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7105: RE: 7104: Response from Houngan Max Beauvoir (fwd)

From: "Desmangles, Leslie" <Leslie.Desmangles@trincoll.edu>

From: Leslie G. Desmangles, Trinity  College, Hartford, CT.

Max Beauvoir's message was a fascinating response to my note about Vodou,
and it contained some interesting observations, two of which I would like to
address in this
short message.

While it is true that a sense of "I-am-ness" may define a mood -- a
transitional, temporary psychological state of mind, I did not use that
phrase in that sense. I used it in the way in which David Ben Gurion used it
in 1948. I meant that to be a serviteur of Vodou, or to call oneself a
Vodouist is like
breathing; it is an existential state of being that is real as being alive
itself. It's not a transitional, psychological state of mind that cuase a
person to respond to various circumstances of life. Rather, the state of
"I-am-ness" is that which existentially makes me who I am. Vodou teaches
that a spark of the Almighty exists in all humans, and the state of
"I-am-ness" is that spark of the divine inherent in all human beings that is
the very essence of life itself.

I was also interested in Max's comments about the distinctions between
'banbosh' (parties) that are banal events and highly sacred Vodou rituals. I
noted in my initial note that Haitian culture was imbued with Vodou, but I
didn't mean to imply that all of Haitian culture was sacred and that every
banbosh was a sacred event. I merely wanted to point out that the soul of
Vodou expresses itself in multifarious ways in Haitian society -- at times
in quite imperceptible forms and at other times in visible forms, at times
in highly sacred moments and at other times in the most banal of moments.
For instance, much of Haitian art is not religious, yet in many
ways it carries some interesting Vodou themes. The veves or other geometric
facsimile are frequent occurences in Vodou art such as paintings or forged
irons placed over windows and doors. In other words, there are many
variations in the representations of the these veves in Haitian art, but
each of these art renderings do not stand as sacred symbols of Vodou.
Similarly, Haitian folk dancing has a great many Haitian dance forms such
related to the Lwas, but it cannot be said by any stretch of the imagination
that all Vodou folk dancing is sacred.

I think, Max that we are not disagreeing at all. We are merely trying to
refine our observations. And your points are well taken.


Leslie G. Desmangles
Trinity College
Department of Religion and
International Studies Program
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 297-2407 desk
(860) 297-5358 fax