The Voodoo Religion of Haiti

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The name Voodoo means “high and sacred of God.” There is no right side and left side or light side and dark side in the Voodoo Religion. There is simply one side which is through God and Loa.

The Voodoo religion is a very old religion. In Voodoo, there is only one God, the belief in Christ and many Loa/Lwa. The Voodoo religion consists of three major systems, which include the Rada, Petro and Ghede.  The Congo is also another system. All of the Loa/Lwa, the Forces in the Voodoo religion, are divided into these systems. For example: Papa Ogu is Petro, Erusile/Ezuile Freeda is Rada and Baron Criminel is Petro Ghede.  Although these names are different from the names used in Mother Africa, they are the same entities.  Practitioners of the Voodoo religion can very easily recognize the Orisa from other African-based religions because they migrated to Haiti by way of slavery. However, Papa Ogu’s name remains the same, among the others, in the Voodoo religion.

The systems of the Voodoo religion were created during the time of slavery. There were many Africans that landed in the country of Haiti. During this time, the religion of Haiti was practiced by the Arawak Indians. The Africans came to the island of Haiti with their diverse religions and cultures. During the time of ceremony, each religion was placed within one ceremony. The ceremony created the systems as following:

1. Rada — Erusile Freeda, known to many as Oshun, Erusile Freeda Dahomey, Papa Dumbala Wedo, also known as Obatala, Papa Aqua, known to many as Olokun.  Dahomey, Guinea and Benin are included within the Rada system.

2. Petro — Papa Ogu Felite (Haiti), Ogu Nago, Ogu Batala, Ogu Chango, Chango, Erusile Dantour and many others.  Nigeria, Benin and Nago, to name a few, are within the Petro system.

3. Ghede — Baron Criminel (Haiti), Baron Samedi (Haiti), Baron Lakwa, etc. Benin is a major country within the Ghede System. Although the Barons are in the Ghede system, they are Loas. There are many spirits in the Ghede system and they should not to be confused with Loa.

In the Voodoo religion, each Loa/Lwa has works and duties that they carry out for the people.  The answer to every problem that exists in this world is within the works and duties of the Loa under God.  If one is having problems with love, then the answer lies with Erusile Freeda.  If one is having problems with faith and strength, the answer lies with Papa Ogu. If one is having problems with direction, the answer lies with Papa Aqua, also known to many as Olokun. If one’s problem is with family stability, the answer lies with Erusile Dantour, the Petro mother of all.  If one is having problems with health, then Papa Dumbala is the Loa who has the remedies not limited to health but also peace. If one needs to know the importance of the earth and the medicines that she yields, then they should seek their answer from Couzin Zaka. If the path of survival and destiny must be walked, then the answer lies with Mali Louise. However, Papa Legba is the Loa that we pay respect to before any works or ceremony can begin.

The belief system: One God, Jesus Christ (belief in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins), the Loa and Holy Spirit (Loa are the descendents of the one God and Loa carry prayers to God). The spirits of the Loa also carry the prayers to God. Jesus Christ is a part of the prayers prior to Voodoo ceremonies/rituals but is not a part of the Pantheon of the Voodoo ceremonies/rituals.

Morals and Ethics:
The beliefs are the same as the Ten Commandments: you should treat people equal to yourself.

Religious Holidays:

January 6th  Lesrois (The three kings) The Erusiles are also celebrated on this day.
February 14th The Erusiles
March 17th  Papa Dumbala Day
March 19th Papa Loco Day
Palm Sunday Palm Sunday starts Holy Week and the Humofor closes up everything. There are no ceremonies during this week. Some Humofors will put white cloths over everything, tie up shrines, and will not awaken anything until Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday.
Easter Sunday The beginning of the new year
May 1st Zaka Day
The celebration of Zaka is the 5th and the 14th.  Ceremonies begin on May 1st and 2nd and last throughout the entire month.  It is the beginning of agriculture. 
June 24th Papa Ogu Ferraile    
This is a seven-day service and usually runs June 24 – June 30
July 16th-22nd Saut d’Eau
The beginning of a three day Pilgrimage to the spiritual waterfalls, paying homage to the Loa Erusile Dantour.
July 24th Papa Ogu Felite
The beginning of the celebration for Papa Ogu Felite,  St. Jacques
July 25th Papa Ogu’s Day  (St. Jacque’s)
This is a 7 day service July 25th – 31st
August 15th   Notre Dame D’aot,  Fête Champette
This is celebrated for the Erusiles.  (All the female Loa)
September 29th Papa Legba. This month is also celebrated for Ersulie Dantour.
Celebrations for the openings of life.
November 1st Baron and Ghedes
November 2nd Baron and Ghedes
December 8th Erusile Freeda
Religious Ceremonies start December 8th to celebrate the Immaculate Conception. Ceremony for Erusile Freeda until the end of the month.
December 24th Bain Caille,  Pile Fenille Baths for the house
December 25th Christmas
December 31st

Reveion
Reveion is a big ceremony with celebration of all the Loa. A big feast is made for the Loa.  New resolutions. Lighting the candles. Giving thanks for the old year and asking for continuing guidance for the New Year.

 

There is an organization that has become an important resource and verification agency for African-based religions.  If you wish to learn more, contact the National African Religion Congress at (215) 455-0815. 

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