Group Title: Vodou Class Notes
Title: Vodou Class Notes, Version 2
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Title: Vodou Class Notes, Version 2
Physical Description: Archival
Language: Haitian Creole (Kréole; Kreyòl ayisyen)
Creator: Hebblethwaite, Benjamin
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Bibliographic ID: UF00098958
Volume ID: VID00003
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Ezili Danto 'Musique du monde'

Ezili Danto prete poule pou nou an la
pou m fe maji a mache / m pral fe maji a mache
Se ou k mache, se ou ki we (ato o) (bis)

Adje m pral fe maji a mache
Ezili Danto prete poule pou nou an la
pou m fe maji a mache / m pral fe maji a mache
Se ou k mache, se ou ki we (ato o) (bis)

A w a prete m poule pou nou an la
pou m fe maji a mache
m pral fe maji a mache

Legba nan peyi Vodou
Anye Papa Legba plante y poto

O'Zany yo
O'Zany o LeIe e,
O'zany o LeIe e,
Yo pran ason Lwa m nan m sevi gerizon e
Ou pa we lese koule!

Zili Boukman Eksperyans,
Libete (Pran pou pran 1) 1995
Manman, manman, m ap salye ou,
Ou menm ki plen lanmou
Granmet la ave ou
Li beni w tou
E li beni pitit ou, Yawe,
O manman mwen Oh my mother
Ou se manman Bondye You are the mother of God
O lapriye pou tout jodi a
M konnen le w pale
Tout sa w di se verite
Le Zili pale, 1 pale When Zili speaks, she speaks
Tout sa 1 di se vre All that she says is true
Le Zili chante, 1 chante sing
Tout moun ret tande hear
Le Zili danse 1 danse Le Zili priye 1 priye
Tout moun ret gade Tout syel la tande
Se kon sa le li pale
Tout sa 1 di rive

Se ou n ap rele, manman,
Pa kite n kriye ank6
Si ou we jan n santi nou byen
Le nou tande ou pale
Refren x 2

Konbit Zaka

Travay m ap travay o
Kouzen Zaka, m ap travay ave w, tande
Travay m ap travay o
Zaka Meda, m ap travay ave w, tande
Kouto digo m nan men m Mon outil
Djakout mwen sou do m Mon sac
M ap sekle sarcler
Kouto digo m nan men m
Vye alfb m sou do m sac
M ap sekle
Jou m gen youn fanm, 1 ale kite m
Demen m a jwenn yon 16t o trouver
Travay m ap travay, m ap travay ave w
Zaka mete m travay
M pa t panse si m te ka fe travay sa yo
Zaka mete m travay la nan bitasyon mwen habitation
Kouzen, m ap travay ave w, tande
Kouzen, Kouzen, n ap travay ave w, tande

Konbit Zaka Traduire le texte creole en franpais:
Rendez le devoir mercredi le 16 septembre

Travay m ap travay o
Kouzen Zaka, m ap travay ave w, tande
Travay m ap travay o
Zake Mede, m ap travay ave w, tande
Kouto digo m nan men m Mon outil
Djakout mwen sou do m Mon sac
M ap sekle sarcler
Kouto digo m nan men m
Vye alfb m sou do m sac
M ap sekle
Jou m gen youn fanm, 1 ale kite m
Demen m a jwenn yon 16t o trouver
Travay m ap travay, m ap travay ave w
Zaka mete m travay
M pa t panse si m te ka fe travay sa yo
Zaka mete m travay la nan bitasyon mwen habitation
Kouzen, m ap travay ave w, tande
Kouzen, Kouzen, n ap travay ave w, tande

Questions about Vodou for sharing and learning
Part 1
1. Where does Vodou come from?
2. How did Vodou get to Haiti?
3. What is a weakness of a lot of the work that has
been carried out on Vodou?
4. Why is it important to understand the Vodouists
5. Why is Haiti's religious culture called syncretistic and
stratified? Is U.S. religious culture the same?
6. What are some examples of syncretism in Haiti?
7. What is the difference between public and private

Vodou as syncretistic & stratified

Bondye & the lwa
Bondye and the oungan are in control of the lwa
God and humans have authority over the lwa
o Expulsion
o The whip
o The chain

Is Bondye French or African?
Relexification (Lefebvre 1997)
Vodouists and Christians both worship Bondye
Vodouists worship Bondye through Vodou and Christianity

