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There are clergy in Haitian vodou whose responsibility it is to preserve the rituals and songs and maintain the relationship between the spirits and the community as a whole though some of this is the responsibility of the whole community as well.
They are entrusted with leading the service of all of the spirits of their lineage. Sometimes they are "called" to serve in a process called being reclaimed , which they may resist at first.
The asson calabash rattle is the symbol for one who has acquired the status of houngan or mambo priest or priestess in Haitian Vodou.
A houngan or mambo traditionally holds the asson in their hand, along with a clochette bell. The asson contains stones and snake vertebrae that give it its sound.
The asson is covered with a web of porcelain beads. A bokor is a sorcerer or magician who casts spells on request.
They are not necessarily priests, and may be practitioners of "darker" things, and are often not accepted by the mambo or the houngan.
Bokor can also be a Haitian term for a Vodou priest or other practitioner who works with both the light and dark arts of magic.
Practitioners of Vodou revere death, and believe it is a great transition from one life to another, or to the afterlife.
After then, a ceremonial celebration commemorates the deceased for being released into the world to live again. In the words of Edwidge Danticat, author of "A Year and a Day"—an article about death in Haitian society published in the New Yorker—and a Vodou practitioner, "The year-and-a-day commemoration is seen, in families that believe in it and practice it, as a tremendous obligation, an honorable duty, in part because it assures a transcendental continuity of the kind that has kept us Haitians, no matter where we live, linked to our ancestors for generations.
Though other Haitian and West African families believe there is an afterlife in paradise in the realm of God. The God-Creator is the cosmogonical principle and does not trifle with the mundane; the voduns s are the God-Actor s who actually govern earthly issues.
The pantheon of vodoun is quite large and complex. West African Vodun has its primary emphasis on ancestors, with each family of spirits having its own specialized priest and priestess, which are often hereditary.
In many African clans, deities might include Mami Wata , who are gods and goddesses of the waters; Legba , who in some clans is virile and young in contrast to the old man form he takes in Haiti and in many parts of Togo; Gu or Ogoun , ruling iron and smithcraft; Sakpata , who rules diseases; and many other spirits distinct in their own way to West Africa.
A significant portion of Haitian Vodou often overlooked by scholars until recently is the input from the Kongo.
The entire northern area of Haiti is heavily influenced by Kongo practices. In the south, Kongo influence is called Petwo Petro. Many loa a Kikongo term are of Kongo origin such as Basimba belonging to the Basimba people and the Lemba.
In addition, the Vodun religion distinct from Haitian Vodou already existed in the United States previously to Haitian immigration, having been brought by enslaved West Africans, specifically from the Ewe, Fon, Mina, Kabaye, and Nago groups.
Some of the more enduring forms survive in the Gullah Islands. European colonialism , followed by totalitarian regimes in West Africa, suppressed Vodun as well as other forms of the religion.
However, because the Vodun deities are born to each African clan-group, and its clergy is central to maintaining the moral, social, and political order and ancestral foundation of its villagers, it proved to be impossible to eradicate the religion.
The majority of the Africans who were brought as slaves to Haiti were from Western and Central Africa. The survival of the belief systems in the New World is remarkable, although the traditions have changed with time and have even taken on some Catholic forms of worship.
First, the Code Noir explicitly forbade the open practice of all African religions. Enslaved Africans spent their Sunday and holiday nights expressing themselves.
While bodily autonomy was strictly controlled during the day at night, the enslaved Africans wielded a degree of agency.
They began to continue their religious practices but also used the time to cultivate community and reconnect the fragmented pieces of their various heritages.
These late night reprieves were a form of resistance against white domination and also created community cohesion between people from vastly different ethnic groups.
Political leaders such as Boukman Dutty , a slave who helped plan the revolt, also served as religious leader, connecting Vodou spirituality with political action.
This extremist view is not considered credible by mainstream Protestants, however conservatives such as Pat Robertson repeat the idea.
Domingue as the First Black Empire; two years later, after his assassination, it became the Republic of Haiti. This was the second nation to gain independence from European rule after the United States , and the only state to have arisen from the liberation of slaves.
No nation recognized the new state, which was instead met with isolation and boycotts. This exclusion from the global market led to major economic difficulties for the new state.
