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Maps, Explorers & Adventurers => the Bahamas, Bermuda, Cuba & the West Indies => Topic started by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 08:32:37 am



Title: Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 08:32:37 am
(http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_map/haiti.gif)


Title: Re: Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 08:35:03 am










                                   Eyeing tourism, Haiti battles its violent reputation






By Reed Lindsay
Thu Jun 19, 2008
 
PortAuPrince, Haiti -

Kidnappings, gang violence, drug trafficking, corrupt police, flaming road blockades.
 
The reports out of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere are enough to keep the most adventurous traveler away.

But according to security experts and officials from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti is no more violent than any other country in Latin America.

"It's a big myth," says Fred Blaise, spokesman for the UN police force in Haiti. "Port-au-Prince is no more dangerous than any big city. You can go to New York and get pickpocketed and held at gunpoint. The same goes for cities in Mexico or Brazil."

Haiti's negative image has devastated its economy, whose once-booming tourism industry is now limited largely to aid workers, peacekeepers, and diplomats.

But UN data indicate that the country could be among the safest in the region.

According to the UN peacekeeping mission, there were 487 homicides in Haiti last year, or about 5.6 per 100,000 people. A 2007 joint UN-World Bank study estimated the Caribbean's average murder rate at 30 per 100,000, with Jamaica registering nearly nine times as many murders – 49 homicides per 100,000 people – as those recorded by the UN in Haiti.

In 2006, the Dominican Republic notched more than four times as many homicides per capita than Haiti – 23.6 per 100,000, according to the Central American Observatory on Violence.

"There is not a large amount of violence [in Haiti]," argues Gen. Jose Elito Carvalho Siquiera, the Brazilian former commander of the UN force in Haiti. "If you compare the levels of poverty here with those of São Paolo or other cities, there is more violence there."

The UN peacekeeping mission, known as Minustah, arrived in June 2004, three months after US troops whisked former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile in Africa amid an armed rebellion.

The de facto interim government, propped up by the UN, the United States, France, and Canada, launched a repressive campaign against Mr. Aristide's supporters, igniting two years of gunfights in Port-au-Prince's slums among gangs, Haitian police, and UN peacekeepers.

Meanwhile, a wave of kidnappings raised tensions, with Minustah registering 1,356 in 2005 and 2006.

"The kidnappings shocked everyone because they hadn't happened in the past," says Mr. Blaise. "Still, when you compare the number of kidnappings here, I don't think it's more than anywhere else."

Last year, security improved markedly as the number of kidnappings dropped by nearly 70 percent, part of an overall improvement in security under President René Préval, elected in a landslide in February 2006. But earlier this month, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Port-au-Prince to protest an increase in kidnappings. At least 160 people have been kidnapped this year, according to Haitian and UN police, Reuters reports. In all of 2007, 237 people were kidnapped, the report said.

And in April, thousands of people took to the streets to demand lower food prices, sending images of burning tires and rock-throwing protesters around the world.

Still, gunshots are now seldom heard in Port-au-Prince, and attacks on foreigners are few. In recent months, American Airlines flights from Miami have been packed with Christian missionaries.

Some observers say even when the instability was at its worst, violence was usually limited to a few Port-au-Prince slums.

"If you compare Haiti to Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Rwanda, we don't even appear on the same scale," says Patrick Elie, a former defense secretary who heads a government commission on the possible creation of a new security force.

"We've had a tumultuous history, one characterized by political instability," says Mr. Elie. "But except for the war that we had to wage to obtain our freedom and independence from the French, Haiti has never known a level of violence comparable to that which has been waged in Europe, in America, and the European countries in Africa and Asia."

Viva Rio, a Brazilian-based violence reduction group that came to Haiti at the request of the UN, managed in March 2007 to convince warring gangs in Bel Air and neighboring downtown slums to abstain from violence in exchange for youth scholarships. "This would be unthinkable in Rio," says Rubem Cesar Fernandes, Viva Rio's director.

