Haitian voodoo
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Haitian Voodoo. Cole Griffin. Brief History. Syncretic religion created by African slaves brought to Haiti in the 16 th century Fusion of traditional African beliefs (West African Voodoo ), Arawakan , and Roman Catholicism

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Haitian Voodoo

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Haitian voodoo

Haitian Voodoo

Cole Griffin

Brief history

Brief History

  • Syncretic religion created by African slaves brought to Haiti in the 16th century

    • Fusion of traditional African beliefs (West African Voodoo), Arawakan, and Roman Catholicism

  • Slaves were forced to convert to Catholicism, but continued to secretly practice voodoo

    • Forced participation in the Catholic church led to the syncretization of voodoo with Catholic principles

Primary deities

Primary Deities

  • Bondye (bon dieu, good god) is considered the supreme god, creator of all, not able to be contacted

    • Equivalent of Jewish/Christian God since influenced by Roman Catholicism

  • Loa are the spirits -- communication to Bondye can be achieved through the loa

    • Individual Loa form families as well as 21 nations

      • Families represent certain values – i.e. Erzuile family represents feministic traits

    • Equivalent of Catholic saints

Important loa s vis lwa

Important Loa SèvisLwa

  • Papa Legba

    • Guardian of Crossroads; provides direct contact with Guinee (spirit realm)

      • Christian crosses symbolize crossroads in voodoo

    • Voodoo equivalent of St Peters

  • Erzuile Freda

    • Love, beauty, luxury

    • Voodoo equivalent of the Virgin Mary

  • The Marasa

    • Sacred twins (sometimes portrayed as triplets), direct descendants of Bondye

    • Voodoo equivalent of Cosmos and Damian, twin saints



  • No standard of rituals or primary text

    • Practices and beliefs may vary in different areas

  • Believe that through rituals, direct communication with the loa is possible

    • Possession

    • Animal sacrifice

  • Voodoo is considered a “personal religion” in the sense that followers have personal experiences and relationships with the spirits, which effect their lifestyles

Practices continued

Practices Continued

  • Various instruments, like drums, used to call the spirits

  • Altars with various offerings, from foods to decorations

  • Dolls used to contact a specific spirit, not to torture a person

  • All rituals and choices are attempts to please and maintain good relationships with the loa

  • Priests

    • Houngans: male priests

    • Mambos: female priests

Santer a the way of the saints

SanteríaThe way of the Saints

Regla de ocha

La ReglaLucumi


Brief history1

Brief History

Syncretic religion comprised of Yoruba (west African culture and religion), Roman Catholicism, and native American religious influences – similar to Haitian Voodoo, the fusion was a result of slavery, however the creation of Santería took place in Cuba

Cuba is still the center of Santeríatoday, but it has slowly spread throughout the Caribbean region and even to America



  • Primary deity is Olorun (originating from Yoruba), also called Olodumare, the God Almighty

  • Mortal spirits called Orishas are examples of Olorun

    • Much like Haitian Voodoo, followers believe that the Orishas will help them if they maintain good relationships through rituals and other religious practices

      • This also enables Santería as a personal religion



  • Shango– justice, strength, fire

    • Santería equivalent of Saint Barbara

  • Ochun – goddess of river, water, love

    • Santería equivalent of Lady of Charity (Cuban patroness)

  • Babalu-Aye – sickness

    • Saint Lazarus



  • Bembé

    • Communal drumming, singing, and dancing to invoke the Orisha

  • Criticized for animal sacrifices

    • Used for typical rituals to feed and build a relationship with an Orisha

    • Special occasions: birth, death, marriage, etc.

    • Chickens, other birds, goats, turtles, sheep, etc.



  • Oral religion with no primary text or organization

  • Priests

    • Males: Babalorishas (Fathers of Orisha)

    • Females: Iyalorishas (Mothers of Orisha)

  • Typically initiated later in life – followers typically believe a specific Orisha has invited them to join the religion (personal relationships with deities)

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