The lwa
401 or 251 possession or harmonious alignment
(Beauvoir 2006)
The nanchon of lwa; the twoupo of lwa
The lwa rest in nature
They are reflected or symbolized in natural
The potomitan 'Poto Legba, Poto Danbala, etc.'
Serving the lwa

Part 2

8. Explain the status of Bondye 'God' in Vodou. What
role do the lwa have in creation?
9. What is the origin of the term Bondye? Just because
words have an outward French form, does that mean
that they are semantically French, too?
10. What is the West African equivalent of Bondye?
11. Do Vodouists see the Christian and Vodou
Supreme Being as different?
12. Who are the lwa? What can the lwa offer human
13. The Haitian marxist, Jacques Roumain (1942)
said that the lwa and the miracles of Jesus are
"imaginary." What do you think about that claim?
14. How many lwa are there?
15. Where do lwa live?
16. What is the "familialization of the lwa" (Murray
17. Why do people serve the lwa?

Questions on Hebblethwaite's introduction

1. What is animal sacrifice, why is it carried out?
2. What is required of a Vodou initiate? Why do
people do it?
3. Describe sacred space, objects and signs in Vodou.
4. Describe the bagi 'vestry', what is kept there?
5. Describe the Vodou orchestra.
6. How do Vodou songs arise and spread?
7. What are the challenges of analyzing Vodou songs?
8. How is Vodou stratified?
9. How do Vodou priests also function as unofficial
Catholic priests? Why do they do it?
10. Is it possible to follow 2 religions at the same

Marcelin 26 46

Interpret and explain the following Vodou songs. Pay
special attention to the bold-face text.

Atibon Legba, open the gate for me, ago e!
Papa Legba, open the gate for me
So that I can pass through,
When I return I'll greet the lwa!
Vodou Legba, open the gate for me
So that I can enter in,
When I return I'll thank the lwa! Abobo!

Old bones, o! Old bones, o! Papa Legba!
Don't you see we're without bones!
Old bones, o! Old bones, o! Papa Legba!
Don't you see we're without bones!

Alegba stops, he's looking at me
We don't see him, he sees us
Look we don't see him
All those who speak well
He's there, he's listening,
All those who speak badly,
He's there, he's listening,
They sign my name Alegba.
They can't sign my tree
I'm asking where they'll see me.

Ayizan 4
[...] Ayizan Gweto let them do what they want
There is nothing here except God, oh!
The Creoles are troubling me
After God, I'm getting ready to watch, oh!
I watch the coast of Ginen
After you our Supreme savior
We must look to the Saints
This Ayizan, is Ginen's lwa
In Ginen, on the coast of Ginen
In Ginen, oh!

4 Loko
I left Loko to watch the house for me!
Loko called Dahomey!
I left Loko to watch the house for me!
Loko called Dahomey!

Father Loko, old women
Women ask for cleanliness, women are never old
Kadyamisou says that Loko's women are old
Women are never old
The front of women's dresses demand cleanliness (bis)
Where have Loko's women been known as old?
The front of women's dresses demand cleanliness

Since a woman asks for cleanliness she is never old
I say old, Kadyamisou says Loko's women are old
Women are never old, the queen oh!
O my goodness the queen, we're talking
Women are never old
Old women, women are never old
Once women are clean
Women are never old
Loko Atisou says Loko's wife is old
She isn't old
Old women, women are never old, the queen o
Once a woman is clean
She is never old

5 Ayizan
What shall I say, oh!
What shall I tell Ayizan (bis)
What shall I say?
It is God who gave me the Saint to hold
What shall I tell the Saints, oh! (bis)
What shall I say?
It is God who gave me the lwa to hold
What shall I tell the lwa, what shall I say, oh!
What shall I tell the Virgin Mary, Dossou, Dossa
It is God who gave me the lwa to hold
What shall I tell the coast of Ginen
What shall I tell them? Abobo!

2 Ayida Wedo
Vodou of the rainbow
Oh my Vodou lwa
Oh Vodou of the rainbow

Rainbow of my Vodou lwa.

2 Ezili
Ezili your husband slept away from home!
Oh Mistress Ezili, your husband slept away from home!
Ezili your husband slept outside
Where is what he brought for you?