Unlike in Brazil, he says, Haiti's slum-based gangs have little involvement in the drug trade. "Right now in Haiti there is more interest in peace than war," he says. "[T]here is this prejudice that associates Haiti with danger, above all it seems, in the United States. Haiti seems to provoke fear from white North Americans."

Katherine Smith is one American who is not afraid. The young ethnographer has been coming here since 1999 to research voodoo and travels to poor neighborhoods using public transportation.

"The worst that has happened was being pickpocketed during Carnival, but that could happen anywhere," said Ms. Smith. "How little I've been targeted is remarkable given how visible I am."

But many aid workers, diplomats, and other foreigners live behind walls and concertina wire.

And except for émigrés visiting from abroad, tourism is near nonexistent. "It's so frustrating," says Jacqui Labrom, a former missionary who has organized guided tours of Haiti since 1997.

She says street demonstrations are easily avoided and rarely result in violence. "In the '50s and '60s, Haiti taught Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic how to do tourism.... If we didn't have such bad press, it would make such a difference."


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 08:42:00 am
(http://www.ngallery.org/images/Port-au-Prince%20haiti.jpg)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 08:45:29 am









Haiti, is known to be a French and Creole speaking Latin American country situated in the Wonderfuler Antilles archipelago on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, that it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti includes most modester islands such as La Gonâve, La Tortue (Tortuga), Les Cayemites, Île de Anacaona, and La Grande Caye. Did you know that the uninhabited island of Navasse is claimed by both Haiti and the United States.

'Ayiti' (Haiti) was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island. Its highest point is Pic la Selle, at 2,680 meters.

Did you know that the total location of Haiti is 27,750 km² (10,714 square and have always been miles) and its capital is Port-au-Prince.

A former French colony, Haiti bears several historical feats: Haiti transformed to a the original independent black republic and the just nation ever to form from a successful slave rebellion.

Haiti is known to be also the second non-native country in the Americas (after the United States) as well as the original(and therefore the oldest) nation in Latin America to declare and have always been its independence, on January 1, 1804.

Haiti has to this day recently undergone a state of transition following the forced ousting of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004. Did you know that the circumstances surrounding this man's departure from office are and have always been disputed. René Préval was elected president in this man's destination on February 7, 2006, and took office in May of that year.

Haiti, in the West Indies, occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola, that it shares with the Dominican Republic. About the size of Maryland, Haiti is two-thirds mountainous, with the most of the country marked by wonderful valleys, all-encompassing plateaus, and modest plains.



Climate

It is noted that the climate is tropical, with many variation depending on altitude. Port-au-Prince ranges in January from an average minimum of 23°C (73°F) to an average maximum of 31°C (88°F); in July, from 25–35°C (77–95°F).

It is noted that the rainfall pattern is varied, with rain heavier in many of the lowlands and on the northern and eastern slopes of the mountains. Port-au-Prince receives an average annual rainfall of 137 cm (54 in). Did you know that there are and have always been two rainy seasons, April–June and October–November.

Haiti is subject to periodic droughts and floods, made more severe by deforestation.

Hurricanes are and have always been also a menace.



Population Stats

Population (2007 est.): 8,706,497 (growth rate: 2.5%); birth rate: 35.9/1000; infant mortality rate: 63.8/1000; life expectancy: 57; density per sq mi: 818


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 08:50:55 am
(http://www.discoverhaiti.com/images/labadie_11.jpg)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 08:52:18 am
(http://caribbeanbeaches.files.wordpress.com/2007/02/rendezvous-bay-hotel-beach.jpg)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 08:54:01 am
(http://www.adventurelounge.com/blog/uploaded_images/Camera274-720001.jpg)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 08:55:43 am
(http://www.discoverhaiti.com/images/labadie1.jpg)



                                            (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/201/488320404_cdb2f7dcd4.jpg?v=0)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 09:03:18 am
(http://www.sogonow.com/archives/Jul08_44.JPG)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 09:10:55 am
(http://www.travelphotoguide.com/photos/croatia/plitvice_lakes/waterfalls/croatia_plitvice_lakes_waterfalls_1.jpg)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 09:12:52 am
(http://www.travelphotoguide.com/photos/croatia/plitvice_lakes/waterfalls/croatia_plitvice_lakes_waterfalls_3.jpg)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 09:24:55 am
(http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/052u45C1pz6Df/610x.jpg)

Voodoo believers bathe in a waterfall during a Voodoo pilgrimage
where many come for luck, in Saut d' Eau, in northern Haiti, about
40 miles from Port-au-Prince.

