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Hatian Vodou

Sourced from wikipedia
Haitian Vodou is a syncretic religion that originates in the Caribbean country of Haiti. It is based upon a merging of the beliefs and practices of West African peoples (mainly the Fon and Ewe; see West African Vodun), with Arawakian religious beliefs, and Roman Catholic Christianity. Vodou was created by African slaves who were brought to Haiti in the 16th century and still followed their traditional African beliefs, but were forced to convert to the religion of their slavers. Practitioners are commonly described as Vodouisants [voduisɑ̃].

Overview

The principal belief in Haitian Vodou is that deities called Lwa (or Loa) are subordinates to a god called Bondyè. This supreme being does not intercede in human affairs, and it is to the Lwa that Vodou worship is directed. Other characteristics of Vodou include veneration of the dead and protection against evil witchcraft.

Haitian Vodou shares many similarities with other faiths of the African diaspora, including the Louisiana Voodoo of New Orleans, Santería and Arará of Cuba, and Candomblé and Umbanda of Brazil. A Haitian Vodou temple is called an Hounfour.

In Haitian Vodou Sèvis Lwa in Creole ("Service to the Lwa"), there are strong elements from the Bakongo of Central Africa and the Igbo and Yoruba of Nigeria, although many other African nations have contributed to the liturgy of the Sèvis Lwa. A significant portion of Haitian Vodou often overlooked by scholars until recently is the input from the Kongo. The entire northern area of Haiti is heavily influenced by Kongo practices. In northern Haiti, it is often called the Kongo Rite or Lemba, from the Lemba rituals of the Loango area and Mayombe. In the south, Kongo influence is called Petwo (Petro). Many lwa (a Kikongo term) are of Kongo origin, such as Basimbi, Lemba, etc.

Haitian creole forms of Vodou exist in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, eastern Cuba, some of the outer islands of the Bahamas, the United States, and anywhere that Haitians have emigrated to. However, it is important to note that the Vodun religion (separate from Haitian Vodou) already existed in the United States, having been brought by enslaved West Africans, specifically from the Ewe, Fon, Mina, Kabaye, and Nago groups. Some of the more enduring forms survive in the Gullah Islands. There has been a re-emergence of the Vodun traditions in the United States, maintaining the same ritual and cosmological elements as in West Africa. These and other African-diasporic religions such as Lukumi or Regla de Ocha (also known as Santería) in Cuba, Candomblé and Umbanda in Brazil, all religions that evolved among descendants of transplanted Africans in the Americas.

Name

The English transliteration voodoo has acquired negative connotations, and is therefore often avoided by scholars and practitioners in preference to the Haitian form vodou. The latter word has traditionally been used in English (spelled vodu, vodun) to mean a fetish within the Vodou religion. Variant spellings in vau- reflect French orthography, and a final -n reflects the nasal vowel in West African pronunciations.

Beliefs

Deities

Vodouisants believe in a supreme being called Bondye, but also worship many lesser spirits, as the loa. This belief is held in several West African religions, such as that of the Yoruba, Odinani, and Vodun. When it came in contact with Roman Catholicism, the supreme being was associated with the Judeo-Christian God, the loa becoming the saints.

Bondye

Bondye is the supreme god in Haitian Vodou. The word is derived from the French bon Dieu (good God). Vodouisants regard Bondye as the creator of everything. Bondye is distant from its creation, being a pandeist deity. Because of this, he is aloof from every day affairs and Vodouisants don't believe they can contact Him for help.

Loa

Because Bondye is unreachable, Vodouisants aim their prayers to lesser entities, the spirits known as loa, or mistè. The most notable loa include Papa Legba (guardian of the crossroads), Erzulie Freda (the spirit of love), Simbi (the spirit of rain and magicians), Kouzin Zaka (the spirit of agriculture), and The Marasa, divine twins considered to be the first children of Bondye.

These loa can be divided into 21 nations, which include the Petro, Rada, Congo and Nago The Petro and the Rada contrast most with one another, because the Petro are hot or aggressive and restless, whereas the Rada are cool or calm and peaceful.

