Voodoo is the most pervasive and the most ancient of all of Africaâ€™s spirituality. It has remained the roots of African philosophy since the days of ancient Egypt to the present day. Voodoo is an international philosophy having been spread from Africa to Asia to Europe, Australia, North America, and South America.
Not long ago Voodoo was a philosophy under pressure. Colonial inspired religious policies sought to undermine Voodoo. The spiritual philosophy faced a calculated campaign of denigration and subversion instigated by a colonial establishment which feared any expression of African cultural initiative.
Today, Voodoo is a state religion in countries such as Benin and Haiti, it is widely respected and very influential in Cuba and Brazil, and with increasing awareness of the need for an original cultural expression for African countries, it is foreseen that even more will turn to Voodoo in the nearest future.
Voodoo is a positive force, bearing little resemblance to the Hollywood promoted image of people casting evil spells by sticking pins in dolls.
Meaning of Life
Voodoo means the spiritual force that lies within all the expressions of nature. It exists in human beings as well as in natural phenomena such as water, fire, earth and air. It may be known by different names in different parts of Africa but the concept remains uncannily similar.
In Voodoo one comes to understand the meaning of life. Meaning of life in this sense covers both intellectual comprehension and metaphysical confirmation of the awakened knowledge.
Voodoo implies the circularity of nature. It explores the connectedness of the web of the activating force of Mother Nature, in all its different expressions, like the natural wilderness, the streams, the wind, the lightening. It is an ancient communion with the essence of the cosmic energy.
Voodoo provides a way to confirm by experiences the truths of this metaphysical reality. Voodoo acknowledges the different planes of existence and their linkages. It details a road map to experience all these realities in this life and beyond.
All Life All things
Voodoo is all life and all things. It manifested at a time which is beyond our comprehension. We know that there is earth and there is space. We know that the ball of the earth encloses space within its bowels. We also know that this very earth is contained within the outer space. Since space can be contained within space, other space verily encloses this outer space.
What the earth is exceeds our understanding, and the space is also not sensible to the intelligence of man or to its bodily senses.
Yet, we know that all these are different aspects of Voodoo. The space and the spheres are Voodoo. The humanity and the animals are expressions of Voodoo. There is Voodoo in the stone on the ground, and in the ground on which the stone lies. The eyes which perceive the stones are Voodoo, likewise the mind that comprehends the vision.
Since Voodoo is so great and all encompassing, tribute must be paid to Voodoo, because it is Voodoo that causes joy to exist always in this cosmic dimension.
One would always respect the Voodoo when one achieves a state of reflective contemplation. The mystery of reality is already confirmed by all the sciences and the religions, yet the familiar similarity of its underlying activating force is intuitively appreciated by all who reflect.
Upon appreciation of the immensity of Voodoo, the soul is automatically moved to express joy and wonder. These two are the most important tribute that can be paid the Voodoo. This is the sacrifice of the Holy Communion. It is the first sacrifice.
Sometimes practitioners get answers to their prayers or perceived mystic response to their desires. They often see in those eventualities the hands of Voodoo. Such adherents would usually offer some form of material or immaterial gifts to Voodoo as a token of appreciation.
These days some Priests of Voodoo Lodges insist that these gifts be something to eat or drink, such as a chicken or some alcohol. Yet, it is immediately seen that such priests ask for those edible things for their own bellies and not for the benefit of the Voodoo. In the purer form of the philosophy, any token of appreciation is acceptable to Voodoo as the owner of life has no needs to be feed or festooned by humanity.
Voodoo being everything it needs no home. Thus there are no temples built up for the Voodoo for its essential symbol must remain primordial and real like Voodoo itself.
There are lodges of Voodoo adherents in different corners of Africa. Some of those lodges have sanctuaries wherein they observe their rites and rituals. Some sanctuaries serve as place of learning. Within those sanctuaries one might observe symbols sacred to Voodoo, but it is always recognized that Voodoo is transcendental and cannot be confined or contained.
