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Intro to Vodu by Jean Kent
The Religion of Possession
Vodoun, Vodou, Vodu, Vudu, Voodoo, Hoodoo, & etc, originated in Africa and people think that it is mostly practiced in the Caribbean countries of Haiti and Santo-Domingo. The foundations of Haitian Voodoo are West African religions from Guinea (Ivory Coast) mixed with west Indian magic, carried to Haiti by African slaves brought from Africa. The word "vodoun" comes from vodou, meaning "communicate with the spirit" (i.e. having the spirit on you) in the Fon language of Dahomey, now part of Nigeria.
But in reality the art of Voodoo is to communicate with the spirits through the process of possession isn't that what most religions try so unsuccessfully to achieve? Unsuccessfully? The truth is quite a few religions practice Voodoo they just called it differently. When you go to most Pentecostal churches and the spirit possesses someone and they start speaking in tongues (which also happens in many others churches) that is Voodoo! It is said in the beginning of the Old Testament that Enoch walked with God. By means of possession and the Haitian Voodoo adept allows the African spirit inside his body so in that state miracles and many other feats can be performed. He is walking with the gods! But this is nothing new as we see in the bible, in Acts 2:4 "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." Acts 2:3-5 (in Context) Acts 2.
The true Voodoo adept knows there are spirits and many of these spirits are 'worshiped' as god, corrupted by the arrival of foreign religions that forced people into conversion. Many Voodoo practitioners now think there is an "all one supreme god creator" they call the great master, Grand Met, but not all believe the same. The real Voodoo man does not worship the gods, rather he walks side by side with them! Voodoo is one of the most ancient forms of religions known to men. Over the centuries the word Voodoo in itself inherited a bad rap because with the power of Voodoo the Haitian slaves in 1804 gained their independence. Of course there are bad Houngan (Voodoo priest) who misuse the knowledge and also there are quite a few charlatans pretending to be a priest, but the truth is there is good and bad in everything on earth depending on how you use it. On the turn of the 17 century Louis the 14th issued a decree that all slaves under dominion of the French were to be converted to Catholicism. The Spanish, the English, and the Portuguese all did the same, but before slavery the blacks had their own religion just like the Jews, the Muslims, and the Indian and although virtually eradicated by 300 years of slavery, Voodoo, Santeria & Macumbe are truly among the oldest and original religions of all people! 
Voodoo or Hoodoo, Santeria, Macumbe, Palo? To understand why these religions have so much in common we must go back to how they came about. At one time, all the blacks that came to America were brought to Haiti, taken from Ife. They were packed like sardines in so called "nigger boats", and actually made the whole trip from Africa to the new world standing up. Food and water was thrown from a large grill above and we'll leave the idea of going to the bathroom to your imagination! For a period of at least a hundred years plus the main slave trade market was at Port-au-Prince. 
All blacks were dropped at Port-au-Prince under the classification of Bossales (meaning “rough slave”) and very few Bossales managed to escape upon arrival! From the market Bossales were sold to the colons who brought them to plantations where they were beaten into submission. A small group became the Slave Masters: males who earned the trust of their white master were in charge of breaking down the new arrivals. The strong ones were sent to the fields but a selected few were used as breeders with the weak ones trained as house slaves. Most of the female slaves worked around the main house and were only sent to the fields at harvesting time. The female slaves were used for sexual pleasure and for breeding, but as soon as a female slave delivered a baby the infant was sold to another plantation. After a period that ranged from 3 months to a year, slaves were brought back into the market of the Bossales where they were sold again before they went to their finale destination.
When slaves were sold, one of the slave masters was sold along with the group to keep it inline until they arrived at their destination. It took several years before a slave became a slave master. Back then the average life span of a male slave was 7 years. You got up at 5 a.m. worked in the field until sometimes midnight (especially at harvest time).
Runaway slaves kept the secret knowledge deep inside the mountains while hiding with their fellow Indians, who shared with them the secrets of the land, taught other slaves while staying in Haiti. The plantation owners never really supervised the slaves and the slave masters (who were black) kept their mouths shut. That's how the Haitians were able to get together and organize their freedom. When slaves were sold and reached their final destination in order to create a unity, the religion was reorganized and renamed. 
Different kinds of Voodoo? Yes like Christians include Catholics, Protestants, Baptist, Jehovah Witnesses, & etc, Voodoo has several rites easily recognized by the difference in dancing and the beat of drums. Different rites of Voodoo (with many close to extinction) in Haiti are: Guinea, Catarulo, Congo, Ewe, Ibo, Limba, Macaya, Nago, Petro, Rada. In the Dominican Republique: Guinea, Dahomey, Yoruba. In Cuba: Santeria, Brujeria, Yoruba. In south America: Palo, Caca, Macumbe. In Africa: Aizo, Amine, Ashante, Bariba, Cangale, Caplaou. In the Congo: Ewe, Fon, Fila-Fila, Gua, Ibo, Loko, Miba, Nago, Oli, Quita, Samba, Sinigal, Unlo, Yoruba, (and much more!!!) Defined sometimes as the worship of the Orishas, Voodoo, Hoodoo in Miami, New Orleans, Louisiana, Georgia, U.S.A.
The whites forbade slaves to practice their native religions by pain of torture and death and the whites baptized slaves as Catholics. Catholicism became superimposed on native rites and beliefs, which were still practiced in secret. Tribal spirits, or LOA (also LWA), took on the forms of Catholic saints. Worshipers saw the addition of the saints as an enhancement of their faith, and incorporated Catholic statues, candles and holy relics into their rituals.
Cousin religions of Voodoo are practiced throughout the Caribbean region, including in Jamaica and Trinidad. In Cuba, Santeria evolved from Yoruba foundations mixed with Spanish Catholic beliefs. All of these Caribbean religions are related in belief structure and similar pantheons, of spirits but Voodoo has many characteristics that make it unique among the Caribbean belief structures. A highly malleable religion, Voodoo beliefs and practices can vary hugely from community to community in Haiti itself. Still widely practiced in Haiti, Voodoo has migrated with Haitians to many other parts of the world, with particularly strong communities in New Orleans, Miami and New York City. Each of these communities has spawned evolved forms of Voodoo. Worldwide, Voodoo has over fifty-million followers.
Voodoo is marked primarily by a belief in the LOA (also LWA), the spirits forming the Voodoo pantheon. Devotees of Voodoo believe that all things serve the LOA and so by definition are expressions and extensions of deity. The LOA are very active in the world and often literally "possess" devotees during ritual. These rituals are practiced primarily to make offerings to, or "feed", the LOA and to entreat the LOA for aid or fortune.
Practitioners of Voodoo come together in a community, called a society (also societe). The society centers around a Houmfort, where rituals are performed, and a primary priest or priestess, called the Houngan and Mambo, respectively. Voodoo society are very close-knit and provide a central organizing structure to small communities in Haiti.
Unlike many other Caribbean, Yoruba-based religions, Voodoo has a large, highly developed system of belief relating to the "dark" side of the loa and of human beings. Black magic is practiced by priests called Bokors and by secret societies that splinter off from the main Voodoo communities. The existing beliefs in black magic, (though not practiced regularly, by any means) are the sources of many misconceptions about Voodoo. Popular works of fiction and nonfiction and many Voodoo movies have strengthened these misconceptions, which center mainly on false notions about cannibalism and zombification.

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