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Voodoo Authentica™ Cultural Center & Collection is located in the Historic New Orleans French Quarter at 612 rue Dumaine. Since 1996 we have been providing Authentic Ritual Entertainment, a complete line of Voodoo Dolls and Crafts, Voodoo Spells, Spiritual Work & Consultations by experienced practitioners, and much more!

 
VOODOO (FAQ ANSWER'S)
Frequently Asked Questions || Glossary of Voodoo Terms || Vevers
 
General Voodoo Questions
 
Questions: (Answers Below)

(1) What is the difference between what is commonly called New Orleans Voodoo and the practice of Hoodoo or Root Work? Thanks in advance for your reply.

(2) Can you tell me a bit about Voodoo's relevance today? Why are people drawn to it in the modern world?

(3) Hi, could you tell me if there is a Voodoo bible?

(4) Can you please tell me about the Gods of Voodoo. I've heard about the 7 African Powers -- who are they?

(5) Is Voodoo in New Orleans practiced like it is in Africa or Haiti?

(6) Which country in Africa is most associated with the practice of Voodoo?

(7) Could you please tell me... what is Obeah?

(8) Hi, I work at a local mortuary, that also has a grave yard on the back grounds. The other day we found an eggplant that had paper clips in different colors and colored pieces of paper attached to the paper clips. Inside the eggplant was a rolled up piece of paper with writing on it, asking to become financially free, helping to pay for child support, etc. Is this Voodoo?

(9) The word voodoo brings up Hollywood images to mind. Is there a reason you choose the spelling "voodoo" as opposed to "Vodou"?

(10) I am writing a book, and I want to include Voodoo in my plot, and I wanted to know if there are any specific gods or spirits who are considered evil by those who practice Voodoo?

(11) Could you please tell me what areas in the US besides New Orleans have practitioners of Voodoo or Vodun?

(12) I have a rather weird question for you. I've heard that when you place a red line of dust across your door, enemies can not cross it. Have you ever heard of this and does it work? Thank you for your time and consideration.


Answer:

(1) What is the difference between what is commonly called New Orleans Voodoo and the practice of Hoodoo or Root Work? Thanks in advance for your reply.
Hi, thanks so much for your inquiry. Voodoo is a religion, with one God,
a pantheon of Spirit Forces (Loa/Orisha) similar to the Catholic Saints,
certain rituals, steps of initiation, etc., which must be adhered to. Hoodoo
is basically a collection of Cajun magick & folklore without a theology
attached to it. It's a "bowl" into which many things are thrown -- root
work, the use of juju's (such as gator heads for protection), etc. Many
Voodoo practitioners, especially in the Louisiana area, do incorporate
elements of Hoodoo into their practice which is simply a testament to the
very adaptive nature which has kept the religion of Voodoo alive in the New
World. Hope this answers your question. Good luck in your future studies!


(2) Can you tell me a bit about Voodoo's relevance today? Why are people drawn to it in the modern world?
Thanks so much for your inquiry! People are drawn to Voodoo for such a varied amount of reasons. There are the curiosity seekers, drawn in by Hollywood's misrepresentations, the truly interested, who wish to begin on a path with the Loa/Orisha, the desperate, who feel "Voodoo Magick" will help them gain power over a certain person or situation -- so many different people with different reasons!

We try to impress upon people that Voodoo is a valid religion first and foremost. It is also a rich part of New Orleans' history and culture and heritage that we should treasure. Today, the ancient religion of Voodoo and its theology & message are more timely than ever. It's ability to adapt, evolve & survive against all odds, from Ancient Africa to the New World, is truly a lesson to us all. This adaptive nature is built in to the theology of Voodoo. This is an important point, as so many people are ready to call today's Voodoo a "watered down version of the original." Actually, Voodoo
has been misrepresented by Hollywood, the media and so many other uninformed sources for such a long time, that few people actually get to see its pure practice in motion. Hope this info is helpful!

