Essay, Research Paper: Voodoo

Religion

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When I was first assigned this research paper on Voodoo, the first thing I
thought of was Voodoo dolls, zombies, and evil magic. I think Voodoo is an evil
religion which sacrifices humans as well as animals to demonic gods. I think it
has been around for thousands of years, but is little left today. I believe that
Voodoo is nothing but evil and the work of the devil. Voodoo originated in
Western Africa by the Yoruba tribe. The Yoruba religion has about four hundred
lesser gods called Orisa. This is not the actual Voodoo religion as we know it
today, but plays an important role in it. Voodoo believes that the Grand Master
or God rules over all things, but pays no attention to human affairs. This is
why they believe in lower spirits or Loa to whom they worship and make
sacrifices to(Belgum 14-28). When the slave trade started, people of the Yoruba
tribe were captured and brought over as slaves. when the slaves arrived, they
were baptized into the Catholic religion. The slaves continued to practice their
native religion in secret which over time was mixed with Catholicism to create
the Voodoo that we know today (Introduction 1). Over sixty-million people still
continue to practice Voodoo worldwide (Vodun 1). The main center of Voodoo in
the United States is New Orleans (3). About fifteen percent of New Orleans
practices (Voodoo 1). The Voodoo religion contacts the spiritual worked Quite
frequently. They believe that spirits help people in all that they do (Belgum
30-1). The Voodoo religion believes that true communion comes only through
possession of the body by a Loa or spirit. Possession is very common during
rituals for it is how the Loa give instructions to or help the people. They
believe they get possessed for certain reasons. Such things as protection, cures
from illness, or even to give warning to an individual or to the whole community
of worshipers (Possession 1). When a person gets possessed, they show struggle
moving and jumping around like crazy people. Then all of a sudden they go blank
and motionless. They then come out of that trance a totally different person.
While a person is possessed all bodily functions and gestures take the form of
the Loa which possesses the body. While the Loa possesses the body it will often
smoke, drink alcohol, and eat. These are all things that it is usually not
capable of doing unless in a human body. They are also known to eat orwalk on
fire and will show no marks on their body afterwards. The possessed person shows
great strength and is known to toss things as well as people around. The
possessed will have a totally different voice, facial expressions, etc.... After
the possession, the person has no remembrance of what happened and therefore
cannot be held responsible for what they did while being possessed (Possession
1-2). Voodoo rituals play an important role in the religion. Since practicers
believe that human and Loa depend upon one another, they hold many rituals to
make contact with the spirits through a very special process. Rituals can be
held for many different reasons. Rituals can be held to celebrate a special
event in the lives of a family or a community, in bad times for guidance from
the Loa, for healing of an illness or a disability, births, weddings, and deaths
(Vodun 2-3). There are two different types of voodoo rituals: Rada and Petro.
Both are exactly the same except for the type of Loa they are addressing and for
the purpose of the ritual (Basic 1). All rituals are held at a hounfour or a
temple (Belgum 37). All rituals are began by the houngan asking Legba, the Loa
of the gate, to open it. After the opening, water is sprinkled throughout
important places in the hounfour (Basic 1-2), especially at the center where the
poteau-mitin is located. It is a pole where the people communicate with the loas
and God (Vodun 3). The drum or tambula (Mysteries 1) begins to beat. A veve, or
pattern of flour is made on the floor in a design of one of the Loa (Vodun 3).
The Houngan then calls the Loa by striking the veve or calling upon it with the
use of magical words (Basic 4). Chanting begins along with prayers (2), one of
the most common being the prayer of life and death which reads: “Earth, while
I am yet alive, It is upon you that I put my trust, Earth who receives my body.
We are addressing you, And you will understand.” (Belgum 39) Sacrifices and
offerings are then made. They often sacrifice animals. During an animal
sacrifice animal’s throats are slit and the blood drained and often drunk by
the worshipers. After the offering is made, the animal is usually cooked and
eaten by the people.They believe by doing this, they share in the Loa’s power
since the offering belongs to the Loa. The ceremony then ends with chanting and
clapping (Basic 2-5). There is still a part of Voodoo which most people
associate it with. The evil or left-handed Voodoo is often associated with
magic, zombies, and werewolves. This type is rarely used by the religion. This
is mostly exaggerated by unknowledgable writers or film makers (Belgum 46-8).
However there is some of this happening. It is performed by caplatas or evil
priests and most of it is trickery or the use of heavy drugs. Voodoo dolls were
never part of the religion either. They were started in New Orleans and are not
part of the religion (Vodun 3). I have found that Voodoo is a logical religion
that is just misunderstood and misjudged by many people. Eventhough it contains
some magic, it is not the main point of the religion nor is it practiced by
normal members to the religion. I think this just proves what is often said by
many, do not pass judgment without actual knowledge.

Bibliography“Basic Rituals of Vodun” Webpage available on Netscape Navigator. URL:
http: //www.arcana.com/voodoo/ritual.html . Host: Voodoo Information Pages 1995,
1996, 1997, 1998. Belgum,Erik. Great Mysteries: Voodoo . San Diego: Greenhaven
Press, 1991 “An Introduction to Vodun” Webpage available on Netscape
Navigator. URL: http: //www.arcana.com/voodoo/intro.html. Host: Voodoo
Information Pages 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998. “The Mysteries of Voodoo Powders”
Webpage available on Netscape Navigator. URL: http://lucknet.com/mysteries/voodoo1.html.
Host: TM & Copyright 1997. “Possession” Webpage available on Netscape
Navigator. URL: http: //www.arcana.com/voodoo/possession.html. Host: Voodoo
Information Pages 1995,1996,1997,1998. “Voodoo” Webpage available on
Netscape Navigator. URL:http: //www.gub.ac.uk/en/imperial/carib/voodoo. Host:
Eimer Gillespie 1997. “Vodun Creation and Mythology” Webpage available on
Netscape Navigator. URL: http: //www.arcana.com/voodoo/creation.html. Host:
Voodoo Information Pages 1995,1996,1997,1998. “The Vodun (voodoo) Religion”
Webpage available on Netscape Navigator. URL: http: //www.religoustolerance.org/voodoo.htm.
Host: Religous Tolerance Organization. “Voodoo Yesterday and Today” Webpage
available on Netscape Navigator. URL: http: //neosoft.com/~nodust/vyat.html.
Host: Neosoft Company.
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