What is voodooism


New Orleans and Voodoo

Marie Laveau


Voodoo - History and Practices of Voodoo

The Western world has a very terrifying image of the voodoo cult.

Many immediately think of hollow-eyed zombies, unscrupulous wizards who slaughter black chickens and pierce dolls with needles when the moon is full. Images creep in of gatherings of ecstatic cult followers who dance in ritual trance to hypnotic drum rhythms and give the impression of having fallen victim to a mass psychosis.

Such caricatures are undoubtedly favored by the fact that ritual obsession actually plays a central role in voodoo: deities of the cult penetrate the person concerned and temporarily take possession of him. The state in which the possessed person gets through this is called enstasis - in contrast to ecstasy, during which the soul is on the move. According to the Christian view, one can only be possessed by Satan and his hellish hosts - with which the western world wanted to prove once again that voodoo must be a hideous cult of the devil.

However, this assessment is far from the reality of Haitian voodoo past and present. In fact, it would be a slight exaggeration to claim that voodooism is not a devil but an angel cult. To what one has to add, however, that the angels (Loas, Mystéres, Zanj) of Voodoo show no resemblance whatsoever to those chubby child figures that we know from the Christian representation of angels.

Haitian Voodooism is a slave religion, made up of cultural ruins, of fragmentary memories of gods, prayers and rituals that were brought to the New World with the slaves from Dahome, Congo or Nigeria.

The first shipload of slaves arrived on the coast of Haiti as early as the beginning of the 16th century.

The Haitian Voodoo is differentiated from the autochthonous Voudoun cultures in today's Benin as well as from the Afro-American rudiments of Voodoo, which are known under the name "Hoodoo" in the area of ​​New Orleans, USA.

The mythical "Dahome" or "Guinée" of Voodoo, the subject of ritualized invocations during the voodoo ceremonies, has completely detached itself from the real African landscapes called Guinea or Dahome (in today's Benin). Many of the most important deities originally come from the former kingdoms of Africa, from which they were, as it were, abducted into the minds of the enslaved.

When Voodooism explains today that "Dahome" or "Guinée" is the home of the gods and spirits, it is clear to everyone that this is not real Africa, but refers to a mythical underwater world to which the voodooists use ritual practices contact.

As mentioned, obsession is at the center of these rites. The invoked deity emerges from the underworld and manifests itself in the human world by embodying itself in a ritual participant.

The deities and spirits themselves, unless they temporarily take possession of a human being, are invisible. As a whole, they are therefore also called "les Invisibles", a term that encompasses all non-embodied beings from the highest gods to the lowest spirits.

As in many myths, the cosmology of Voodoo also presents the human world as an island floating on water. Underneath, vertically downwards in immeasurable depth, is the legendary "Guinée" or "Dahome", the world of the invisibles, the gods, angels and eternal ancestors.

In the pictorial logic of Voodoo, these two worlds only touch at a single point, represented as an intersection in the center of an upright isosceles cross: the horizontal bar represents the world of mortals, the vertical one stands for the axis that extends to unimaginable depths across to the world beyond.

This symbolic meaning explains why the sign of the cross plays a central role in every voodoo ritual: To invoke the deity whose appearance is requested, the hungan (the voodoo priest) draws the vévé of the invisible in question on the floor - the symbol of the deity, its basic structure always consists of an axbox.

The central prop of every voodoo temple, the central post or "Poteau - mitan", is nothing other than the vertical axis that forms the tunnel to the world of gods and spirits.

The history of voodoo:

Voodoo is a mixture of numerous African tribal religions and Anglo-American religions, such as Catholicism or Protestantism.

In other words, Voodoo is a religion from the African slave tradition.

Before 1803, the New Orleans area was part of France. The French Creoles at that time owned many African slaves. But the Creoles did not allow their slaves to hold meetings. Thus they prevented that voodoo could develop naturally here. The Creoles knew enough about the “corrupt pagan customs” of the Caribbean slaves - where Voodoo originated - to prevent imports from THIS region.

