Monday, June 16, 2008

What is Voodoo?

By Ruben Ricart

Voodoo is a traditional religion that was born in the west provinces of the Mother Continent, Africa. Voodoo became widely recognized because of the well known African slave trades that occurred many many years ago.

The correct spelling for voodoo is actually Vodou. Vodou was born in west Africa and during the importation of slaves it gave birth to Dominican Vodou, Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo.

Dominican Vodou as I call it - is basically Haitian Vodou, only, practiced in the Dominican Republic. The difference is not grand. We use most of the same Loas, and most of the same ceremonies, only with a "twist". Obviously, one major difference in practice is the language. Although, the Loas when "mounted on a horse's head", regardless if the horse speaks Kréyol or not, the Loa in the "head" will speak certain words in Haitian Kréyol. Another language spoken by some Loas (especially Anaisa Pyé), is French. Yet once again, the same regardless of the horse's first language, the Loa in head will speak it.

Contrary to popular belief, like Haitian Voodun, practitioners of Dominican Vodun believe in one main God, the Creator, Papa Bon Dyé (the good God) as although physically absent from the Earth, he is still good to us all. In Haiti He also goes by Gran Met (the Great Master).

Very rarely will one go to a party of the spirits and not hear the Loas and all those present mention this name. As, when these Loas enter they usually say: Bonswa a la societé! Gracia a la Mesericordia de Papa Bon Dyé y Las 21 Divisiones! . Meaning "Hello (good evening) to all (the society)! Thanks to the Merci of The Good God and the 21 Divisions! Bonswa a la societé is the general greeting given to all by these Loas when they arive. They say:"Bonswa a la societé!", all respond: "Bonswa!". Once these Loas arrive, they ask for there things (fula, drinks, cigars, and what ever else they might want to wear or to use), these things are given to the Loas by La Place, this is the person responsible for giving them all of the above.

All of our ceremonies, involve first and foremost the invocation of Bon Dyé and then the Loas. it is Him and Papa Legba that allow these Loas to come to us through the possessions of the "horses". We do this because we know that without God, nothing is possible."

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