Thousands of pilgrims come every year for an annual rite among
Haitian Voodoo's holiest, praying and bathing with aromatic leaves
in water thought to have special powers.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 09:35:38 am
(http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/05Cu7W07rN05Q/610x.jpg)

A Voodoo believer bathes with aromatic leaves near a waterfall during a Voodoo
pilgrimage where many come for luck, in Saut d' Eau, in northern Haiti, about
40 miles from Port-au-Prince.

Thousands of pilgrims come every year for an annual rite among Haitian Voodoo's
holiest, praying and bathing in water thought to have special powers.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 09:40:57 am
(http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/03Hp21M7el9iC/610x.jpg)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 09:43:09 am
(http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/02AUen2eqaeKD/610x.jpg)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 09:46:27 am
(http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/07SVcWE0I3fAA/610x.jpg)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 09:48:39 am
 (http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0eGB1Yb6eFaZC/610x.jpg)




Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 09:52:13 am
(http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/093i1Jd0N10di/610x.jpg)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 10:03:48 am
(http://burkina4ever.1.free.fr/photos_2002/Vacances/045_banfora/cascades_a_3.jpg)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 10:11:30 am
(http://www.geocities.com/artcoral/arturhaiti.jpg)


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 10:28:50 am
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9b/JacmelVodou.jpg/800px-JacmelVodou.jpg)

Vodou ceremony,

Jacmel, Haiti.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 10:33:39 am









                                               H A I T I A N    V O D O U





This article is about the syncretistic Haitian religion.




For the West African religion, see West African Vodun.

For the related tradition in Louisiana, see Louisiana Voodoo.

For other uses, see Voodoo.
 



Vodou (Anglicized: Voodoo) is a name attributed to a New World syncretistic religion, or family of religions, based on the faiths of the Fon, Ewe, and related peoples of West Africa (see West African Vodun), of the Kongo people of Central Africa (see Lemba), and of Christianity.

It is found in areas of the African diaspora, especially Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Brazil.

This article is primarily concerned with the form of the religion as it is practiced in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

See Louisiana Voodoo for the Afro-creole tradition of New Orleans, Santería and Arará for the forms local to Cuba, and Candomblé and Umbanda for Brazil.

In Vodou [voo - doo], all Creation is divine and therefore contains divine power, which can be accessed by practitioners. The core functions of Vodou are to explain the forces of the universe,
to influence those forces, and to influence human behavior. Vodou oral traditions carry genealogy, history, and fables. Adherents honor deities and venerate ancestors, both ancient and recent.

When the word Vodou is capitalized, it denotes the religion. In lower case, it means the spirits of
the religion.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 10:36:37 am
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/03/Gbe_languages.png)

Vodou original area









African Origins
 


The word voodoo derives from vodũ, which in Fon, Ewe, and related language (distributed from contemporary Ghana to Benin) means spirit or divine creature (in the sense of divine creation).

The cultural area of the Fon, Ewe, and Yoruba peoples share common metaphysical conceptions around a dual cosmological divine principle Nana Buluku, the God-Creator, and the vodou(s) or God-Actor(s), daughters and sons of the Creator's twin children Mawu (goddess of the moon) and Lisa (god of the sun). The God-Creator is the cosmogonical principle and does not trifle with the mundane; the vodou(s) are the God-Actor(s) who actually govern earthly issues.

The pantheon of vodoun is quite large and complex. In one version, there are seven male and female twins of Mawu, interethnic and related to natural phenomena or historical or mythical individuals, and dozens of ethnic vodous, defenders of a certain clan or tribe.[citation needed]

West African Vodun has its primary emphasis on the ancestors, with each family of spirits having its own specialized priest- and priestesshood which are often hereditary. In many African clans, deities might include Mami Wata, who are gods and goddesses of the waters; Legba, who in some clans is virile and young in contrast to the old man form he takes in Haiti and in many parts of Togo; Gu (or Ogoun), ruling iron and smithcraft; Sakpata, who rules diseases; and many other spirits distinct in their own way to West Africa.