After Louisiana bought it, American laws were relaxed. The slaves were allowed to hold meetings. The Americans also lifted the import ban on slaves from the Caribbean. At the same time, a slave revolt began in Santo Domingo, today's Haiti. In the period between the lifting of the ban and the uprising, slaves began pouring into New Orleans from the Caribbean. Some of them were free colored people - escaped or freed slaves. Others came with their white owners who fled the revolt. They brought voodoo with them. The domestic slaves eagerly accepted it. It gave them POWER, even if it was only in the form of a communal connection. The first meeting points were on the bayou

St. John and on the beaches of Lake Pontchartrain. The earliest voodoo devotees worshiped snakes, especially one they called the Great Zombie.

Around 1817 the voodoo activities spread fear and terror among the slave owners. An ordinance was issued according to which slaves were only allowed to gather in certain public places and only at certain times. The time was Sunday afternoon and the square was Congo Square. The slaves and free colored people gathered to perform mock dances of their voodoo dances - right in front of the eyes of Creole society.

Of course, they continued to meet secretly for the REAL voodoo.

At first there were numerous kings and queens - voodoo priests and priestesses. But around 1830 a single power emerged. This was the voodoo queen Marie Laveau, who ruled over voodoo in New Orleans for many years.

Marie Laveau:

There were actually two Marie Laveau, mother and daughter. Most believe it was a single woman. Their "ongoing" youth contributed to this legend. The original, the mother, was also known as Widow Paris. It was she who established the rule. When the Paris widow started practicing, there were many followers in New Orleans. By 1830 she became the voodoo queen of all of New Orleans. The Parisian widow worked as a hairdresser for rich Creole ladies. She also paid servants to spy for them. She knew everything about anyone in New Orleans who mattered. It was not beneath her dignity to use this information to intimidate or even blackmail others. It is a great achievement for a black woman to achieve power in the 19th century, no matter how she did it. She even owned a snake as a pet and danced with it.

She held traditional ceremonies by the lake. At first she took herself very seriously. But she wasn't too smart to sell tickets for her "events" to souvenir collectors. She wasn't too good to make money with voodoo. That much is certain.

If she had worked in a different industry at another time, she would have been hailed as an entrepreneurial genius, not a cheat. Marie Laveau defined what the real and unique voodoo in New Orleans should look like. She created hundreds, if not thousands, of new spells, potions, and chants. These are the basis of today's practice - apart from the tradition of the hoodoo.

Her daughter, Marie Glapion, took over her position when the Parisian widow grew old. Most believe it was the same Marie Laveau. Both Maries promoted this legend.

The widow Paris died in 1881. Marie Glapion's reign also lasted a long time. After the death of the Parisian widow, other voodoo queens emerged and in 1890 the cult split. Marie Glapion just seemed to have disappeared one day.

Laveau's tomb, where one or both of the Maries are buried, is in St. Louis' first cemetery. A popular place of pilgrimage for practitioners and tourists.

Voodoo today:

Many people think of voodoo as gris gris or magic spells. These practices are actually hoodoo and only part of actual voodoo.

Voodoo is a popular New Orleans religion, and the number is growing all the time. There are many voodoo temples or churches in the city, and others all over the States. Afro-Americans consider it a tradition, whites - and there are many in religion - are drawn to it because it is exotic.

There are some newer currents that incorporate elements of voodoo from Haiti and even Africa. There are many voodoo followers in New Orleans who sell gris gris, predict the future, bring good luck ... and sometimes bad luck.


Hoodoo describes the magical tradition from the south. Hoodoo is a variety of voodoo. Much gris is similar to gris, but hoodoo doesn't have the religious aspects of voodoo.

Gris Gris example:

To keep your child safe, cut a lock of their hair while they are still a baby and keep it. The child needs all of their hair before they can die.

Magic in Voodoo:

In the case of white magic practices, a distinction is made between the defense against harmful spells and the actual white magic, which is supposed to give the client certain advantages.

The black magic practices are supposed to harm another person, sometimes to the point of death.

Defense spells

These include the talismans as good luck charms and the amulets to ward off harmful spells. The most widespread form of these amulets are called Makandal.

The Makandal is made from various ingredients (including body parts of humans and animals and gunpowder), put in a bottle and buried at the new moon. At the next new moon you dig it up again and dip a tooth into it, which you will carry around your neck or waist on a cord in the future. The bottle is then closed again and buried again.

