the media.

Rather of associating this religion with zombies and Voodoo dolls, we must possibly make the effort to much better comprehend Voodoo, and see it as a method of life or a set of directing concepts held by its followers.

Leading Image: “Vodou Ceremony” by Andre Normil

By Ḏḥwty

Upgraded on January 8, 2021

Referrals

Brandstötter, B.-S., 2015. Voodoo in New Orleans. [Online]
Readily available at: http://www.univie.ac.at/Anglistik/webprojects/LiveMiss/Voodoo/index.htm

Corbett, B., 1988. Intro to Voodoo in Haiti. [Online]
Readily available at: http://www2.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/voodoo/overview.htm

Haas, S. A., 2011. What is Voodoo? Comprehending a Misunderstood Religion. [Online]
Readily available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/saumya-arya-haas/what-is-Voodoo_b_827947.html

Handwerk, B., 2002. Voodoo a Legitimate Religion, Anthropologist States. [Online]
Readily available at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/10/1021_021021_taboovoodoo.html

Redford, B., 2013. Voodoo: Truths About Misunderstood Religion. [Online]
Readily available at: http://www.livescience.com/40803-voodoo-facts.html

Tacitus, The Records [Online]
[Church, A. J. and Brodribb W. J. (trans.), 1888. Tacitus’ The Annals.]
Readily available at: http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/annals.html

www.neworleansonline.com, 2015. New Orleans Voodoo’s African Origins. [Online]
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SCIENCE & TECH: The Origins of Voodoo, a Misunderstood Religion

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