All Beliefs are Welcome Here!
First off, Hi I'm Gabrielle. I recently joined this group. I had some questions about Vodou as it's foreign to me, and I hope I can learn more about the cultural and spiritual practices.
In Vodou, is it essential to keep certain things absolutely private much like other spiritual traditions? If you get spooked, is it ok to tell someone? What if you don't know many people who understand magic or Vodou?
I'm not in this situation, but I was just curious if this scenario did happen. What do people do?
How do Vodou practitioners make items become alive? I also believe in Animism, and I feel very strongly drawn to Vodou and Haitian Vodou. I have a few items, some masks from New Orleans etc. I am really hopeful that I can use some powerful healing spells.
I'm going through some hard times and I'm looking to learn some healing spells. I'm completely against curses or hexes, and I'm also curious if that is forbidden in aspects of Vodou.
Anything else from knowledgeable people on the subject would be helpful to me.
I believe I'm on good terms with certain spirits....I did a blessing/healing recently. But I also feel like I'm neglecting certain aspects....I'm not sure if it's my nature or why I'm soo drawn to understanding this, I feel like it's in my blood.
The reason I don't sync with Hoodoo is that it's more Christian oriented, and I can't mix the two personally. So I'm trying to grasp the original traditions.
Well I think I have enough information...an obvious beginner...
Maybe I can help clarify this question or at least add my two cents in.
First things first. Vodou, any kind of Vodou, in this case I'm talking about Louisiana Voodoo because that is what I am most familiar with-- it isn't about the wanga (the spells or magic) it is about connection and serving your loa on every level that you can. It is about devotion, praise and serving these loas like family. The ability to weave magic comes through them in Vodou and it is them who determines if it is right. Of course you can bribe, threaten, praise, flirt, flatter or attempt to shift the decision of the lwa in your favor. It's also very important not to work with any spirits other then the following:
Ghede and Papa Legba and your ancestors. IF you are interested in Louisiana Voodoo the Guardian Spirit also implies, not sure about Haitian.
Other than these four types of spirits, you really shouldn't be messing around with Vodou. Vodou is nothing like Wicca and other NeoPagan faiths and can really do serious harm to you. Without an appropriate Mambo or Hougan one can find themselves in deep trouble. Traditional Vodou, in this case Haitian, there is no such thing as a solitary practice. In Louisiana however people practice Voodoo solitary all the time but they are initiated first into the system. You can serve your lwas if you know which ones walk with you, anything other then that can again harm you. Even knowing which ones walk with you can be quite dangerous. For example Dantor and Freda can be very vengeful and dangerous loas and have been known to do very dramatic things to their followers.
The reason why you might feel Vodou is in your blood really doesn't come to a surprise. I was taught we all originate in Africa and therefore the Mother Religion as it was taught to me (Voodoo although is newish still is founded in some ancient roots in West Africa, even though Louisiana Voodoo is diluted form of Haitian Vodou it still is a very powerful tool). We are ancestors of the Loa in a sense.
Haitian Vodou isn't really about the magic. It is more about the relationships with the lwa. Louisiana Voodoo stresses on the importance of a connection and relationship as the lwa as does the Haitian but the Louisiana tends to lean more towards the magical aspects of the lwa known as the wanga.
Louisiana Voodoo often incorporates hoodoo in their practice.
Why you can't mix hoodoo is kind of weird in my opinion because Vodou has done it for centuries. Catholic Saints for example have been used for years in hoodoo as well as Paganism and also in Vodou to help identify or mask a spirit or Deity. Hoodoo, because I am indeed a very traditional practitioner, isn't just about Christianity and Paganism can be mingled into the branch if you so choose. We as rootworkers acknowledge that Jesus, Moses, Elijah and King Solomon of the Bible were very powerful hoodoo men or powerful conjurers of that time and so deserve our respect, however, we may not necessarily view Jesus Christ as the Son of God, we do understand his key importance in hoodoo as well as in Christianity. Hoodoo is a magic practice and not a religion and therefore can be mingled with any faith if you know how.
As for the curses, black magic, and what not, you need to understand that it is out there. In Voodoo in Louisiana these might be known as Bokors, however to my understanding they don't really serve the lwa but made Pact deals not sure if it is the same in Haitian Vodou. There is a wonderful hougan here who can definately point you in the general direction better then I can.
