VODOU

Traditional African Cultures

Ceremonies & Celebrations

There are many Africans in the present moment who have, and are, constantly travelling within worlds, across continents and cultures. Most are in search of a better way, economic opportunities, political asylum, forced migration, or voluntary emigration towards a living that is safe and secure. 

Ritual

At the same time, many of us are engaged in moving up and out of mental and intellectual bondage – to self-realisation of who we are as a people, and an individual within the new global village.

Unlearning, Relearning, Throwing Away, Reclaiming and Revaluing all that was lost, is no easy task.  

From the very beginning in Kemet, the cultures of healing are called by many names. Due to the vast number of communities, groups, and countries on the continent of Africa, we assume, all traditional cultures of healing, in their different locations are different. Their aims and purpose are one – the vey same as all the others.

Cleansing

Vodou

The loose term and word ‘vodou’ are used by outsiders, looking, and making attempts to describe what they see. A popular term, I will use it here to describe a traditional African culture. One that is true, with all things common to the nature, and DNA of African people everywhere. 

Healing is the most important factor in Vodou culture. A person approaches a healer, priest, or priestess, complaining of an illness, or misfortune, divination is usually used to determine the cause, and selection of specific remedy.

Ve’ve’ symbol for the 4 quarters of cosmic space – to invoke Gran Brigit spirit.

It is believed, all sickness has a spiritual cause, and through spiritualisation the fault and remedy may be easily found, naturally. To heal, vodou specialist use, herbs, plants, rituals. Some ingredients attract prosperity and luck.

They may also invoke a spirit to assist in the solution to remove difficulties. The spirits are of a benevolent nature.

In the unknown spiritual worlds, or cosmic supernatural dimensions, that affects the human world. Through the restoration of balance and harmony, the illness caused by foreign elements, in our biological system are removed. Spirit entities assist traditional healers to do this work.

In the late 20th century and early 21st century, many medical professionals around the world became concerned. When so many Africans were more inclined to visit Vodou Shrines, Manbo-female priest, and Ougan-male priest. With the intention to fight the HIV Virus.

Ceremonial Dance

The Practice 

Vodou teach the existence of one supreme God – Bondye or Bune, that is the divine entity that created the universe, and is responsible for maintaining all life.

They stress, since the Mighty God is not involved with human affairs, there is no need to approach divinity directly.

According to vodou lessons, God created humans from water and clay. The Soul, Heart-Mind, is divided into two parts within the conscience. First is knowing right from wrong, through self-reflection and self-critique. The other is the psyche, source of personal and collective memory, intelligence, and persona. Both parts are in the head of the individual.  

Traditional Musicians

There is the belief, that through a spirit being connected to your psyche, it is possible for the two parts of the person, to leave the head and astral travel, while the person is asleep. In a ritual process, the rites used to call a spirit is libation.

Drinks offerings are made, including animal sacrifice. Also used in the calling of spirits are prayers, drumming, singing, and dancing.  

Through ritual practice, believers contact the spiritual world – the conscious networks of energies, circuits, and lines, that connects us to Almighty God, Nature, and Each Other. They ask the Iwa – spirit beings to offer help, protection, and other forms of support, in return for ritual service. 

The Caribbean

A person in ritual service is termed as a ‘Bondye’ conduit, allowing the spirit being – Iwa, to communicate with humans through, trance, or spirit possession.

The Iwa has its own personality and can be any persona with their devotees. The names of the spirit beings are usually from Fon and Yoruba nations. 

Divination

During the ritual, in a trance, spirit possession of an individual in central to the ceremony. The spirit enters the head, making the person tremble and convulse. The consciousness of the individual is removed, and there is no memory of the event. 

Festival of Nature

The length of the possession can be hours, or several days. Sometimes a spirit conducts a succession of possessing, the same individual over an extended period. Being physically exhausted, the person may collapse in a semi-conscious state.

Vodou teachers warn about the dangers of the supernatural world, and its energies. Humans can harness these elements to cause harm, severe problems, and distress to others. Achete Iwa, is a spirit that works for anyone that pays them. Believing the dead can harm the living, vodou priests in rituals, attempt to extricate the dead from the watery waste of the deep Abyss. The place of malevolent spirits.

Benin

Historical African Retentions

Many West Africans, enslaved and imported to the new world, were prisoners of war. Traditional healers, priests, and priestesses were also among the prisoners. The slave masters, and European colonisers, forbid the practice of all African cultures.

The process of enslavement included psychological warfare, cultural domination, mental and intellectual dependency. The captives were not allowed to read or write. Illiteracy was the norm. Out numbered and afraid of revolts, the pseudo-science of eugenics, was projected to justify the barbaric behaviour of the slave-owners. Eventually, the house slaves were taught to read. The only book allowed was the Holy Bible.

The captives, coming from diverse ethnic groups, and family backgrounds. Vodou traditional practices, provided the cohesive glue and force, that kept them together. The slaves practiced traditional worship and cultures in secret, usually at night.

Traditional Masks

On the continent of Africa, due to colonisation, all traditional African cultures were outlawed, misplaced, and ignored by the majority. Going under the yoke of the colonial masters, by law and jurisprudence. 

During the long occupation and warfare, the populations were transformed. The major mental attacks to the psyche, were performed by foreign religious doctrines. All working with the apparatus of state, and political machinations. The brain-washing could not be avoided. Those who tried, suffer the consequences of not obeying the colonial system. Death! Or a lifetime in prison was the usual route.

Traditional Beliefs

African traditional beliefs and cultures expressed orally, that humanity must harmonise with nature, through natural living with the cosmic and supernatural energies. The belief is this, all life and inanimate objects, possess a distinct spiritual essence.

Traditional Dance

Humans, animals, plants, rock, stones, sea, rivers, sky, land, created works, and some words are animated, having energy and a free-will.

Also needed, is a focus on the supernatural cosmos and universe of conscious energies. Backed up with the concept and knowledge, about the immortal soul. 

Social living is the best way towards healthy communities. Freedom of choice for all families is the African Norm. African cultures have no history of religious wars. Your God is private and personal to you. Live in love as nature instruct us. The rain falls, and everyone can grow their crops, whether good or evil. The breeze blow, any everyone takes a breath of life! The Modern Griot.