The whole thing started with a hand. Not a mojo hand, made of herbs and other spiritual items, that jazz legends like Muddy Waters and Lightning Hopkins liked to sing about, but a real hand. J.S. Holland on the blog Report from the Florida Zone writes today about a Voodoo Funeral Home that found itself in an interesting situation back in the late 1990’s. The story is this, in November 1997 a hand was discovered in the Manatee River. The hand had been removed by funeral embalmer Paula Green-Albritton, in an attempt to make a “helping hand.”In addition to removing the corpse’s hand she had sewn 12 different dolls up inside the body, these were designed to hex her enemies and have them rot, just as the dolls themselves were rotting. One of the cursed people was her ex husband, when interviewed his comment was “she trying to run me crazy.”
In the past I have spoken to a funeral director who told me that legally I was allowed to put anything inside the coffin that I wished. Some Afro-Diasporan traditions like Palo Mayombe require certain things to be done with the body after death. It is my understanding that there is an underground network of funeral homes that can be accommodating in those situations. It seems however if one is allowed to donate their body to science, why then are they not permitted to have it used for religious purposes. I’m not responding to an article written about why scientists dissect and dismember bodies for the good of the whole? Why is this any different? I’m not saying it isn’t, but should it be ? What are the legal ramifications, and why does this upset people so? Is it because it’s Voodoo ? Some people get offended by religious sacrifice of animals but not scientific testing , some people are outraged by both. Now, people and animals are every different, but I think some of the same religious freedom arguments can be invoked. I’m not saying that cutting off hands, or anything else is part of my experience as a Voodoo priestess and researcher for over two decades. There are extremists in any religious tradition and we should not all be punished for those who wish to drag an ancient religion down to it’s lowest common denominator. But why is the penalty for putting a note or a nail into a dead body, the same, if not worse than that for necrophilia. Many states did not even have laws against necrophilia on the books until recently.
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