(3)Hi, could you tell me if there is a Voodoo bible?
Thanks so much for your inquiry, but, sorry -- no Voodoo bible! The religion's tenets are very ancient & have been primarily passed on orally. Many of the old African teachings have just begun to be written down in the last several years. Also, because of its' practitioners constant & daily connection to & communication with Spirit, Voodoo's theology is in a constant state of evolution. I do highly suggest reading "Jambalaya" by Voodoo Priestess Luisah Teish (My personal choice for a "Voodoo Bible!"), which may be found at the following URL: http://www.voodooshop.com/products/books/index.html

(4) Can you please tell me about the Gods of Voodoo. I've heard about the 7 African Powers -- who are they?
Thanks so much for your inquiry! In Voodoo, there is one God and a pantheon of Spirit Forces, similar to the Catholic Saints. Below, I've pasted a chart of these 7 Primary Spirit forces of the Voodoo religion, referred to as the "7 African Powers" along with some of their attributes. It comes from the instructions which accompany our 7 African Powers Doll Set . Hope this is helpful!

This set includes 7 dolls which represent the primary African Spirit Forces (Orisha) of the Voodoo religion. Each Spirit has His/Her own day, number, favorite foods, etc. Their names are: Papa Legba, Obatala, Yemaya, Oya, Oshun, Chango and Ogun. They are each called upon for very different and specific reasons. May the blessings of the 7 African Powers be with you always!!!

Papa Legba: Likened to St. Michael and St. Peter, Legba is the guardian, and opener, of the crossroads of the world. Legba's day of the week is Monday and His number is 3. His colors are red and black. His favorite foods are corn, candy, and rum. Voodoo practitioners place representations of Papa Legba behind the front door of their home in order to clear their path in many ways and to bring protection.

Obatala: Compared to Our Lady of Mercy, Obatala rules over the clouds. Obatala's day of the week is Sunday and His number is 8. His colors are white with silver or purple and His favorite foods are pears, coconuts, and black-eyed peas. Practitioners place representations of Him in the living area of their home to bring Spiritual cleansing, peace and protection. Yemaya: Likened with Mary, Star of the Sea, Yemaya rules over the ocean. Yemaya's day of the week is Saturday and Her number is 7. Her colors are blue and white and her favorite foods are cornmeal, molasses, and watermelon. She is often called upon to bring peace in the home and family, nurturing maternal energy and fertility. Representations of her are most often placed in the bedroom, children's room, or bathroom.

Oya: Likened with St. Theresa and St. Catherine, Oya rules over the winds and the hurricanes. She is the Queen of the Marketplace. Oya's day of the week is Wednesday and Her number is 9. Her colors are red, burgundy, purple, brown, and burnt orange, and her favorite foods are egg plant, plums, grapes, and red wine. Practitioners call on her regularly when a great change is needed; representations of Oya can often be found in the library or study in a home.

Oshun: Likened with the Mother of Charity, Oshun rules over the river and is called on in matters of fertility, love, and the erotic. Oshun's day of the week is Thursday and her number is 5. Her colors are yellow, green, and coral, and her favorite foods are honey, cinnamon, oranges, pumpkins, and French pastry. Representations of Oshun can often be found in the kitchen and bedroom.

Chango: Likened to St. Jerome and Santa Barbara, Chango rules over the sky, lightning, and trees. Chango's day of the week is Friday and his number is 6. His colors are red and white and his favorite foods are apples, yams, corn, and peppers. In rituals, Voodoo practitioners often honor Chango with a fire dance. Representations of Him can usually be found near the fireplace or business desk.

Ogun: Likened to St. Anthony and St. George, Ogun rules over iron and the deep woods. Ogun's day of the week is Tuesday and His numbers are 3 and 4. His colors are green and black and his favorite foods are roots, nuts, meat, and berries. In ritual, practitioners often do a sword/machete dance in Ogun's honor. He is considered to be the Guardian of Truth and is often called upon when help is needed with a court case or issue of honor. He is also excellent to call upon for help with problems many of us have with modern technology (computer glitches, etc.) as He rules over machines as well. Representations of Him can often be found behind the front door and around machines.

(5) Is Voodoo in New Orleans practiced like it is in Africa or Haiti?
No, not very much at all. Voodoo in Africa and Haiti has maintained much of its original structure and orthodoxy, whereas Voodoo in New Orleans is more of a folk religion composed of European, indigenous American, and, most especially, African cultural elements.

New Orleans Voodoo is associated with memorable personalities such as Dr. John and Marie Laveau who were responsible for maintaining the African spiritual presence in an environment which was almost always hostile to it.

Many of today's priests and priestesses in New Orleans are finding their way back to the original form of practicing African religion through initiations in both Africa and Haiti.

