ost of the time, when people hear about Vaudou, what they know about it is from TV. The Hollywood version of Vaudou is conceived of by people who do not know about Vaudou.
The Vodou Tradition
Following the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the continent of the Americas, Africans were transported to the Americas which is also named the New World. The European conquest began in Haiti (back then Hispaniola), which was also the recipient of the first wave of displaced Africans. Many of the Africans escaped slavery and took refuge in the mountains of Haiti where they co-existed with the Amerindians who also fled to the mountains after the European attempted to enslave them. Those Africans, known as “Neg Marrons”, together with the Amerindians created a spiritual practice that integrated the contribution of knowledge of Antiquity brought by the Africans with the existing spiritual practice of the Amerindians. This integration is what is known as Vodou which is unique to Haiti. During the war that resulted in Haiti becoming the first Black Republic in 1804, Haitians migrated to Louisiana and created Voodoo which remains a descendant of Vodou. The Haitians that migrated to Louisiana are known as Creole; their tradition is ongoing in New Orleans.
The European brought Catholicism onto the Americas that became the primary Western religion of the Europeans as well as the free Haitian Mulattoes and Africans. As a result, Catholicism got incorporated into Vodou as a third spiritual root. Today, Vodou is a formally recognized religion after years of harassment. Vodou is simultaneously a spiritual practice and a religion. The resulting practice of its adherents can be Shaman, Pagan, or a combination of both. Vodou practitioners who receive the proper shamanic initiation operate under strict spiritual ethics of the Vodou tradition.
Finally, Vodou is a spiritual practice that is also known in the academic world as a “dancing religion” because rituals are based on transcendental music. However as a family religion, rituals are conducted without music or with the songs without drums. The vibrant Creole culture of New Orleans began with music of the Vodou tradition aka Voodoo music; Creole musicians made significant contribution to the evolution of jazz.
The music of Vodou has been of interest for years and the most comprehensive publication was compiled by the late Max Beauvoir. His work is continuing under the stewardship of Lakou Papiyon; our effort extends to guardianship and preservation of this vast repertoire for future generations.