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Encyclopedia > Vodou

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See also: Dahomey mythology and Yoruba mythology
Ewe Vudusi, Togo

The term Vodou (Vodun or Vudun in Benin; and Togo; also Vodon, Vodoun, Voudou, or other phonetically equivalent spellings. In Haiti; Vudu (an Ewe word, also used in the Dominican Republic) is by some individuals applied to the branches of a West African ancestral religious tradition. It is important to note that the word "Voodoo" is the most common and known usage in American and popular culture, and is often viewed as offensive by the Afro-Diaspora practicing communities. This article is about the syncretistic New World religions. ... The Dahomey (or Fon) are a nation located in Benin, Africa. ... The mythology of the Yorùbá is sometimes claimed by its supporters to be one of the worlds oldest widely practised religions. ... Image File history File links Vodou_dancer4. ... Image File history File links Vodou_dancer4. ... The Ewe people are a people of southern Ghana, Togo and Benin. ... Ewe (native name , the language) is a Kwa language spoken in Ghana and Togo by approximately three million people. ...  Western Africa (UN subregion)  Maghreb[1] West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. ... This article is about the syncretistic New World religions. ...

However, the different spellings of this term can be explained as follows.

  • Vodou is used to describe the Haitian Vodou religious tradition.
  • Vudon, vodun, and vodoun are used to describe the deities honoured in the Brazilian Jeje (Ewe) sect of Candomble as well as West African Vodoun.
  • When the word "Vodou/Vodoun" is capitalized, it denotes the Religion proper.
  • When the word is used in small caps, it denotes the actual deities honored in each respective tradition.
  • The word "Voodoo" is properly used to describe the Creole rituals and herbal remedies of New Orleans, usually in absence of communal religious practices or polytheism.

Similar traditions are practiced throughout the African-American community, sometimes combined with Native American traditions and called Hoodoo. Candomblé Jejé is one of the major branches (nations) of Candomblé, an Afro-American religion. ... The Ewe people are a people of southern Ghana, Togo and Benin. ... Iya Nass - Terreiro da Casa Branca Candombl is an Afro-American religion practised chiefly in Brazil but also in adjacent countries. ... Louisiana Voodoo, also known as New Orleans Voodoo is a term that is used for a form of the Voodoo spirituality which historically developed within the French- and Louisiana Creole French-speaking African-American population of the U.S. state of Louisiana. ... Look up Creole, creole in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana, United States of America. ... Languages Predominantly American English Religions Protestantism (chiefly Baptist and Methodist); Roman Catholicism; Islam Related ethnic groups Sub-Saharan Africans and other African groups, some with Native American groups. ... Native Americans redirects here. ... This does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

Its roots are believed to be varied and include the Fon, Mina, Kabye, Ewe, and Yoruba peoples of West Africa, from western Nigeria to eastern Ghana. The word Vodún "Vodoun" "Vudu" is the Fon-Ewe word for spirit. Voodoo in Haiti is highly influenced by Central African traditions. The Kongo rites, also known in the north of Haiti as Lemba (originally practiced among the Bakongo) and is as widespread as the West African elements. // FON Wireless Ltd. ... Mina can refer to: // MiNa, the Microsystems and Nanotechnology Research Group at The University of British Columbia Mina, Gabon Mina, Greece Mina, Iloilo, in the Philippines. ... Kabye is the name for both the language and peoples of the northern plains of Togo. ... Look up ewe, Ewe in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The Yoruba (Yorùbá in Yoruba orthography) are a large ethno-linguistic group or ethnic nation in Africa; the majority of them speak the Yoruba language (èdèe Yorùbá; èdè = language). ... Fon (native name FÉ”ngbe) is part of the Gbe language cluster and belongs to the Kwa sub-family of the Niger-Congo languages. ... The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus (breath). // The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath (compare spiritus asper), but also soul, courage, vigor, ultimately from a PIE root *(s)peis- (to blow). In the Vulgate, the Latin word translates Greek (πνευμα), pneuma (Hebrew (רוח) ruah), as... The Empire Kongo The Kongo Kingdom was an African kingdom located in southwest Africa in what are now northern Angola, Cabinda, Republic of the Congo, and the western portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. ... The Bakongo people (aka. ...


Vodou cosmology in West Africa

The cultural area of the Fon, Gun, Mina and Ewe peoples share common metaphysical conceptions around a dual cosmological divine principle: Nana Buluku, the God-Creator, and the God-Actor(s) or Vodun(s), daughters and sons of the Creator's twin children Mawu (goddess of the moon) and Lisa (sun god). The God-Creator is the cosmogonical principle, who does not trifle with the mundane, and the Vodun(s) are the God-Actor(s) who actually govern the earth. // FON Wireless Ltd. ... This article is about the video game. ... Mina can refer to: // MiNa, the Microsystems and Nanotechnology Research Group at The University of British Columbia Mina, Gabon Mina, Greece Mina, Iloilo, in the Philippines. ... Look up ewe, Ewe in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Plato (Left) and Aristotle (right), by Raphael (Stanza della Segnatura, Rome) Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the ultimate nature of reality, being, and the world. ... Cosmology, from the Greek: κοσμολογία (cosmologia, κόσμος (cosmos) order + λογια (logia) discourse) is the study of the Universe in its totality, and by extension, humanitys place in it. ... Nana Buluku is the Supreme Deity of the Fon from Dahomey. ... This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... In Dahomey mythology, Mahu (alternately: Mawu) is a creator goddess, associated with the sun and moon. ... Look up Lisa in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

The Pantheon of Voduns, though not complete, is quite large and complex. In one version, there are seven direct daughters and sons of Mawu, inter-ethnic and related to natural phenomena or historical or mythical individuals, and dozens of ethnic Voduns, defenders of a certain clan or tribe.

