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Pat Robertson’s is receiving well deserved if still
insufficient condemnation for saying the Haitian earthquake may be a “blessing
in disguise” and is the result of a “pact with the devil” Haitians made long ago to
drive out French slave masters.
(After all, BLACK people could not possibly defeat White people without
Satanic help.) As is probably well known to my readers, Haiti is a center of Voudon, (popularly called Voodoo) a Pagan African Diasporic religion that survived bloody persecution by Christians. It’s prominence there is likely why he is spreading his inane drivel about Haiti and the devastating quake that killed so many and maimed so many more. Robertson’s poisonous bile had one positive impact for me. It brought me back to happy memories of
attending a Voudon ceremony years ago in New Orleans.
I had gone to New Orleans to attend a Southwest (!)
Political Science Association meeting and took the opportunity to visit an old
friend in the city who taught at a University there. So I arranged to spend a few extra days in the city. I also hoped somehow to get to attend a
genuine Voudon ceremony.
As a long time New Orleans resident, I hoped she could get
me invited to the real thing, not one that was arranged for tourists. She said she’d look into it, and soon
told me there was one I could attend in a couple of days. My use of the correct term, “Voudon,”
had favorably impressed the woman who served as the group’s Manbo, or priestess.
The day before I drove to her botanica, to introduce myself and in the
process make sure I could find it at night by first finding it in the day
time. Her botanica was a small shop with
herbs and various things used in Voudon.
We had a delightful conversation during which she mentioned that her
teacher in Voudon had at one time also studied Wicca. (Hear that, Pat?)
The shop was in one of the most unusual neighborhoods I had
ever seen. Narrow streets with old
houses in an architectural style I cannot really describe, except to say it did
not look like America, or the French Quarter for that matter. The neighborhood
looked and felt like another country. (The longer I stayed in New Orleans, and
the longer I was away from the French Quarter, the more this sense of
difference seemed to characterize everywhere I went.)
When I returned later for the ceremony I walked up the
building’s narrow stairs and through a narrow hallway into a back room that
opened out on a back porch. White
and Black people were there, and in this temple the majority were white. Two or three guys had the invocational
drums and as they drummed the priestess traced patterns for different Loa on the floor with white flour.
As the ritual began we all did a kind of circle dance, and
in time several people became “horses” for different divine riders. Papa Gedde
arrived and spent much of the rest of the ritual on the back porch, smoking and talking
with people who approached him.
Before long I had my own rider, Agwe (a Loa of the sea), which was a
delight to me and apparently a surprise to most there since I was a
visitor. But the incorporation was
not real deep.
After the ceremony ended and I had returned to where I was
staying, and had a chance to get some perspective on the ceremony, I decided
the “feel” of the ritual was remarkably Wiccan. There was a larger crowd, but not much larger, and the
drumming was something no Wicca ceremony in my experience has had, but all in
all I felt right at home.