The loa also fall into family groups, who share a surname, such as Ogou, Ezili, Azaka or Ghede. For instance, "Ezili" is a family, Ezili Danto and Ezili Freda are two individual spirits in that family. Each family is associated with a specific aspect, for instance the Ogou family are soldiers, the Ezili govern the feminine spheres of life, the Azaka govern agriculture, the Ghede govern the sphere of death and fertility. Each of the loa is associated with a particular Roman Catholic saint.

Morality

Vodou's moral code focuses on the vices of dishonour and greed. There is also a notion of relative propriety—and what is appropriate to someone with Dambala Wedo as their head may be different from someone with Ogou Feray as their head. For example, one spirit is very cool and the other is very hot. Coolness overall is valued, and so is the ability and inclination to protect oneself and one's own if necessary. Love and support within the family of the Vodou society seem to be the most important considerations. Generosity in giving to the community and to the poor is also an important value. One's blessings come through the community, and one should be willing to give back. There are no "solitaries" in Vodou—only people separated geographically from their elders and house. A person without a relationship of some kind with elders does not practice Vodou as it is understood in Haiti and among Haitians.

Vodou is an ecstatic rather than a fertility based religion.

There is a diversity of practice in Vodou across the country of Haiti and the Haitian diaspora. For instance in the north of Haiti the lave tèt ("head washing") or kanzwe may be the only initiation, as it is in the Dominican Republic and Cuba, whereas in Port-au-Prince and the south they practice the kanzo rites with three grades of initiation – kanzo senp, si pwen, and asogwe – and the latter is the most familiar mode of practice outside of Haiti. Some lineages combine both, as Mambo Katherine Dunham reports from her personal experience in her book Island Possessed.

While the overall tendency in Vodou is very conservative in accord with its African roots, there is no singular, definitive form, only what is right in a particular house or lineage. Small details of service and the spirits served vary from house to house, and information in books or on the internet therefore may seem contradictory. There is no central authority or "pope" in Haitian Vodou, since "every manbo and houngan is the head of their own house," as a popular saying in Haiti goes. Another consideration in terms of Haitian diversity are the many sects besides the Sèvi Gine in Haiti such as the Makaya, Rara, and other secret societies, each of which has its own distinct pantheon of spirits.

Practices

Liturgy and practice

After a day or two of preparation setting up altars, ritually preparing and cooking fowl and other foods, etc., a Haitian Vodou service begins with a series of prayers and songs in French, then a litany in Kreyòl and African "langaj" that goes through all the European and African saints and lwa honored by the house, and then a series of verses for all the main spirits of the house. This is called the "Priyè Gine" or the African Prayer. After more introductory songs, beginning with saluting Hounto, the spirit of the drums, the songs for all the individual spirits are sung, starting with the Legba family through all the Rada spirits, then there is a break and the Petwo part of the service begins, which ends with the songs for the Gede family.

As the songs are sung, participants believe that spirits come to visit the ceremony, by taking possession of individuals and speaking and acting through them. When a ceremony is made, only the family of those possessed is benefited. At this time it is believed that devious mambo or houngan can take away the luck of the worshipers through particular actions. For instance, if a priest asks for a drink of champagne, a wise participant refuses. Sometimes these ceremonies may include dispute among the singers as to how a hymn is to be sung. In Haiti, these Vodou ceremonies, depending on the Priest or Priestess, may be more organized. But in the United States, many Vodou practitioners and clergy take it as a sort of non-serious party or "folly".

In a serious rite, each spirit is saluted and greeted by the initiates present and gives readings, advice, and cures to those who ask for help. Many hours later, as morning dawns, the last song is sung, the guests leave, and the exhausted hounsis, houngans, and manbos can go to sleep.

