Voodoo Essay Research Paper Voodoo is a

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Voodoo Essay, Research Paper Voodoo is a spiritual tradition which originated in Haiti during the period of French colonial slavery. Early in the colonial history of Hispaniola, the island that is now shared by Haiti an the Dominican Republic, the original Taino and Carib peoples of Haiti were exterminated by the Spanish. Africans of many ethnic lineages were transported by force to Haiti, mainly to serve as agricultural slaves. There was some contact of course between escaped Africans and surviving Tainos, but little is documented outside of the survivals found in Voodoo ritual. Later, France ruled over Haiti and imported Africans mainly from those regions of Africa colonized by France. During this period, Europeans from France and other countries settled in Haiti. There are

denominations in Voodoo. The first, and most widely known, is the orthodox Voodoo. In this denomination, the Dahomean rite is given a position of dominance, and initiations are based mainly on the Dahomean model. A priest or priestess recieves the asson, a ceremonial rattle, as an emblem of priesthood. In this rite, a priest is known as a Houngan or sometimes Gangan, a priestess is known as a Mambo. In the orthodox Voodoo, other “nations” or lines than the Dahomean are represented as sub-headings in the ceremonial order. The second denomination is called Makaya. In this rite, initiations are less elaborate and the priest or priestess does not recieve the asson. A Makaya priest is called a Bokor, and a priestess is sometimes referred to as Mambo, or sorceress. The Makaya

practice is less uniform from parish to parish, and there is a stronger emphasis on magic rather than religion. A third denomination is the Kongo rite. It is almost exclusively represented in the Kongo tradition. A priest or priestess of this line is called a serviteur. This rite is concentrated near Gonaives in central Haiti, and at major annual Kongo festival that is held every year near Gonaives. All of these traditions have several points in common: There is only one God, called Gran Met or Great Master. There are lesser entities are called lwa, and though they vary from rite to rite, they are all considered accessible through spirit possession. Possession is considered normal, natural, and highly desirable. However, there is a certain “etiquette” to possession. All rites

employ prayer, song, drumming, costume, and dancing during ceremonies. Anyone may participate in Voodoo and there is no gender, racial, age, sexual orientation, or national origin requirements. Also, nobody is asked to renounce a pre-existing religious affiliation. In Haiti, the vast majority of Voodooists are also Roman Catholics. There are various levels of participation, just as there are in most other religions. A Voodoo ceremony is public, and anyone may enter the temple, and observe. Singing and dancing are encouraged because there is no centralized order paying salaries to the Houngans and Mambos. Because the temple is private property, it is considered normal for uninitiated participants to make a small cash gift. This money is used to defray the cost of the drummers,

food, and the general upkeep of the temple and Houngan or Mambo in charge. For some people this is hard to understand, because in the Judeo-Christian tradition priests, ministers, and rabbis are salaried professionals. There has been quite a bit of controversy in the United States over the ethnic affiliation and participation in African-derived religions. Some corrupt Houngans, or Mambos, in Haiti have taken advantage of the lack of knowledge of a foreigner, perform bogus ceremonies, and charge ridiculous rates. Others have an unspoken understanding that they will not reveal the “secret” knowledge of Voodoo, meaning correct information and initiation, to a non-black non-Haitian. However, other Houngans and Mambos hold the view that people are chosen by a sacred spirit called