Understanding the Haitian Way of Healing

Haitian Vodou is just one of the many ways that a group of people can choose to look towards religion for power and healing. Although you may have heard the Western reference, as voodoo, which has become mythical in the eyes of those who do not fully understand, Vodou goes beyond the belief that it is just a way to set a curse upon someone. This is a religion: a way of life.


To understand the basics of the religion, you should be familiar with some of the terms that are associated with Vodou.


Ashe: spiritual power


Bat guerre: referred to as “the battle of the spirits.” This ceremony is used for initiation purposes.


Eggun: ancestral spirit


Gros bon anje: part of the human soul that is good


Hounsi Bosalle: person who has been chosen by the spirits to serve as a healer or shaman.


Loa: spirit or saint


Mambo: priestess of Vodou


Peristyle: refers to the Vodou church


Seiziman: severe shock or trauma that the soul experiences


Voodoo: referring to the branch of Vodou that is usually recognized in the state of New Orleans


Wanga: spell or a curse, as well as a sacred challenge that must be undone or overcome


Zanset-yo: refers to the ancestors, as well as the spirits of the dead


Zombi: means the spirit of a dead person. This can also be used to refer to someone who has been lost through the magic of a ritual or has suffered some sort of magical attack, fright or trauma. This can also be used to describe someone who is living but is not really alive.


There are many Gods and sprits (also known as loas) that are called upon during rituals. The God of the ocean waves is called Agwe and is often represented by the image of a ship. Ayida Wedo referred to the rainbow serpent, which is worshipped when one desires happiness, luck and wealth. The father of the dead is called Baron, who is also the protector of newborns. When a magical spell is desired, Baron is called upon for the making and breaking of such acts. The spirit of Nature is called Gran Bwa, while the God who represents goodness is called Dambala.


When looking into Vodou, you will encounter the meaning of power and a different way of viewing and experiencing the power of healing. Many who follow this form of religion feel that they are journeying between the spirit world and the real world, gaining faith, power and a strong spiritual hold on their life. Some of the things that a person practicing Vodou will participate in are a dancing with the dead, which is performed in order to call attention to spirits who are supposed to enter their body and give them the characteristics that they embody, such as love, understanding or fearlessness. When learning more about Vodou, there are lessons that can be followed, which explore the affirmation of self, as well as identifying what an unhealthy energy is composed of.