(6) Which country in Africa is most associated with the practice of Voodoo?
Benin, formerly "Dahomey", is known as "the cradle of Voodoo". Daagbo Hounon, known as the "Pope of Voodoo" lives in Ouidah, Benin. Recommended reading: Jambalaya by Voodoo Priestess Luisah Teish.

(7) Could you please tell me... what is Obeah?
Thanks so much for your inquiry. Obeah is a form of Afro-Caribbean Shamanism. Please go to our links page - you'll see that there's a link to a site on Obeah - it will give you much more complete and detailed info than I can fit here. We hope you enjoy the information on the Obeah site!

(8) Hi, I work at a local mortuary, that also has a grave yard on the back grounds. The other day we found an eggplant that had paper clips in different colors and colored pieces of paper attached to the paper clips. Inside the eggplant was a rolled up piece of paper with writing on it, asking to become financially free, helping to pay for child support, etc. Is this Voodoo?
Thanks so much for your inquiry. First of all, it may be best to leave the offering alone next time you come across one. If you need to dispose of "ritual remnants," simply scoop them up with a shovel and place them in a bag to discard. It would be unfortunate for you to attach any negative influences to yourself by touching the remains of something associated with black magick - you never know what type of work someone has done. Just so you know, Voodoo practitioners do not generally perform black magick, black magicians do. Luckily, this does not sound like a case of black magick at all. On the contrary, it sounds very positive. Eggplants are one of the favorite foods of Oya, African Orisha (Voodoo Spirit Force) of the Winds & Hurricanes. She is also the Mistress of the Cemeteries and Spirit World and Queen of the Marketplace. http://www.voodooshop.com/products/dolls/A2.html
http://www.voodooshop.com/products/dolls/A27.html
Hope this info is helpful!

(9) The word voodoo brings up Hollywood images to mind. Is there a reason you choose the spelling "voodoo" as opposed to "Vodou"?
Thanks so much for your inquiry. Great question! First of all, I noticed that you capitalized the word, Vodou, but not Voodoo. Please note that out of respect for the Loa (Lwa) & Orisha (Orisa), we capitalize the word in all of its spellings and forms. After many years of being a practitioner and also dealing with the public, I've found that it's actually the mention of the word "Voodoo, Vodou, Voudou, etc." itself which conjures up Hollywood images - regardless of its spelling. Our answer to this is not to change how we spell things, but a constant effort to educate the public through our many Free Info Services, such as this one which allows people from all over the world to submit a question about Voodoo (or Vodou, or Vodun!) and receive
In New Orleans, we are much more used to the spelling "Voodoo" and have been for generations. We didn't "choose" the spelling any more than practitioners in other regions chose the spellings popular in their own cultures and areas. It's the spelling familiar to my Mother, her Mother, her Mother, and so on and so on. You'll see the word spelled differently, however, in certain areas of our site, where we're addressing points about the religion in other regions. Since we are all born and raised in New Orleans, we use "Voodoo" - we do not live in Haiti and, last I checked, we're not residents of Benin either, so "Vodun" & "Vodu" are out too! It is funny to note, that on my Godmother, Mama Lola's, business card, she spells her title "Voodoo Priestess" - even though she is one of the most well-known and respected Haitian Manbo's of our time. Throughout Benin, you will also see the spelling "Voodoo" again & again. Cultures all over the world use diff
Lasyrenn, La Sirene, La Siren
Yemaya, Imonja, Yemonje, Yemonja
Loa, Lwa
Erzulie, Erzili, Ezili
Orisha, Orisa, Orissa
Dantor, Dator, Danto, Dato
Chango, Shango
Ogu, Ogoun, Ogun, Ogum

It would be a shame to be the "Vodou" Gestapo and homogenize everything, a shame to make a villain of one spelling that is a part of our culture in New Orleans, a spelling which has been adopted by many others throughout the world community. It is ill informed script & book writers, half-fast charlatans and violence/shock obsessed media who malign the religion - not the particular spelling of the word itself. I won't change our spelling of Voodoo now or in the future, because a director chose to make a movie called "I married a Voodoo Zombie," instead of, "I married a Vodou Zombie." I know this topic will come up again & again, now that scholars have taken such an interest in the religion and prefer using the popular Haitian spelling "Vodou" when writing their books and dissertations. As a practitioner, I'll just keep serving the Spirits, Who don't seem to mind all that much how we humans spell things. I guess it comes down to how you serve the Lwa & Orisha in your o

(10) I am writing a book, and I want to include Voodoo in my plot, and I wanted to know if there are any specific gods or spirits who are considered evil by those who practice Voodoo?
Thanks so much for your inquiry & good luck with the book! To answer your question, Voodoo doesn't really operate in terms of the drastic moral absolutes of "good & evil" as outlined by most Western religions. The Lwa (Haitian Vodou Spirit Forces) & the Orisha (African Vodun Spirit Forces) can clear our path or throw stones in our path - whatever is necessary to teach us what we need to know at that particular stage of our human development.

