Monday, June 27, 2011

Haiti Journal Entry: My Class and Backgrond on Voodoo

Voodoo Alter on the back of a house
I took a couple African American and Religious Studies courses last semester that related directly to my time spent in Haiti.  The one class focused on religions such as Voodoo, Santeria, Candomble, Revival Zion, and the Black Church in America.  We began the class by looking at Yoruba tradition.  Then spent one week looking at the history of a given area that Africans were moved to, through the slave trade.  Then we transitioned into how the spirituality of those from Africa morphed into what it is today through both the mixing of religions and cultures (typically European Catholic and African Yoruba).  Haiti was the first place that we focused on and voodoo was a religion that we spent an extra week studying. 
The class gave me a basic academic understanding of the religions, ceremonies and the importance of spirituality to those who dispersed because of the African Diaspora.  My time in Haiti helped to solidify the information from the class and see some of the details I read about.  My trip to Haiti took the religion of voodoo from the realm of the academic world to the realm of the very real spiritual world.  The trip also helped me to understand spiritual warfare (from a  Christian perspective) in a much deeper way.  Some of the conversations with those who used to be in the voodoo church and with those who work closely with its members helped me to see that there is an extreme power associated with Voodoo that is completely real.  I will post more about these conversations in future posts...
Voodoo Temple
Here is a past post on Candomble.  Candomble (in Brazil) is not the same as Voodoo but there are some similarities especially when it comes to the use of dance and the importance of the spirit.
If you are interested in learning more, our main book for the class was Working the Spirit: Ceremonies of the African Diaspora.  This book does not look at the history of the countries or the slave trade as close as we did in the class.  This book covers the details of the ceremonies, the view on community, and the way that the spirit interacts with the individual. 

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