Reasearch On Voodoo

Voodoo and It�s Misinterpretation in America

Voodoo is a religion rich in heiratage and founded in faith and community. The religion has been villianized by western culture and has been wrongly protrayed as malignant and dangerous. The religion is not founded in any of the �black magics� or fear popularized by Hollywood films, but rather it is based on balance and tradition. The religion is not something which should be encountered with inhibition or fear induced from childhood horror stories, but embraced for it�s strength and history.
Voodoo (also known as Vodun, Vodou, Umbanda, Quimbanda, and Candomble) originated as an amalgam of African religions during the slave trade. As slaves were shipped from Africa to the Carribean and America, groups of slaves sharing a similier heretage were broken apart to prevent any since of community or bond between them. With no connection beyond the tortures of slavery, the slaves had little chance to establish any relationship to thier fellow captives. Hailing from lifestyles and cultures far removed from each other, the only opportunity for a common bond came from sharing their deep faiths. Though different religions, the intense faiths allowed an intellectual 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 ancestreal 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 adaption effectively created a new religion, Voodoo, which translates to �spirit� in several African languages. This new religion gave the slaves a since of alliance with their nieghboring slaves and, with that alliance, a since of community. This new found unity was viewed as a threat to the French and Brittish plantation owners of the newly settled colonies. As a means to quell the religious unity, the plantation owners forbid the practice of religion and punished slaves who attempted to pursue voodoo. Catholicism was presented as an alternative to the African-based but now independant and Carribean religion. Instead of accepting the Catholic religion, many slaves only incorperated it into the establishing Voodoo religion. Catholicism remains an important aspect of Voodoo, and many of it�s methods and rituals are currently practiced as Voodoo (this is especially accurate in Santeria, a Cuban based Voodoo). The punishments of practicing voodoo forced voodoo to remaine secretive until slavery itself died out. Voodoo became a myth among plantation owners and only to the surface once slaves or former slaves acquired a means to own property through the revolution of 1804. This revolution was spurred by Voodoo priest and priestesses who had worked in secracy and organized the slaves into an army. When the slaves overcame there oppressors voodoo became a publically accepted religion in the Carribean.
In the three centuries of religious oppression, Voodoo became a symbol of pride and independence for the slaves. Any pride in a slave is of course regarded as a threat to the slave owner. Rumors of human sacrifice and devil worship became prevalent in the social circles of plantation owners and slave traders. These statements had no validity, but traveled quickly throughout Europe and America. The practicers of Voodoo embraced this fear as means to frighten their former masters and gain some respect in a world where they were deprived of everything. Former slave owners quickly found themselves duped into the beliefs of Voodoo dolls and hexes. This early means of freedom through fear is a reason Voodoo is still treated as a sinister religion. It is not that the Voodoo practice was frightening, but that that image was adopted as a means to assure it�s existance. No historical evidence of human sacrifice or affiliation with western principles of Satan has been discovered. Any affiliation with the occult has occured only recently with the �Gothic� movement in pop culture, and is not related with any orthadox Voodoo practices.
Voodoo redeemed itself throughout the 1800�s with peaceful practice throughout the Carribean and Southern points in America. In 1884 S. St.James wrote the book Haiti or the Black Republic. This book possessed graphically described accounts of canabalism, human sacrifice, and the structured teachings of �bad� or �black� magic.