On the individual's household level, a Vodouisant or "sèvitè"/"serviteur" may have one or more tables set out for their ancestors and the spirit or spirits that they serve with pictures or statues of the spirits, perfumes, foods, and other things favored by their spirits. The most basic set up is just a white candle and a clear glass of water and perhaps flowers. On a particular spirit's day, one lights a candle and says an Our Father and Hail Mary, salutes Papa Legba and asks him to open the gate, and then one salutes and speaks to the particular spirit as an elder family member. Ancestors are approached directly, without the mediating of Papa Legba, since they are said to be "in the blood".

Priests

Houngans (Male Vodou Priest) or Mambos (Female Vodou Priest) are usually people who were chosen by the dead ancestors (loas) and received the divination from the deities while he or she was possessed. His or her tendency is to do good by helping and protecting others from spells, however they sometimes use their supernatural power to hurt or kill people. They also conduct ceremonies that usually take place "Amba Peristil" (under a Vodou Temple). However, non-Houngan or non-Mambo as Vodouisants are not initiated, and are referred to as being "bossale"; it is not a requirement to be an initiate to serve one's spirits. There are clergy in Haitian Vodou whose responsibility it is to preserve the rituals and songs and maintain the relationship between the spirits and the community as a whole (though some of this is the responsibility of the whole community as well). They are entrusted with leading the service of all of the spirits of their lineage. Sometimes they are "called" to serve in a process called "being reclaimed," which they may resist at first. Below the houngans and mambos are the hounsis, who are initiates who act as assistants during ceremonies and who are dedicated to their own personal mysteries.

(contested) A "bokor" may be a practitioner of "darker" things and is often not even accepted by the mambo or the houngan. Or, a "Bokor" would be the Haitian term for a vodou priest or other, working both the light and dark arts of magic.

History

VoodooValris

African origins

The word vodou derives from vodũ, which in Fon, Ewe, and related language (distributed from contemporary Ghana to Benin) means spirit or divine creature (in the sense of divine creation).

The cultural area of the Fon, Ewe, and Yoruba peoples share common metaphysical conceptions around a dual cosmological divine principle Nana Buluku, the God-Creator, and the vodou(s) or God-Actor(s), daughters and sons of the Creator's twin children Mawu (goddess of the moon) and Lisa (god of the sun). The God-Creator is the cosmogonical principle and does not trifle with the mundane; the vodou(s) are the God-Actor(s) who actually govern earthly issues.

The pantheon of vodoun is quite large and complex. In one version, there are seven male and female twins of Mawu, interethnic and related to natural phenomena or historical or mythical individuals, and dozens of ethnic vodous, defenders of a certain clan or tribe.

West African Vodun has its primary emphasis on ancestors, with each family of spirits having its own specialized priest and priestess, which are often hereditary. In many African clans, deities might include Mami Wata, who are gods and goddesses of the waters; Legba, who in some clans is virile and young in contrast to the old man form he takes in Haiti and in many parts of Togo; Gu (or Ogoun), ruling iron and smithcraft; Sakpata, who rules diseases; and many other spirits distinct in their own way to West Africa.

European colonialism, followed by totalitarian regimes in West Africa, suppressed Vodun as well as other forms of the religion. However, because the Vodun deities are born to each African clan-group, and its clergy is central to maintaining the moral, social, and political order and ancestral foundation of its villagers, it proved to be impossible to eradicate the religion. Though permitted by Haiti's 1987 constitution, which recognizes religious equality, many books and films have sensationalized Vodou as black magic based on animal and human sacrifices to summon zombies and evil spirits. Haitian Revolution

The majority of the Africans who were brought as slaves to Haiti were from Western and Central Africa. The Vodun practitioners brought over and enslaved in the United States primarily descend from the Ewe, Anlo-Ewe, and other West African groups.[citation needed] The survival of the belief systems in the New World is remarkable, although the traditions have changed with time and have even taken on some Catholic forms of worship.[10] Two important factors, however, characterize the uniqueness of Haitian Vodou as compared to African Vodun; the transplanted Africans of Haiti, similar to those of Cuba and Brazil, were obliged to disguise their loa (sometimes spelled lwa) or spirits as Roman Catholic saints, an element of a process called syncretism.