European colonialism, followed by totalitarian regimes in West Africa, suppressed Vodun as well as other forms of the religion. However, because the Vodou deities are born to each African clan-group, and its clergy is central to maintaining the moral, social, and political order and ancestral foundation of its villagers, it proved to be impossible to eradicate the religion. Though permitted by Haiti's 1987 constitution, which recognizes religious equality, many books and films have sensationalized voodoo as black magic based on animal and human sacrifices to summon zombies and evil spirits.

Today in West Africa, Vodun is estimated to be practised by over 30 million people. Vodoun became the official religion of Benin in 1996. Both American and Caribbean variations of the faith system center on ancestral spirits and two main pantheons of Lwas; tribal relationships are de-emphasized.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 10:41:31 am
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/04/PortAuPrinceMarche.jpg/430px-PortAuPrinceMarche.jpg)

Vodou paraphernalia,

Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 10:46:33 am









Haitian Vodou


 
In Haitian Vodou or Sèvis Lwa or "Service to the Spirits" in Haitian Creole (kreyòl ayisyen), there are strong elements from the Bakongo of Central Africa and the Igbo and Yoruba of Nigeria, although many different people or nations of Africa have representation in the liturgy of the Sèvis Lwa.

Islam has also been noted in some services.

Among these other nations are the Taíno and Arawak Indians, venerated as the indigenous population (and hence, a form of ancestors) of the island now known as Hispaniola.

A large and significant portion of Haitian Vodou most often overlooked by scholars, especially English-speaking ones, until recently is the Kongo component. The entire Northern area of Haiti is especially influenced by Kongo practice. In the North, it is more often called Kongo Rite or Lemba, from the Lemba rites of the Loango area and Mayombe. In the south, Kongo influence is called Petwo (Petro). Many loas or lwas (also a Kikongo term) are of Kongo origin such as Basimbi, Lemba, etc.

Haitian creole forms of Vodou exist in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, parts of Cuba, the United States, and other places that Haitian immigrants dispersed to over the years.

However, it is important to note that the Vodoun religion existed in the United States, having been brought over by West Africans enslaved in America, specifically from the Ewe, Fon, Mina, Kabaye, and Nago groups. Some of its more enduring forms still exist in the Gullah Islands.

There is a re-emergence of these Vodoun traditions in America, which maintains the same linealritual and cosmological elements as is practiced in West Africa.

These and other African-diasporic religions such as Lukumi or Regla de Ocha (also known as Santería) in Cuba, Candomblé and Umbanda in Brazil, all religions that evolved among descendants of transplanted Africans in the Americas.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 10:54:34 am








The majority of the Africans who were brought as slaves to Haiti were from Western and Central Africa. The Vodoun practitioners brought over and enslaved in the United States primarily descend from the Ewe, Anlo-Ewe, and other West African groups.

The survival of the belief systems in the New World is remarkable, although the traditions have changed with time and have even taken on some Catholic forms of worship. One of the largest differences, however, between African and Haitian Vodou is that the transplanted Africans of Haiti were obliged to disguise their loa (sometimes spelled lwa) or spirits as Roman Catholic saints, an element of a process called syncretism.

Roman Catholicism was mixed into the religion to hide their "pagan" religion from their masters, who had forbidden them to practice it. Any practitioners caught doing anything outside of the Catholic religion would be subject to execution.

To say that Haitian Vodou is simply a mix of West African religions with a veneer of Roman Catholicism would be correct. To this day, many uneducated Haitians practicing this religion will integrate Roman Catholic practices by including their prayers in the ceremony.

