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

Nana

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 25, 2021
Messages
24
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
24
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?
 

Scottish_Pride

Meme-y Tree Nymph
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
220
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
24
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.
 

Scottish_Pride

Meme-y Tree Nymph
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
220
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.
 

8Lou1

Neophyte
Joined
Jun 30, 2021
Messages
34
Points
18
thank you for explaining how a spiritual family works nana, i have been battling my mind over that.
i have a question about following rules.
how can one learn that without being hit to hard?
i for myself had to take over a site filled with witchcraft, where even the ancestors got lost. it was also a place with quite a harsh tradition some examples: you get married and immediately get tested. you say bad things and you immediately get slapped in the head with an accident, etc.
since i am the one taking over, i sometimes get the feeling i have to impose my will over these people, but i cant. we have free souls. do you have any input from your paradigm, as some of my people have ancestors from west africa? hopefully i then can understand their guiding spirits better.
 

Nana

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 25, 2021
Messages
24
Points
13
thank you for explaining how a spiritual family works nana, i have been battling my mind over that.
i have a question about following rules.
how can one learn that without being hit to hard?
i for myself had to take over a site filled with witchcraft, where even the ancestors got lost. it was also a place with quite a harsh tradition some examples: you get married and immediately get tested. you say bad things and you immediately get slapped in the head with an accident, etc.
since i am the one taking over, i sometimes get the feeling i have to impose my will over these people, but i cant. we have free souls. do you have any input from your paradigm, as some of my people have ancestors from west africa? hopefully i then can understand their guiding spirits better.
Divination and a lack of ego. There should be a distinct, explicit, easily discernible border between your preferences and the will of the ancestors and vodous. When I say I like or don't like something it's clear it's from me, when I say something is from the vodous or ancestors, it's verifiable. I send you to another diviner, my godmother, or if you've the skill to divine it yourself to see if I'm conflating my will with the will of the spirits. Most importantly, I am consistent with my obedience to the spirits and the execution of their decrees.
How often do you conduct divination?
 

8Lou1

Neophyte
Joined
Jun 30, 2021
Messages
34
Points
18
lately none, as i am still figuring out how to create that border/become aware of my border.
when i do a divination for myself or friends however i always get the answer i already knew.
i have made several adjustments to myself in order to get a more healthy execution of decrees. and that seems to be working thankfully. the first time everyone at home got sick, hence me being a bit scared to open that gate again.

thank you for you kind help.
 

Nana

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 25, 2021
Messages
24
Points
13
lately none, as i am still figuring out how to create that border/become aware of my border.
when i do a divination for myself or friends however i always get the answer i already knew.
i have made several adjustments to myself in order to get a more healthy execution of decrees. and that seems to be working thankfully. the first time everyone at home got sick, hence me being a bit scared to open that gate again.

thank you for you kind help.
Are you initiated into your chosen tradition or path?
 

8Lou1

Neophyte
Joined
Jun 30, 2021
Messages
34
Points
18
well, its a bit complicated, but essentially yes.
i am on a road where bloodlines combined, but the traditions failed due to, amongst other things, immigration to the west. so in essence i am initiated, but on the outside nothing is left concerning rituals/religion/tradition. i learned all from spirit/ancestors/my own research and had to get 'naked' in order to remove all the dirt and evolve.

i have had recognition from several groups in islam. hardly any islamic group however in the west recognizes me. saudi arabia/morrocco/algeria/iran/egypt. all these recognize me as one of them.
 

Nana

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 25, 2021
Messages
24
Points
13
well, its a bit complicated, but essentially yes.
i am on a road where bloodlines combined, but the traditions failed due to, amongst other things, immigration to the west. so in essence i am initiated, but on the outside nothing is left concerning rituals/religion/tradition. i learned all from spirit/ancestors/my own research and had to get 'naked' in order to remove all the dirt and evolve.

i have had recognition from several groups in islam. hardly any islamic group however in the west recognizes me. saudi arabia/morrocco/algeria/iran/egypt. all these recognize me as one of them.
So are you Muslim? Sufi?
I don't understand what you are saying or specifically, you could be saying a number of different things many of which don't go together. I am likely a bit older than you so I might not be up to date on certain terms or perspectives. Please explain this a little clearer for me, I'd really like to understand your meaning.
 