West African Vodu, just as all indigenous African Religions, has its primary emphasis on the ancestors, with each family of spirits having its own specialized priest and priestesshood who are often hereditary. In many African clans, deities might include Mami Wata, who are god/desses of the waters; Legba, who in some clans is virile and young in contrast to the old man form he takes in Haiti; Gu, ruling iron and smithcraft; Sakpata, who rules diseases; and many other spirits distinct in their own way to West Africa. Following this is the ancestral lineageal Mama Tchamba demoniations. An ancient matriarchal system of elevated enslaved ancestors, who now encompass all of the enslaved Africans across the world. This poster of a Samoan snake charmer inspired the common image of Mami Wata in Africa. ... In Haitian Vodou, Papa Legba is the intermediary between the lwa and humanity. ... Gu can refer to: Gu (family), a prominent Chinese family during the Jin dynasty Gu (clan), a rare surname of the Han Chinese people Gu (ward), a section of a city in South Korea, larger than a dong Gu (name), a rare last name of the Korean people Gu (god... In Dahomey mythology, Shakpana (or Sopono, Sakpata) is the god of smallpox. ... Tchamba is a city located in the Centrale Region of Togo. ...

European colonialism, followed by totalitarian regimes in West Africa, tried to suppress Vodun as well as other forms of the religion. However, because the Vodou deities are born to each African clan-group, and its clery is central to maintaining the moral, social and political order and ancestral foundation of its villagers, it was near to impossible to eradicate the tradition. Today in West Africa, the Vodou religion is estimated to be practiced by over 30 million people. It has been suggested that Benign colonialism be merged into this article or section. ...  Western Africa (UN subregion)  Maghreb[1] West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. ...


About 60% of the population of Benin, about 4½ million people, practice Vodun. (This does not count other ancestral religions in Benin.) In addition, many of the 15% of the population that refer to themselves as Christian practice Vodun, not dissimilar from Haitian Vodou. In Togo about half the population practices indigenous religions, of which Vodun is by far the largest, with approximately 2½ million followers; there may be perhaps another million among the Ewe of Ghana (13% Ewe and 38% indigenous beliefs overall out of a population of 20 million.) In the United States, due to the continual stigma, there are no confirmed statistics on the actual number of adherents in the Diaspora. However, it is believed that a growing number of the Diaspora are practicing the Vodou religion of their ancestors, as well as other African/Diaspora traditional religions. In Haiti, Haitian Vodou is practiced alongside Christianity by about half the population, or some 4 million people, and this has been carried abroad particularly to Louisiana with Haitian emigration.

See also

The Dahomey (or Fon) are a nation located in Benin, Africa. ... The mythology of the Yorùbá is sometimes claimed by its supporters to be one of the worlds oldest widely practised religions. ...


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  • Akyea, O.E. "Ewe." New York: (The Rosen Group, 1988).
  • Asamoa, A.K. "The Ewe of South-Eastern Ghana and Togo: On the eve of colonialism," (Ghana: Tema Press. 1986).
  • Ayivi Gam l . Togo Destination. High Commissioner for Tourism. Republic of Togo, 1982.
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  • “Demoniacal Possession in Angola, Africa”. Journal of American Folk-lore. Vol VI., 1893. No. XXIII.
  • Ellis, A.B. "Ewe-Speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa" (Chicago: Benin Press, 1965).
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  • Hazoum ‚ P. “Doguicimi. The First Dahomean Novel" (Washington, DC: Three Continents Press, 1990).
  • Herskovits, M.J. and Hersovits, F.S. Dahomey: An Ancient West African Kingdom. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University
  • Herskovits, M.J. and Hersovits, F.S. "An Outline of Dahomean Religious Belief" (Wisconsin: The American Anthropological Association, 1933).
  • Hurston, Zora Neale. "Tell My Horse: Voodoo And Life In Haiti And Jamaica." Harper Perennial reprint edition, 1990.
  • Hyatt M. H. "Hoodoo-Conjuration-Witchcraft-Rootwork" (Illinois: Alama Egan Hyatt Foundation, 1973), Vols. I-V.
  • Journal of African History. 36. (1995) pp. 391-417.Concerning Negro Sorcery in the United States;
  • Language Guide (Ewe version). Accra: Bureau of Ghana Languages,
  • Manoukian, Madeline. “The Ewe-Speaking People of Togland and the Gold Coast”. London: International African Insittute, 1952.
  • Maupoil, Bernard. "La Geomancie L'ancienne des Esclaves" (Paris: L'universit‚ de Paris, 1943).
  • Metraux, Alfred. "Voodoo In Haiti." (Pantheon reprint edition, 1989)
  • Newbell, Pucket. N. “Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro”. S.C.: Chapel Hill, 1922.
  • Newell, William, W. "Reports of Voodoo Worship in Hayti and Louisiana," Journal of American Folk-lore, 41-47, 1888. p. 41-47.
  • Pliya, J. "Histoire Dahomey Afrique Occidental" (Moulineaux: France, 1970).
  • Slave Society on the Southern Plantation.” The Journal of Negro History. Vol. VII-January, 1922-No.1.

External links

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In Vodou culture, individualism is notably suppressed in favour of a collective “personhood” wherein the individual is given identity, solidity, energy, and protection in a turbulent world by means of a thick weave of relationships which include other human beings as well as the lwa, clan ancestors, and other spirits.
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