As a group, skim through the songs dedicated to the lwa
you are assigned

(1) Legba crossroads, link between living &
supernatural; priority lwa; first among peers;
(2) Ayizan consort of legba; old; ancient; female;
palm tree; protector; market
(3) Father Loko; vegetation, healing, herbalists; close
to Legba & Ayizan; pipe & sympathetic
(4) Danbala Wedo serpent; fertility; snake-like
possessions; white; no swine
(5) Ayida Wedo wife of Danbala; serpent; rainbow;
sky; river Wo is curvy
(6) Mistress Ezili love, grace, beauty, seductive,
luckless, multiple lovers; lost her son : (;
perfume; white birds; jewelry; "pale" as "pretty"

(7) Ogou powerful, war, iron, fire, machete, saber;
(8) Azaka
(9) Simbi
(10) Gede

Develop a short list of the lwa's characteristics. What
objects does the lwa have? Who is the lwa? How do the
songs address the lwa?

Review of important Vodou terminology found in songs
lwa anba dlo
Emperor Dessalines
leaf- three leaves 'twa fey'
langaj 'language'
Koki 'shell' and Agwe


Leaves in the woods we are secure!
Leaves in wood we are secure!
The enemy caught me!
Leaves in the woods save us!

They are really trying to figure me out!
I say to them, come and ask me here!
Agawou, animal without blood,
Oh we won't speak about everything!
Look, they are asking me!

Oh Bade! Oh Bade!
He is a valiant boy
But it is unfortunate!
He is a valiant boy
But he is without bones!

Gede Nibo
Behind the cross is Gede!
Gede Nibo lives behind the cross!
Great thanks, God is here!
Gede lives behind the cross!

Important youtube clips about Vodou:
Haiti Nago pou Ogou [youtube]

Haitian Voodoo [national geographic]

Birth of Voodoo [Benin]

Haiti society split over voodoo 15
November 2007

Quiz 1 Write your name on your quiz paper
1. What do the terms below refer to? Write some details about 2 of
the following terms [4 pts]: (1) Legba (2) Danbala Wedo (3) Mistress
Ezili (4) Ogou (you may list traits)
2. In a song to Simbi we read "Leaves in the woods save us!" What
might this refer to? [2 pts]
3. Why is Agawou an "animal without blood" and Bade "without
bones"? What are the Vodouists talking about? [3 pts]
4. Define 3 out of 5 of the following Vodou terms [6 pts]:
Oungan Ounf6 Manbo Ounsi Ason
5. Give an example of an African phenomenon found in Haitian
Vodou. [2 pts]
6. Give an example of a European phenomenon found in Haitian
Vodou. [2 pts]
7. These lwa are associated with the cross, death and sexuality in
Vodou. Give the name of one of them. [2 pts]
8. Extra-credit [1 pt]: What does the term ounto refer to in Vodou?

Questions from Metraux:
1. What is a ounsi?
2. Creole language resembles which languages?
3. Give an example of a human who became a lwa.
4. How did Catholicism become so linked with Vodou?
5. Can you reconstruct Saint-Mery's description of
6. How are snakes incorporated differently in Vodou in
7. What is Petwo? Where does it come from?
8. What was the population of Saint-Domingue on the
eve of the Haitian war of independence?
9. What happened at Bwa Kayiman under Boukman?

Notes on Karen McCarthy Brown (2006)

Define, explain and answer
1. Nanm 'soul' (p. 8)
2. Gwo bonnanj 'big guardian angel' (p. 8)
3. Ti bonnanj 'little guardian angel' (p. 9)
4. Zetwal 'star' (p. 9)
5. M&t t&t 'master of one's head' (p. 10)
6. Are Vodou lwa distinct from Vodouists? Do they ever
Leave the minds/souls of Vodouists? (p. 11)

African influences in the Caribbean (p. 1)

Vodou has a psychotherapeutic and healing orientation (p. 3)

Vodou does not dismiss modern medicine whereas modern medicine
dismisses Vodou (p. 3).

