"Vodou is more than a religion, it's a philosophy of life.
Vodou means SPIRIT...
Nothing can erase or replace the spirit"
Vodou Voyage: Destination NOLA.
New Orleans and Haiti have historical and cultural ties that are connected by
geography, architecture, traditions and spirit.
Spirit lead our group to a Manje Yanm ceremony - a two day service to Lwa, that honors the harvest of the yams. Ayibobo to Houngan Damas 'Fanfan' Louis for the personal invitation.
We were grateful to attend, sing, dance and worship with the Haitian Vodou community in NOLA.
In particular, tons of VOODOO shops catering to the wide-eyed, uninformed, information seeking tourists.
I saw TONS of Lwa + Orisha mixtures in the name of “Voodoo.” Dusty, commercialized altars, with Voodoo dolls, Mardi Gras beads, crosses, skulls and bones, void of energy and authenticity. It felt plastic and sterile.
I saw a basic white bottle with a Red Veve drawn on front (with a marker) talkin ‘bout it’s a libation bottle for Ezili Freda. This was priced at $50! I was beside myself with laughter, cause it was comical.
This critique is necessary due to the tragic way Haitian Vodou is being distorted and exploited by folks with questionable/lack of credentials, who's aim is solely for profit.
I’m sure these shops serve a purpose for some folks, but I can’t get past the lack of respect for
SACRED AFRICAN TRADITIONS
intertwined with cultural appropriation for a quick buck.
I’m in NOLA fresh from Haiti.
I’m fresh with the energy, spirit and smell of the country.
Still fresh from witnessing Lwa present at Fets: saluting + receiving messages directly from Spirit.
Drum rhythms, chants and prayers STILL pulsating throughout my body.
Eyes wide from witnessing and creating ritual objects + constructing beautiful tables for Lwa, made with love and care by initiated hands.
Loved up, prayed up, and cared for by my Sosyete - Ogou's house. Community building.
A Lakou rooted in RITUAL.
Haitian's honoring Spirits - DAILY, cause it’s a WAY OF LIFE!
This is the VODOU that I know.
The Vodou I was called to serve.
Haitian Vodou is NOT Hoodoo, New Orleans Voodoo, Voodoo/Orisha Combination, nor is it Marie Laveau worship.
It is a complex system of rules, rites, rituals, prayers, gestures, langaj, obligations and SECRETS that will never be readily accessible in a book, Youtube, Instagram or Facebook. It is my hope that folks use discernment when entering and purchasing from these toy stores.
They do not have our best interests and certainly do not represent what we need to serve our African Spirits.
Alex Batagi/Bonkira Bon Ougan
Jacmel, Haiti (2018)