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Debunking Myths Associated with Voodoo

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Debunking Myths Associated with Voodoo

Fanchon Griffin

English 111 XDH

Professor Kelly Brady

Ivy Tech Community College

December 1, 2011

When the term "voodoo" is spoken or presented in some form of media such as the television, books or novelty shops, one automatically assumes dolls, devil worship, evil, curses, animal sacrifice, pentagrams, rising of the dead, The Serpent and the Rainbow, etc. I know because I used to be one of "those people". The ones who believed Voodoo is Black Magic, never to be practiced because it is considered immoral and would lead to a one-way ticket to Hell. I don't want to go to Hell but in religions there is always something good and something evil. This reasoning alone led me to consider the religion, yes; Voodoo is a religion, as a topic for this paper. During my research, I have found that Voodoo is not a religion that should be feared but rather understood and respected as Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism are respected. I will present common misconceptions associated with Voodoo and dispute all evidence of the contrary. Now, let's begin.

First, according to Saumya Arya Haas (2011), Voodoo is a religion that originates in Africa, but in the Americas and the Caribbean, it is thought to be a combination of African, Catholic (yes, Catholic) and Native American traditions. Voodooists believe that there is a visible and an invisible world and those two worlds are entwined. Voodoo, or Vodou as it is called by practitioners, is not practiced the same way in Haiti as it is in New Orleans. For example, in Haiti, Vodou has priests (Hougan) and priestesses (Manbo) (Haas, 2011); however, in New Orleans there are no priests or priestesses only Mothers, which provide guidance and do "Deep Work" men, cannot be Mothers (Osbey, 2011). Only women are involved in the religion and, unlike Christianity and Judaism, there is no official scripture on which Vodou is based. Everything is word-of-mouth passed down from generation to generation.

Hollywood, various books and films gave the belief that anyone who practiced Voodoo is polytheistic, devil worshippers but this cannot be any further from the truth. Vodou is monotheistic, which means Voodooists believe in only one God. There are spirits, or Loa, that act as middle men between their God and the human world. The Loa ensure there's balance and harmony between the two worlds. According to the Voodoo Spiritual Temple (2011), there are different phases of Vodou: Rada, focuses on the positives, Petro focuses on both the negatives and the positives, Secta Rouge focuses on the negatives and Zobop focuses on the extreme negatives of the religion. "The religion has never included public ritual or anything resembling group worship" (Osbey, 2011, pg.4). As a result there are no animal sacrifices, blood-letting, initiation rituals or voodoo dolls.

That's right, there is no such thing as a voodoo doll. The dolls are simply a publicity stunt taken from the magical beliefs practiced in Europe which are used to deceive people and cash in on tourists looking to purchase dolls that are believed to be cursed or could cause someone to become cursed (Osbey, 2011). The common world perception is that Voodoo is nothing more than a belief system entirely based on silly superstitions passed down from Haitian and African slaves late in the American 1700s. Racism is one of the biggest contributions to this world view. Slave owners, afraid of the slaves' culture and practices, which included Vodun, quickly



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