How Does Voodoo Work?
Voodoo originates from the African word for spirit, which is "vodun." Although often portrayed as an evil form of magic, voodoo is actually a type of religion that is practiced by over 60 million people, mainly in Haiti and some African and South American countries.
What is Voodoo?
Voodoo is a mixture of many types of beliefs, including Catholicism and various African religions. Just as the Christian religion offers several denominations, there are many different groups of voodoo practitioners. While each group follows different traditions, the basis of the religion is that all of nature is controlled by spiritual forces. Indeed, there are hundreds of spirits, found in the Vodun religion as well as one supreme god.
What Types of Spirits Do Voodoo Practitioners Worship?
According to Vodun, each person has one soul that is comprised of two spirits, or guardian angels. Although one spirit is always present, the other, called the "Ti Bong Ange" or "Little Good Angel," leaves the body during sleep and rituals. As a result of this departure, voodoo practitioners believe that the soul can be trapped while outside of the body.
Why Do They Perform Rituals?
Rituals are used to keep the Ti Bong Ange from remaining earthbound. During these rituals, gifts--often in the form of animal sacrifices--are provided to the spirits to gain their favor. Rather than promising fortune in the afterlife, Vodun spirits focus on the present by providing health, happiness and good fortune to their followers. In addition to celebrating special events, these rituals are also performed at one's birth, marriage and death
What Exactly Is a Voodoo Ritual?
During the ritual, voodoo followers will chant and dance in an effort to make contact with one of the spiritual forces (they do not seek out one specific spirit, but rather, seek out the spirit that is available at the time of the ritual). Once they have gained the attention of a spirit, that spirit will temporarily possess one of the dancers. The chosen person will fall to the ground, which indicates to the other followers that the spirit has made contact with the group. The selected individual's Ti Bon Ange will then leave his or her body and the spirit will take over. Because the spirit selects whom to possess, spirit possession is viewed as a gift from God. The possessed individual is treated with the utmost respect during the course of the ritual. In fact, many believe that simply touching the person during possession can lead to death.
Is There Really a Such Thing as a Voodoo Curse?
The hexes and spells commonly associated with voodoo beliefs are actually components of these rituals. Although their function is primarily for healing and protection, they may also be used for revenge against enemies. Because voodoo relies on the belief that what may be good for one person could be bad for another, these spells and hexes are perfectly acceptable. Of course, for voodoo to work, one must believe in the power of the religion, for without this belief, spells and hexes are useless.
- JF Ellias