But this is what you need to know as my conclusion. Hoodoo and also Vodou is a walk of knowledge and wisdom carried over as you age. You never know everything, even when you go to your grave. Never. It is about walking with the spirits in balance and in harmony, learning to appease and deal with them in our daily lives. It is about understanding ourselves in a community and as well as individuals and it is also about pain and suffering. We cannot learn if we do not experience pain and suffereing, because from pain and suffering we learn. We grow. We experience and we become wise so that we can pass it down for future generations to come.
It isn't about the wanga. Vodou is about the spirits and how we work with them and how they influence us as a whole and as an individual.
Hope this helped.
This helped a lot. If one believes that we are all essentially connected to the Loa, then wouldn't it be more important to honor them in at least some way? If they are really a part of nature and the world around us, then is belief like stepping into the door...or are they essentially a part of the world already and some just do not acknowledge their presence?
The reason I want to connect to my roots, or world roots, is to have a broader understanding of the spirit. I'm not really after magic spells...but I have sometimes felt energy and so I'm trying to grasp how energy and the soul works...if it is something we feel like a tangible flash of light...or if it's more important to walk the path of honor instead of waiting for a tangible form of energy. I don't want to upset the spirits, but I also don't want to ignore them.
The reason I have trouble with Christian aspects is partly the history of Christianity...growing up with the notion that Christianity means staying away from Vodou, Magic, Reincarnation, etc. and the Inquisition also bothers me.
Are there ways to tell what the Loa or spirits are saying? Is there divination, such as a black snake in the rain...I wonder what that would mean. Or a flash of lightning. I think it means you've upset ancestors...or maybe a spiritual blessing...I'm not sure.
One time I opened a box of jewelry from my great aunt and there was a huge clap of thunder, so in that regard negative I think... but listening to those signals is important. I've learned through practice as a solitary, that you basically need the spirits or else you are lost...do you think so as well?
Hmmm... This is going to be difficult in a sense for you, and it was for me as well. It is important to know that the Westerners have a very different viewpoint when it comes to "energy" and Vodou doesn't have really a New Age view point.
The Loa were once (but not all) human at times. They are like Catholic Saints or Angels, they were promoted to lwa status essentially. They are not like the Orishas, they are not deities, they are spirits, our ancestors and certain ones walk with us and certain ones don't. As simple as that. It's like you can't talk to my Aunt because she isn't your Aunt, but she is mine. Certain houses serve different loas. Certain spirits walk with us and interact with us differently.
For example, I could never approach Damballah or La Siren because they do not walk with me. It can be dangerous to approach or attempt to communicate with a loa that doesn't walk with you. Even the ones that walk with you can really screw you up.
Vodou is actually monotheistic faith, they believe in either Bondye also known as Bon Dieu or "Good God" or some associate God with Mewu-Lisa. God is seen as absent from the world but gave to the world the loa. That is as brief as I can explain it.
How the loa communicate with you varies depending on the practitioner. For example, I literally hear them as if I were talking to you in person. They have never appeared to me in my dreams as they generally do but they have appeared to me quite physically as another person or briefly when I am looking nowhere and their they are. Some use divination to interpreate the will of the lwa but not all. The loa would talk to you in a way they knew would get your attention.
Same with Pagan gods. For example, Apollo is considered one of the Greek Gods associated with me and so he is a God I often commune with and pray to. He appears to me in numerous ways, light is a big factor and the way the sun rays appears, and another are crows. He also comes to me in dreams, usually sexual.
Even though I have been introduced to Vodou, I am not a true Vodou practitioner. I know which lwas walk with me and I serve mine as respectfully and trully as I can, turning to my mama and papa when things might be going badly expessially with my drama queen Freda, but that is the thing. Without someone to gently guide you, you will find Vodou a very difficult religion to follow, practice or even study. Not to discourage you or anything.
Try working relationships with Papa Legba first, the Ghede and your Ancestors and if it still conencts with you maybe you could get a reading and see which lwas walk with your recently (sometimes they change if you haven't had a Met Tete or a Leve Tet). Take it slow. Don't rush anything.
Voodoo can be very scary at times. It is one of most seriously involved religions I have ever practiced alongside with my Catholocism and my Paganism.
Divination is a big part of Vodou, in both Louisiana and Haitian. Figure out which one calls to you the most, which one might suit your needs the most, but keep in mind that the lwa is what is important and the conection to them. If you don't have a connection you will never know Voodoo. Plain and simple.
