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7409: Re: 7383: Questions on practices in Haiti that may be related to Vodoou (fwd)

From: haiti@ixks.com

Dear Guy,

I presented your questions to 'kek neg Latibonit' and they gave me the
following answers.

Just one oppionion, of course (hopefully I won't have to repeat that last
comment).  ;)

>From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>
>1) Do houngans and mambos practice on a level playing field? 

Not really (wow, I can almost hear those keyboard keys clicking furiously
already...).  People will tell you they do, but the truth is that the gender
inequalities you mention do indeed apply... yes, even in Vodou.  The Oungan
is considered more powerful and usually more knowledgable and is the one
you'd want to go to if the problem was *really* important.  It's a little
like you used to hear people speak of doctors here in the States... it's not
that they didn't believe women could be good doctors, but....

>2) What is the difference between a houngan and a bokor?  

What you said was pretty close to the answers I got, except I am told of
(and knew personally) one other catagory, which is someone called a Ginen.
The main differences are the Ginen is kind of a traditional purist... he
doesn't work for money other than the cost of supplies, but will accept a
donation after the healing is done if the work was so successful that the
person comes back and gives him (or her) some money for it.  He's also more
of an herbal medicine expert and does more healing, remedies and such.  He
will do some magic to help you with love and chance but not as often and
will never ever do harmful magic.  The Oungan will take money and do magic
but will not do magic that kills.  The Bokor will basically do any magic for
pay, even kill.  He's the one I'd go to if someone stole my husband.  ;)

>3) Do champwel exist? 

This is a small point of contention in our house.  My husband claims to have
seen one of these with his very eyes while walking in the Artibonite near
Perodin just after dusk.  They go about at night and are associated with the
Bokor... shape changers!  Interesting, aye?  Why is it a point of
contention?  Because I tend to think it was his imagination but he swears on
the name of every god he's ever known that he saw this with his own eyes,
right before him (san dout!) -- and that it was 'real'.  I have so much
respect for him (okay I admit, I flat out adore him) and so I *try* to
believe... I really do.

> Do loups-garous exist?  

Yup.  we had to go to an Oungan to get protection for a particularly
beautiful baby girl who was plagued by a lougawou who took the form of
various animals and walked on the tin roof at night trying to steal the
baby's soul.  This caused the baby to cry all night long for weeks, of
course! The Oungan's remedy worked like a charm, *and* the whole experience
was a lot more exciting than taking a baby to the doctor for colic, let me
tell ya!

>Do zombies exist?

Yes.  Someone who "dies" but is actually in a kind of coma and who comes
back with no spirit and serves as a slave.  Of all of these, I believe this
one more than any of the others... mainly because it is physically posible
and the zombi powder has been found and identified... lots of studies on it.
Therefore my narrow little western mind can grasp it.


>... So, the next thing I will hear is that I am not even Haitian,

Well don't feel bad, Guy -- I was once accused of being racist on this forum!   

>... "Are foreigners to
>Haiti who embrace Vodou more Haitian than Haitians who do not embrace
>this particular religion? 

Wow... now that *is* silly. You know I am not Haitian but over half of my
family is, so I can only try to imagine how it might feel to be disrespected
like that!  There are certain things that come only in the blood, with the
heritage... things that *your* people have suffered and died to preserve in
you.  I can respect that and I can study it and I can even be called to a
deeper understanding in it, but I can never own it like you can.  You are
another generation of how many since Africa and nobody can compare to that
-- *nobody* can take it away, even if they do put it on and parade around in
it like a hot pink prom dress.  No matter how much we 'foreigners' might
admire it or adopt it, we are still borrowers; but it is in your blood
whether you practice or not.  So if anybody tells you it's possible for a
non-Haitian to be more Haitian than a Haitian, just laugh, okay?  Because
that's dumber than hell. 

>free mason or rosicrucian, who claimed to be a devout Christian, a 
>Vodouisant, ...

I've heard that free masonry and numerology are very popular in Haiti. I'm
not surprised at this combination either... I once passed a small house on
the main drag in Kenscoff that had two pictures stuck up on the door -- one
of Jesus Christ, and the other a Playboy centerfold. 

>I must be so underdeveloped spiritually, but all the same I am hoping to 
>be Haitian (just kidding.... I KNOW I AM!)

You damn straight you are!