The process should be repeated two to three times a year, as the "guard" of this mixture wears off over time.

Such a macandal works against supernatural attacks by malevolent spirits.

The magic lamp

A magic lamp can be made in order to protect yourself from foreign magic spells at home or to produce a desired effect of the positive kind (happiness, wealth, etc.).

It consists of any container, e.g. a bowl, which you fill with oil. Then you take two fragments of bone, which are placed crosswise on the oil, then the wick is clamped between the fragments so that it does not go under.

The lamp must then be consecrated by a voodoo priest so that it can work.

It is also important to call the loas whose aid is needed.

When the wick is lit one expresses one's wish and then the lamp has to burn continuously until the spirits have finished their work.

In addition, you have to add oil to the bowl every day exactly at the moment when the sun is at its zenith. You have to say a little saying.

If you want to harm an enemy, you have to use fragments of bone to hold the wick in place.

Magical baths

If one is tormented by an illness or is persecuted by misfortune, one can cleanse oneself from bad luck or the negative energies that cling to one with a magic bath.

During this ritual, the person concerned has to rub himself in with an aromatic essence, which mainly consists of wild herbs and plants.

Then you add ingredients such as jasmine blossoms, almond components, champagne, "water of the loas" etc. to the hot bath water. Then you have to lie down in the bath and remain motionless for half an hour. You have to invoke Damballah, the snake god, over and over again.

Magical medicinal powder

Most Hungans have magic pharmacies from which they can pull out powders and tinctures for any occasion. Most of the remedies could be classified as curative in our sense, but most powders are expressly used to combat "diseases of supernatural origin", which is a very flexible term.

If you feel weak and discouraged, you get a powder that "takes the draining demons from you". Accidents and misfortunes also have "supernatural causes".

Even a burst car tire or a fallen ladder can be traced back to supernatural causes after a long investigation and against each of these sources the Hungans have a magic tincture or a miracle powder to offer.

Pull out soul

If you find out that malevolent people or demons want to steal or damage your soul, you can contact the local Hungan. He subjects you to a spiritual and physical cleansing procedure. Then he makes the ingredients that represent the gros-bon-ange of the person concerned from different parts of the body of humans and animals, which are placed in a pot, a crust that the Hungan seals and will in future be kept in his chancel.

The soul is considered to be "pulled out" of the head and the malevolent attackers can no longer steal it unless the Hungan has taken the pot-tét into his care and is secretly in league with the black magic aggressors.

Limiting malevolent demons

A Hungan can build a magical protective wall around a spatial area so that no unwanted demons can enter there.

Finding Wangas

The Hungans are often asked to break a spell on a house or estate.

The Wangas are mostly peculiarly colorful bundles that have been charged with the desired damage magic by the commissioned Bokor. They are then hidden in the vicinity of whoever is being harmed.

The Hungan called for help now has to find the Wanga. He often instructs his Hunsis to do this.

When he has found the Wanga he must immediately take it outside where his Hunsis have already lit a fire. In the next moment the Wanga goes up in flames.

By burning the vanga, the negative energy is directed back to the cause. Incidentally, sinking the vangas in deep water is supposed to serve the same purpose; In any case, the Hungan must proceed very carefully when defusing the Wanga, otherwise the Wanga will multiply its effect.

Propagation spell

These include rain magic, love magic and of course treasure magic.

Enchantment with dolls

The Bokor makes a doll to which various things are attached, then certain parts of the doll are pierced with a needle. The doll is then buried in the ground, which accelerates the disintegration of the doll. To the same extent as the doll rots, the personality of the enchanted will also dissolve. He will lose his willpower, memory, vitality and ultimately his mind.

In a similar way one can confuse and humiliate one's enemy.

For example, if the doll kneels, the enchanted person will also be humiliated and depressed, etc.


First of all, it has to be said that Bokors cannot bring the dead to life.

But they can put people in what can be classified as "clinically dead" or "brain dead".

Bokors can, however, "bring back to life" such "dead" and already buried people.