Roman Catholicism was mixed into the religion to hide their "pagan" religion from their masters, who had forbidden them to practice it. Thus, Haitian Vodou has roots in several West African religions, and incorporates some Roman Catholic and Arawak Amerindian influences. It is common for Haitians followers of the Vodou religion to integrate Roman Catholic practices by including Catholic prayers in Vodou worship. Thus Vodou incorporated some formal elements of Roman Catholicism, while remaining totally unchristian in its essence. Throughout the history of the island from independence in 1804 to the present, missionaries repeatedly came to the island to convert the Haitians back to the Christian religion previously forced on them. This missionary influence—as well as experience with abusive practitioners—has made many Haitians regard Voudu as evil.

Vodou, as it is known in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora, is the result of the pressures of many different cultures and ethnicities of people who were uprooted from Africa and imported to Hispaniola during the African slave trade. Under slavery, African culture and religion was suppressed, lineages were fragmented, and people pooled their religious knowledge and from this fragmentation became culturally unified. In addition to combining the spirits of many different African and Amerindian nations, Vodou has incorporated pieces of Roman Catholic liturgy to replace lost prayers or elements. Images of Catholic saints are used to represent various spirits or "mistè" ("mysteries", actually the preferred term in Haiti), and many saints themselves are honored in Vodou in their own right. This syncretism allows Vodou to encompass the African, the Indian, and the European ancestors in a whole and complete way. It is truly a Kreyòl religion

The most historically important Vodou ceremony in Haitian history was the Bwa Kayiman or Bois Caïman ceremony of August 1791 that began the Haitian Revolution, in which the spirit Ezili Dantor possessed a priestess and received a black pig as an offering, and all those present pledged themselves to the fight for freedom. This ceremony ultimately resulted in the liberation of the Haitian people from French colonial rule in 1804, and the establishment of the first black people's republic in the history of the world and the second independent nation in the Americas.

Contemporary

Today Vodou is practiced not only by Haitians but by Americans and people of many other nations who have been exposed to Haitian culture. However (as may occur within other religions), because of the loyalty and demand many have imposed on Vodou, some high priests and priestesses have taken the opportunity to exploit their followers, asking large sums of money for work that brings no result. It has been asserted[by whom?] that Vodou as a religion is dying because of the greed of many who practice it.

Many Haitians involved in the practice of Vodou have been initiated as Houngans or Mambos. In Haiti, a houngan or mambo is considered a person of possible high power and status who acquire much money; it now is a growing occupation in Haiti, attracting many an impoverished citizen to its practice, not only to gain power but to gain money as well. Some Vodou practitioners with a hunger to live a life of wealth and power became practitioners so they could exploit foreigners and Haitians who are uneducated about Vodou, bringing them into a web of deceptions to collect large incomes in exchange for poor quality work.

Myths and misconceptions

Vodou has come to be associated in popular culture with the lore of Satanism, zombies and "voodoo dolls". Zombie creation has been referenced within rural Haitian culture, but it is not a part of the Vodou religion proper. Such manifestations fall under the auspices of the bokor or sorcerer rather than the priest of the Loa.

The practice of sticking pins in dolls has history in folk magic, but its exact origins are unclear. How it became known as a method of cursing an individual by some followers of what has come to be called New Orleans Voodoo, but more appropriately Hoodoo (folk magic), is unknown. This practice is not unique to Voodoo or Hoodoo, however, and has as much basis in magical devices such as the poppet and the nkisi or bocio of West and Central Africa. These are in fact power objects, what in Haiti is called pwen, rather than magical surrogates for an intended target of sorcery whether for boon or for bane. Such Voodoo dolls are not a feature of Haitian religion, although dolls intended for tourists may be found in the Iron Market in Port au Prince. The practice became closely associated with the Vodou religions in the public mind through the vehicle of horror movies and popular novels.

