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An Introduction to Voodoo

Native to inhabitants of West Africa, voodoo (or Vodun) encompasses a variety of religious beliefs and practices that have reached a handful of adherents in the New World. With ties to magic and an array of misconceptions, there is a great deal of information that people are unaware of when it comes to voodoo.

Voodoo Around the World

While West Africa is known as a center for the religious beliefs and practices of voodoo, Haiti is home to a great deal of voodoo believers. So much so , the country granted voodoo an official religious status in 2003. Other parts of the world had already embraced the religion, including Benin, which bestowed official acknowledgement in 1996. In Brazil, inhabitants have established a highly developed religion based upon the practices and beliefs of voodoo called ‘candomble.’ In parts of the United States and in Jamaica (where the religion is referred to as ‘pocomania,’ voodoo is very much alive and well in the world.

Magic is often associated with the practices and beliefs of voodoo. However, the foundation on which the religion was built upon is attributed to slaves from West Africa. Benin is proof of just how strong the beliefs of voodoo are, as nearly 60% of the people in the country are believed to practice the religion.

The Nitty Gritty of Voodoo

One of the most significant of voodoo beliefs is that all of nature is controlled by a spiritual force that demands recognition through animal sacrifice or offerings. Practitioners of voodoo often participate in ecstatic trances, which is used as a way to communicate with gods and spirits. Rituals associated with voodoo are also linked to the practice of magic , a rather important aspect of voodoo.

Over the years, other cultures have influenced the practice, such as the introduction of Christian ways, which took place during the New World. For example, people started to pair African deities with various saints. Throughout its existence, some tried to weaken the popularity of voodoo, but the religion has continued to survive and grow despite such attempts.

Facts About Voodoo

To learn more about voodoo, from the roles of the priesthood to the kinds of items central to a religious ceremony, consider the following facts about this predominately West African religion:

·    When it comes to the priesthood of Voodoo, both men and women may take on this role. The men are referred to as ‘houngan,’ while the women are called ‘mambo.’ Some of their responsibilities include healing the sick, calming restless spirits, performing religious ceremonies, telling the future, interpreting dreams, casting spells (love and death alike), and creating potions.

·    When religious rites of the religion are performed, most everyone participates because the practices are usually held in the outdoors.

·    Music and dancing are common activities associated with voodoo practices. The drums are considered an important component to ceremonies and other rituals.