The history of voodoo is an interesting one indeed, dating back many years. For starters, voodoo is a legal religion that has roots as far as Africa. Today, this religion has millions of followers. It first originated from West Indies (Haiti) at the time of the colonization. The base of the Voodoo is associated with the tribal religions brought to Haiti from West Africa by slaves in the 17th century. They were essentially taken from the Dahomey kingdom which covers modern Nigeria, Benin and Togo. The term Voodoo originates from the word ‘vodu’, a word a Fon language word that means ‘spirit’, ‘god’.
The salves taken from western Africa shared a different common core belief of the worship of the spirits that belong to the family, drumming, singing and dancing during religious rituals. They also believed that they were possessed by spirits (immortal spirits). In Haiti, the slaves established their religion based on this and begun influencing other communities around them comprising the native Indians.
The incorporation of the Catholic saints to Voodooism.
With time, the practitioners of the Voodoo began adding Catholic saints to enrich their faith. This lead to the inclusion of the prayers, hymns, candles, holy relics and statues to their rituals to the Voodooism. Though the middle and upper-class have dropped it, the peasant class still practices Voodoo in Haiti to date. The Voodoo as also migrated with Haitians to Miami, Charleston, New York City and New Orleans. Generally, Voodoo has at least 50 million followers worldwide.
The Voodoo got to the Americas over 250 years ago.
Africans were sold directly to New Orleans and into the West Indies. In Louisiana life was quite tough for them under Spanish and French and it was characterized by pain and misery. In fact, the white rarely regarded them as human. For instance, after the establishment of the New Orleans in 1718, a camp meant for slaves was founded and the black people were “broken”.
The slaves who survived were later sold to owners of plantations.
Furthermore, the slaves were not allowed meet for dancing or any other purpose. In fact, they were a lot of restrictions and their owners would even get punished in some cases. Therefore, it was almost impracticable for them to meet unless for partial conversion to Catholicism.
In 1782, Louisiana’s governor banned the entrance of the black from the West Indies stating that they were into Voodooism and they were a threat to the safety of his citizens. The governor kept introducing more unfavorable laws against the black. This continued until he was succeeded and the restrictions where uplifted. Additionally, a new group of Africans had established itself. The generation spoke the language of masers. They were very obedient and admitted their rank as slaves. Accordingly, a new generation less oppressive masters developed. Punishment and discipline became less severe since the masters discovered that slaves were a precious property. Later, it was realized that the slaves needed recreation thus; they were permitted to meet on the plantations for weddings, dances and religious ceremonies of different kinds on Sundays.
The lifting of the ban against blacks from the West Indies.
In 1803, the ban against the black was lifted and the slaves in Haiti sequentially applied their African-born customs to facilitate their own resistance. Between 19791 and 1804 a number of slave uprising encouraged by the spirit worship, eventually lead to the removal of the French from the place. Some French ran to Louisiana. Consequently, this contributed to the establishment of the planned Voodoo in the state of Louisiana. From then, the voodoo gained power and became well established.
For some strange reason, the Voodoo had continued being stronger in the West Indies compared to Louisiana. The blacks of Santo Domingo had maintained their old worship almost perfectly. However, their owners loved New Orleans thus quite a number of them lived near or in the city, rather than the plantation regions where it would have turned out to be very hard for the slaves to undertake their voodoo rituals. Because of their numbers in the city and the brand-new and more flexible legislation, they become well established and transformed other New Orleans blacks. It is believed that the initial meeting point for the Voodoos was a deserted brickyard found in Dumaine Street, New Orleans. Nevertheless, the police pushed them forcing them to start gathering along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain and along Bayou St. John. Actually, there exist many more or less certain variants of these rituals, comprising ecstatic dances, blazing bonfires, snakes, drums sacrifices and the taking of blood and strong alcoholic beverages.