8Lou1

Neophyte
Joined
Jun 30, 2021
Messages
34
Points
18
let me try to order my choatic head. i know a lot of things i am able to work with dont fit in 1 paradigm. i also know some of these things really dont fit, just as you say. however there are also paradigms that have overlaps. not always with the same symbolism, but it is workable.

to me islam is similar to how many people use the catholic church. and just like mystics can fit in catholic church, sufi's also fit in islam. many people wont agree on these terms, but it is Truth. to keep things easy i often use the term universal being. this makes it easier to work, since in europe lots of people lost their faith, but also due to the few sufi groups here were i live. most of them kicked out religion and use their knowhow for humanism. were i live there is also hardly any tradition other then buy gifts fro xmas and eat chocolate eggs for easter.

my inlaws come from morrocco and are part of a well known tariqa(group). in morroccan culture and therefore in sufism and islam is a lot of spiritwork that is similar to your paradigm. not saying it is the same, but there are overlaps in ancestors, but also still in tradition.

here in europe islam is very different. it is mostly used for worldly politics and the schools that do teach about islam have their background in east islam ie india, pakistan, saudi arabia, etc. their paradigm is slightly different then islam from africa. which has created several spiritual problems for me.

when guiding people i really have trouble finding the right knowhow and ancestors as most of the people i work with have very diverse backgrounds and often are immigrants. very often i end up fighting spirits who have never ever seen outside their paradigm. this takes up a lot of time and essence and me constantly having to switch paradigms to make things work.

the reason i am asking you for some insights/help/watcha-me-call-it is i have noticed that the way you describe vodou comes quite close to what i mean, but i lack religion/tradition/etc. very often the spirits are then able to make the right connections and then things i am working on resolve, but since i lack the right way for them to communicate to me, i kinda need someone who can talk for them.

i have cried many tears for this lack, but here i am still deaf and blind doing what the spirits asked me.

i hope i made a bit sense, otherwise ill try to explain it again with other words.
 

Konsciencia

Neophyte
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
38
Points
18
8Lou1!! May I add, that I too see myself as a Universal Being. I don't follow religion anymore, and I am very connected to The Divine Light. It is wonderful and beyond amazing!!! However, I respect what you've just said. Many blessings!! to you my friend!
 

8Lou1

Neophyte
Joined
Jun 30, 2021
Messages
34
Points
18
I know that, konsciencia. ❤️
Life gave me a mess and i am cleaning...
 

Nana

Neophyte
Joined
Apr 25, 2021
Messages
24
Points
13
let me try to order my choatic head. i know a lot of things i am able to work with dont fit in 1 paradigm. i also know some of these things really dont fit, just as you say. however there are also paradigms that have overlaps. not always with the same symbolism, but it is workable.

to me islam is similar to how many people use the catholic church. and just like mystics can fit in catholic church, sufi's also fit in islam. many people wont agree on these terms, but it is Truth. to keep things easy i often use the term universal being. this makes it easier to work, since in europe lots of people lost their faith, but also due to the few sufi groups here were i live. most of them kicked out religion and use their knowhow for humanism. were i live there is also hardly any tradition other then buy gifts fro xmas and eat chocolate eggs for easter.

my inlaws come from morrocco and are part of a well known tariqa(group). in morroccan culture and therefore in sufism and islam is a lot of spiritwork that is similar to your paradigm. not saying it is the same, but there are overlaps in ancestors, but also still in tradition.

here in europe islam is very different. it is mostly used for worldly politics and the schools that do teach about islam have their background in east islam ie india, pakistan, saudi arabia, etc. their paradigm is slightly different then islam from africa. which has created several spiritual problems for me.

when guiding people i really have trouble finding the right knowhow and ancestors as most of the people i work with have very diverse backgrounds and often are immigrants. very often i end up fighting spirits who have never ever seen outside their paradigm. this takes up a lot of time and essence and me constantly having to switch paradigms to make things work.

the reason i am asking you for some insights/help/watcha-me-call-it is i have noticed that the way you describe vodou comes quite close to what i mean, but i lack religion/tradition/etc. very often the spirits are then able to make the right connections and then things i am working on resolve, but since i lack the right way for them to communicate to me, i kinda need someone who can talk for them.

i have cried many tears for this lack, but here i am still deaf and blind doing what the spirits asked me.

i hope i made a bit sense, otherwise ill try to explain it again with other words.
You have some very specific questions and even though the questions themselves seem somewhat general and fit for public consumption the answers are not and will likely be very... personal.
Moving forward on this I'd rather discuss this directly with you and you can publish what you will out of the conversation as you see fit on your platforms.
I am searchable on Google, FB, WhatsApp, & Quora as Nana Togonmessie Abloklu Danfira Adedufira and Temple Mami Dan Densu of Alaska. Let me know how you've chosen to reach out to me and we can move forward from there.
 

8Lou1

Neophyte
Joined
Jun 30, 2021
Messages
34
Points
18
Nana this might sound strange, or not, but years ago when i was still researching all that got put in my head, i found a webpage from a yuruba temple in california. on that page was a picture of that temple. it was a beautiful place with bougainvilles blossoming and a flowery arch as entrance. i hardly know anything more about yuruba other then the wikipage, but i loved the simplicity. i expressed that feeling and moved on with my life.
i have been seeing that picture in my head for couple of days now.

today i was thinking on how to reply to you and i decided to look you up. the first thing that popped into my head was olodumare. i know the name but hardly anything more, so i went to the wikipage and then i realised why i am seeing that picture lately.
so i looked you up and found your temple site.

because of this id love to reach out to you by whatsapp.
 
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