These zombies are without their own will, they are just physically intact automatons that serve their master and certainly not invulnerable, have no supernatural powers and do not turn into ghosts or monsters.

So, the maximum penalty in a voodoo community, e.g. for murder, is to be turned into a zombie.

A distinction is made between zombie cadavre and zombie astral.

The physical zombies (zombie cadavre) are resurrected dead whose soul (spirit, consciousness) has largely been lost.

The Astralzombies (zombie astrals) are wandering souls or spirits that have been captured by a Bokor.Provided that this robbery of the soul only takes place when the person concerned is already physically dead (and so dead that a Bokor cannot raise him again).

If he robs a person of the spirit of life in the course of creating a "zombie cadavre", then the person is split into two parts. Into the astral zombie, who from now on serves Bokor as a baka, and the physical zombie, who as a robot and slave has to do everything his master orders him to do.

A zombie is created by giving him a drink that contains an extremely potent poison that can put any person in a death-like state. The victim falls into a deep sleep, breathing is reduced to a minimum, the heart beats slower. In cultures like this, e.g. in Haiti, the indigenous peoples are not yet ready to recognize that the victim is not dead and bury him. That couldn't happen here with us. Our medicine would recognize the situation ...

Then the clinically dead person is buried and after three days in a horrible limbo between life and death he is dug up again by the Bokor. He is badly mistreated, which is explained by the fact that the astral zombie must be prevented from returning to the body.

Then you give him a pulp made from a thorn-apple-like poison that completely deprives him of his senses.

The exhumed person will never again wake up from the confusion and disorientation into which he is now falling. He has now finally become a zombie.

The grave is now locked so that the robbery and resuscitation of the corpse are not discovered.

The zombie is then taken to its new master, who has paid a heavy price for his slave.

The life expectancy of a zombie is a maximum of 12 months.

According to the voodooist view, the zombie no longer has a will of its own and only has a minimum of consciousness, because the bokor only left him a tiny spark of life. Physically, zombies are capable of tremendous achievements, but even the decision to go left or right at an intersection is overwhelming by far.

They are mostly used as workhorses in agriculture, in other cases they serve, especially in today's Haiti, as slaves of secluded desires, to which one indulges in certain discreet clubs.

They are also used for robbery and theft, or presented in traveling circuses.

Almost all Haitians fear that they themselves could be enslaved as zombies. However, something can be done about that. The Hungans recommend killing a dead man who is feared a Bokor could manipulate him a second time. For this purpose, the corpse is hung up, a deadly poison injected or a stake is even driven into its heart.

While these are very strange ways of securing a person's final rest, the prospect of being raised a living dead is just too terrible.

The roots of the Voudoun:

Voudoun is the original African religion. Strictly speaking, the name Voudoun is the umbrella term for the various tribal religions. The term voodoun may sound familiar.

What is known as "Voodoo" in the USA is nothing more than a mixture of elements of Voudoun with European religions - especially Catholicism.

All subcults of the African Voudoun have certain things in common. The most important thing is the worship of an extensive heaven of gods and spirits. This is where they differ from the monotheism of Christianity and Islam.

Some of the deities are powerful elementals, others have very specific tasks or are tied to specific places. Even powerful tribal princes are revered as spirits after their death. This form of spirit worship is what makes the Voudoun so adaptable. With so many spirits, it's easy to add new ones, such as the Virgin Mary.

The roots of the Voudoun seem as old as humanity itself. They have some similarities with some pagan customs:

Tree spirits, cult of the dead, worship of animals, ...

There are still some phenomena in these religions for which we have no explanation. There are Bokors in Africa whose supernatural abilities mystify our science. In Voudoun and Voodoo, the spirits are called Loa. During a voudoun ceremony, the believers are possessed by the loa. They are "ridden". The human follower is seen as a horse carrying the divine rider. A person who is ridden by a loa takes on the characteristics of the loa. In the end it only serves as a cover for the overpowering being. The oldest loas are: Damballah, the great serpent god; Erzulie, the “ruler” of love; Papa Nebo, the god of death; Agwe, the spirit of the water; Legba, the spirit of the crossroads and the worst and most dangerous of all Ogun Badagris, the lord of destruction.