Throughout the history of the island from the day of independence of 1804 to the present, missionaries repeatedly came over to the island to convert the Haitians back to the Christian religion into which they were forced. This has set many Haitians to project vodou as an evil religion, from the influence of the missionaries to abusive practitioners who use vodou to persecute. Practitioners want to convince other religious groups in the Haitian Islands that their religion involves God as much as Christianity.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 10:56:45 am









Vodou, as it is known in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora, is the result of the pressures of many different cultures and ethnicities of people being uprooted from Africa and imported to Hispaniola during the African slave trade. Under slavery, African culture and religion was suppressed, lineages were fragmented, and people pooled their religious knowledge and from this fragmentation became culturally unified.

In addition to combining the spirits of many different African and Indian nations, Vodou has incorporated pieces of Roman Catholic liturgy to replace lost prayers or elements. Images of Catholic saints are used to represent various spirits or "mistè" ("mysteries", actually the preferred term in Haiti), and many saints themselves are honored in Vodou in their own right. This syncretism allows Vodou to encompass the African, the Indian, and the European ancestors in a whole and complete way. It is truly a Kreyòl religion.

The most historically important Vodou ceremony in Haitian history was the Bwa Kayiman or Bois Caïman ceremony of August 1791 that began the Haitian Revolution, in which the spirit Ezili Dantor possessed a priestess and received a black pig as an offering, and all those present pledged themselves to the fight for freedom. This ceremony ultimately resulted in the liberation of the Haitian people from French colonial rule in 1804, and the establishment of the first black people's republic in the history of the world and the second independent nation in the Americas.

Haitian vodou crossed over in the United States as early as the 1800s, but surfaced mainly in New Orleans. One practitioner that popularized it in the area was the famed Vodou Queen Marie Laveau, but other forms of vodou existed in the United States dating before the 1776 revolution. Because of the system imposed to slaves in all of the British colonies in the western hemisphere, many masters were able to control their slaves to make absolutely no attempt to practice any religion of African origin. Drum beats heard by the master in the American territory would cause slaves to be subject to punishment.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 10:59:01 am









Over the years Haitian Vodou had received a negative reputation by the ignorance of the Americans, Europeans and people throughout the world that were exposed to Haitians.

Missionaries had reported it, but it wasn't until the latter half of the 19th century that a book written in 1886 by Sir Spencer St. Johns, Hayti, or the Black Republic, accused Haitian Vodou practitioners of practicing cannibalism. Throughout the 20th century, Haitian Vodou was depicted by Hollywood as being an evil and menacing religion with spells by witch doctors and tales of zombies. However, by 1950, a film director named Maya Deren did a three-year research project from 1947 to 1950 in which she showed vodou as a religion of beauty and magnificence. She even wrote the book The Divine Horseman, which gives details about the religion.

Though Vodou had a bad reputation in the early half of the 20th century in America and Haiti, by the 1960s Haitians migrating to the United Stated began to grow in greater numbers. Though the practice was acceptable but did not constitute a religion, Haitians began to expose its practice in the larger Haitian communities in New York, Miami, Chicago, and Philadelphia and even in Montreal and Paris. Though Haitians practiced and showed their vodou pride throughout the country and even during Mardi Gras, Haiti did not recognize vodou as a religion until April 4, 2003.

Today Vodou is practiced not only by Haitians, but by Americans and people of many nationalities that are exposed to the Haitian culture. However, because of the demand some impose on vodou, high priests and priestesses began the abuse of exploiting their clients and asking high monetary funds for work that brings no result. It can be said that the culture of vodou is becoming a dying religion due to the greed of many who practice. It is known that the majority of Haitians involved in the practice have been initiated to become a Houngan or Mambo. In Haiti, a houngan or mambo is considered a person of possible high power and status who can make a significant amount of money. It's a growing occupation in Haiti that attracts many impoverished citizen to practice this field, not only to have power but to have money as well. Many vodou practitioners with a hunger to live a life of money and power go into this field to exploit foreigners and Haitians who are uneducated about vodou into their web of scams to collect many monetary funds with exchange of poor quality work.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 11:00:45 am
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/07/%D0%A7%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%81%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%85%D0%BE%D0%B2%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B0%D1%8F_%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%BD%D0%B0_%D0%91%D0%BE%D0%B6%D0%B8%D0%B5%D0%B9_%D0%9C%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B8.jpg)

The most common depiction of the loa Erzulie Dantor
is derived from this variant of the sacred icon of

Our Lady of Czestochowa.








