Today I got a mention by another Voodoo author on their blog and it’s all I can do not to write a rant. I don’t have anything against this person, I’m not sure I’ve even met them. I believe he was doing his best to survey the current state of New Orleans Voodoo and the practices that occur in the Crescent city. As far as I am concerned I think he was incorrect in his description of my rituals as “wicca-themed.” They could have been called lusty, insane, or bizarre and that would have been a more fitting description. Now I’m not a Wicca hater either, my best friend has been an Wiccan HPS facilitating open rituals here in NYC for almost two decades. Many of my godchildren started out in Wicca, and some still continue those practices today alongside their Voodoo obligations for our spiritual house. Beginning my blog Voodoo Universe has been a real eye opener. Despite the thousands of practitioners of Voodoo and Santeria (better known as Lucumi,) it was a surprise to find out most of my readers are from a traditional Wiccan or broader Pagan background. When I wrote my book, Voodoo and Afro-Caribbean Paganism, at the insistence of the late great Isaac Bonewits, it was meant to be an introduction to all the different Afro-Diasporan traditions: Vodou, Voodoo, Lucumi (Santeria,) Candomble, and the rest. It was designed to be a beginning text, so to the person who gave me a crappy review on Goodreads because of that, there is much more detailed information here on my blog, in my films on Youtube and elsewhere, and if that’s not enough people can always come and join us for our ceremonies and workshops. For those of you who have not attended my rituals, they contain what I was taught is necessary for any ceremony to take place.
- Veves- ritual ground drawings made of cornmeal or coffee to call the Lwa.
- Altar/Shrine/Center pole -to serve as the focal point for the energies to descend
- Feast – to nourish and bless all who come to worship
- Music -drumming, chants, songs for the Lwa
- Order of Service -Calls for the Lwa to honor and welcome them
- Possession -this manifests in extreme ways, speaking in tongues, fire play, etc. This is in my opinion the only way to know if the ritual was heard and received by the Lwa.
Note: His description was changed from “Wicca-themed” to “Lucumi-flavored” about 15 minutes after I commented. I really appreciate that. Now as for Lucumi-flavored, we have always included Orisha in addition to Lwa as part of the practices in the New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual Temple where I began my training, and in my own spiritual house. I have several godchildren of Latin descent and the spirits of their ancestors go with them wherever they go, as do all our ancestral spirits. Myself, I am a daughter of Oshun in Lucumi and she influences everything I do. When I do ritual we are very careful not to disrespect any of the other spirits that may have claims on the participants there. For example many of my godchildren have a special connection to the Celtic goddess Brigit. In our rituals we honor that by celebrating her Haitian Vodou counterpart Maman Brigitte. If individuals want to do more they take care of that separately. I do not believe in mixing traditions or deities in a ceremony except in extremely rare cases where there is a good reason, and everyone is familiar with the energies present. It’s just like when you have a party, your biker friends might not like your yoga friends or your geek friends, so you must be careful if you want to have them all in the same space. Otherwise chaos could ensue. Just a few thoughts on these things, as usual the discussion will continue. Until then I would love to hear everyone’s take on this topic. Have you attended one of my rituals? Have you attended other New Orleans Voodoo style rituals ? What do you think? Inquiring minds want to know.