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7066: Talking about Vodou in Haiti some more (fwd)

From: Racine125@aol.com

Laura L Mcphee <llmcphee@iupui.edu> wrote:

<<It has been my understanding that Vodou is an extremely personal, family, and/or regional based
praectice -- with no formal creed or "standard" practices.>>

Where do people get this idea?  I've heard this before, and I just can't understand why people would
think this.  Perhaps they get confused between the different denominations of Haitian traditional religion
- Vodou, Makaya and so on.  But within Vodou, there are most definitely "standard practices"!  Our
religion is not just some free-form, catch-as-catch-can activity.

When a Houngan or Mambo conducts a kanzo, for example, things have to be done in precisely the
correct way, or the kanzo is invalid!  If we all did it differently, what would be the point?  There are
certain things we all agree on, certain things that are always required and certain things that are always
forbidden.  We all give our initiates the same passwords, how could it be otherwise?  If each house
were different, everyone would have different passwords and different handshakes and so on, it would
be useless.  Likewise for other types of services.

<<It would seem to me that the attitude in Vodou towards homosexuality would mirror society's

To the extent that the "society" is Vodouisant!  Other sectors of society, for example evangelical
Protestants, do not share Vodou's tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality.  Fortunately Haiti is not
a place where crowd killings of homosexuals are sanctioned, as in Jamaica.  I would venture to guess
that Haitian gay men are safer in their communities than are many American gay men.

<<Bottom line: be skeptical towards anyone who claims to be an expert on Vodou or speak on behalf
of all the religion's practictioners! Especially Americans speaking for Haitians.>>

Permit me to remind you once again that "Vodou" is a religion, "Haitian" is a nationality.  Houngans and
Mambos asogwe, such as myself, are "experts" (if that term can be applied to clergy) because we are
trained to be so!  We spend a great deal of time learning liturgy and vevers and songs and ceremonial
procedure, and in the process imbibe the world-view of the Vodou *religion*.  We are also prepared
through the mechanisms of the initiation process to more easily become the vessels of divine energy, the
channels through which the lwa manifest through possession.  The nationality of the Houngan or Mambo
is of no importance, any more than it is important whether a Christian pastor is American or German or
Haitian.  What is important is correctness of ceremonial observance, adherence to the values of Vodou
in structuring a congregation, the ability to undergo possession, and so on.

Peace and love,

Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen

"Se bon ki ra" - Good is rare
Haitian Proverb

The VODOU Page - http://members.aol.com/racine125/index.html

(Posting from Jacmel, Haiti)