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#986: Vodou Initiation Group --- Grey comments


<<    Today, we see initiation into our ancestral religion being advertised 
 a safari tour. We are portrayed as objects of curiosity and our beliefs as 
 well. Our beloved  "Manman Hunyō" have become "pipi ladies". Foreigners to 
 our culture have become our judges.
     Sure, these are critically serious matters. They just constitute a new 
 challenge not worse than those we survived in our troubled past. We are not 
 surprised, we are not strangers to this type of provocation. We sadly 
 that we are just outcasts denied of our rights in our own country.  >>

Oh, puh-LEASE!  This is silly.  I have never heard a maman hunyo referred to 
as a "pipi lady", where did you hear this?  LOL!  And my groups are not 
"safari tours", either, the participants are strongly motivated, spiritually 
committed individuals who in some cases have been searching for years for 
exactly the type of opportunity that I and my partner Houngan Yabofe (who is 
HAITIAN, duh) provide.

Houngans and Mambos have ALWAYS advertised.  Max Beauvoir calls himself "the 
Pope of Vodou"  and claims to be able to cure AIDS, fer Crissakes.  Don't 
believe me?  Read "The Rainy Season" by Amy Wilentz.  He has a huge, 
elaborate web site.  His "Le Peristyle" in Mariani was REALLY the place where 
Vodouisants were portrayed as objects of curiosity, and it's been going on 
for decades.  At that house, people pay admission to watch men strip to the 
waist and pass flaming torches under their crotches!  Women strip to the 
waist too, and do a so-called "Congo dance"!  Don't believe me?  Watch the 
videos!  Or get yourself a copy of "Voodoo Fire", published by Llewellyn, the 
photos are right there!  NOTHING like that every happens at real peristyles.  
Even my first Houngan, the late Luc Gedeon, couldn't repress a guffaw at the 
sight of the sizzling-hot testicle dance!  LOL!

Philadelphia-based Angela Novanyon claims to be a Mambo, doesn't speak 
Creole, and doesn't even do authentic ceremonies in my view, but she is all 
over the media.  She also has a large web site.  She once offered a "Dance 
Voodaoun" with a "Latin Jazz Band" as an intermission attraction, $25 at the 
door!  And people coming to me from her house report being asked for anything 
from $18,000 to $45,000 for a simple kanzo!  Teee heeee!

WE don't do that stuff at our house.  We give people correct, authentic 
ceremonies at reasonable prices, we protect them and make sure they eat clean 
food and drink purified water and sleep in a safe, protected house.  We 
translate and interpret and guide and instruct, we teach vevers and dancing 
and prayers and invocation and songs.  When a person leaves our house, they 
have got what we promised them!  We charge only $2,500 for asogwe, $1,500 for 
sur point, and $750 for simple kanzo.  And NO, that does NOT mean that anyone 
who comes to us with $2,500 automatically gets the asson!  I have turned 
people away when I thought it was the right thing to do, and I have also 
given people higher grades than what they asked for, when that is what was 
indicated for them.

What is all the fuss about?  Even before the internet, Houngans and Mambos 
advertised and promoted themselves (and ranked on each other) through word of 
mouth.  They advertise in Boston right now, on Haitian-oriented radio 
stations.  And who is taking away your "rights"?  First of all, Vodou is a 
*religion*, not a nationality.  Secondly, if you want to be initiated you 
can.  You can even take the asson and initiate others if you want, too.  It's 
a lot of work, though, so if you aren't willing to do it, don't wank and 
crank at those who have made the committment.  I, for example, held the asson 
for ten years before I ever initiated anyone.

"Advertising" is nothing new!  Yoga and tai chi are good examples of other 
non-Christian spiritual traditions which have large followings in the USA, 
and which are widely advertised everywhere from "spiritual" magazines to the 
YWCA!  LOL!  The only difference now is the medium, not the message.

Frankly, I think we should all advertise MORE, to be heard above the din of 
white/Christian/Republican propaganda that bombards us every day.  And I 
think some of the people complaining about "advertising" are jealous because 
they think Yabofe and I are making money.  Well, we are!  A little bit, 
anyway.  And we would like to make more!  SO WHAT?  Houngans and Mambos have 
ALWAYS been paid for doing wanga, performing ceremonies for lwa on request, 
healing the sick, and performing initiations. It's nothing new, and people 
who know what they are talking about know this.

In Haiti, in fact, Houngans and Mambos are very competitive.  One almost 
never hears a Houngan speaking well of his neighboring Houngans, he is 
usually the only one around who "really knows".  Even in the neighborhood 
where I take my candidates, one Houngan accused my partner Yabofe of ripping 
off the candidates and not really giving them "good assons".  When we 
insisted that the candidates' ceremonies were correct, he was even angrier, 
and said that we shouldn't have given "blans" the asson!  And finally, he 
snuck up on a few of our initiates, told them that only he could do their 
ceremonies right, and invited them to repeat their ceremonies at HIS house!  

Peace and love,

Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen

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

The VODOU Page - <A HREF="http://members.aol.com/racine125/index.html">http://