The Origins of Voodoo

October 19, 2015

 

 

Voodoo— as you well know can evoke a strong fear in that one little word. You imagine the worst. But to burst your bubble Voodoo is not a religion of zombies shuffling through the cryptic cemeteries of New Orleans, or will you be able to invoke agnozing pain on someone from sticking a pin in a voodoo doll, as well their is no priest somewhere cutting chickens heads off and drinking their blood. None of these scenerios paint a realistic picture of this religion.  Unfortunately what we know of Voodoo has been tampered with by Hollywod or books.  But in reality, Voodoo is not a secret practice of mysterious, sinister, island magic. But it is a legal religion, one with roots stemmed from Africa with followers all over today.

 

Voodo - Haiti to New Orleans. 

 

The Voodoo Religion is reported to come here a little over 250 years ago. When the raid on the African Slave Coast happened in 1720 thousands of Africans were sold not only to the West Indies but to Louisiana as well. The rule of Louisiana at the time remained in the hands of the Spanish and French. Unfortunately their existence in the New World consisted of misery and pain. Because of a strong fear of an uprising from slaves, they were forbidden to assemble for any reason. If god forbid they were caught dancing for any reason not only could they be punished but their owners could as well. So the thought of meeting for Voodoo or any other ritual made it completely impossible. For purely artificial reasons though the slaves were allowed to convert to Catholism because most masters did not allow their slaves to practice any religion.  In 1782 the governor Esteban Rodriguez Miro y Sabater prohibited any importation of blacks because he feared their practices they were steeped in Voodoo. And this fear only fueled him outlawing the practice of Voodoo fearing the slaves would conspire to up rise especially since the city contained more blacks then white colonists. When the conclusion of the purchase of Louisiana from France in 1803 some of these rules were lifted. And by now a new generation of Africans had grown, those that had learned the language of their owners and were more obedient and had for the most part accepted their status. So because of this a new generation a new group of masters had developed as well ones that were less oppressive, in turn the fear of uprisings and revolts had dwindled. Punishments were less severe. By this time the owners had realized that slaves were a valuable property. Finally because they felt the slaves needed some outside activities so they were allowed to gather on the plantations for dances and an others forms of religious celebrations. As well in 1803 the restriction on blacks being brought over from the West Indies lifted. But consequently in Haiti the slaves their used their rituals to fuel their own rebellion.  A series of revolts between the years 1791 and 1804 inspired by spirit worship expelled the French from the Island sending them to escape to Louisiana. When they fled to the state they did so with their occult -practicing slaves. With them they brought over the practices and so began organized Voodoo in Louisiana. The religion actually had been suppressed even though it kept showing up again and again. In the West Indies Voodoo had remained stronger then in Louisiana. Because of this the blacks had preserved their worship and their masters fell in love with the city so much that they settled in and near the cities. This helped out in organizing the ceremonies since it congregating the city became an easier feat then on the plantations.  Before long they had converted the New Orleans slaves.  In fact history shows that the first meeting place of Voodoo was held in an abandoned brickyard on Dumaine Steet. But soon when the police found out they drove them out of the city and one place they felt safe to practice was along Bayou St John. Contrary to popular belief these rituals did not include bonfires, drums, or snakes nor sacrifices as well.

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