Myths & Stereotypes
In the West, Vodou or Voodoo has been portrayed as something dark and sinister and definitely something to be feared. Images such as dolls stuck with pins meant to inflict instant pain and harm, zombies and human sacrifice all come to mind when the practice is mentioned. Black magic, curses and devil worship are an unfortunate product of Hollywood, based on severe lack of knowledge and understanding.
"Voodoo dolls" as seen in New Orleans have nothing to do with Haitian Vodou. These dolls, sold as souvenirs, are largely a part of the demands of tourist attractions. For the record, New Orleans Voodoo is NOT the same as Haitian Vodou. Although the two came from basically the same root, they have taken completely different paths. New Orleans Voodoo or Hoodoo is not a religion or a way of life as it is in Haiti, but more of a magical practice which has its roots in African American folk beliefs, as well as a large blend of African Diaspora. It’s all mixed together like a great big delicious pot of Jambalaya.
As we all know, anyone can use their tools to do either good or evil. For example, a doctor can use his skill of medicine to cure his patient or conversely, choose to neglect or harm those in his care. Dark, harmful practices are the work of a Bokor, who is a type of black magician or sorcerer, and have nothing to do with the religion of Ginen.
Vodou is about the celebration of life and is meant to be uplifting. As Houngans and Mambos, one of our major roles is having the ability to heal. We focus our abilities on saving lives, not taking them. Vodou has a moral code that says practices such as control, harming others, black magic and things like human sacrifice are wrong and have no place in the religion. In our house it is strictly forbidden to do these types of work. We are taught that if we kill or harm someone, we will not only lose our ability to heal, but the Spirits will turn their backs on us, leaving us alone to take on the responsibility of the backlash of punishments which we brought upon ourselves.
Pat Robertson vs Haiti, "Cursed by the Devil"
Shortly after the earthquake, televangelist and religious-based bigot, Pat Robertson took the opportunity to do one of the things he does best and boasted his biased and uneducated prejudices concerning the spiritual reasons behind the earthquake. He rudely and ignorantly claimed that Haiti's suffering was due to a pact that was made between its founders and the devil more than 200 years ago, in order to liberate themselves from the French slave owners.
Robertson also called the quake in Haiti a "blessing in disguise."
This raving lunatic not only displays his own ignorance as to what Vodou actually is, but that any religion which is not his own is simply devil worship.
Was a pact between the Haitians and the devil made in order to gain their freedom? Absolutely not. The truth is that Haitian Vodou has nothing to do with the concept of the Christian devil or Satan.
The only pact that WAS made was between the leaders of the revolt and that pact was that they would fight till the death and wouldn't give up no matter what. They agreed that they would rather die than live another day without freedom.