When most people hear the word Voodoo, there are a few images that pop in their head. First they think of New Orleans, then Voodoo dolls, human sacrifices, curses and the evil eye. These are a few of the misconceptions that surround Voodoo. Here, the myths that surround Voodoo will be dispelled.
The first myth is that Voodoo originated in New Orleans. The truth is that it started in Haiti, and there are significant differences between Haitian Voodoo and American or New Orleans Voodoo. A primary difference between Haitian Voodoo and New Orleans Voodoo is that in New Orleans Voodoo there is both white and black magic. The purpose here is to cover New Orleans Voodoo.
The second myth is that Voodoo uses human sacrifice. This myth started in the late 1800s, when many people believed that a part of the common practice of those that practiced Voodoo sacrificed humans in their rituals, many believing that children were the most common “offerings.” These misconceptions were further exaggerated by the writings of Sir Spenser St. John, a consul to Haiti. This myth is completely false. Interestingly enough, human sacrifice is completely against the moral code of Voodoo, the moral code includes the statement of “not harming others.”
The use of Voodoo dolls is another myth. A doll is made in the resemblance of a person that one would like to “work Voodoo” on. They are often depicted with pins and needles stuck through them to cause harm to the victim.
First, the origin of the Voodoo doll actually stems from the “poppet,” which was used in witchcraft in Europe. The actual term of Voodoo doll was invented by an American writer who wrote a fictional story about Voodoo after he was told that it was witchcraft.
Secondly, a Voodoo doll that is used to cause pain to someone is also against the moral code. The truth is that the only dolls that are used in Voodoo are the dolls that are used on Voodoo alters which are meant to represent loas.
What then is the truth about Voodoo, if it is not the glamorized Hollywood version many believe that it is? The primary elements of Voodoo are very similar to other faiths, including Christianity. Voodooists believe in a central god who is responsible for the creation of the universe. Voodooists also believe in a number of lesser gods and spirits which they call either orishas or loa and each is the master of their own sphere of influence, similar to the saints in Christianity. The central god is called Oloddumare.
Voodoo requires an initiation ritual, which is taken care of by a Voodoo priest. Most often it is due to some issues a person is having in their life. If the priest determines that these issues are caused from loa, the initiation then will appease loa and the issues will cease. Voodoo initiation will also make any dead relatives of the victim happy who may be haunting him/her because they feel she/he is wasting their potential. The initiation is actually a mock death of the victim (which could be the foundation of the myth of human sacrifice.)
Finally, there is white and black magic involve in Voodoo. Each type of magic is used for both malicious and beneficiary reasons. A Voodoo priest will generally have a working knowledge of both.
So there you have some of the biggest myths about Voodoo totally debunked. It’s a good reason to not always believe legends that you read or hear about.