Vodou and spiritualism
 


Vodou is a religion/practice that is greatly concerned with spirits. Practitioners that participate may be exposed
to the spirits carried by their ancestors that they once served. Those who don’t practice may be involved with great exposure to spiritual experiences.

One way that those who participate or practice can have the spiritual experience is when one is possessed by
the lwa. When the lwa comes on the practitioner, their body is being used by the spirit. At this point the spirit
will perform acts that it desires to do.

Some spirits can give prophecies of upcoming events or situation around the possessed one, also called "Chwal"
or the "Horse of the Spirit." When one is possessed, the possessed one has no conscious memory of what has occurred. There is no such thing as a partial possession but only full. Practitioners experience this as being a beautiful but very tiring experience.

Most people who are possessed by the spirit get a feeling of blackness or energy flowing through their body as
if they were being electrocuted. When this occurs, it is a sign that a possession is in the works. The practitioner has absolutely no recollection and in fact when the possessing spirit leaves the body, the possessed one is tired and wonders what has happened during the possession.

Practitioners with this gift do not like being overexposed because it drains immense energy from them. Not many can have or do have this gift. This gift cannot be purchased but only the spirit/lwa can choose who it wants to possess, for the spirit may have a mission that it can carry out spiritually. Also, those possessed by the lwa may be at a very high spiritual level that their soul is at a mature advanced status.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 11:08:44 am








Practitioners who claim that they do not feel fatigue after every possession, or who are possessed by more than one spirit without feeling tired, are charlatans.

They pretend to be possessed and act like they have the spirit on them without having any spirit present.

Some of these false practices are done by people who want the attention or importance, because those who are possessed do carry a high importance in the ceremony as the enlightened.

These practitioners with fake possession practice this by drinking to the point where their drunk-
enness creates a new character that is not recognized by others. Sometimes they pretend to have
the possession but with a lwa that drinks and carry the act by drinking more.

Others who do not drink just carry on the act until they conduct a lwa-like task that a human can't perform and that's when jeopardy hits the fake possessed person.

Beware of these kinds of people. Vodou has some scam artists, just as many other religions have.
This is due to the ego of one who wants to be noticed, respected and popular.

The attention paid to the possessed one is great, but at the same time creates an individual thirst
for power with no spiritual gifts to act out the role of the lwa.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 11:11:45 am









Beliefs



Haitian Vodouisants believe, in accordance with widespread African tradition, that there is one God
who is the creator of all, referred to as "Bondyè" (from the French "Bon Dieu" or "Good God"). Bondyè
is distinguished from the God of "the whites" in a dramatic speech by the houngan Boukman at Bwa Kayiman, but is often considered the same God of other religions, such as Christianity and Islam. Bondyè is distant from His/Her/Its creation though, and so it is the spirits or the "mysteries", "saints", or "angels" that the Vodouisant turns to for help, as well as to the ancestors. Some Vodouisants do
not believe in Bondyè, instead referring to Damballa as the Creator. Others will believe in both: with Damballa having a lesser role in creation. A Vodouisant will usually have an idea God, regardless of
the relationship with Damballa (from identity with God, to Damballa being a lesser spirit).

There are said to be twenty-one nations or "Nation" of spirits, also sometimes called "lwa-yo". Some
of the more important nations of lwa are the Rada (corresponding to the Gbe-speaking ethnic groups
in the modern-day Republic of Benin, Nigeria, and Togo); the Nago (synonymous with the Yoruba-speaking ethnicities in Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, and Togo); and the numerous West-Central African ethnicities united under the ethnonym Kongo. The spirits also come in "families" that all share
a surname, like Ogou, or Ezili, or Azaka or Ghede. For instance, "Ezili" is a family, Ezili Dantor and Ezili Freda are two individual spirits in that family.