There is a practice in Haiti of nailing crude poppets with a discarded shoe on trees near the cemetery to act as messengers to the otherworld, which is very different in function from how poppets are portrayed as being used by Vodou worshippers in popular media and imagination, i.e. for purposes of sympathetic magic towards another person. Another use of dolls in authentic Vodou practice is the incorporation of plastic doll babies in altars and objects used to represent or honor the spirits, or in pwen, which recalls the aforementioned use of bocio and nkisi figures in Africa.

Although Vodou is often associated with Satanism, Satan is rarely incorporated in Vodou tradition. Mississippi Delta folksongs mix references to Vodou and to Satan.

The Bureau-13 Angle

Hatian Vodou Is one of the more dangerous aspect of this family of religions that the Agent is likely to encounter. The loa possessions are real, the spirits present in most rites. Those practicing the religion are extremely unwilling to work with B-13. To date no Vodouisant has agreed to join the agency. We do not feel that compelling them is in the best interest of the Agency or our agents.

Bokor are extremely dangerous and should be approached with all due caution. These are not generally people that will reason with Bureau goals and aims. We do not recommend shooting first, but weapons should be kept ready, and protection against evil influences used at all times. If a known bokor must be engaged it is recommended that the aid of a friendly Vodouisant be sought.

Louisiana Voodoo

Sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Voodoo wikipedia]
Also known as New Orleans Voodoo, describes a set of underground religious practices which originated from the traditions of the African diaspora. It is a cultural form of the Afro-American religions which developed within the French, Spanish, and Creole speaking African American population of the United States state of Louisiana. It is one of many incarnations of African-based religions rooted in West African Dahomeyan Vodun. They became syncretized with Catholicism and Francophone culture of south Louisiana as a result of the slave trade. Louisiana Voodoo is often confused with—but is not completely separable from—Haitian Vodou and southern Hoodoo (folk magic). It differs from Vodou in its emphasis upon Gris-gris tailsmans, voodoo queens, use of Hoodoo occult paraphernalia, and Li Grand Zombi (snake deity). It was through Louisiana Voodoo that such terms as gris-gris (a Wolof term) and voodoo dolls were introduced into the American lexicon.

History

African Influences

Grisgris

Gris-gris

Voodoo was brought to the French colony Louisiana through the slave trade. From 1719 to 1731, the majority of African slaves came directly from what is now Benin, West Africa, bringing with them their cultural practices, language, and religious beliefs rooted in spirit and ancestor worship. Their knowledge of herbs, poisons, and the ritual creation of charms and amulets, intended to protect oneself or harm others, became key elements of Louisiana Voodoo.

The slave community quickly acquired a strong presence in Louisiana. The colony was not a stable society when slaves arrived, which allowed African culture to maintain a prominent position in the slave community. According to a census of 1731-1732, the ratio of African slaves to European settlers was over two to one. The ownership of slaves was concentrated into the hands of only a few of the white settlers, facilitating the preservation of African culture. Unlike other areas of active slave trade, there was little separation in Louisiana between families, culture, and languages. The Embargo Act of 1808 ended all slave imports to Louisiana. Authorities promoted the growth of the slave population by prohibiting by law the separation of families. Parents were sold together with their children under fourteen years of age The high mortality of the slave trade brought its survivors together with a sense of solidarity. The absence of fragmentation in the slave community, along with the kinship system produced by the bond created by the difficulties of slavery, resulted in a coherent, functional, well integrated, autonomous, and self confident slave community. As a result African culture and spirituality did not die out, but rather thrived in French Creole culture.

The practice of making and wearing charms and amulets for protection, healing, or the harm of others was a key aspect to early Louisiana Voodoo. The ouanga, a charm used to poison an enemy, contained the poisonous roots of the figure maudit tree, brought from Africa and preserved in the West Indies. The ground up root was combined with other elements such as bones, nails, roots, holy water, holy candles, holy incense, holy bread, or crucifixes. The administrator of the ritual frequently evoked protection from Allah, the Christian God, and Jesus Christ. This openness of African belief allowed for the adoption of Catholic practices into Louisiana Voodoo.