Family & sexuality

Plasaj = commonlaw wife(s)

Urban Vodou temples = Haiti's social welfare system

Gender and Vodou
More women in authority positions in urban contexts
More men in rural contexts
More women are devoted servants of the lwa (M6traux)

Rituals and Possession
Letting go of the gwo bonnanj
Expelling spirits from inexperienced Vodou servants with the ason (p. 12)

The rites of passage Catholic hegemony? (Not really)

Vodou ritual & possession:
Chofe 'heating things up'
Polyrhythms, dance, sweat, heights of grace and spirit (p. 13)
The lwa appear = possession performance
The lwa communicates to the community
The lwa criticizes the community or the horse her or himself (p. 13-14)

MNtraux pp. 76-99
1. Is it easy to become a oungan or manbo? What are the obstacles?
2. What is a p savann 'savannah priest'?
3. What kind of objects might an ounfi 'temple' have for the lwa
Danbala or Gede, for example?
4. Explain Vodou's angelic mythology for the lwa.
5. What are some basic differences that M6traux notices in the
comportment of lwa? [ ]
6. How do humans become lwa? Can you supply an example?
7. What is the difference between Petwo and Radai?
8. Are the lwa in one family the same or different, e.g. Ogou Badagri
versus Ogou Feray?
9. When manbo/oungan go 'live under water' what do they bring back as
evidence of their travels?

The Vodou pantheon the performance of mythology
1. An important natural phenomenon symbolized in lwa. Thunder
2. Lwa of the crossroads Legba
3. Temple of Vodou Ounf6
4. Agwe Tawoyo is a associated with the Sea
5. Agwe's services are ... by the sea/bak agwe
6. Other sea lwa include ... (2 figures) Lasiren (mermaid)Labalenn (whale)
7. Hissing, poking out the tongue Danbala
8. This lwa is said to interpret the otherwise
incomprehensible sounds of Danbala Ogou
9. throws stones and native american axe-heads to earth Sobo (Sogbo)
10. Who screams "My testicles are cold" and what does Ogou/Alcohol
this lwa mean?
11. The Haitian Ogou is linked to this profession Soldier
12. She is the commonlaw wife of Danbala please ) Ezili

Can you identify the Iwa?
1. basin Danbala
2. crazy about sunglasses Gede
3. the lwa of boaters Agwe
4. rainbow Danbala Wedo / Ayida Wedo
5. s/he climbs a tree Danbala
6. spends like mad Ezili
7. drinks, but never drunk Ogou
8. steals food from audience Gede
9. smokes a cigar Ogou
10. sacrificed dog Moudong
11 .Dahomian Ogou Gou (forge, metallurgy)
12. speaks with nasal tone Gede
13.throws money at women Ogou

Quiz 2 MNtraux, Brown, Michel, J.L. [2 points each]
1. This lwa speaks in a nasal tone, he is prone to steal food from the
audience, and he loves sunglasses.
(a) Ogou (b) Moudong (c) Danbala (d) Gede
2. Mary lost her son, Jesus, and this lwa, often associated with Mary, lost
her son, too.
(a) Ayida Wedo (b) Ezili (c) Ayizan Velekete
3. This lwa is a soldier, a metallurgist, he drinks without becoming
intoxicated, he smokes a cigar. Those possessed by him wear fiery red.
(a) Danbala (b) Gede (c) Ogou (d)
4. Gede is known for strengthening the force of a talisman or charm. In
Vodou this talisman or charm is a:
(a) wanganeges (b) wanga (c) as6t6
5. Ogou screams that "his testicles are cold" when...
(a) ...he is cold (b) ...he is hungry (c) ...he wants a drink
6. Generally speaking, the one possessed in Vodou is the...
(a) turtle (b) the snake (c) the hummingbird (d) the horse
7. Vodou is...
(a) a homogeneous religion (b) a syncretistic religion (c) basically Catholicism

8. Vodou is a prescriptive religion (Michel 2006: 28):
(a) True (b) False
9. Michel (2006:30) cites Robert Farris Thompson who wrote that Vodou is
(a) "Africa reborn"(b) "Africa reblended" (c) "Europe defeated"
10. Brown's terms "cryptic tricksterism" refer to (see Michel 2006:33):
(a) Vodou lwa (b) Vodou priests (c) Vodou songs
11. "Capable of sustained existence apart from the body it inhabits" during
possession (see Brown 2006:8):
(a) Ti bonnanj (little guardian angel) (b) Gwo bonnanj (big guardian angel)
(c) Nanm (soul) (d) Zetwa (star)
12. In J.L.'s text # 28 he says that "As soon as dusk falls, Simbi, people
change their skin". Who is he referring to?
(a) Protestants (b) Vodouists (c) Catholics
13. According to J.L. text # 54 and other authors the "lwa Ginen" are:
(a) inherited in the family (b) purchased from an priest/priestess
14. In text # 95, J.L. says that he wants
(a) God (b) Ginen (c) both
15. (extra-credit) He is the lwa of the farmer and the countryside.
(a) Azaka Mede (b) Ogou Badagri (c) Legba

