by B.J. Delas Armas
on 12/10/2003 02:12:00 AM
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Why Voodoo Is Even Cooler than I thought
So what comes to mind when you think of voodoo ?
"Black magic" ? Chickens getting their heads bitten off and blood being spit out ? The voodoo dolls that Ricky Martin referred to in his La Vida Broca song ?
Now throw those chicken-headed assumptions against your refrigerator with all those magnets of "I love New Hampshire" and "I left my heart in Wyoming" on it.
Voodoo is a religion practiced in the African diaspora, mostly in Haiti. Yes, Haiti, that little shithole of poverty, etc. etc. Historically, it's been a religion of the poor urban folk, which is just about everyone, in Haiti. For a select few, it helps establish status at least temporarily.
It's really a religion for the people. A lot of people's beliefs easily fit in with voodoo because it has no written dogma. So a lot of people of Catholic faith in Haiti also practice voodoo, seeing the spirits they serve in voodoo as giving their messages to God. There also appears to be a lot of acceptance with these voodoo communities. The author of this horrible, but informative book called Mama Lola
became a voodoo priestess working as some white middle-class anthropologist.
But what characterizes the religion most are its spirit posessions and so-called curses. They believe these spirits give them the tools to survive. They don't ask these spirits for actual survival. For example, they're not going to stand in front of a bus and see if they've got protection from the spirits, but they need to realize that they have the tools of eyes, ears, and legs to step the fook away from the bus.
It's not a religion that eases suffering or aims to eliminate all of it because suffering is life, but rather empowers people to deal with suffering. People have to live within their own characters to deal with this suffering. More than anything this religion is an enrichment of the mind.
Now rewind back to before I told you to throw those chicken-headed assumptions against your fridge.
Voodoo has obviously been portrayed negatively that these practices that are public in Haiti become private here in the States because of the racism and the minority of its existence. Most of the damage on voodoo has been subtle as the word has been used to connote something "shady" that doesn't work ala "voodoo economics" or something wicked "voodoo magic." However one damaging thing was that Euros and Americans were blaming voodoo for the AIDS epidemic on the basis that these poor "misguided" black fools drank blood.
Just trump this up as another example of how America tramples the minority and underprivileged.
I like how this religion highlights the important things in life and accepts everything, how it knows something the majority doesn't.
Labels: Spirituality and Religiosity