The word voodoo is one of those terms that most stimulate people’s imagination and produces in the minds of people images of zombies, dolls pierced with pins, black magic. Cinema and TV have embroidered on these issues to the point of completely distorting a religious tradition that has nothing to do with witchcraft as we are used to conceiving it. In reality it is the oldest religiosity in the world. The word voodoo comes from the language fon and means spirit but must be understood in Dominican santeria as a spirit that permeates the entire universe of the presence of the unique God and creator Pope Bondyé (Dad Good God). First of all, there are several traditions of voodoo. These, although having a common matrix, Africa, and affinities, are actually very different, in myths, rituals, practices, metaphysical conception and cultured spirits. Even the way of conceiving entities varies from place to place. It’s a bit like talking about Christianity, we find Roman Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, the evangelical sects … they all have in common the figure of Jesus Christ, but each interprets it differently because of enlightened characters who founded a “new” religiosity , or due to political reasons that pushed a particular Church, it is the case of the Anglican one in the time of Henry VIII, to detach himself from the mother church of Rome. The original African voodoo is still practiced in Africa, Togo and Benin, but it is profoundly different from the various types of voodoo that we find in the diaspora. Haitian voodoo is certainly the best known. It is called 21 nachons (21 nations) because the deities are cultured according to the original place of origin in specific ways. It revolves around the hounfor structure (temple) each of which is run by a priest or priestess (houngan and mambo). It is extremely complex in ritualistic and elaborate in practices. The priesthood is reached only after many sacrifices, physical and economic, and it takes years to be able to complete the initiatory cycle that characterizes it. New Orleans voodoo derives from Haitian voodoo and has a profoundly magical imprint. In relation to the Haitian one, it is simplified, less divinities are cultured and also the ritualistic is less complex and structured. Puertorico’s voodoo is called Sanse and is a sort of Umbanda spiritism associated with the lwà, while Dominican voodoo, the one we will deal with in this text, is distinguished by the strong use of syncretism and the methods of worship.
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