Many of the leaders of the revolt disassociated themselves from Vodou. They strived to be accepted as Frenchmen and good Catholics rather than as free Haitians.
Yet most practitioners of Vodou saw, and still see, no contradiction between Vodou and Catholicism, and also take part in Catholic masses.
The new Haitian state did not recognize Vodou as an official religion. In , the government made practising Vodou punishable. Secret Voodoo societies therefore continued to be important.
These societies also provided the poor with protection and solidarity against the exercising of power by the elite.
They had their own symbols and codes. Today, Vodou is practiced not only by Haitians but by Americans and people of many other nations who have been exposed to Haitian culture.
Haitian creole forms of Vodou exist in Haiti, the Dominican Republic , Cuba,  some of the outer islands of the Bahamas , the United States, and other places to which Haitians have immigrated.
There has been a re-emergence of the Vodun traditions in the United States, maintaining the same ritual and cosmological elements as in West Africa.
Duvalier was involved in the noirisme movement and hoped to re-value cultural practices that had their origins in Africa.
Duvalier manipulated Vodou to suit his purposes throughout his Reign of Terror. Many Haitians involved in the practice of Vodou have been initiated as Houngans or Mambos.
In January , after the Haiti earthquake traditional ceremonies were organized to appease the spirits and seek the blessing of ancestors for the Haitians.
Also a "purification ceremony" was planned for Haiti. Following the Haiti earthquake , there were verbal and physical attacks against vodou practitioners in Haiti perpetrated by those who felt that vodouists were partially responsible for the natural disaster.
Furthermore, during a Cholera outbreak in several Vodou priests were lynched by mobs who believed them to be spreading the disease.
Because of the religious syncretism between Catholicism and Vodou, it is difficult to estimate the number of Vodouists in Haiti.
Statue of a djab , a quick-working wild spirit. Vodou has often been associated in popular culture with Satanism , witchcraft , zombies and "voodoo dolls".
Zombie creation has been referenced within rural Haitian culture,  but is not a part of Vodou. Such manifestations fall under the auspices of the bokor or sorcerer, rather than the priest of the loa.
The practice of sticking pins in voodoo dolls has history in folk magic. The general fear of Vodou in the US can be traced back to the end of the Haitian Revolution There is a legend that Haitians were able to beat the French during the Haitian Revolution because their Vodou deities made them invincible.
Free and enslaved Haitians who moved to New Orleans brought their religious beliefs with them and reinvigorated the Voodoo practices that were already present in the city.
Eventually, Voodoo in New Orleans became hidden and the magical components were left present in the public sphere. This created what is called hoodoo in the southern part of the United States.
Because hoodoo is folk magic, Voodoo and Afro-diasporic religions in the U. This is one origin of the stereotype that Haitian Vodou, New Orleans Voodoo, and hoodoo are all tricks used to make money off of the gullible.
The elites preferred to view it as folklore in an attempt to render it relatively harmless as a curiosity that might continue to inspire music and dance.
Fearing an uprising in opposition to the US occupation of Haiti , political and religious elites, along with Hollywood and the film industry, sought to trivialize the practice of Vodou.
In , a 7. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.
The impact of the religion qua spiritual and intellectual disciplines on popular national institutions, human and gender relations, the family, that plastic arts, philosophy and ethics, oral and written literature, language, popular and sacred music, science and technology and the healing arts, is indisputable.
It is the belief of the Congress that Vodou plays, and shall continue to play, a major role in the grand scheme of Haitian development and in the socio-economic, political, and cultural arenas.
Development, when real and successful, always comes from the modernization of ancestral traditions, anchored in the rich cultural expressions of a people.
Another individual who has pursued the organization of houngan is Max Beauvoir , who established and heads the National Confederation of Haitian Vodou.
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Archived from the original on January 7, Retrieved January 7, The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook. Haiti , Republic of Haiti - a republic in the West Indies on the western part of the island of Hispaniola; achieved independence from France in ; the poorest and most illiterate nation in the western hemisphere.
To act upon with or as if with magic: References in classic literature? He became a user of Voodoo , which seems to be a service of the utmost baseness and cruelty.
Also," he added, with a smile, "I fear the English decline to draw any fine distinction between the moral character produced by my religion and that which blooms out of Voodoo.
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