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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: Vodou


Vodou: Vodou is an animistic Caribbean spiritual tradition, most usually associated with Haiti, which traces its lineage to the shamans of ancient Africa. It blends together (through a process known as "syncretisation") a number of traditional African beliefs with elements from other faiths, most notably Catholicism (the religion of the French slave traders who took the shamans of Africa to the Caribbean New World), but also those of the indigenous Haitian Taino and Arawak people and the European pre-Christian pagans who also came to settle there.

Vodou believes in one creator-God called Gran Met ("Great Master") and a pantheon of lesser deities known as the Lwa. These entities, as well as the spirits of the ancestors ('zanset yo') are directly available to man through the mechanism of possession, a trance-like state where a person is taken over by one of these spirits so it may dispense healing, advice, or wisdom to the community faithful, who are known as Vodouissants.

The shaman-priest of Vodou is known as the Houngan and the priestess as the Mambo. Often accomplished healers, magicians, and leaf doctors (herbalists), these spiritual leaders are also experts on the nature, desires, and ways of interacting with the spirits, as well as therapists, counselors, and doctors for their community.
source: Ross Heaven


Vodou - An African Shamanic Tradition
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Enduring Beyond Oppression - The Truth About Vodou
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Fet Gede - the Vodou Festival of the Ancestors
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The Work of the Medsen Fey - the Leaf Doctors of Haiti
Loulou Prince is the medsen fey (leaf doctor/herbalist and shaman) for a Haitian community of around 1,500 people who live in the vicinity of Jacmel, a small town close to the border with the Dominican Republic. In his daily practice, he deals with ...
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The Shamanic Journey
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Ayahuasca – the Vine of Souls, the Medicine of Love
Shamanic healing often employs plants to good effect, though it is rarely about herbalism, per se. Indeed, most shamans are explicit that the pharmacological properties of the plants they employ are of far less importance than the spirit which is ...
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Shamanic Healing Through Soul Retrieval
Soul retrieval – a contemporary therapeutic practice rooted in the ancient spiritual tradition of shamanism - is attracting significant attention in the modern world as the holistic healthcare movement continues to gather force. Shamans believe ...
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The Message from Stone: Stone & Rock Divination
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Review of The Enochian Tarot
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Candomblé, like Santeria, is a religion that has its origins in the Yoruba religion called Ifa. Similar to Vodou and Santeria, it developed when the slaves arrived in Brazil and where "converted" to the Catholic religion. They used the Catholic ...
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