The temples in Voudoun are called hounfours. The priests are called houngan or bokors, the priestesses Mamaloa.

In every Voudoun Hounfour there is a ritual circle with a staff in the middle, the Poteau-Mitan. A vévé covers the bottom of the circle. This is a pattern of special symbols. Each tribe has its own vévé, the pattern of which corresponds to the loa of the tribe. During a ritual gathering, the faithful dance under the supervision of a bokor and a mamaloa, or high priestess.

Cult objects were used during the rituals, such as the pumpkin bottle or asson, the sacrificial knife or cow bha-sah, the cult whip or fwet-kash, and the sacrificial coffin or Seke Madulé. The Mamaloa is the most powerful member of a Voudoun sect. Voudoun is an absolutely matriarchal system. Even the Bokor knows that his power is limited.

Black Voudoun / Voodoo:

Like any religion, belief can take on positive or negative traits. It can be used for good and bad purposes. Christianity, for example, knows doppelgangers and Satanism. Any time you use a picture to explain evil, a madman will worship it.

The same goes for Voudoun. There are people who are drawn to the bloody, dark loa for personal power.


Asson is the holy rattle of the voodoo priests, which they are only allowed to use after they have been appointed.

Assoto The sacred drum of voodoo can measure more than two meters in height.

Bagui sanctuary of a humfó, in which the sacred objects are kept.

Baka An evil demon, a loa bought by the Bokor, or a zombie astral.

Bokor Voodoo expert for damaging spells, voodoo dolls, etc.

Is wrongly compared to the Hungan, but is the same, only in this ritual in a different function.

Bondieu supreme creator god of voodoo, transcendent deity who does not intervene in earthly events and already had creation carried out by the highest loas.

Gris-Gris-Bag Magic bag, magical package with which you can attract luck and ward off damage.

Gros-Bon-ange "Great good angel", the individual and immortal soul of the voodooists who returns to the underworld of spirits after the physical death of a person.

Houngenikon Top rank in the training of priests in the voodoo cult. He performs essential parts of the ritual together with the Hungan or the Mambo.

Hounfours Temple of Voodoo, sanctuary.

Hungan priest of voodoo.

Hunsi "consort of the spirit", assistant or assistant to the voodoo priest.

Invisibles The invisible ones, the totality of spirits.

Kay-mysté "hut of the spirit", room or building within a humfó that is dedicated to a particular loa.

Libation libation for the loas, usually in the form of clairin (sugar cane schnapps).

Loa god, spirit, angel, demon of voodoo.

Mamaloa priestess of voodoo.

Manjé-loas feeding of the spirits, sacrificial ceremony.

Manjé-tambour Ceremonial feeding of the drum gods.

Marron's escaped slaves, pioneers of voodoo and revolution

Migan Ritual drink, which consists mainly of sacrificial blood.

Mysterious ghosts, loas, invisibles.

Peristyle courtyard, open or covered, in the voodoo sanctuary where the ceremonies in honor of the loas take place.

Petro One of the two main rites of Voodoo: invocation of the "bitter", aggressive loas of Caribbean origin who are also inclined to magic.

Poteau-mitan central column of the voodoo operistyle.

Pot-tét Consecrated vessel containing the gros-bon-ange of the Voodoo initiate.

Priére Guinée "All Saints Litany" of Voodoo.

Rada One of the two main rites of Voodoo: invocation of the "gentle", protective, defensive loas of African origin.

Société voodoo community.

Ti-bon-ange "Little good angel", cosmic spark of energy in people and their (impersonal) conscience.

Vévés Symbolic drawing for the invocation of the loas.

Voudoun In the African Fon language "God, Spirit", original form of Voodoo.

Wanga Customized damage spell, only harms the person for whom it is intended.

Zanj ghost, angel, loa, demon.

Zombie astral If a Bokor succeeds in stealing the soul of a person, then this person has to serve as an "astral bomb" for the magician who uses it as a Baka, for example.

Zombie cadavre "Living dead" who, as a willless automaton, carries out his master's commands.


This text was taken from the following pages with the kind permission of:

http://home.t-online.de/home/marc.doberenz/Voodoo.htm / & http://www.mahkah.com/