• Hi guest! As you can see, the new Wizard Forums has been revived, and we are glad to have you visiting our site! However, it would be really helpful, both to you and us, if you registered on our website! Registering allows you to see all posts, and make posts yourself, which would be great if you could share your knowledge and opinions with us! You could also make posts to ask questions!

West African Traditional Vodou: What is it? What isn't it?

Nana

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 25, 2021
Messages
18
Points
13
Why am I talking about Vodou on the Religion, Spirituality and Meditation Thread? It's a legitimate question and has everything to do with who I am, what I am; a Hounnan. A priest.
By definition, a priest serves, in some capacity or another, a God, Spirit, or Genius as a spouse, child, or slave sometimes all three at once. In my case, I'm a spouse and it is my job to shepherd my spiritual family. To nurture, guide, provide for, and sustain my spiritual family. All of this is evidenced in the name, Nana. It says that I am the definer of my family's relationships to the vodous. In short, it is dogma and doctrine. Our Vodou is religion.
Vodou is a traditional spiritual practice primarily characterized as a monotheistic veneration of Ancestors and the Spirits of Nature and Human Enterprise. For all of it's esoterica and supernaturality, Vodou is a religion and one that is 10's of 1000's of years old. Vodou's closest living relatives are Judaism, Hinduism, and Indigenous Practices observed around the world. It's oldest recorded expressions are The Book of Going Forth By Day and the Epics of Gilgamesh, but this assertion is controversial to those unfamiliar with Classical African History or the migratory origins of West African ethnic groups.
Vodou applies medicine and divination to assure individual and communal harmony and well being in all matters of life and living. What Vodou is not is hexes, curses, or monolithic. Hexes and curses are the province of Azetɔ and Dzotɔ, witches and sorcerers, men and women who truck with dark or amoral spirits to satisfy evil passions or selfish desires.
It is my desire to dispel misconceptions and falsehoods surrounding the traditions so please ask your questions.
 

Nana

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 25, 2021
Messages
18
Points
13
Can you elaborate on the role the monotheistic diety plays in Vodou?
This deity is considered incomprehensible. Not distant, this deity is so close you might consider yourself soaking in it, but incomprehensible. What this deity does is .... about as important to me as Super M String Theory to a paramecium. We don't care because a God worth acknowledging is doesn't need our worship. Worship is for our benefit, not God's. And yes, in English we generally refer to the deity as God.
However, our do's and don'ts come from the ancestors and vodous, not God. Or at least not directly.
In Vodou, we know that we have as much autonomy in the proverbial "God's Plan" as we had in our births and can look forward to having in our deaths. But we consider that to be a lot of wiggle room and we take full advantage of it. Thus, we don't look for rules and dogma from God anymore than I would expect a mechanic to dictate morality to a carburetor.
The ancestors and the vodous on the other hand have rules that must be followed if we want their support.
Hmmm, this is shaping into a lot more than the answer to your question. I think I'll stop here.
Can you elaborate on the role the monotheistic diety plays in Vodou?
 
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
152
Points
43
Why am I talking about Vodou on the Religion, Spirituality and Meditation Thread? It's a legitimate question and has everything to do with who I am, what I am; a Hounnan. A priest.
By definition, a priest serves, in some capacity or another, a God, Spirit, or Genius as a spouse, child, or slave sometimes all three at once. In my case, I'm a spouse and it is my job to shepherd my spiritual family. To nurture, guide, provide for, and sustain my spiritual family. All of this is evidenced in the name, Nana. It says that I am the definer of my family's relationships to the vodous. In short, it is dogma and doctrine. Our Vodou is religion.
Vodou is a traditional spiritual practice primarily characterized as a monotheistic veneration of Ancestors and the Spirits of Nature and Human Enterprise. For all of it's esoterica and supernaturality, Vodou is a religion and one that is 10's of 1000's of years old. Vodou's closest living relatives are Judaism, Hinduism, and Indigenous Practices observed around the world. It's oldest recorded expressions are The Book of Going Forth By Day and the Epics of Gilgamesh, but this assertion is controversial to those unfamiliar with Classical African History or the migratory origins of West African ethnic groups.
Vodou applies medicine and divination to assure individual and communal harmony and well being in all matters of life and living. What Vodou is not is hexes, curses, or monolithic. Hexes and curses are the province of Azetɔ and Dzotɔ, witches and sorcerers, men and women who truck with dark or amoral spirits to satisfy evil passions or selfish desires.
It is my desire to dispel misconceptions and falsehoods surrounding the traditions so please ask your questions.
This is all very interesting! As someone practicing the true and traditional form of Vodou, what's your take on the practice of what some people call Hoodoo? Does the idea that its origin was Vodou and other practices being brought over to the Americas and vastly changed over time hold any water, in your opinion?
 

