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Voodoo is the word for the gods in the Fon language of Dahomey. The Fon people differentiate between three regions for the gods: the sky, the earth and the clouds in between. The first god, the Creator, lives in the sky and created twin gods: Lisa, the sun god of day, strength, and endurance, and his sister, Mawu, a moon goddess of night, peace, joy, fertility, motherhood and rain. The two eldest children of Lisa and Mawu were Sagbata and his twin sister who were sent to earth to populate it
with their children. The younger brother, Sogbo, was sent to the clouds to become the ruler of thunder and lightning, but in spite of his power, he was jealous of his elder brother who was the ruler of the earth, and withdrew rain. Nothing could grow and the people were starving. The prayers of the people moved Mawu to send Lega, a god of fate and the youngest and the youngest son of Lisa and Mawu, to earth. He took the Otutu, a songbird, with him and told it to sing as soon as fire broke out.
Soon the angry Sogbo caused a fire on earth with his lightning, but Otutu began to sing and this informed Mawu who sent rain and saved the earth.
Voodoo is also the name for the religion of former slaves from West Africa imported into Haiti in the West Indies. The diverse magico-spiritual beliefs of peoples from the African states of Dahomey, Loango, Ashanti, Yoruba and Mandingo, whose cultures were deliberately broken up and scattered through Haiti, have been brought together to form a sense of religious identity and continuity out of fragmentation. Voodoo is a collective spiritual creation born out of the inhumanity of the slave
system, and it brings together ancestor worship, spirit possession, dance, song and drumming.
Today, voodoo is a peasant religion practiced by 90% of Haitians but regarded with contempt by the small Westernized ruling class. It is a fusion of African spirit beliefs and Catholic Christianity. The Christian God {called Bondye in Hatian Creole} presides over the ritual and sends down his angels in a variety of performances, which range from the lighting of candles to animal sacrifice. Much of the ritual and liturgy is of Christian origin and the loa, who are also called "saints" or "angels"
are seen to be a part of Christian cosmology. Santeria is a Caribbean practice similar to voodoo, and is also centered on the worship of African gods within a Christian religious framework. The human being is seen to consist of a material body animated by spirit, and may achieve the status of divinity or loa, which possesses the body. When a loa possesses a new devotee it has to be baptized and take holy communion. The loa moves into the head of an individual and displaces his or her gros bon
ange or "good angel" soul, one of the two souls that a person carries, causing trembling and convulsions. The spirit incarnates into its earthly host and rides it like a horse {like the Greek Pythia at Delphi who were mounted by Apollo, who rode on the nape of their necks.} This spirit union may be marked by a celestial marriage whereby the possessed person may seek the permanent protection of the loa. When the god and his or her mortal partner have undergone a wedding, they then share a common
destiny. The spirit's duty is to protect its spouse, but it must be given presents in return. The spirits help to deal with the ordinary problems of life and maintain African roots and identity. They help to heal relationships, putting problematic human relationships into an external form where the can be worked out.


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