Reading in J.L.'s text:

See songs in part 1: 87, 88, 95; part 2: XIII-XVI, 41, 44, 63,

Questions for communication:
(Desmangles 2006)
1. What Christian symbols does Vodou reinterpret?
2. How do Vodouists interpret the cross? Are they
African or European modes of thought?
3. Again, what region of Africa dominated the
development of Haitian religious culture?
4. In what direction do Vodouists dance around the
potomitan 'centerpost'?
5. Who is Saint Peter linked with and why?
6. What is ape savann 'savannah priest'?
7. What is hagiology?
8. What does the Cross have to do with the atmosphere
and the telluric regions?
9. Who is Mawu Lisa in Dahomian theological thought?
10. Explain the notion of mirrors in Vodou (Loko-
miwa 'Loko-mirror', the mirroring between
Vodou authorities, etc.
11. What is the axis mundi?
12. How is the Vodouist her or himself the Cross?

Questions from Metraux on POSSESSION:
1. Describe the expected behavior of the horse. Before,
during and after the event.
2. How long can possession last?
3. What is the comportment of Vodouists toward the
4. What is the role of the Vodou priest and the ounsi with
regard to possession?
5. How does one learn about the character and behavior
of a lwa?
6. What is the place of habit and tradition in possession?
7. What effect does a lwa have on the possessed
8. What is the link between individual and lwa?
9. Why is it impossible to link possession to a
"hysterical" psychological disorder?
10. Are Vodouists really possessed? Does it matter?
Does wine turn into blood in Catholicism
(transubstantiation) Does it matter?

Questions for discussion on Nelson Marcenat's interview

1. How long has Nelson been a Vodou priest?
2. Who was and wasn 't a Vodou specialist in Nelson's family?
3. Describe kanzo initiation? What are its various aspects and
what is it for? Could you handle them?
4. What are some of the incredible feats attributed to those
possessed by the lwa?
5. What kind of Vodou does Nelson reject? What kind does he
6. What are the marks of an illegitimatee priest?
7. What are the various healing and health services offered by
8. How did Nelson receive his mother's blessing to pursue
Vodou specialization?

9. What kind of Vodou does Nelson warn against? What kind
does he recommend?
10. Describe some features of Nelson's annual Vodou
celebration (Dec. 24th).
11. What is the mark of someone who impersonates a
Vodou priest?
12. How does Nelson treat the severely mentally ill, i.e.
those "who eat rocks"?
13. What is the role of prayer in Nelson's approach to
14. What is a baptized lwa?
15. What kind of possession will Nelson not tolerate?
16. What powers does Nelson attribute to his grandparents
and what does the story suggest about the status of Vodou at
the time (1940s).

Metraux pp. 141-156

Questions for sharing and learning:

1. The lwa present themselves in interesting ways. Describe
some of them. (Ezile, Azaka, etc.)
2. What are the meaning and role of dreams for Vodouists?
Who appears in the dreams? What do they mean? What are
your own beliefs about dreams?
3. Who are the Twins or Marasa? What is their character? Are
they present or past? What are some of the stories associated
with the Twins?
4. Who are the babies born before or after twins?
5. Describe the manje Marasa 'the food of the Marasa'.
6. What are some examples of 'animist beliefs' in Haiti and
7. How does Metraux present the gwo bonnanj? How are they
related to immaterial zonbi?

Divine Horsemen The Living Gods of
Haiti Maya Deren Part 1 of 6

Nelson Marcenat up to 150

1. What do lwa do after possessing a Vodouist?
2. Is the appearance of given lwa strictly determined?
3. What is the link between rhythm, song and the lwa?
4. How does Nelson describe Vodou singers? How is it
determined who will sing?
5. Who eats the manje Iwa 'lwa's food' in Vodou?
6. What is Nelson's formal way of serving the Marasa? Why
are the Marasa first?
7. Where does Nelson first trace his veve?
8. What is Nelson's view of the ounsi kanzo? What is required
to become one?
9. Which modern Haitian political figure is described as a great
10. In Nelson's mind, which religious sect in Haiti will
never have a representative as president?