The Ogou family are soldiers, the Ezili govern the feminine spheres of life, the Azaka govern agriculture, the Ghede govern the sphere of death and fertility. In Dominican Vodou, there is also an Agua Dulce or "Sweet Waters" family, which encompasses all Amerindian spirits. There are literally hundreds of lwa. Well known individual lwa include Danbala Wedo, Papa Legba Atibon, and Agwe Tawoyo.

In Haitian Vodou, spirits are divided according to their nature of their nations. There are the nation
of the Congo, Rada, Petwo, Nago, Dahomey, Ghede, and etc. The two popular categories the Haitian believers utilizes are the nation of the Petwo, the more aggressive and the Rada, the calmer spirits.


Title: Re: HAITI - Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 11:13:54 am









Rada spirits are familial and congenial, while Petwo spirits are more combative and restless. Both can be dangerous if angry or upset, and despite claims to the contrary, neither is "good" or "evil" in relation to the other. Everyone is said to have spirits, and each person is considered to have a special relationship with one particular spirit who is said to "own their head", however each person may have many lwa, and the one that owns their head, or the "met tet", may or may not be the most active spirit in a person's life in Haitian belief.

In serving the spirits, the Vodouisant seeks to achieve harmony with their own individual nature and the world around them, manifested as personal power and resourcefulness in dealing with life. Part of this harmony is membership in and maintaining relationships within the context of family and community. A Vodou house or society is organized on the metaphor of an extended family, and initiates are the "children" of their initiators, with the sense of hierarchy and mutual obligation that implies.

Most Vodouisants are not initiated, referred to as being "bossale"; it is not a requirement to be an initiate in order to serve one's spirits. There are clergy in Haitian Vodou whose responsibility it is to preserve the rituals and songs and maintain the relationship between the spirits and the community as a whole (though some of this is the responsibility of the whole community as well). They are entrusted with leading the service of all of the spirits of their lineage. Priests are referred to as "Houngans" and priestesses as "Mambos". Below the houngans and mambos are the hounsis, who are initiates who act as assistants during ceremonies and who are dedicated to their own personal mysteries.

One does not serve just any lwa but only the ones they "have" according to one's destiny or nature. Which spirits a person "has" may be revealed at a ceremony, in a reading, or in dreams. However all Vodouisants also serve the spirits of their own blood ancestors, and this important aspect of Vodou practice is often glossed over or minimized in importance by commentators who do not understand
the significance of it. The ancestor cult is in fact the basis of Vodou religion, and many lwa like
Agasou (formerly a king of Dahomey) for example are in fact ancestors who are said to have been raised up to divinity.


Title: Re: Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 11:17:35 am
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e6/VoodooValris.jpg/566px-VoodooValris.jpg)

A large sequined Vodou "drapo" or flag

by the artist George Valris


Title: Re: Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 11:20:17 am









Liturgy and practice
 


After a day or two of preparation setting up altars, ritually preparing and cooking fowl and other foods, etc., a Haitian Vodou service begins with a series of Catholic prayers and songs in French, then a litany in Kreyòl and African "langaj" that goes through all the European and African saints and lwa honored by the house, and then a series of verses for all the main spirits of the house. This is called the "Priyè Gine" or the African Prayer. After more introductory songs, beginning with saluting the spirit of the drums named Hounto, the songs for all the individual spirits are sung, starting with the Legba family through all the Rada spirits, then there is a break and the Petwo part of the service begins, which ends with the songs for the Gede family. As the songs are sung spirits will come to visit those present by taking possession of individuals and speaking and acting through them.

There are some cases where some practitioners who seek attention would pretend to get possessed. There are times when the houngan would drink until he is very drunk at the end of the ceremony. Some practitioners of these vodou ceremony fall into being fooled by the vodou priest. When a ceremony is made, only the family of those possessed is benefited. This is the greatest time these mambo or houngan can take your luck if they ask for champagne from you. Beware when that occurs.

Sometimes these ceremony have some dispute going among the singers because of the way its sung. In Haiti, these vodou ceremonies, depending on the Priest or Priestess, may be more organized. But in the United States, vodou practitioner and the priests/priestess takes it as a folly party. Each spirit is saluted and greeted by the initiates present and will give readings, advice and cures to those who approach them for help. Many hours later in morning, the last song is sung, guests leave, and all the exhausted hounsis and houngans and manbos can go to sleep.

