Vodou Essays

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Vodou

Vodou is a spiritual tradition which originated in Haiti during the period of French colonial slavery. Africans of many ethnic lineages were transported by force to Haiti, primarily to serve as agricultural slaves. The original Taino and Carib peoples of Haiti were exterminated in the invasion by the Spanish. During this historical period, Europeans from France and other countries, including pro-Stuart deportees from Scotland, settled in Haiti.

Because so many lineages were represented, no one particular African service could satisfy all participants, especially since reverence for ancestral lines was so important. Therefore, each "nation" would take it's turn at a gathering. This "take turns"
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Consciously or unconsciously, when we build altars we are engaged in an effort to open that most enigmatic of all doors - the door between the human and spiritual world. An altar is a representation of that very door in material terms - the altar is the door. When you sit in front of your altar, you are inviting the spiritual forces on the other side of this door to notice you, come and visit with you, and act upon you.

Since most people living in the United States can not begin their practice in this religion by attending Vodou ceremonies, one of the first things we can do is to build an altar. The altars of Vodou are as varied as the individuals who practice the religion. In a sense, a peristyle itself is an altar, large enough for the worshippers to dance around the centerpost, play drums, perform sacrifice, undergo possession - in short, to act out every aspect of the cosmic drama. Within the peristyle there are sometimes areas dedicated to a particular lwa - the cross of , or a small palm-leaf booth for Erzulie. Attached to the peristyle are smaller rooms called djevo or bagi, in which the ceremonial objects of a Vodou society are kept. However, these objects, which include sacred rattles, sequined bottles for drink offerings, pot-tetes

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