Can a potential initiate discuss and negotiate what rank they want to be initiated to in Vodou?
This is never possible in Dahomean Vodoun. One cannot pay for rank, and negotiation is not possible.
Ones rank is predicated on many factors that cannot be discussed here. Most of the time it is indicative of what one comes into the world with, and they (and their ancestors) have earned from their own soul efforts. That is where one starts in this life to continue on their journey. One cannot buy the Vodou.
For more information on the rank structure in Dahomean Vodoun CLICK HERE
For More information and questions answered on initiations CLICK HERE
Is there a basic way to practice Vodoun,like you might practice wicca?
Though on the surface, it might appear that "Wicca" and African Traditional Religions are similar, however, they actually have very little in common. As far as PRACTICE, one can always pray to ones Ancestors, and as a senteura (non-initiate) similar to the role of a church congregate, participate in community ceremonies officiated by Vodoun Priest/ess, however to partake of any *consecrated* rituals of calling on and honoring the gods, healing, initiation, divination, etc., one must be correctly initiated by legitimate clergy of the Vodoun. There is also NO SELF-INITIATION in
any of the African Traditional Religions, and that includes Vodou.
No. Vodoun practitioner's do not "worship" any images, although, just as in Christianity, and most other major religions, symbolic representations are made of some of the divine forces and spiritual manifestations of God.
No. but, keep in mind that the drinking of goat or bovine blood as a source of nourishment is indigneous to many African clans. It is inlcuded as an essential part of the staple diet such as cow's milk is considered in the West.
However, as an elaborate ritual rite, there are no rites in Dahomean Vodoun that involved either symbolically (such as in Christianity), nor as an essential part of Vodoun culture, though there may be certain Tro (ancestors) that might demonstrate their presence via the use drinking the ase (blood) of a chicken.
All can establish practices to honor their ancestors and pay respect and tribute to the many divinities (vodou) that govern the earth. Basic initiation as a Vodounsi will confim such practices in Dahomean Vodoun.
However, the priesthoods are of a different nature and critera.
If I am initiated to Ifa'Orisha, do I have to stop those practices to be initiated in Dahomean Vodoun?
Dahomean Vodoun and Ifa'Orisha are more similar in almost every respect, than it is to Haitian or "New American Vodou."
There are many denominations in Vodou that serve both the Orishas and Vodou. The major system of divination is "Ifa" spelled as "Fa/Afa" in Dahomey and Ewe/Mina.
Click here for a brief pictorial history of the The Orishas in Dahomey.
Isn't Daagbo Hounon Houna of Benin the High Priest over all of the Vodou in West Africa?
This is probably the most widely held misconception in the West.
There is no official "pope" of the Vodoun in Dahomey. The very nature of both the Vodou, and the ethnic lineage's who possess them, makes this impossible.
Most of the priesthood in Togo & Ghana have never met him, (or others who also proclaim themselves to be the "Supreme Master of Voodoo"). Most are not even aware of their existence.
Many who proclaim this self-title are "high priest" of a paticular lineage, for example, the FON in Benin. However, the Ewe, Mina, Adja, etc., have what are called "awoamefia" or "chiefs," and "Queen Mothers," who are headquartered in southwest Ghana among the Anlo-Ewe.
These are largely administrative positions and titles that they hold, and in no way automatically imply that they are any more knowledgeable or powerful spiritually than the others.
There are indivuals who are returing from West Africa proclaiming themselves "chiefs" and "popes" of the Vodou. this too should be taken with caution. The highest initatory rank in Vodoun is "Hounon. Honoary titles are Togbui, chief elder. , which are all interchangeable. (chief),
Derived mainly from the Congo and some Nigerian Orisha traditions, and used primarily as a signature to "coerce" the vodou (or Orishas), during ceremonies; the use of Veves are not used nor needed in Dahomean Vodoun.
How much are traditional vodoun/vodou practices relevant today?
Healing Ceremony for Women
Possessed by Negative Spirit
(Berkeley University, California)
We live in a world that has become dismally westernized,increasingly technical, and burdensomely bureaucratic;--where the proscribed "rituals" involved in daily living many experience as degrading, meaningless, impersonal and despiritualized.
What's also becoming less appealing to many in the world's "legitimate" major religions is the lack of self and community empowerment, and direct spiritual guidance/communion thru concrete ritual.
Many are increasingly turned-off by these belief systems of conflicting/questionable origins, which have lost their sacred knowledge, and where emphasis is centered on the return of a "Messiah" to judge and sentence the world to an afterlife of either "hell & damnation" or to a promised eternity.
As a result, Vodoun, with its major emphasis on the "Here and Now" direct experiential with the divine, loving and concrete guidance from the Ancestors, and the acknowledgment of God, will take on even greater significance in the future.
Today, interest in Vodoun (and other African religions) have spread from the birthright of its African Diaspora, to a diversified mass appeal, in which other cultural and ethnic groups seeking legitimate ways to connect with their own spirit, and Ancestors, have embraced and find solace.
We are merely witnessing the mainstreaming of an ancient & powerful spiritual system that has for far too long been demonized and forced underground; and whose importance is only now being realized.
There is a website where the high-priestess is constantly quoting from a voodoo deity name “ogun” and claiming his message as the official message for all. Is this possible?
When a priest/ess is proclaiming and (worst) publishing/universalizing such prouncements, allegedly from possession with a “Vodoun deity”, one must always remain suspect. At a minimum, it is irresponsible of them not to make clear that these so-called divine messages are meant for members of their own Egbe only.
What is more important to note, is that this type of behavior is unheard of in the Vodoun Religious practices in West Africa and in the Diaspora. The business of the deities in each legitimate Vodoun Egbe is private and meant for its Egbe only Even during “public” celebrations the deities do not make universal speeches. It is the priest/ess’ spiritual duty to maintain respect and confidentiality of the deities messages and on-goings within their particular Egbe.