Thursday, May 29, 2008
Whoa! Voodou is voodoo is hoodoo!
Some of you might be wondering why I've gotten on this voodoo kick all of a sudden. Well, I think someone has given me a voodoo doll (pictures to come shortly) in the guise of a present, so I'm during my public research just in case my plane back to America next weeks goes down in a hell fire of flames. If so, you'll know why. I've been cursed apparently.
Thanks to a kind reader of this blog, I was given the Wikipedia address to learn about voodoo, which is also known as "voodou". And some call it "hoodoo". Basically, it's scarier than I had originally thought.
Here is what Wikipedia had to say:
"Vodou has come to be associated in the popular mind with the lore about Satanism, zombies and "voodoo dolls." While there is evidence of zombie creation, it is a minor phenomenon within rural Haitian culture and not a part of the Vodou religion as such. Such things fall under the auspices of the bokor or sorcerer rather than the priest of the Loa.
The practice of sticking pins in dolls has history in European folk magic, but its exact origins are unclear. How it became known as a method of cursing an individual by some followers of what has come to be called New Orleans Voodoo, which is a local variant of hoodoo, is a mystery. Some speculate that it was used as a means of self defense to intimidate superstitious slave owners. This practice is not unique to New Orleans voodoo, however, and has as much basis in European-based magical devices such as the poppet and the nkisi or bocio of West and Central Africa.
These are in fact power objects, what in Haiti would be referred to as pwen, rather than magical surrogates for an intended target of sorcery whether for boon or for bane. Such voodoo dolls are not a feature of Haitian religion, although dolls intended for tourists may be found in the Iron Market in Port au Prince. The practice became closely associated with the Vodou religions in the public mind through the vehicle of horror movies and popular novels.
There is a practice in Haiti of nailing crude poppets with a discarded shoe on trees near the cemetery to act as messengers to the otherworld, which is very different in function from how poppets are portrayed as being used by voodoo worshippers in popular media and imagination, ie. for purposes of sympathetic magic towards another person. Another use of dolls in authentic Vodou practice is the incorporation of plastic doll babies in altars and objects used to represent or honor the spirits, or in pwen, which recalls the aforementioned use of bocio and nkisi figures in Africa."
Granted, my faith in voodoo dolls has waned since the 10th grade when my best friend and I bought a voodoo doll to represent our English teacher, who shall remain nameless. I pushed at least a dozen pins into that damn doll and this teacher never even once winced. Maybe it was a crap voodoo doll or something. I still hold out a glimmer of hope. And this is exactly why this creepy voodoo-esque gift is scaring the pants off of me. How do you get rid of a curse? Do I have to regift the doll? Can I destroy it (i.e. throw it on the subway tracks or burn it for warmth)? Anybody who is learned in the field of voodou, voodoo and/or hoodoo, please get it touch.