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9 Facts About Voodoo

By Yona Williams    6/17/09

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As you continue to learn more about Voodoo as a religion, consider the facts listed in this article, which touches upon the two different kinds of voodoo, and information regarding the god that followers of Voodoo worship. Other facts center on voodoo dolls and why animal sacrifice is considered an important part of the religion.

1.    During rituals, some people experience a taking over of their body, which signifies the presence of 'Iwa' – the voodoo spirits.

2.    While "Voodoo" is one of the most common pronunciations of the coastal West African religion known as Vodun, the two are not to be confused. Vodun is a belief system practiced by the Ewe, Kabye, Mina, Fon, and the Youba inhabitants of southeastern Ghana, southern and central Benin, southern and central Togo, and the southwestern part of Nigeria.  

3.    Voodoo practices from Haiti prospered in the United States during the start of the late 1960s and early 1970s – the result of immigrating Haitians who sought refuge from the Duvalier regime. The locations that the Haitians settled in throughout the United States included Miami, New York City, and Chicago.

4.    The majority of voodoo rituals and ceremonies involve the sacrifice of an animal. It is thought that this act will give life to the dead. The practice is also seen as a way to provide food and drink to the spirits.

5.    There are two different kinds of voodoo: Rado and Petro. Rado Voodoo is viewed as a peaceful practice, while Petro is seen as more dangerous, as it incorporates Black Magic. With Petro, some practitioners are fixated on death curses and creating zombies. The good Iwa (voodoo spirits) symbolize the spirits of dead loved ones who are at peace and happy. However, Petro Iwa represent spirits with a mean streak that are often blamed for some of the bad things that take place to individuals and families.

6.    Wondering about the custom of sticking pins into 'voodoo dolls?' This method of cursing has been associated with what some call 'New Orleans Voodoo.' However, this approach is more reminiscent to some of the magical beliefs hailing from Europe.

7.    Hoodoo is the name given to what some call 'the folk version of Voodoo.' Concentrating on conjuring up magic and using herbs in the process, there is a difference between the two systems. Hoodoo is usually looked upon as a more simplified version of voodoo that pays more attention to the magical aspect.

8.    Voodoo involves the worship of one deity – a god called Bondye. This God is seen as possessing three different sides: Iwa, the Twins, and the Dead. The first is Iwa – the spirits that make up the major forces in the universe and are seen in all aspects of everyday living. It is believed that during religious ceremonies, the Iwa make contact with the living by passing on good or bad tidings. Representing the balance between good and evil are the Twins. As for the Dead, these spirits are deceased relatives that have not been reclaimed by a family.

9.    One of the main objectives of people practicing Voodoo centers on healing with about 60% of all activities and ceremonies focused on this goal.

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