There is the "little horned trickster" called, Exu (The Divine Messenger), who New World, uninitiated society MISTAKENLY interpreted as evil & as "The Devil." This is not the case. As I mentioned above, the Orisha have much to teach us and the lessons are not always easy, but they are necessary. Including one of the Voodoo/Vodou/Vodun Spirit Forces in your book and portraying them as evil will simply continue a cycle of misunderstanding and maligning of these forces that is already rampant in books & media today. I truly hope you'll reconsider.

Black magick, however, is a different story. In Haiti, besides respectable, initiated Mambo & Houngan, you have "Bokor" -Spiritual mercenaries who work independently, and are considered to operate outside of the normal moral perimeters of the Vodou religion. They "work with both hands" and will do black magick as long as the price is right. As I said, this practice is not endorsed by practitioners of the religion proper. The Spirits the Bokor calls upon to do this dirty work are not the family Spirits that Mambo & Houngan deal with, but "purchased Spirits," trapped Spirits - many of whom are considered negative and even bloodthirsty if not accommodated as promised by the Bokor. So, these are definitely negative entities, but they're home is with the Bokor and the practice of black magick, not in the generally accepted practice of Haitian Vodou. You may wish to use something like this in your book, as long as you make clear distinctions that these disembodied Spirit

(11) Could you please tell me what areas in the US besides New Orleans have practitioners of Voodoo or Vodun?
Hi, thanks so much for your inquiry. There are many other areas that Vodou/Voodoo/Vodun is practiced in the USA aside from New Orleans. Brooklyn, NY, for one, is truly a hub of Haitian Vodou - it is the home of my Godmother, Mama Lola, and many other practicing Haitian Mambo & Houngan. Oakland, CA (and the Bay area) is home to Oshun Priestess Luisah Teish and many other Priests & Priestesses who serve the Lwa and Orisha. Other places in the US where Voodoo & its sister religions are practiced include Savannah, GA, Los Angeles, CA, Miami, FL. - there are truly so many areas & if anything, the practice is only growing.

New Orleans is more well known for and associated with Voodoo due largely to its legitimate historical connections to Benin, West Africa (The cradle of Vodun) & Haiti. During the slave trade, some of the first ships coming from Benin (formerly Dahomey) landed on our shores, bringing with them not only the oppressed African people, but their Spiritual & Cultural traditions as well. Many slaves were also brought to New Orleans from Haiti & the French West Indies, where the African people and their religion had already undergone many changes, a huge one being the use of Catholic Saints to represent their own African Spirit Forces. As the slaves weren't allowed to practice the religion of their homeland and were given Christianity as their only option, this was very smart of them and absolutely necessary for Voodoo's survival. The slave's Spirit was all he/she had to hold on to in many cases, so keeping their Spiritual traditions alive was often one of the only things keeping
In addition, New Orleans was home to many famous practitioners, such as Malvina Latour, Dr. John, and of course, the Great Voodoo Queen, Mam'zelle Marie Laveau - another big reason New Orleans is associated with Voodoo more than any other US City to this day. You can easily see why it is often said that New Orleans Voodoo is a gumbo, a jambalaya - a mixture of everything - the good meat from Sunday, the leftovers from Tuesday, the rice from Monday's red beans, etc. It's not African, it's not Haitian - it's a blend of those and many other cultural, religious & Spiritual traditions whose mixture can only be called...New Orleans Voodoo. Hope this info helps!

(12) I have a rather weird question for you.
Thanks so much for your inquiry. Yes, that’s an old New Orleans tradition to “clean” your front steps with red brick dust (red dust) to protect the all important entrance to your home – to keep bad energy and negative people away and out of your house!  I’d have to say that the practice works, as locals have been passing this tradition on to their kin for generations. We wish you every success with it!

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