1. What are the intellectual and cultural movements addressed
by Fleurant?
2. What were the musical correlates of the "1946 bourgeois
social revolution"
3. What is indigenism, negritude, noirisme? Who are some of
the figures of these movements?
4. What was the freedom culture of the 1970s?
5. What was the political context for the rise of Vodou roots
music (mizik rasin)?
6. What is humanocentrism?

Surprise part of the EXAM:

Wexler's article


Ritual in Vodou

1. What do you know about Masons? Franc-maqon
What is the link with Vodou?
2. What is the place of salutation in Vodou? Can you think of
any corresponding salutations in other religions or cultures?
3. Why and for what/who do Vodouists kiss the ground?
4. How do priests/priestesses great each other?
5. Why are flags paraded in Vodou religion? Who is the lwa of
the flags? [ ]
6. What is the role of African languages in Vodou texts?
7. What do vevb do? What is their role in Vodou religion?
8. Who are the symbols linked to? Cane, boat, heart, sword,
cross... other ones?
9. What is a govi? What is kept in the govi?


Animal sacrifice in Hebrew religion
Numbers 28:26-31

Homer, The Odyssey
Virgil, The Aenied

1. What kind of animals does the Rada rite require?
2. What kind does the Petwo rite require?
3. What sacrificial animal does Mondong require?
4. What is the meaning of candles in Vodou?
5. Who does the animal replace in sacrifice?
6. What is the link between the potomitan and the sacrificial
animal? (1958:155).
7. Where are goat entrails displayed? What is done with the
goat testicles, according to Metraux (1958)
[ 1
8. What is Babancourt trois etoiles? Why do Vodouists go for
this instead of Merlot?

9. What does blood mean in Vodou?
10. What is a kalbas? What is put there?
11. Metraux claims that the lwa benefits from the manje
Iwa 'food of the lwa'?
12. Do food offerings have special names?
[ 1
13. Describe Vodou instrumentation based on Rada or
Kongo-Petwo rites.
14. What is a chantepwen?

Quiz: McAlister (2006). Explain the following terms in one sentence:

1. This group was cruelly demonized in Europe.
(a) Christians (b) Jews (c) Muslims (d) European pagans
2. This chapter is about this Vodouist Easter activity around Haiti.
(a) Pak (Easter) (b) F&t Gede (c) Vodou Easter (d) Rara
3. McAlister suggests that Rara is linked to:
(a) Haiti (b) Congo (c) Dahomey
4. Rara bands are linked to
(a) Vodou temples (b) Catholic churches (c) secular clubs
5. What do Haitians do with Jewish effigies?
(a) decorate them (b) exchange them (c) burn them
6. Demonic according to Christians:
(a) Jews (b) Native Americans (c) Africans
(d) None of the above (e) all of the above
7. This Christian work/author is cited to justify slavery:
(a) Gospel of John (b) Paul (c) Revelations (d) Gospel of Mark
8. "Official, European, legitimate, orthodox..."
(a) French government (b) Vodou
(c) Protestantism (d) Catholicism
9. In the Haitian conception Rara participants are:
(a) Bizango (b) Jews
(c) Protestantism (d) Catholicism (e) Rastafarians
10. God has abandoned Haitians:
(a) True (b) False
11. God commands the sky, this figure commands the earth:
(a) Satan (b) Dyab (c) Jesus (d) Lucifer
12. The Haitian government declared that Jews were Africans in
(a) the 1920s (b) the 1930s (c) the 1950s (d) the 1960s

Notes on Rouget (2001), Initiatique vodoun (Vodou in Benin).

