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Voodoo Misconceptions, Term Paper Example

Pages: 8

Words: 2195

Term Paper

The origins of Voodoo actually more accurately called Voudou which means spirit or deity. Voudou is best known as the official religion of Haiti combined with Roman Catholicism. The most common historical interpretation is the official religion of Haiti was forged from different African ethic groups that was enslaved during the era of Roman Catholic missionaries in the 16th and 17 centuries. The voodoo religion has a mixed origin from African, Haiti, and Roman Catholic. Voodoo has humble beginnings in the Caribbean in the 16th and 17 centuries. The county of Haiti is known as the original practice of Voodoo belief systems. The consensus frame of reference is there are only three types of voodoo, African voodoo, Louisiana voodoo and Haiti voodoo. The voodoo religion is one the most misunderstood religions in the world because most people believe it’s only practiced in the New Orleans. The two things that everyone associated with New Orleans was the Madi Gras and the practicing art of voodoo.

The misconceptions come from the American writers who have use the religion of voodoo to create fear. In addition, the American writers found a way to earn more money by creating inaccurate stories about voodoo.  The American movies became filled with Zombies killing people and eating flesh. The voodoo myth continued with media bringing their inaccurate portrayal of the voodoo religion because of a lack of understanding.  The origins of voodoo have cause many misconceptions because most of the information that was feed to the public was the Louisiana voodoo. The myths over the years kept adding to the folklore that was further away from the truth from some of the origins in Haiti. The myths continue today with the inaccurate portrayals while the news media continues to take isolated incidents to label voodoo as evil.  The primary goal of this paper is to discuss the misconceptions and myths concerning voodoo and understanding the true nature of the religion of voodoo.

The first misconceptions about the origins of voodoo starting in New Orleans. In the United States, it was assumed that New Orleans was the originators because they still practice voodoo. This is untrue because New Orleans voodoo was a product of African slavery trade that made its way to the South which slaves brought their religious voodoo beliefs to the plantation. The slave owners were trying to convert them to Christianity however many of the slaves kept their voodoo religious beliefs. The primitive voodoo religion of the African origins traveling across the continents with the African slaves. The worldwide slave trade in the 16th sixteenth century was the beginning of millions of Africans being displaced from Africa against their will. The African slaves were transported to islands like the Caribbean and Haiti which the slaves continued to practice the voodoo religion.

Voodoo Dolls

The second misconception is the voodoo dolls are to hurt other people by making the voodoo doll in their likeness sticking pins in them. This not the true meaning of the voodoo doll is not violence, or harming people or sticking people with needles. The voodoo doll is used for good to reach those dead family members and respecting their spirits. The voodoo doll can be used for evil but it’s based on the person that is practicing the voodoo not the true meaning of voodoo. The voodoo dolls are man-made myth from American writers who associated witchcraft with voodoo depicting the voodoo doll as evil. The voodoo doll can be used for love, affection, success or any things in that person life they want a positive outcome. The commercialization and some literary twist concerning the voodoo dolls made the perception of voodoo dolls to be sinister and evil. The voodoo doll is about the body and the sprit to evoke good things in life not to bring evil or hurt people that has wrong someone. The voodoo doll can be help those that are sick so they use a piece of the person hair to evoke healing spirits to help them heal or help someone get over a broken heart. The use of witchcraft has been associated with doing harm to others which they attached the same evil connation to the voodoo doll which is not witchcraft. The main misconception is voodoo is not a tool to enact vengeance against a person causing them physical or mental harm. The voodoo doll true mission is help a person be blessed in this life and blessed those family member spirits to be a peace. The belief is the spirit of the family members are honored they will help the family with wisdom and educational about the body and spirit. The misconception still exist today that voodoo dolls are used to curse people however, the voodoo dolls are a way to communicate with the spirit world to contact family members that have died.

Human Sacrifice

The third misconception is practicing voodoo requires a human sacrifice ritual. The is another elaborate storytelling by writers to sensationalize voodoo and scare people about the religion. There are extreme worshippers of the voodoo religion that have been reported for making human or animal sacrifices but they do not represent the population of voodoo practitioners. The media has a way of taking isolated incidents to prove that voodoo makes human sacrifices. The human sacrifice myth was created to evoke fear and some literary liberties to make the voodoo evil. The human sacrifice was a ploy by writers to capitalize on telling scary stories that lead to more book sales. In truth, the moral code concerning voodoo is not about human sacrifice but for helping or helping people while reaching out to their dead love one’s spirits. The human sacrifice is in the mind of the reader who may believe that voodoo is about evil and some worshipers that prey on others evil beliefs.

