Voodoo and Its Orgins

Topics: Slavery, Haitian Vodou, Atlantic slave trade Pages: 4 (1489 words) Published: December 18, 2001
Voodoo and its Origins

Voodoo is a religion rich in heritage and founded in faith and community. The religion has been villainized by western culture and has been wrongly portrayed as malignant and dangerous. The religion is not founded in any of the (known) "black magics" or fear popularized by Hollywood films, but rather it is based on balance and tradition. The religion is not something that should be encountered with inhibition or fear induced from childhood horror stories, but embraced for its strength and history. Voodoo originated as an amalgam of African religions during the slave trade. As slaves were shipped from Africa to the Caribbean, groups of slaves sharing a similar heritage were broken apart to prevent any sense of community or bond between them. With no connection beyond the tortures of slavery, the slaves had little chance to establish any relationship to their fellow captives. They came from lifestyles far removed so one of the only opportunities for a common bond came from sharing their deep faiths (Erikson). Despite the fact that the religions were just slightly connected, these native faiths allowed an intellectual (as can be, given the narrow scope) exchange and common bond. With several different religions present in any given group of slaves, the majority of slaves adapted by holding a service which accepted all lineages and respected all ancestral lines of faith, both aspects being of primary concerns in African religions. These services were effective in blending the rites and practices of many religions into one combination religion. This adaptation effectively created a new religion, voodoo, which translates to "spirit" in several African languages (Bout). Voodoo allowed the slaves to feel like part of their own group. This new-found unity was viewed as a threat to the French and British plantation owners of the newly settled colonies. As a means to quell the religious unity, the plantation owners forbade the practice of religion...

Cited: Bout, Racine Sans. "The Vodou Page." AOL.com. 1999. http://members.aol.com/racine125/ (4 Oct. 2001)
Erikson, Jacobs. "Voodoo." Compton 's Encyclopedia. Vers. 3.04. 1995.
"Vodun (a.k.a. Voodoo)." Religious Tolerance. 2001. http://www.religioustolerance.org/voodoo.htm (4 Oct. 2001).
"Voodoo (Vodou) Encyclopedia." Arcana. 2000.
http://www.arcana.com/voodoo/ (5 Oct. 2001)
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