Initiation entails learning songs and dances
Initiation is undertaken by young individuals, but not
exclusively. Each lwa typically has her or his own intiation
rites and priest or priestess.
Initiates go public with their songs and sing in perfect unison
Initiates undertake a 15 km (total of 30 km in one day) hike
to visit:
The regional king
The most important Vodou temple
The sing and pray on the hike
Initiates are as young as 6 years of age

Key notions on the Vodou of Benin:

Total devotion to a difficult task
"The hard school of character"
Study of the hymnal tradition is the main vehicle of learning



1. Define plantocracy
2. Who was Mr. Dutty?
3. What is some of the lore that surrounds Makandal?
4. What does Westernizer mean?
5. What populations form the Vodou core?
6. What does B.-Smith mean, "internalize their apparent
7. What is "idolatry vis-a-vis the conqueror" mean?
8. What are Haitian dichotomies which run along class and race
9. How did President Aristide break with Haitian history and


The Haiti-New Orleans Vodou Connection

1. When did Zora Neale Hurston carry out her research?
2. How did Hurston's work influence others?
3. What kind of research was Hurston?
4. Who was "Queen Marie Laveau"?
5. How exactly is Haiti connected to New Orleans?
6. What is a gris-gris? Where does the term come from?
7. Explain the importance of Congo Square in New Orleans.
8. How did N.O. go from a Catholic to a Protestant orientation?
What were the effects of this paradigm shift on Vodou?
9. What is Hoodoo? How does it differ from Voodoo?
10. Is Vodou initiation the same in N.O. as in Haiti?
11. Are the lwa worshipped or summoned? What is the difference?
12. What is curious about the animal sacrifice carried out for

1. What is the role of the govi in Vodou divination
2. What was "Agaou-16fant" [Agawou Lefan] upset about in the
possession trance of manbo Lorgina?
3. What is the manje yanm?
4. What are some of the characteristics of "Vodou Christmas"
5. Where do the members of Lorgina's temple go? What is it like?
Describe the place they go to... why do they go there in particular?
6. Describe some the possession events in the reading.
7. What is the role of veve, rhythm, fire, gunpowder, and sacrifice in the
8. What is the pilefey?
9. What role do the dead have in Vodou? What is a desounen?
10.How are the newly dead handled?
11 .Describe the dimensions of a Vodouist veye 'wake'

Notes from La musique et la transe, Gilbert Rouget 1991

Extacy immobility, silence, solitude, no crisis, sense deprivation,
memory, hallucination.., no music.
Trance movement, noise, society, crisis, sense overstimulation,
amnesia, no hallucinations.., music.

Possession crisis versus possession trance

Ritual trance temple
Non ritual trance home
Identifying trance the lwa identifies her/himself
Non identifying trance 'communion' as in Sufi Islam;
speaking in tongues in Protestantism?
Divinatory trance goal of chamanism, possession and

Shamanism The Shaman goes on journey to the gods, the dead
Possession The gods come to humans

Vodou priests are not shamans because the gods come to them,
they don't journey to the gods.

Shamanism & Possession form a continuum

The conduct of the possessed depends on her or his status:
a. novice b. new initiate c. confirmed adept d.officiant

Was of becoming associated with gods:
The gods select a servant
Possession is hereditary

What is the purpose of initiation? To make the person more apt to
be the receptacle of the god.

Metraux 244-264

1. What role do the dead have in Vodou?
2. What is a desounen?
3. How are the newly dead handled?
4. Describe the dimensions of a Vodouist veye 'wake'
5. How does the veye differ from N. American practices?
6. Describe some of the features of a burial.
7. How does a regular funeral differ from a Vodou funeral?
8. What is the rite of kase kanari?
9. What is the boule zen?
10.How do Vodouists mourn? Why is it important?
11 .What is the place of cemeteries and tombs in Vodou?
12.What happens to the soul(s) after death?
13.What is a zombie?
14.What is the wete m6 nan dlo 'removing the dead from the water'?

Metraux magic quiz

1. Magic is typically the product of this class of spirits:
(a) Rada (b) Petwo (c) Ibo (d) Saint James
2. This class of lwa will help you procure wealth
(a) hereditary lwa (b) Saint James (c) purchased lwa
3. What is a bMko?
(a) a oungan who uses one hand (b) an oungan who uses both hands (c) a type of zombie
4. Vodou magic comes from
(a) France (b) Africa (c) both (d) neither
5. Negative magic can be a technique for dealing with anger and avoiding direct violence
(a) False (b) True
6. They can be expedited on a victim and they can sicken and kill the victim
(a) cards (b) the lwa (c) the angels (d) the dead
7. Those afflicted by an "expedition" can be healed through contact with which animal?
(a) chicken (b) dove (c) pig (d) dog
8. In Haiti a zombie is
(a) violent (b) lethargic (c) happy (d) a monster
9. Haitian law considers zombification a crime.
(a) False (b) True (c) Not relevant
10. This secret society has a protective and judicial function in rural Haiti:
(a) Zangbeto (b) Oungenikon (c) Bizango