Another component of Louisiana Voodoo brought from Africa was the worship of ancestors and the subsequent emphasis on respect for elders. For this reason, the rate of survival among elderly slaves was high,

Catholic influence

The slave trade also brought the belief in spirits which is central to Louisiana Voodoo. The spirits presided over every day matters of life, such as family, love, and justice. Originally, these spirits were called by their African names, but once French Creole replaced native African languages, their original names were no longer used. The spirits then adopted the names of Catholic Saints. Each spirit was paired with a Saint in charge of similar spheres of life. The adoption of Catholic practices to the voodoo faith soon became an integral part of what is known today as New Orleans voodoo. Catholic traditions, such as prayers including the Hail Mary and the Lord’s Prayer, baptism, and the sign of the cross were incorporated into voodoo practices.

Voodoo Queens

Marie Laveau

Marie Laveau

During the nineteenth century, Voodoo queens became central figures to Voodoo in the United States. Voodoo queens presided over ceremonial meetings and ritual dances. They also earned an income by administrating charms, amulets, and magical powders guaranteed to cure ailments, grant desires, and confound or destroy one’s enemies.

Most noted for her achievements as voodoo Queen of New Orleans in the 1830’s was Marie Laveau. Once the news of her powers spread, she successfully overthrew the other voodoo queens of New Orleans. She acted as an oracle, conducted private rituals behind her cottage on St. Ann Street of the New Orleans French Quarter, performed exorcisms, and offered sacrifices to spirits. Also a devout Catholic, Marie encouraged her followers to attend Catholic Mass. The influence of her Catholic beliefs further facilitated the adoption of Catholic practices into the Voodoo belief system. Today, thousands visit the tomb of Marie Laveau to ask favors. Across the street from the cemetery, offerings of pound cake are left to the statue of Saint Expedite; these offerings are believed to expedite the favors asked of Marie Laveau. Saint Expedite represents the spirit standing between life and death. The chapel where the statue stands was once used only for holding funerals.

Marie Laveau continues to be a central figure of Louisiana Voodoo and of New Orleans culture. Gamblers shout her name when throwing dice, and multiple tales of sightings of the Voodoo queen have been told. Although she is not yet officially considered a saint, there is a strong movement to have her canonized.

Commercialization

During the 1930’s, true Voodoo went underground when New Orleans became a tourist destination. Voodoo acquired an exotic, Hollywood image in the 1932 film White Zombie. The misconception developed that the principal elements of Voodoo are hexing and sticking pins into dolls. Visiting tourists asked favors of voodoo practitioners, who made it a point never to refuse one who asked for help. Exhausted by fame, voodoo became an underground religion. At this time, those in search of a fortune took up the “business of superstitions,” charging money, as true voodoo followers never did, for fake potions powders, and Gris-gris.

Beliefs and Practices

Louisiana Voodoo is a conglomeration of beliefs that has evolved over time and continues to adapt to its surroundings. As it has been a religion conserved by oral tradition, has no sacred book or canon and is followed by many, the beliefs of Louisiana Voodoo vary somewhat from person to person. Louisiana Voodoo combines elements of European and African beliefs, and Roman Catholicism. It is a dynamic religion that has both adapted to and shaped New Orleans culture.

The word voodoo comes from the word vudu, the Dahomean “spirit”, an invisible mysterious force that can intervene in human affairs.” The worship of spirits remains a vital part of the practices of voodoo in Louisiana. Followers of Louisiana voodoo believe in one God and multiple lesser but powerful spirits which preside over daily matters of life, such as the family, the sky, and judgment.

