Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers


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Survival and resistance are two common themes not only for this work but a correlation within the Haitian culture and its arduous struggle to end slavery. It is crucial to recognize the key role of Vodou as it pertains to the Haitian Revolution and Haiti becoming the first black nation to forcibly gain its sovereignty from its oppressors. In a thickly wooded area, a Vodou ritual occurred, led by the Vodou priest, Dutty Boukman. The Vodou ritual was considered a significant event because slaves decided to unite and freely exercise their religious beliefs rather than suppressing their Vodou religion as their masters had commanded.

The ceremony comprised of animal sacrifices and Vodou deities. The various rituals established a greater fighting force and can be classified as a strengthening factor of resistance throughout the revolution. Anthropologists refer to transformative practices as religious acts that mobilize supernatural forces in order to impact human life.

Not only do religions have transformative practices but demonstrative ones as well. For Vodou, the right setting, words, movements, and attitude is necessary from the believers just like many other religions. The lack of understanding of Vodou as a religion has allowed the media to wrongfully differentiate it from Western religions.

In reality, the difference between Vodou and the Christian churches lies within their dogma, hierarchy, phenomenology, and monumental architecture Bellegarde-Smith and Michel, These differences simply fall under a variation of transformative practices and demonstrations, but the common link is the union of religion and life. Leslie G.

Passionate Catholic priests, as well as missionaries, traveled alongside Spanish explorers in efforts to encourage others to devote themselves to the Catholic religion. The high demand for these goods by the European markets called for a large labor force. Cheap labor was a commodity found through slaves shipped from Africa to Haiti to work in plantations under the most inhumane conditions imaginable. Once slaves arrived, they were stripped of their right to freely practice their faith.

Slave owners were predominantly Catholic and strategically established a plan to maintain slavery through catechism and the conversion to Catholicism. Only basic elements of the Catholic faith were introduced to slaves as owners feared that the teachings could establish a sense of human dignity that was unparalleled to slavery.

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Regardless of the harsh treatment, these enslaved individuals were able to continue practicing their original beliefs by finding similarities between the Catholic teachings and their traditional African religion. In addition, Michel S. The relationship between Catholicism and Vodou falls under the concept of syncretism. There is a common link between the religions based on their practices and beliefs according to how they view God, their code of ethics, and their standard of practices.

The Catholic religion has various saints that serve specific roles and duties where believers will worship them through reverence of sacred objects and adoration. Additionally, the Vodou religion has multiple Loas who play as intermediaries between the Bondye God and humans. As mentioned, Vodou practices had to be concealed from their European masters and Vodou followers then used images of Catholic figures and syncretized the Loa with the Roman Catholic saints. A prime example is seen through the saint, St. Patrick, who was known for driving snakes out of Ireland. The image of St.

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Patrick became a symbol of the great snake Loa, Damballah. Damballah, the Sky God, is one of the most important Loas as he is considered to be one of the main creators of life. While Catholic teachings view snakes as a symbol of sin, snakes that are twined around a cross are also an emblem of God. Biblical teachings relay the story of how Moses made a bronze snake and placed it on a pole to heal those who had been bitten. Depiction of Damballah vs.

The colonial era established the Vodou religion as an underground political institution. Rulers in Haiti used Vodou as an opportunity to grab power and viewed the religion as a primary political tool to gain the attention and support of its people.

Haitian Vodou_The Religion of Zombies _LI

Louverture and Duvalier were two determined rulers who stood at opposite ends of the spectrum in regards to their support, practice, and application of Vodou. However, as argued by Laguerre , both leaders tenaciously used Vodou for their own benefit, and is yet another example of how, for the common people, the history of Haiti succumbed to tragedy. Born into slavery in , Toussaint Louverture rose to become a leader of the movement for Haitian Independence and the only successful slave revolt.


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While growing up, he inspired the kindness of his owners regardless of the legalization of harsh treatment towards slaves. He was able to read and write which led the manager of the Brenda plantation to grant him unlimited access to his personal library. He grew to be a well-read man, spoke three languages, French, Creole, and Latin, was a skilled horseman, and was knowledgeable with medicinal plants and herbs. He married Suzanne Simon, a Catholic woman, and had two sons. As Madison S. He was the leader of the insurrection but had never taken action in any other previous revolts that had occurred on the island prior to the revolution.

After Haiti successfully gained its freedom, Louverture became a proprietor of the exploitative system by owning slaves himself. He also sided with Spain, and later with France, and such duplicity in regards to his dealings were questionable as they were both enemies of Haiti. Additionally, the Catholic religion, Apostolic and Roman, is the only religion to be publicly professed because he made it the official religion of Haiti.

While Duvalier was a man of many contradictions, he was very intelligent. Unlike colonialists and foreigners, he did not see Vodou as a threat, in fact, he used and abused the religion for his personal gains. The Duvalier regime was established through the manipulation and use of Vodou by Francois Duvalier. Science Age of Humans. Future of Space Exploration. Human Behavior. Our Planet. Earth Optimism Summit. Ingenuity Ingenuity Festival. The Innovative Spirit. Travel Taiwan.

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Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers
Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers
Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers
Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers
Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers
Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers

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