Now to answer you last question with the spirits this is what I have to say with my own experiences:
I work with Gods and Goddesses, spirits of hoodoo and also of Voodoo but also work Catholocism. It is a very delicate and unique blend that was intangled itself in my life. My life for the most part has litereally been about pain, misery, suffering and aguish. From losing everything, to living on the streets, to no money, to abuse to anything you could literally possibly imagine I have probably experienced at a very young age.
If I didn't have my God and spirits looking out for me I would be quite literally dead. I've committed suicide three times. The first I jumped off a cliff, the second time jumped infront of cars and the last time I drowned under the ice. And yet here I am. I still live, breath and I am well and healthy. I believe that as, expesially as a solitary such as myself and you, the spirits are what you need and nothing else. They will guide you, but without the proper instructions, expessially in Voodoo!, you could get yourself seriously hurt.
It is all about connections.
I followed your advice. I set up an altar in honor of Papa Legba and the Ghede. I set out two cigarettes, coffee beans, two white candles and other numerous precious gifts. Well, I had some results. I petitioned wisdom...but I believe they heard a different call, one that has been with me for a time.
And now I'm somewhat lost as to how to move forward in their advice....anyways, I think one word of advice was not to learn everything from internet forums, haha. So I guess that's all for now. Peace.
K I'm back. I think the part that is hard for me to grasp is honoring something that is hard to realize. I'm just being honest. After I made the altar it was storming all night, flashes of lightning etc. I read up on stuff. I'm trying to know whether or not I'm just over-analyzing or getting spooked, or if this is a true message. I had pretty high energy but that could have been coffee too. I couldn't sleep. I thought that after I petitioned the spirits, I had this conversation and I started thinking I was dealing with some kind of soul split sickness. You see, I started thinking about reality and what's real...and I got all these theories running through me. That reality is a bunch of layers of consciousness, that consciousness is alive but as a language...and we give life to objects through consciousness not the other way around. That we create our own representations of life...through subjective seeing or only grasping one part of the elephant. Then I was trying to remember, and I started seeing myself on a slave ship. I had this vivid memory that I've carried for awhile. I don't know if I just watched a show when I was little about slavery or if it triggered a memory...but I can remember this dark ship, I am all black, male, I am chained by my wrists to the inside of the ship. I can feel the whips, thinking...I don't know why the white men do this. Well, not all white men. Just certain ones. I remember being on the row part, and saying this...and being whipped for it...and the cruel laughter, as if they knew we were human but did not acknowledge it and this must've been during the slave ships. I also remember the terrible burden. That I would not run, not jump, not surrender my life or die in the hands of their torture. That I would live carrying the weight of them, for this Spirit that was my vodou or culture. I would pray, gradually they stripped away my ability to remember my roots, and I began prayer to a Christian God..and slowly I began to feel disgust and hatred. I died, and swore I could not forgive...but in the end I did. Because in the end it was not all people who had done it....
I don't know where this memory came from. I'm starting to tap into past lives though and it helped me to petition the spirits I think...just to remember a snapshot of my soul. Even if it wasn't me, just a part of me now...
Sorry to let this drag on...as you can see I'm searching really deep right now. Trying to cast off ignorance and learn to comprehend...I try so hard to cast of ignorance and I have trouble because a lot of people don't believe in the spirit world, and I want so desperately to acknowledge it. And I am angry, like this man in my memory, angry for being forced into slavery by a different world...but similar...a world of colonial greed and capitalism...
Ok that's all for now. I hope this wasn't offensive. I really don't intend to be. I wanted to share this personal memory also because I need to hang onto it...
Each time I read your paragraph about Apollo I sense an enormous amount of love. You must be connected very deeply to Apollo. I connect to certain aspects, but I've yet to develop a true relationship with a certain spirit, because I don't want to dabble or be eclectic. I feel if I form a bond I need to stick with it, and make the most of it.
Do you believe that spirits created certain cultures? Or were mediators? Maybe that would explain why certain ones are more hard to connect or comprehend?
I do. I believe that every culture and religion was influenced by various kinds of spirits and deities in some shape way or form. Or at least that is what I was taught.
I do have a very deep connection with Apollo. He was one of my first Deities that appeared to me. It is a very strange story which I won't go into here considering this is indeed a Vodou discussion forum group.