What’s the deal with Voodoo Dolls?
Do you really curse people?
Did you see that crap about Papa Legba on American Horror Story?
Can a Voodoo spell make my penis bigger?
I get a lot of questions about Voodoo. Some are silly, some are thoughtful, all are important to those doing the asking. Recently I have gotten the same question asked a few times- Is it ok to practice Voodoo without belonging to a traditional spiritual house? There is no simple answer to this question. The core of it lies in what an individual means by the word practice. In the traditional sense practicing Voodoo would require initiation, dedication and years of study. There is a huge amount of information to be learned : songs, dances, prayers, rituals, spells, and rules. One could spend an entire lifetime becoming proficient in these things. Does one need to do this however, in order to practice Voodoo?
This is an ancient religion passed down through the ages from mother to daughter, godparent to godchild. A New Orleans Voodoo or Haitian Vodou spiritual house is like a family. It functions to give support, guidance and much needed help in difficult situations. Just as in life where you are unable to give birth to yourself, these religions believe you are unable to give birth to your spiritual self. While I would never advise anything but following the rules, you can still do some things in the spirit of worship without being attached to a spiritual house, temple, or hounfor.
Create An Ancestor Altar
An Ancestor Altar, or Shrine, is one of the easiest and most important things you can do for your spiritual self. It isn’t necessarily a Voodoo practice exclusively, I have known Buddhists, Catholics, and practitioners of other faiths to stress the importance of those who come before by lighting a candle, saying a favorite prayer, or putting out treasured photos. All these things can help you make a closer connection to the divine.
Make A Sacred Meal for Offering
Offerings are another great place to start if you are new to the tradition and trying to understand more about the Lwa or Orisha. I must stress that these are simple offerings, you are not asking or petitioning for anything as you are just a beginner. Offerings
can take the form of money, flowers or other herbs, drink, or sacred food. There are many recipes for ritual food here on the pages of this blog. Here is one of my favorites to get you started.
Ancestor Hash Browns with Sweet Potaotes – This is a simple recipe to enjoy as part of a larger meal. Sweet potatoes are a traditional offering for honoring your ancestors, eat these with your friends, family, and love one’s and be sure to leave out a plate for those mighty dead who have gone before.
Light a Candle and Ask for a Teacher
Almost every time I go on a public internet group related to the African Traditional Religions there are loads of people asking for recommendations about a spiritual teacher. My advice in that situation, assuming you don’t have a list already full of names, is to pray for guidance. This can be done by lighting a candle and meditating or doing journey-work, or asking to receive clarity in the form of your dreams.
Many Blessings on your journey ! Many people start a sacred journey with a sound. This can be a song, a gong or the blowing of a shell! Here is my Priestess Miriam Chamani as she Blows the Conch Shell to the Mighty Mississippi !