Voodoo The Haitian Religion Essay Research Paper
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Voodoo: The Haitian Religion Essay, Research Paper Juan Diez Voodoo: The Haitian Religion To a person who may be unaware of the teachings and history of Voodoo, it may seem apparent that it is a negative religion. To make such accusations without learning about the religion is not right. Voodoo is a religion. It is the dominant religion of Haiti. Many of the practices and descriptions of Voodoo belief may sound like rank superstition, but it is only to those who know little or nothing about the religion. In Haiti, Voodoo is taken very seriously, not merely practiced by illiterate peasants, but by many intelligent and learned members of the Haitian society. It is a religion that has endured many hardships throughout its existence, from slavery in Africa all the way to prosecution from Protestants in modern day Haiti. This paper will try not to give a defensive or condescending attitude towards the religion of Voodoo, but more of a presentation of facts that will enable the reader to decide of what he or she thinks about the religion. Voodoo is not the cannibalistic, child-sacrificing religion that modern day society has made it out to be, but more of a religion in touch with its ancestors and its spirits. Advocates of Voodoo have worked hard to change its image because it has been slandered by many people. Some writers of Voodoo have even attempted to change the spelling of the word Voodoo to vodun, vaudin, vodoun, vodou, or vaudoux, in an attempt to disguise the religion. Changes in the name of Voodoo also stem from the way many of the people in Haiti pronounce the word Voodoo. To begin a discussion on Voodoo and its elements, a history of Voodoo and how this religion came to be is needed. Fist and foremost, Voodoo is probably the best example of African syncretism in the Americas. Although its essential wisdom originated in different parts of Africa long before the Europeans started the slave trade, the structure of Voodoo, as it is known today, was born in Haiti during the European colonization of Hispaniola (Anonymous). Ironically, it was the enforced immigration of African slaves from different tribes that provided the circumstances for the development of Voodoo. European colonists thought that by destroying the various tribes, they could not come together as a community. However, in the misery of slavery, the transplanted Africans found in their faith a common thread. They began not only to include their own personal gods, but also to practice rites and rituals other than their own. In this process, they combined and modified rituals of various tribes. The result was that the different religious groups integrated their beliefs, thereby creating a new religion. Voodoo the Afro-Caribbean religion mixes practices from the Fon, the Nago, the Ibos, Dahomeans, Congos, Senegalese, Haussars, Caplaous, Mondungues, Mandinge, Angolese, Libyans, Ethiopians, and the Malgaches. These were basically all the major tribes that made up the religion of Voodoo. The strength that the Africans in Haiti gained from their religion was so strong and powerful that they were able to survive the cruel prosecution of the French rulers against Voodoo. When the French saw that the religion of the Africans was a threat to the colonial system, they prohibited all forms of African religious practices and severely punished the practitioners of Voodoo with imprisonment, lashings, and hangings. This religious struggle continued for three centuries, but none of the punishments could extinguish the faith of the Africans who kept their religion in secret. It was in the midst of this struggle that the revolution was conspired. The Voodoo priests consulted their oracle and learned how the political battle would have to be fought in order for them to be victorious. The revolution finally gained Voodoo its independence in 1804. Through the years of 1815 through 1850 there was quiet diffusion.