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7368: A Unique Phenomenon of Haitian Vodou (fwd)
The other night I went to a dance in my neighborhood. We danced and
sang, and lwa appeared of
course. One of the lwa was St. Jean Baptiste, and in his appearance he
preceded Ogoun St. Jacques.
I've witnessed possessions by St. Jean Baptiste (St. John the Baptist in English, of course), more than
once. On another occasion I saw him possess a woman in a mango grove at Ville Bonheur during the
annual festival of Saut d'Eau. Every time I see St. Jean Baptiste, I reflect that this is a unique
Many other religions include possession or trance or "channeling", Vodou is certainly not unique in this
way. But in Benin, for instance, people become possessed by Beninois entities. In the trance
possessions of the Greek oracles the Greek gods spoke. In Haitian Vodou, though, the entities of any
religious tradition can be made manifest!
Here is a possession by a historical person who became a "saint" in Catholicism and many other
Christian denominations. Through possession, St. Jean Baptiste makes the leap from Roman
Catholicism to Vodou. To me this is profoundly interesting.
When St. Jean Baptiste arrives in a Vodou service, instead of being prayed to he speaks with the
congregation. I have yet to see a faithful Vodouisant kneel and pray to St. Jean Baptiste in the manner
of a Catholic before a statue or image of St. Jean Baptiste in a church.
Ironically, Haitian Roman Catholics who are "tout saint", that is to say those who at least ostensibly do
not participate in Vodou, reject the possession by St. Jean Baptiste, and identify the entity present as
"Satan". (Haitian Protestants condemn the adoration of saints, so you can imagine how they feel about
But Vodouisants go blithely on with being the only religion in the world to span whole pantheons, we go
right on merrily invoking St. Jean Baptiste along with Erzulie Freda Dahomey and Simbi Makaya!
Peace and love,
Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen
"Se bon ki ra" - Good is rare
The VODOU Page - http://members.aol.com/racine125/index.html
(Posting from Jacmel, Haiti)