Origins of Voodoo
In Western Africa Voodoo, or Vodun, is actually their traditional religion. It is an indigenous organized religion that stretches from Togo to Nigeria. Although it is practiced by many people of western Africa each culture has variations of it. It’s said that West African voodoo was transported to Haiti in the Caribbean and the southern United States, namely Louisiana. Here it became intertwined with Catholicism.
What is Voodoo
Voodoo is a religion like we’ve already discussed, but it’s based on a belief that animals and inanimate objects have spiritual powers. These objects are known as fetishes, and are used in various voodoo rituals. The voodoo priests, or bokors they are called, will create powders made from various animal parts and when administered seem to send people into a trance like state. These voodoo concoctions have been associated with reports of real-life “zombies” in Haiti, some said to be in a trance for many years.
There is one such case involving a man by the name of Clairvius Narcisse. He was actually declared dead by Haitian doctors and buried in 1962. But amazingly he returned from the grave and was seen 18 years later. He claimed that he’d been poisoned by a bokor which caused impaired brain function. He says he was then put to work as a zombie on a plantation. After examination of the toxin administered by the bokor, it was said to contain poison contained in puffer fish. It’s a deadly neurotoxin that can cause paralysis or even coma. This of course would explain how Clairvius was buried alive.
Voodoo Priests and Healers
The voodoo healers of the tribe say they can cure a huge number of sicknesses by inserting their black powder into an open wound. Or possibly by slicing open human
flesh and inserting it. This black powder is made from body parts of dead animals. Now I wouldn’t want to get anywhere near a cure like this. That definitely doesn’t sound sanitary, and surely would only make things worse. Oh well, who am I to judge…
Anyway, in order to concoct these “magical powders”, they have to grind up the animal parts and add herbs and bur the mix over a fire. They then make three incisions in the patient’s back or chest and rub the powder inside. It’s said the voodoo healers drift in and out of trances while performing these rituals. Supposedly they use animal parts that correspond with the type of person they are healing. For instance a long distance runner may need a powder made from the heart and lungs of a cheetah in order to make them strong and fast. You get the idea.
7 Voodoo Superstitions
- You will have bad luck for the rest of the week if a woman visits you first thing on a Monday morning.
- Laying a broom across the doorway will keep witches away during the night.
- It is bad luck to lend or borrow salt.
- A widow may not remarry if you cut all of her husband’s shoes into small pieces upon his death.
- Turn someone’s photo upside down to give them a headache.
- Shaking a tablecloth outside after dark will cause someone in your family to die.
- If a woman adds a little of her blood to her husband’s coffee, it will keep him faithful.
So this of course is all very different from my culture, I guess that’s why it can be construed as interesting. But there are still areas of the world where these are common practices. Just so everyone understands where I’m coming from on this, I do not accept or condone these practices, it just simply isn’t a part of my culture. I just thought some of this information may be of interest to some. It’s always cool to learn about things that are out of your realm.