The symbol, which represents the Voodoo in most African communities at home and in Diaspora, is a mound of earth. A heap of sand, in all its humility and originality indeed contains the key to the mystery of live.
The earth symbol has deeper meanings. The earth is the originator. The earth is the mother of all beings, the earth is the material with which all living being are created. Of all the stars and the bodies that live in this space called heaven, earth is the sanctuary of humanity.
The earth is primordial, potent, and pure. It is alive bringing forth the multiplicity of life that fills the earth. All wealth, all fruits all enjoyment of earthly life is facilitated by the consciousness of the earth.
The earth is also the final devourer of all living beings. The earth is holy, it is sanctified.
Reflection, meditation and devotion
So Voodoo is fully represented by a mound of earth (like a mountain, hill or even an anthill, or just a heap of sand). But inside this mound lies the active force that exists across all reality activating live. The idea is to activate the spark of this earthly force which lies immanent in a mound of sand.
Some devotees subscribe to the duplicitous practice of blood sacrifice. They pour blood on the sand heap, hoping thereby to activate this immanent force of the earth. Yet, it is not necessary to take a live in a cruel manner in hope of getting a reaction from the spirits. The spirits that created those animals take no joy in their needless suffering and destruction as offerings to metaphysical powers.
Pure water is sufficient to activate the Voodoo in the mound of sand. Purity of the mind is even more potent. The burning of incense and sweet herbs could be a way of activating the Voodoo. The ignition of ones inner fire through reflection, meditation and devotion certainly would lead one to the Voodoo force.
Balance in Nature
Right thinking, right words and right actions can activate the Voodoo too. As the Voodoo loves beautiful characters, it is not surprising that simple good deeds and thoughts are sufficient to initiate spiritual communion.
A Voodoo devotee must guard and respect the words that fall from his mouth. A devotee venerates the earth, as his mother, creator and sustainer. A Voodoo devotee must also respect the balance of the ecosystem. The forests are other worlds which offer an insight into the meaning of the present life.
A Voodoo adherent values humanity without exception. Voodoo demands that its devotees be right and just with all humans at all times. Voodoo demands respect for all its manifestations at all times. It is the same Voodoo which lies in the human frame that lives in the humble stone and in the mighty Sun at the same time. The animals are kindred souls which are also entitled to our respect, compassion and justice.
Voodoo seeks balance in nature. It maintains the primordial balance of justice. It invokes the waves of peace over a human society ready to explode.
In Voodoo, there is male and female. In all spiritual communions we call on the female first, before calling the male.
There happen to be that special crop of individuals who have a natural affinity for all things mystical and mysterious. Now some of those individuals are endowed with special intelligence or talents, sometimes special insight like clairvoyance.
In Voodoo one would say that those are the prophets or priesthood of Voodoo called by the powers to assist humanity in their quest for loftier truths.
Those who are called by Voodoo to serve humanity in one capacity or the other cannot help but answer. One cannot volunteer to become a voodoo priestess. One becomes a Voodoo priest because that path was inexorable. A Voodoo prophet or priestess is such because she has no other option; Voodoo is her life, and her only way of staying alive.
Voodoo priestess help hold the society together. They are the sages, the oracles and the counselors. They are more often than not the first and final line of health care response for millions of rural people all over the world.
Voodoo priests use herbs, minerals, clays and crystals to cure illnesses.
The Voodoo priestess has the responsibility of maintaining societal balance and order. She is obliged to pray for the peace, prosperity and continuity of the community. She is to ensure the efficacy of his prayer by being in a state of ritual and spiritual purity at all times. She plays the role of an arbitrator, a mediator and an administrator.
â€œThere are eight voodoo priestesses in Ouidah, Republic of Benin, Voodoo capitalâ€.
Nwaammadi Omeife Jideofor
March 3, 2006