That Voodoo that you do so well..
Pope John Paul II has waxed lyrical about the respect with which he regards practitioners of voodoo, and has acknowledged the ‘fundamental goodness’ inherent in their practices, teachings, and beliefs. He even attended a voodoo ceremony in 1993, helping to cement the amiable coexistence of these two seemingly opposite religions.
Pricking dolls with needles and pins is a fundamental Voodoo staple, right? Wrong!
Granted, this method of ‘cursing’ has some association with the more recent ‘New Orleans Voodoo’. BUT it has no clear link to original West African Voodoo practices, and many believe the Voodoo Doll’s roots actually lie in traditional Eurpean magical beliefs.
Many cultures see white magic as a good, healing form of magic, and black magic as its evil, more dangerous counterpart. But in voodoo, there is no distinction between white and black. Instead, when an evil spirit is conjured to do something bad it’s called red magic, named after the colour the spirit supposedly takes.
Though sacrifice plays an important part in voodoo rituals, this is not because of a morbid fascination with death or blood. By sacrificing animals and offering
them to the spirits (known as the Loa), practitioners believe they are combining the life force of the animal with the life force of the the spirits.
The meat and blood of the animal is often cooked and consumed as part of the ceremony. Since some spirits have an association with a particular animal, sacrifices of that animal will be made more often than others; chickens, for example, are often offered to the spirit Damballa.
The images of you commonly see of voodoo practitioners dancing with snakes aren’t done for shock value. The snake plays a huge role in the mythos of voodoo. Damballa the serpent god is the oldest of the Voodoo pantheon, and is believed to have created the world.
Priests and priestesses can be ‘possessed’ by the spirit of Damballa, wherein instead of speaking, they will hiss. Daniel Radcliffe has been brought in to translate on more than one occasion.
Thanks to decades of horror films, video games and general pop culture references, the Western notion of a zombie has drifted considerably from its decidedly less violent Haitian origins. Far from the blood-hungry terrors of Night of the Living Dead onwards, the original zombie was simply defined as ‘a creature human in form but lacking self-awareness, intelligence and a soul’.