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#3928: Sodo and Sen Jan Batis-So : Bb Pierre Louis comments
Most Vodou songs shouldn't be translated because they are in "langaj". By
this, it is understood that the comprehension goes far beyond the words. Even
when the words appear to be in Creole they are inadequate to convey the full
meaning. The creole phraseology are just a way to anchor, to keep the songs
and their messages alive. To attempt a translation makes Vodou look naive,
may it be done consciously or unconsciously. May be one can see something in
the translation you offer for the song to Sen Jan Batis-So. I don't see it,
would you please explain?
- "Saint John the Baptist, oh!
Tell them we are here.
Saint John the Baptist, oh!
Tell them we are here.
I am asking if we can hold on,
I am asking if we can hold on there,
Saint John oh... etc."
I repeat, the messages of Vodou, intented for initited persons, go far beyond
those few words. Why is Sen Jan Batis-So offered a ram? Does any other lwa
receive rams? Who are they? Why not a pig, a chicken, a duck or a pigeon? Why
does he need a big fire with the wood logged in a precise pattern, with red
flowers tied to each corner of the wood pile? Why does he always carry a long
wooden stick? The answer to all of these questions, and much more, offer a
rich comprehension of who Sen Jan Batis-So really is. All those
particularities are as many other means of expression that modify and enrich
the original message to his songs. It is not naive nor primitive a text.
The same applies to all other Lwas, their colors, their songs and their
attributes. Without that comprehension, one cannot have a vision of the
cosmology, of our sacred heritage and of our history.
I have never heard that in Vodoun, "Jesus, God the son" was honored. I know
that the name of Jesus is mentioned in the litanies but those are recited
before the real Vodoun ceremonies start and all Vodouists know why. All the
Lwas we honor do possess people and I have never seen or heard of a Lwa Jesus
mounting anybody? Have you?
Luc Gedeon teachings look strange to me. One should always be careful not to
let one's own interpretation interfere with the teachings.
- "In every country there are lwa - spirits of the ancestors, spirits of the
forests, the sea, the crossroads. Vodou provides a model that anyone can use
to approach and serve these spirits. It teaches how to 'interpolate' a
spirit, make it come dance in your head, possess you. Even though the spirit
isn't African, Vodou provides a model, a pattern to follow."
Let me know how could Vodoun in its "interpolation" teach anyone how to serve
a Druidic, Amerindian, Slavic or other Spirit pertaining to a specific
I thank you for pointing out that "Vodou is much larger than you(I) think it
is", though every day as I salute the Lwa I never forget mentionning "tou sa
m'konnen, tou sa m'pa konnen". But are you sure you have grasped all the
dimensions of that complexity?
If so, how can you accept such a primitive translation of Vodou songs?
Evidently, there are "curés de campagne" and cardinals! Even if there is
little probability for the Pè savann to ever become a cardinal, making an
effort in that sense is always commendable.
I don't wish to be antagonistic. You may say the sky is blue, bleu or ble, I
really don't care much and I wouldn't object. In the case of Vodou, it's a
different story, Vodou is my life and my only subject of some knowledge. As
you carry on your war against "bogus Vodou and charlatans" , I just wish to
point out that our religion isn't primitive nor embryonic.
Bébé Pierre Louis