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#2413: Image of Voodoo in the 21st century. Bell comments

From: madison bell <mbell@goucher.edu>

I had my head whipped for spelling Vodou as vaudou a while back... 
effectively enough that I ended up thinking the folks with the whip were right!

Is Vodou in need of an Afrocentric reform movement?  I don't think so.  In 
spite of its strong African antecedents, it is a Haitian religion... even 
in its syncretic aspects.

As for the issue of Saint Jacques Majeur-- this is the first time I heard 
that he was famous for chasing the Moors out of Spain.  I'm sure it's true, 
but I'm equally sure that Ogoun doesn't care.  For me this example tends to 
prove that the spirits find their own way to manifest themselves-- no 
matter what.  Ogun can take over the image of Saint Jacques as 
authoritatively as he mounts the head of the serviteur.  Whatever 
personality or associations were there before are dismissed while Ogoun is 
sou chwal li.

	Haitian Vodou isn't pure.  To my mind that is one of its 
strengths.   Haitian Vodou takes whatever comes down the road and turns it 
into whatever it needs it to be.  For example, when I see, in a hounfor 
near La Crete a Pierrot, an image imbued with the spirit of Damballah and 
Ayida Wedo, I don't even register it to be an old movie poster depicting 
Nastasya Kinski dressed in a snake.

Perrault writes

 >Yoruba religion for example is gaining popularity in Latin-America and in
 >the U.S.
 >because people can relate to it.  Will vaudou remain only a Haitian 
 >(in the wide sense)?

Some of the efforts to popularize Yoruba religion strike me as dubious, 
though others are doubtless sincere (and powerful).  I think Vodou has a 
greater potential.  In fact I think it could be a magnet for spiritual 
pilgrims in the same way that the ashrams of the east have been.  But it 
will win new servants by remaining itself.

The Christian churches in the States (most of them, anyway) have diluted 
themselves almost out of existence in their effort to follow the trends of 
secular society and be something "people can relate to."  Vodou is one of 
the world's great religions, but if it gains more followers outside Haiti, 
I hope it will do so not by imitating the world we have to live in already, 
but by transforming it... which is its nature to do....

Good question!  I bet you get some interesting answers....