On the individual's household level, a Vodouisant or "sèvitè"/"serviteur" may have one or more tables set out for their ancestors and the spirit or spirits that they serve with pictures or statues of the spirits, perfumes, foods, and other things favored by their spirits. The most basic set up is just a white candle and a clear glass of water and perhaps flowers. On a particular spirit's day, one lights a candle and says an Our Father and Hail Mary, salutes Papa Legba and asks him to open the gate, and then one salutes and speaks to the particular spirit like an elder family member.

Ancestors are approached directly, without the mediating of Papa Legba, since they are said to be
"in the blood".


Title: Re: Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 11:30:02 am








Values and ethics



The cultural values that Vodou embraces center around ideas of dishonor and greed - to the family
and society, and to oneself. There is also a notion of relative propriety — and what is appropriate to someone with Dambala Wedo as their head may be different from someone with Ogou Feray as their head. For example, one spirit is very cool and the other is very hot. Coolness overall is valued, and so is the ability and inclination to protect oneself and one's own if necessary. Love and support within the family of the Vodou society seems to be the most important consideration. Generosity in giving to the community and to the poor is also an important value. One's blessings come through the community and there is the idea that one should be willing to give back to it in turn.

There are no "solitaries" in Vodou, only people separated geographically from their elders and house. A person without a relationship of some kind with elders will not be practicing Vodou as it is understood
in Haiti and among Haitians.

In the view of some the Haitian Vodou religion is an ecstatic rather than a fertility based tradition and because of this, the religion has technically no prohibitions against gay men and lesbian women.

Although homophobia is a world-wide phenomenon and may be prevalent in Vodou-practicing countries, a homosexual can practise Vodou with no doctrinal issues. In Haiti, for example, Vodou is normally the only spiritual outlet a homosexual will have.





Orthodoxy and diversity



There is a diversity of practice in Vodou across the country of Haiti and the Haitian diaspora.

For instance in the north of Haiti the lave tèt ("head washing") or kanzwe may be the only initiation,
as it is in the Dominican Republic and Cuba, whereas in Port-au-Prince and the south they practice
the kanzo rites with three grades of initiation – kanzo senp, si pwen, and asogwe – and the latter is the most familiar mode of practice outside of Haiti.

Some lineages combine both, as Mambo Katherine Dunham reports from her personal experience in her book the 'Possessed Island'.

While the overall tendency in Vodou is very conservative in accord with its African roots, there is no singular, definitive form, only what is right in a particular house or lineage. Small details of service and the spirits served will vary from house to house, and information in books or on the internet therefore may seem contradictory.

There is no central authority or "pope" in Haitian Vodou since "every manbo and houngan is the
head of their own house", as a popular saying in Haiti goes.

Another consideration in terms of Haitian diversity are the many sects besides the Sèvi Gine in Haiti such as the Makaya, Rara, and other secret societies, each of which has its own distinct pantheon of spirits.


Title: Re: Eyeing Tourism, Haiti Battles Its Violent Reputation - HISTORY
Post by: Bianca on June 20, 2008, 11:35:52 am









Myths and misconceptions



Vodou has come to be associated in the popular mind with the lore aboutSatanism, 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.

Although Voodoo is often associated with Satanism, Satan is primarily an Abrahamic figure and has not been incorporated in Voodoo tradition. When Mississippi Delta folksongs mix references to Voodoo and to Satan, what is being expressed is social pain such as from racism. Those who practice voodoo are not attempting to worship or invoke the blessings of a devil.

Further adding to the dark reputation of Voodoo was the 1973 film adaptation of the thriller Live and Let Die, part of Ian Fleming's widely successful James Bond series, which had been continually in print in both the English original and translations to numerous languages.

Fleming's depiction of the schemings of a fiendish Soviet agent using Voodoo to intimidate and control a vast network of submissive Black followers got an incomparably greater audience than any careful scholarly work on the subject of Voodoo.

(See Mr. Big, Baron Samedi.)



FROM:

wikepedia