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What is the Voodoo religion? Characteristics, history and myths

What is the Voodoo religion? Characteristics, history and myths

January 21, 2023

It is with all certainty one of the great myths of all times . When we hear the word voodoo, voodoo religion or the famous phrase "I'm going to make you voodoo", is not that we think of something positive precisely. Throughout history we have presented this belief as something evil, something related to the devil himself and that serves to harm the people we hate, especially physical. It is a kind of spell, to be understood.

However, since a little more than a decade ago, especially pointing to the year 2003 -date in which the Voodoo religion in Haiti became official- that has begun to clarify what really derives from this mythology that has been distorted to ridicule , as the experts point out. Millery Polyné and Elizabeth McAlister, are two experts in the field who have helped to make different historiographical studies to demystify the "bad press" suffered by voodoo.


  • Related article: "Types of religion (and their differences between ideas and beliefs)"

What is the Voodoo religion?

According to Polyne, an American of Haitian origin who came to the State of Florida (USA) in the nineties, when he was only 14 years old, was already impressed by the comments and prejudices that had been reproduced when his person was present when it comes to socializing. "Even I did not know my own religion thoroughly," says the author. It was because of those paradoxical moments when he decided to take advantage of his curiosity and study African-American and Caribbean history, where he teaches at the University of New York.


As often happens in this type of cases, where ignorance and a poor projection of a distant culture is unattractive to be investigated, we quickly internalize the first thing that is offered behind a screen, especially if it is a series or film. There are also hundreds of thousands of literary works that have not helped precisely to clear these black legends that still persecute the voodoo religion.

Nothing is further from reality, all the fantasy that has been generated by the aforementioned industry has been flagrantly denied . It turns out that the origins of voodoo must be found in the period of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the European powers continued in their efforts to colonize overseas extensions to continue trading with slaves and import riches from the Caribbean islands, such as the tobacco, sugar or rum.


Hand in hand with French missionaries, the voodoo religion is directly descended from Roman Catholicism, and some of its precepts are shared with Western Christianity. They have a God who commands spirits to work in the visible earth through the flesh and blood human being. Curiously, voodoo does not believe in heaven or hell . They simply believed in the good work and peace that the ancestors had entrusted to those who professed this religion.

An intentional manipulation

History always repeats itself and, as it is usually affirmed, it is written by the victors. And this was not going to be the exception. Taking into account that voodoo comes from the colonial era and slavery, blacks who suffered these injustices took refuge in a religion that allowed them to maintain any glimmer of hope and comfort. It was at this time when the French fought a propaganda battle to avoid any kind of revolution that would allow the emancipation of their lackeys.

Indeed, the voodoo religion was at times a revolutionary act that put the imperialist forces in check on more than one occasion. of the moment. Therefore, some influential global forces such as the Church, Haitian politicians and white scientists, began to organize a criminalizing story against this belief. Satanic rites, carnivorous ceremonies and idolatry to monsters is the image that was exported from the island to the West.

After the independence of Haiti back in the eighteenth century, the poor villagers did not get rid of all this talk. Having suffered all kinds of harassment by the French, it was the turn of the Americans who, curiously, became independent of the English empire shortly before the Caribbean. Faustin Wirkus, Admiral of the US Army, saw enormous potential in the riches to be exploited within Haiti, as well as installing permanent naval bases to dominate the seas of Central America.

The Haiti tsunami

Still fresh is the memory of the fatal natural events suffered by the island in 2010, when on a quiet day a gigantic wave engulfed the entire coast, reaching the area full of tourist hotels and resorts located on the seafront. Currently, the area is still considered catastrophic, as well as the poorest country in the world according to a report by the United Nations.

On that occasion, the Haitians were not saved from suffering expletives and slander because of their condition of practicing the Vudist religion. Without going any further, the American evangelist and controversial Pat Robertson, said that the natural disaster had been a punishment from God for having agreed with the devil in the year 1791. Some unfortunate statements that do nothing but incite hatred and racism towards a already very unfortunate population.

Bibliographic references:

  • Hurbon, Laënnec (1993 / first edition in French: 1984). «The imaginary barbarian». Mexico City: Economic Culture Fund (translation by Jorge Padín Videla).
  • Pancorbo, Luis (1993). «" Voodoo reflections "," The Turtle Channel ". In: River of America ». Barcelona: Laertes (pp. 303).
  • Seabrook, William (2005). «The magic island». Editorial Valdemar. Collection: The Diogenes Club / CD-229 (Translation by José Luis Moreno-Ruiz).

25 True Things You May Not Know About Voodoo (January 2023).


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