Notice the structure of rhythm in these Vodou songs
Sen Jak
Aoche Nago Abobo
Sen Jak o m pral fr yon wout o, ann ale ave mwen e ago e!
Sen Jak o m pral fe yon wout o, ann ale ave mwen
Ou met tande kanno, piga w vire gade, ann ale ave mwen

Chwal Sen Jak mare nan poto, n ap priye pesonn o, lage li pou mwen
Li met genyen ve, li met genyen maleng nan do,
Sen Jak o, ba li lavi pou mwen

Aoche nago

Olicha Nago
Olicha Nago sa fe m lapenn, o m t ap rele / kriye
Olicha sa fe m lapenn, o m prale

Olicha, Olicha, Nago e... M di Olicha
Sa ou ye, sa ou ye,

LeGrace Benson

1. What kinds of texts travelled to Saint Domingue? What was 'richer'
than those texts?
2. How were the New World oungan different from those in Africa?
3. When did Islam arrive in Africa? What kind of relationship has Islam
had with Vodou?
4. What skills did Muslims and imams bring with them to Saint
5. Is it reasonable to suggest that the Haitian Revolution was ajihad?
6. What does Benson mean by "anti-literacy"?
7. What are some basic Christian concepts which match closely with
Vodou [
8. What are some Breton and Islamic patterns in Vodou?
9. How are Buddhist sand mandalas and Vodou vevb similar?
10.What is the Vodou link to the palm tree in Haiti?

Boukmann's Prayer (Beauvoir 2008a:44; Fuertes 1992:23-24; Price-Mars
1973:93-94; Fouchard 1972:529).

God who created the sun that shines on us from above,
Who raises the sea, who makes thunder rumble,
God is there, you hear, hidden in a cloud,
And there, he looks at us, he sees all that the whites do.
The white God asks for crimes and ours wants good deeds.
But our God who is so good commands us to seek vengeance.
He will lead our arms, he will give us assistance.
Throw away the image of the white God who is thirsty for our tears.
Listen to the liberty that speaks in all of our hearts.

War Song (Fuertes 1992:21; Courlander 1960:132)
Mounsoundi, we make war!
Eya, eya, eya!
We are Vodou spirits of war
Don't you hear the cannons fire?

Tips for Monday's Quiz:

Study all the readings, including Metraux, Bellegarde-
Smith, Hebblethwaite, Bartley, Tarter, etc., etc.

Identify the following terms (176-180):

Lwa kenbe 'Iwa holding'
Koklo = kok = rooster
Kouzen Zaka
Langay 'language'
Loko Atisou

Sailors see her
You didn't do your duty
A farmer
Poisoner / Poison
West African words in Vodou
Sacred bowl

Carrol Coates: Vodou in Haitian Literature

1. What are the 4 major ways in which Haitian literature
treats or represents Vodou?
2. Describe the representation of Vodou from one of the
books addressed in the reading.
3. Read the poem for Danbala on pp. 186-187. What do
you think? Who is Danbala?
4. Can you think of other literary traditions which
incorporate religions dimensions?
"Demonic Posession? Plaine Du Nord, Haiti July
2009 Haitian Vodou"

Saint Jacques Ogou, mythe et reality

Picturepenny love 040 OGOU FERAY

Picturepenny love 064

OgouCallsmore Ogou.asf




The Serpent and the Rainbow
1. How does this movie start?
2. Who is the main character?
3. What are some of the intrigues?
4. Describe the plot so-far.
5. Are there clues about the exoticized direction of the
6. What is the professor trying to find?
7. What is the depiction of the U.S. versus Haiti?
8. What is accurate and inaccurate about this film?


1. What is a lougawou?
2. Recount some facts about the lougawou. How do
they fit into Haitian folklore?
3. What is apakt ?
4. What is a wanga? What are they used for?
5. How can Vodou be used for deception? What is the
story from the newspaper which Metraux gives?
6. What is the difference between folklore & reality?
7. How do other religions manifest themselves in

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