Voodoo Essay, Research Paper
When I was first assigned this research paper on Voodoo, the first thing I thought
of was Voodoo dolls, zombies, and evil magic. I think Voodoo is an evil religion which
sacrifices humans as well as animals to demonic gods. I think it has been around for
thousands of years, but is little left today. I believe that Voodoo is nothing but evil and the
work of the devil.
Voodoo originated in Western Africa by the Yoruba tribe. The Yoruba religion has
about four hundred lesser gods called Orisa. This is not the actual Voodoo religion as we
know it today, but plays an important role in it. Voodoo believes that the Grand Master or
God rules over all things, but pays no attention to human affairs. This is why they believe
in lower spirits or Loa to whom they worship and make sacrifices to(Belgum 14-28).
When the slave trade started, people of the Yoruba tribe were captured and
brought over as slaves. when the slaves arrived, they were baptized into the Catholic
religion. The slaves continued to practice their native religion in secret which over time
was mixed with Catholicism to create the Voodoo that we know today (Introduction 1).
Over sixty-million people still continue to practice Voodoo worldwide (Vodun 1). The
main center of Voodoo in the United States is New Orleans (3). About fifteen percent of
New Orleans practices (Voodoo 1).
The Voodoo religion contacts the spiritual worked Quite frequently. They believe
that spirits help people in all that they do (Belgum 30-1). The Voodoo religion believes
that true communion comes only through possession of the body by a Loa or spirit.
Possession is very common during rituals for it is how the Loa give instructions to or help
the people. They believe they get possessed for certain reasons. Such things as protection,
cures from illness, or even to give warning to an individual or to the whole community of
worshipers (Possession 1).
When a person gets possessed, they show struggle moving and jumping around
like crazy people. Then all of a sudden they go blank and motionless. They then come out
of that trance a totally different person. While a person is possessed all bodily functions
and gestures take the form of the Loa which possesses the body. While the Loa possesses
the body it will often smoke, drink alcohol, and eat. These are all things that it is usually
not capable of doing unless in a human body. They are also known to eat orwalk on fire
and will show no marks on their body afterwards. The possessed person shows great
strength and is known to toss things as well as people around. The possessed will have a
totally different voice, facial expressions, etc…. After the possession, the person has no
remembrance of what happened and therefore cannot be held responsible for what they
did while being possessed (Possession 1-2).
Voodoo rituals play an important role in the religion. Since practicers believe that
human and Loa depend upon one another, they hold many rituals to make contact
with the spirits through a very special process. Rituals can be held for many different
reasons. Rituals can be held to celebrate a special event in the lives of a family or a
community, in bad times for guidance from the Loa, for healing of an illness or a disability,
births, weddings, and deaths (Vodun 2-3). There are two different types of voodoo rituals:
Rada and Petro. Both are exactly the same except for the type of Loa they are addressing
and for the purpose of the ritual (Basic 1). All rituals are held at a hounfour or a temple
(Belgum 37). All rituals are began by the houngan asking Legba, the Loa of the gate, to
open it. After the opening, water is sprinkled throughout important places in the hounfour
(Basic 1-2), especially at the center where the poteau-mitin is located. It is a pole where
the people communicate with the loas and God (Vodun 3). The drum or tambula
(Mysteries 1) begins to beat. A veve, or pattern of flour is made on the floor in a design of
one of the Loa (Vodun 3). The Houngan then calls the Loa by striking the veve or calling
upon it with the use of magical words (Basic 4). Chanting begins along with prayers (2),
one of the most common being the prayer of life and death which reads:
?Earth, while I am yet alive,
It is upon you that I put my trust,
Earth who receives my body.
We are addressing you,
And you will understand.? (Belgum 39)
Sacrifices and offerings are then made. They often sacrifice animals. During an
animal sacrifice animal?s throats are slit and the blood drained and often drunk by the
worshipers. After the offering is made, the animal is usually cooked and eaten by the
people.They believe by doing this, they share in the Loa?s power since the offering belongs
to the Loa. The ceremony then ends with chanting and clapping (Basic 2-5).
There is still a part of Voodoo which most people associate it with. The evil or
left-handed Voodoo is often associated with magic, zombies, and werewolves. This type is
rarely used by the religion. This is mostly exaggerated by unknowledgable writers or film
makers (Belgum 46-8). However there is some of this happening. It is performed by
caplatas or evil priests and most of it is trickery or the use of heavy drugs. Voodoo dolls
were never part of the religion either. They were started in New Orleans and are not part
of the religion (Vodun 3).
I have found that Voodoo is a logical religion that is just misunderstood and
misjudged by many people. Eventhough it contains some magic, it is not the main point of
the religion nor is it practiced by normal members to the religion. I think this just proves
what is often said by many, do not pass judgment without actual knowledge.
?Basic Rituals of Vodun? Webpage available on Netscape Navigator. URL: http:
//www.arcana.com/voodoo/ritual.html . Host: Voodoo Information Pages 1995,
1996, 1997, 1998.
Belgum,Erik. Great Mysteries: Voodoo . San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1991
?An Introduction to Vodun? Webpage available on Netscape Navigator. URL: http:
//www.arcana.com/voodoo/intro.html. Host: Voodoo Information Pages 1995,
1996, 1997, 1998.
?The Mysteries of Voodoo Powders? Webpage available on Netscape Navigator. URL:
http://lucknet.com/mysteries/voodoo1.html. Host: TM & Copyright 1997.
?Possession? Webpage available on Netscape Navigator. URL: http:
//www.arcana.com/voodoo/possession.html. Host: Voodoo Information Pages
?Voodoo? Webpage available on Netscape Navigator. URL:http:
//www.gub.ac.uk/en/imperial/carib/voodoo. Host: Eimer Gillespie 1997.
?Vodun Creation and Mythology? Webpage available on Netscape Navigator. URL: \
Host: Voodoo Information Pages 1995,1996,1997,1998.
?The Vodun (voodoo) Religion? Webpage available on Netscape Navigator. URL: http:
//www.religoustolerance.org/voodoo.htm. Host: Religous Tolerance
?Voodoo Yesterday and Today? Webpage available on Netscape Navigator. URL: http:
//neosoft.com/~nodust/vyat.html. Host: Neosoft Company.