Zombies

The fourth misconception is the existence of zombies and voodoo brings dead people back to life that eats human flesh. The myth started in the 1930s in Hollywood creating an era of movies about living zombies or how people in New Orleans would turn people into zombies. The Hollywood writers took some poetic licenses to further perpetrate the myth with inaccurate portrayals of the voodoo religion. There is confusion because in Haiti they believe in Zombies as someone that is control by a voodoo priest that has brought someone back from the dead. This Haitian belief surrounds the voodoo priest that understands how to create powder that makes people turn into Zombies. However, it is another man made story that started in the Hollywood movies such as James Bond movie Live and Let Die. In the 19th century the Zombie myths made money at the box office which continue to present the wrong perceptions about voodoo. The movies began to change the perception to Zombie eating, flesh eating and coming back alive from the dead.  The movies created a fear of the voodoo religion with the depictions of voodoo queens or priest turning people into Zombies with voodoo powders. The movies always present the voodoo queen as evil because they blow powder on unsuspecting people they do not like turning them into Zombies. The most popular investigative shows today follow this same story line showing a voodoo queen turning people into Zombies for revenge.

The news media did not help with the portrayal by over publicizing isolated incidents that shed the voodoo religion in a bad light. The continue misconception contributed to the universal misunderstanding about the power of the voodoo queen. The true voodoo people practicing the religion constantly fight for people to better understand voodoo just like Christianity. However, the stories of the Zombie have been so convoluted that Zombies are considered evil instead for the good of people’s body and spirits.  The more they present Zombies in Hollywood without providing some real documentaries about voodoo, it will always be misunderstood.

Voodoo Pure Evil

The fifth misconception that voodoo is pure evil which is not true because it’s just like some other religions like Christianity which believes in one God. Voodoo is a way of life that believes in the integration of the body and spirit of the living. Voodoo is a highly spiritual religion that believes in healing others for the good of human nature. The original thoughts of evil started to prevent African slaves from continuing the practice of voodoo and convert to Christianity. The Hollywood writers develop the perception that voodoo was evil to make more money with the wrong portrayal of voodoo. The pure evil is not close to the truth because the voodoo religion does not believe in the evil and they believe in goodness and one God. They believe that voodoo can help drive away evil spirits and help evoke happiness, love, affection, and healing. The consensus in Hollywood that happy endings to do not sale, they found that people would rather see a movie about evil. The evil concept sales better in the movie theaters become the more they fear and do not understand voodoo, the more people will pay to see the voodoo evil.

The voodoo religion is often tied into witchcraft as evil because many of the perceptions show voodoo as an evil way of killing or hurting people. The evil aspect is a fear factor that is used in the real world because some people use it to harm people or get revenue. This evil way of thinking is not a part of the voodoo religion belief system. The pictures in movies and in the media always show the voodoo queen with red eyes as possessed by the devil or they show the Zombies as evil coming from the earth to harm the living race. The only description in any movie or newspaper article normally refers to evil and voodoo as the same word.

Types of Voodoo

There are three main types of voodoo which are called the Haitian voodoo, New Orleans voodoo and African voodoo. The religion of voodoo for each type may have slightly different beliefs but the basic foundation of the different types is the same. The historical aspect of voodoo is interesting because regardless of the type the voodoo religion has been handed down from generation to generation starting with African origins. The different types of voodoo have managed to stay alive for hundreds of years however, the similarities are still within the confines of voodoo. All the different types have Roman Catholicism and African origins which are still practices in Haiti.

Haitian Voodoo

The Haitian voodoo which originated in West African that combines the native elements of body and spirit and the beliefs of the surrounding African communities. The Haitian voodoo religion is engrained into the culture of the Haitian culture. The Haitian heritage is proud of the voodoo because voodoo is a part of their past heritage and it was banned among the slave population. The Haitian believe they have managed to keep their body and spirit together by worshiping the Haitian voodoo. The Haitian voodoo is mostly practice in Haiti as servants of the spirits who believe in the Supreme Creator. The Haitian voodoo culture believes in the “Loa”. The “Loa” is responsible for different aspects of life with presentations of offerings in ceremonies of dance and music.

Louisiana Voodoo

The Louisiana origins and voodoo practices from West Africa and Catholic religions. One the primary differences in the Louisiana voodoo is the existence and belief in the voodoo queens. The Hollywood movie writers got that part right because the women are the gatekeepers of the voodoo religion in Louisiana. The voodoo queens believe in protective spirits and healing spirits along with the belief in Maria Laveu, who was known as the Queen of New Orleans. The Louisiana voodoo believes in one supreme God who is manifested in various spirits called” Loa. The misconception about animal sacrifices is in the meaning of the sacrifices because they sacrificed animals as blessing them before they had a meal. The elders believe the blessing of the animal ritual harness the power of the spirit world. The Louisiana voodoo believes in the voodoo queen and priests as holders of the supreme absolute power. The Louisiana voodoo did not originate in Louisiana but from the transatlantic slave trade which slaves brought voodoo religion with them.

African Voodoo

Voodoo is one the world’s oldest religions with African origins from the early human civilization. In reality, African voodoo is a mixture of different African beliefs and traditions along with elements of Christianity embedded in voodoo. The African voodoo believes in the Creator God in the cosmic world that has other good spirits. There are similarities with the Haitian voodoo and the New Orleans voodoo however the African voodoo is the foundation. It is clear that the slaves from the plantations brought the Haitian and New Orleans voodoo to that region. The voodoo ceremonies are originated from the early African beliefs and rituals that managed to still exist after crossing many worlds because of the transatlantic slave trade.

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