Voodoo is an ancient religion that encourages its practitioners to understand the natural processes of life and their personal spiritual natures. The practice of voodoo does not have a particularly warm association because it is so often linked with vampires, human sacrifices, blood and even devil worship. None of these, however, have ever truly belonged to the practice of voodoo, and its main purpose has always been to heal.
History of Voodoo
Voodoo first came to the West during the era of slave trading. The origins of voodoo are associated with Africa, but the voodoo that many know today was refined in Haiti. During the early 1500's as the slave trade was just beginning, slaves that were being taken from their native West Coast of Africa were torn from their only homes, but they brought with them their beliefs and religious practices. Many slaves were first brought to the Caribbean islands to work on plantations and be forcibly Christianized, but still voodoo lived on. Today, voodoo is practiced by millions of people in Africa, Central America, North America, South America and the Caribbean.
In the United States, voodoo is very much concentrated in New Orleans as a conglomeration of cultural and spiritual belief systems influenced by ancient Voodoo practices of Africa, the Vodou religion of Haiti, the healing arts of Native American people and even Catholicism. Voodoo is also not just a religion but a culture, heritage and philosophy. It has made its way into art, dance, medicine, language, music, storytelling and of course, ritual.
What You Should Know About Voodoo
The main purpose of voodoo is to heal, whether in an individual's relationship with himself or herself, relationships with others, or relationships with God. As such, for those who practice voodoo, it is an essential element to family and life. The high priest has a lot of influence and is always called upon for spiritual advice. The high priest may also be seen as a healer who uses herbs and medicines to do so.
It is widely known that many voodoo practices have been continually passed down from previous generations. This has led to a system that revolves completely around the spirits of the family, who are inherited through paternal and maternal lines. These spirits are sometimes referred to as loua, and they protect their children from misfortune. As a token of gratitude the family customarily honors the loua with rituals where food, drink and gifts are offered to their spirits. These ritual services are often held on family land or in sanctuaries.
Music and dancing are integral parts of voodoo that function as ways to connect with spirits and the spirit world. Persons who practice voodoo are also known to use spells in order to evoke good things. There are spells for healing, love and celebrating joyous occasions. Myths that spells are used only for harm and as a part of black magic are false and were begun by Europeans who had a hard time trusting African practices and culture.