Origins/History of Voodoo | March 10, 2010

NOTE: this is research essay from my junior year, very simple straightforward, almost no real writing needed to do this. And I did not exhibit any real writing skills here.

        Voodoo is long practiced tradition that spread throughput the world. It is derived from ancient religions going back thousands years, according to my source. It spread with the african slave trade to the Americas where in Haiti, became the modern voodoo religion, and now, it is mainly practiced in cuba, Trinidad, and southern U.S., mainly Louisiana. Voodoo combines elements of Roman Catholicism and tribal religions of western Africa, particularly Benin.

         The religion modernized in the americas. When slave-traders brought slaves  across the ocean to the Americas, the African’s brought their religion with them. Slavery included stripping the slaves of their language, culture, and heritage, this religion had to take some different forms. It was practiced in secret, since in some places it was punishable by death, and it adapted to the loss of their African languages. Voodoo also adopted many elements of Christianity. When the French who were the colonizers of Haiti, realized that the religion of the Africans was a threat to the colonial system, they prohibited all African religion practices and severely punished the practitioners of Voodoo with imprisonment, lashings and hangings. This religious struggle continued for three centuries, but it has survived and is still in the world today..

          Although its essential wisdom originated in different parts of Africa long before the Europeans started the slave trade, the structure of Voodoo, as we know it today, was born in Haiti during the European colonization of Hispaniola. They began to invoke not only their own Gods, but to practice rites other than their own. In this process, they comingled and modified rituals of various ethnic groups. The result of such fusion was that the different religious groups integrated their beliefs, thereby creating a new religion: Voodoo. The word “voodoo” comes from the West African word “vodun,” meaning spirit. This Afro-Caribbean religion mixed practices from many African ethnics groups such as the Fon, the Nago, the Ibos, Dahomeans, Congos, Senegalese, Haussars, Caplaous, Mondungues, Mandinge, Angolese, Libyans, Ethiopians, and the Malgaches.Voodoo is an animist faith.

         In the religion of Voodoo, members of the religion worship spirits and gods, their high god, Bon Dieu. The serpent figures heavily in the Voodoo faith. The word Voodoo has been translated as “the snake under whose auspices gather all who share the faith”. Ancestors or, more generally, the dead; twins; and spirits called loa. There are hundreds of spirits called Loa who control nature, health, wealth and happiness of mortals. The Loa form a pantheon of deities that include Damballah, Ezili, Ogu, Agwe, Legba and others. The loa, which may vary from cult to cult, are African tribal gods that are usually identified with Roman Catholic saints. The snake god, for example, is identified with St. Patrick. Other elements of Roman Catholicism in Vodou include the use of candles, bells, crosses, and prayers and the practices of baptism and making the sign of the crosses, and prayers and the practices of baptism and making the sign of the cross. Among the African elements are dancing, drumming, and the worship of ancestors and twins.That is, objects and natural phenomena are believed to possess holy significance, to possess a soul. Thus the Loa Agwe is the divine presence behind the hurricane.

      One ritual is when the worshipers invoke the loa by drumming, dancing, singing, and feasting, and the loa take possession of the dancers. Each dancer then behaves in a manner characteristic of the possessing spirit and while in an ecstatic trance performs cures and gives advice. During Voodoo ceremonies the Loa can possess the bodies of the ceremony participants. Loa appear by “possessing” the faithful, who in turn become the Loa, relaying advice, warnings and desires. Music and dance are key elements to Voodoo ceremonies.he dance is an expression of spirituality, of connection with divinity and the spirit world.Another practical aspect of Voodoo ceremonies is that participants often come before the priest or priestess to seek advice, spiritual guidance, or help with their problems. The priest or priestess then, through divine aid, offer help such as healing through the use of herbs or medicines (using knowledge that has been passed down within the religion itself), or healing through faith itself as is common in other religions. There are voodoo hospitals in Haiti, where a preist acts as an intermiediary between patients and deities. The highest state of being for a Voodoo believer involves complete abandonment to the spirit of a particular deity. When a worshipper enters this ecstatic state, his or her body is possessed by the deity, who then speaks and acts through that individual. There are many rituals in the world of voodoo which they reley on, with their spirits and gods. Rituals are a key part to voodoo.

         Voodoo is an ancient religion and is still alive in parts of the world. It it a complex religion and has a unique history and the things it went through were hard and fasinating. The changes it went through were dramatic and is unrecognizable if compared to it’s roots. It is very colorful and strange.


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