The core beliefs of Louisiana Voodoo include the recognition of one God who does not interfere in people's daily lives and spirits that preside over daily life. Spiritual forces, which can be kind or mischievous, shape daily life through and intercede in the lives of their followers. Connection with these spirits can be achieved through dance, music, singing, and the use of snakes, which represent Legba, Voodoo's "main spirit conduit to all others. Unlike the Judeo-Christian image, the Voodoo serpent represents "healing knowledge and the connection between Heaven and Earth." Deceased ancestors can also intercede in the lives of Voodoo followers.

The main focus of Louisiana Voodoo today is to serve others and influence the outcome of life events through the connection with nature, spirits, and ancestors. True rituals are held "behind closed doors" as a showy ritual would be considered disrespectful to the spirits. Voodoo methods include readings, spiritual baths, specially devised diets, prayer, and personal ceremony. Voodoo is often used to cure anxiety, addictions, depression, loneliness, and other ailments. It seeks to help the hungry, the poor, and the sick as Marie Laveau once did.

Louisiana Voodoo and Christianity

As a result of the fusion of Francophone culture and voodoo in Louisiana, many Voodoo spirits became associated with the Christian saints that presided over the same domain. Although Voodoo and Catholic practices are radically different, both saints and spirits act as mediators with the Virgin Mary and Legba presiding over specific activities. Early followers of Voodoo in the United States adopted the image of the Catholic Saints to their spirits.

St. Peter corresponded to Papa Limba, also referred to as Laba. Papa Limba refers to the Dahomean spirit Legba, the guardian of crossroads, gates, and entrances to villages. As St. Peter is known as the guardian of Heaven and is frequently depicted holding the keys to Heaven, his image was combined with that of Papa Limba. Some also associated Papa Limba with the devil.

The serpent is the central figure of New Orleans Voodoo. Known as Li Grand Zombi, the serpent also became associated with Saint Patrick. Traditionally, St. Patrick expelled all snakes from Ireland, and is frequently depicted standing on or brandishing his staff at a snake. During a Voodoo ritual, the Voodoo queen focuses on the snake as she acts as diviner or prophet for the rest of the members of the rite.

Other Catholic practices adopted into Louisiana Voodoo include reciting the Hail Mary and the Lord’s Prayer.

A common misconception of Louisiana Voodoo is that its relationship to the Catholic Church is one of opposition. The similarities between Voodoo and Catholicism are what kept African beliefs from dying out as they did in other areas of the world. Historically, there has been little hostility between followers of Catholicism and Voodoo in New Orleans. Although Voodoo later experienced opposition from Protestant churches, its relationship to the Catholic Church has always been amicable. Today, most followers of Voodoo also practice Catholicism and see no conflict between the two religions.

Voodoo and Spiritualism

The hallmark of the New Orleans Spiritual Churches is the honoring of the Native American spirit named (chief)|Black Hawk, who lived in Illinois and Wisconsin, not in Africa, or Haiti. Furthermore, the names of some individual churches in the denomination—such as Divine Israel—bring to mind typical Black Baptist church names more than Catholic ones.

The New Orleans Spiritual religion is a blend of Spiritualism, Voodoo, Catholicism, and Pentecostalism; the Voodoo-influenced "Spiritual Churches" that survive in New Orleans are the result of a mingling of these and other spiritual practices. It is unique among African-American "Spiritual" religions in its use of "Spirit Guides" in worship services and in the forms of ritual possession that its adherents practice.

The Bureau-13 Angle

Louisiana Voodoo is considered highly dangerous in all its forms. It is one of the reasons that New Orleans itself is a hotbed of magical activity. True that for every Voodoo practitioner that can tap real magic twenty exist that do not, that is still far too many magicians on the loose playing with forces we do not feel they rightfully understand. Further complicating things is the internal secrecy of Voodoo. Added to this is the fact that those few Voodoo priests and priestess that will cooperate with B-13, none to date has been willing to come within the organization. Cooperate yes, but not join. We do not feel that attempting to compel then is in the best interests of the Agency.

Agents are warned to give Voodoo and Voodoo rites a wide berth. These rites can be powerful, can draw the attention of hostile spirits and other supernatural beings in circumstances not sufficiently under control.

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