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7104: Response from Houngan Max Beauvoir (fwd)

From: P D Bellegarde-Smith <pbs@csd.uwm.edu>

Bob: Max does not belong to the list but has had wind of the recent
debate. He wishes to have this sent to the <corbett> Thanks in advance,

From: THETEMPLEY@aol.com

First, I like to start by thanking Dr. Desmangles, a scholar of quality and 
also a strong member of the Congress of Santa Barbara, for his contribution 
on the Corbett list in the E-mail he sent on 17/02 with regard to Vodou and 
its practices in Haiti. As a specialist indeed, he cautions about the 
utilization and about the limitations of the word Religion. His point is well 
taken. In his judgment, as he said, "... In Haiti one is born in that culture 
which is imbued with Vodou's spiritual consciousness" and he concludes with a 
certain notion of "I-am-ness" which translates a state of mind. This also is 

However, a state of mind determines only a mood, the situation of a certain 
mode of existence as shaped by undefined circumstances, external or internal. 
It doesn't define that thing. That is why I want to intervene in order to 
offer the following definition of Vodou which, in my opinion is, all at the 
same time, a Religious Tradition, a cosmogony, a cosmology, a mythology, an 
art-of-living and a corpus of knowledge that expresses itself and its 
philosophy by oral means. Its purely religious aspect serves not only as a 
hinge for all that are spiritual in their essence, but also for all that 
pertains to the many other aspects of life. That is where I agree with 
Desmangles' state of "I-am-ness".

Insufficient though, one should also add that the various ceremonies, 
different from a "banboshes," implicitly and explicitly, tend to praise a 
Grand Mèt, a unique Principle perceived as the Source of all lives and Who is 
responsible for the Creation of the Universe.
Vodouists, in their proverbial humility, generally understand that no human 
mind could ever define God by His or Her content and enclose the knowledge 
obtained in a book such as a Bible or a Koran. As the Inaccessible, He or She 
could never be apprehended totally, being the Ideal of all the many ideals of 
the individuals and of all societies. He or She, meaning God, flies high and 
way over anything that could be expressed by words.
That is why, spiritual entities named Lwa have been developed as many 
aspects, or detailed and active images, of that single God or Gran Mèt. Each 
one of them represents concept(s) or very general and abstract ideas and 
notions that are considered vital for the very existence of that Universe. As 
concepts, they transform the information from what is usually considered 
purely sensible to what has become intelligible, allowing thus everyone to 
organize their thoughts and knowledge.

So, the Lwa must always be understood as the many expressions of a doctrine 
which has chosen to state itself by a very particular intellectual and 
spiritual construct that could be termed, by lack of a more suitable 
expression, exemplarism. By that is meant, by the exposition of archetypes or 
exemplary models of Entities who are naturally Transcendental and generally 
only perceived by the senses. The sum of the Lwa, put together is precisely 
what could be called "the Haitian collective unconscious."
Should that unique and sacred experience of the Haitian people be recognized 
by the government of their country?

Absolutely, and there I thoroughly agree with B.B. Pierre Louis. Vodou has 
always evolved in Haiti as an underdog. It did so in a country where the 
political climate has always been dominated by violence, brutality, 
intolerance and Christian absolutism. In spite of that, the moral force and 
the superior strength of the Vodou teachings have allowed it to be all the 
time determinant in the mind of the population this, to the point where alone 
it has engendered and shaped the mental attitudes of the people. By so doing, 
it has determined what is the typical behaviors of the Haitians and it has 
consequently colored what has been well recognized in Haiti and elsewhere as 
being the social atmosphere of the Nation.