When you hear about Voodoo, you probably immediately think of dolls, black magic, and techniques to control others. However, that’s quite misleading. Let’s see what is Voodoo magic and how practicing it actually looks like in real life.
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What is Voodoo magic?
Let’s start by saying that Voodoo is essentially a religion that originated in Africa and that it blends Catholic and Native American traditions with the African tradition.
Today it is practiced all over the world and is not tied to a particular geographical area. It does not have a central authority (such as the Pope is for Catholics) and does not have any reference scriptures, like the Bible.
This religion emphasizes the concept of community, responsibility, and self-improvement.
A voodooist believes in the existence of two worlds, one visible and the other invisible, which are intertwined with each other.
For the voodoo believer, death is nothing more than a transition from the visible to the invisible world.
Our ancestors, therefore, are spirits who live with us, who can look at us and breathe us.
In the invisible world, alongside our predecessors, there are also the so-called Loa (or Lwa), to be understood as collective divinities/spirits that embody human personalities, concerns, or particular locations or concepts, with which it is possible to interact and to whom to ask for help and advice for life in the visible world.
Where did all this negative reputation came from?
You should know that Voodoo was heavily practiced by African-born slaves in the Americas and the Caribbean. Their culture was generally ridiculed and regarded as superstition.
Just in the Caribbean Sea, in Haiti, one of the few successful slave revolutions took place in the late 1700s.
Voodooist slaves overthrew the European rulers by taking control of the country. In other European colonies, along with the fear of revolutions, distorted visions of voodoo culture spread, which was associated with blood and violence and became taboo.
More recently, American culture, fascinated by this mysterious tradition, drew from these old ideas and began to tell it to the world as sensationalized horror, associating disturbing images with it and fixing it in our local popular culture as we know it today.
The existence of Voodoo in America is a clear example of syncretic evolution among the theistic-animist religiosity originating in the Gulf of Guinea, the Christian beliefs of the slavers and local reminiscences of the Taínos peoples, the first settlers of the Caribbean islands.
It began in the 17th century when many Africans from the Gulf of Guinea were taken as slaves to Haiti and other Caribbean islands.
Voodoo vs. Santeria – What’s the difference?
Voodoo, in comparison to Cuban Santeria, has different forms of worship.
It was thought that the one came from the other, even when they have similar origins and names of equivalent deities.
Zombies and Voodoo – What’s that all about?
Voodoo has been a strong reference in popular culture due to the attributed ability of the Bokor to resurrect the dead and make them work to their advantage (Zombies), as well as causing death at will.
There are also voodoo dolls, which are some small living creatures that look similar to a human and are believed to be linked to the spirit of a specific person.
It is said of those dolls that what is done to them happens to whom the doll represents.
However, you should know that voodoo dolls are just a single tiny part of the greater world of the Voodoo belief.
So what is voodoo magic and how it works?
First of all, it should be noted that Voodoo is linked to pantheism, according to which man and nature must both be respected.
- In the voodoo religion, the physical handicap is considered as a gift and not as a misfortune. In practice, it is a mystical manifestation of something different from the usual, unusual.
- The cult of the deceased in Voodoo is very strong. The same goes for elderly practitioners because they are a source of knowledge and wisdom.
- Voodoo rites are always intended as a fusion between man and the divine, taking into account that each human has two souls, two spirits, one of whom can travel and come into contact with other entities. In this sense, the voodoo magic rites are based on collective or singular trance.
Today on the web, there are quantities of writings and judgments on voodoo rites that are purely false or purely instrumental.
The truth about Voodoo magic
Nobody can say that Voodoo magic is just good or bad. It all depends on who does it and how it is done.
If the voodoo witch acts positively to achieve positive ends through specific voodoo rites, then these are positive voodoo rites.
Any voodoo ritual performed by a bokor for evil purposes represents the worst of the negative Voodoo.
This is the only real distinction between positive voodoo rites and malevolent voodoo rites. So basically, like any other type of magic, the intention is the most crucial thing of them all, and, together with your energetic vibes, can affect the final result.
For those of you scared of the sacrificial side of Voodoo, I want to clarify that some voodoos communities perform positive voodoo rituals banning animal sacrifices, replacing it with vegetable offerings.
I emphasize that The Voodoo Council excludes any animal sacrifice that it considers a primitive practice that has no place in modern society.
A singularity of voodoo rites is precisely in the sacrificial offerings. Each Loa voodoo has particular desires and preferences.
Therefore the primary duty of the priest is to adequately prepare the voodoo altar with all the gifts, the offerings that every single Loa loves to receive.
In this way, he achieves the targeted result more quickly through the voodoo rituals he performs.