Nana

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 25, 2021
Messages
18
Points
13
This is all very interesting! As someone practicing the true and traditional form of Vodou, what's your take on the practice of what some people call Hoodoo? Does the idea that its origin was Vodou and other practices being brought over to the Americas and vastly changed over time hold any water, in your opinion?
Excellent questions! Before I dig into it though, I think I need to address something first that will ultimately feed into the question directly. That is there's no such thing as "...the true and traditional form of Vodou..." and I cannot stress this enough. Because Vodou is a living, organic, practice its religious permutations will vary greatly between families, communities, geographies, and even individuals. Even within the same sects or cults religious practices will be based upon historical relevance and the particular terms of the Covenants involved, even when the same vodous or pantheons are patronized. For example, I have Dan, the Snake. Dan is my vodou and how I experience Dan (and the rest of my vodous for that matter) is similar to the relationship you'd observe between spouses. Another spiritualist may also have Dan but their relationship might be more master to slave, parent to child, or teacher to student. Each of these relationships have their own merits and none are innately superior to another outside of their fitness for the individuals involved, but a husband expects very different things from his wife than a Mother expects from her daughter. My practice will look different than someone else's. It's not more or less true and traditional, but it is notably different.
Saying this, I find Hoodoo ... problematic. It's legitimate and deserves it's respect, but it is difficult, philosophically, for me. I realize this is largely because of my biases and preconceptions so generally, unless I'm speaking to someone inside the Hoodoo that can educate me on the subject better, I keep my mouth closed on the subject. What I do know is that Hoodoo's ancient origins are complex and it is unworthy to attempt to reduce it to a derivative of older ATR's. I have a problem with it's similarities to Azetɔ & Dzotɔ, but it has been the single strongest connection to unadulterated African spirituality in the US for 7 generations and you don't disrespect that. You either learn it or shut up about it, so my position on it is evolving.
 
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
152
Points
43
Excellent questions! Before I dig into it though, I think I need to address something first that will ultimately feed into the question directly. That is there's no such thing as "...the true and traditional form of Vodou..." and I cannot stress this enough. Because Vodou is a living, organic, practice its religious permutations will vary greatly between families, communities, geographies, and even individuals. Even within the same sects or cults religious practices will be based upon historical relevance and the particular terms of the Covenants involved, even when the same vodous or pantheons are patronized. For example, I have Dan, the Snake. Dan is my vodou and how I experience Dan (and the rest of my vodous for that matter) is similar to the relationship you'd observe between spouses. Another spiritualist may also have Dan but their relationship might be more master to slave, parent to child, or teacher to student. Each of these relationships have their own merits and none are innately superior to another outside of their fitness for the individuals involved, but a husband expects very different things from his wife than a Mother expects from her daughter. My practice will look different than someone else's. It's not more or less true and traditional, but it is notably different.
Saying this, I find Hoodoo ... problematic. It's legitimate and deserves it's respect, but it is difficult, philosophically, for me. I realize this is largely because of my biases and preconceptions so generally, unless I'm speaking to someone inside the Hoodoo that can educate me on the subject better, I keep my mouth closed on the subject. What I do know is that Hoodoo's ancient origins are complex and it is unworthy to attempt to reduce it to a derivative of older ATR's. I have a problem with it's similarities to Azetɔ & Dzotɔ, but it has been the single strongest connection to unadulterated African spirituality in the US for 7 generations and you don't disrespect that. You either learn it or shut up about it, so my position on it is evolving.
Makes sense. Kinda reminds me of my feelings towards Celtic neopagan movements. On the one hand, a lot of these people have made huge assumptions in an attempt to rebuild what Rome and then Britain stamped out of the old Celtic paganism. On the other, it's all most can do now, especially from somewhere overseas like America.
 
Top