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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rollin' Calf's Redemption: A look at Haitian Vodou & Jamaican Obeah




“‘What  is  the  truth?,’ Dr. Holly asked me, and knowing that I could not answer him he answered himself through a Voodoo ceremony in which  the  Mambo,  that  is  the  high  priestess,  richly  dressed  is  asked  this  question  ritualistically. She  replies  by  throwing  back  her  veil  and revealing  her  sex  organs.  The  ceremony  means  that  this  is  the  infinite,  the ultimate  truth.  There  is  no  mystery  beyond  the  mysterious  source  of  life…It  is considered  the  highest  honor  for  all  males  participating (in  ceremony)  to  kiss  her organ  of  creation,  for  Damballa  the  god  of  gods,  has  permitted  them  to  come face  to  face  with  truth.”  


I remember reading the above quote in Zora Neal Hurston’s book Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica many years ago, and realizing how rich and powerful African psychology is. I had read other books on Vodou before this, but for some strange reason, the paragraph above really got my attention and made me want to learn more about West African derived spiritual sciences practiced in the Caribbean. I think that anyone who is interested in African spirituality, or African American culture should purchase Hurston’s books because she is an incredible writer who offers a wealth of insight in her works.

As a kid, I attended a late-night Shango Baptist ceremony, although my family was not of that faith. The ceremony, overseen by Trinidadian female friends of the family, was an eye opener for me. We also had a large Papa Legba statue that some Haitian friends of the family had given us. I must admit that ever since that statue was brought to our home, I became more curious and intrigued by the mysteries of life, although I did not actively pursue information concerning those mysteries until I was in my late teens.




I was exposed, firsthand, to many different aspects of spirituality in my youth, which partially explains why I don’t take a sectarian approach toward spirituality in my writings. I acknowledge the contributions of various leaders and personalities of the past, but I am not an exclusive disciple of any one of them in the present. I learn something of value from everyone who has something of value to offer. 

I’ve experienced what some might call “the supernatural” in a very real and profound way, which might surprise a few people since I don’t talk about those experiences in my posts. However, the seen comes from the unseen, and a significant portion of what you read on this site cannot be traced back to sources that you can see with the two eyes below your brow.


Speaking of sources, I would like to share another book that I read some time ago. It’s called Voodoos & Obeah’s: Phases of West Indian Witchcraft by Joseph Williams. While I see a need to point out that the author, who was a product of his time, approaches the subject matter with some cultural bias (Africans and people of African descent don’t practice “witchcraft;” they practice spiritual sciences,) I think that it still offers some insightful observations that may inspire the reader to purchase the works of more recent and more credible authors.


You can download Williams’ book by clicking right HERE.