Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It irritates me when folks use Voodoo, Vodou, Hoodoo, and Vodo as though they are all just different spellings for the same thing!

It irritates me when folks use Voodoo, Vodou, Hoodoo, and Vodo as though they are all just different spellings for the same thing!

I think the biggest problem I see is that people use Voodoo when they mean Vodou or even Vuvu, or sometimes Hoodoo. Voodoo IS NOT Vodou, neither are Hoodoo, and none of them is Vuvu. What you are dealing with is FOUR very distinct AND SEPARATE religions, which thanks to Hollywood get lumped together under the umbrella term "voodoo" (not capitalized).


Vudu (also Vuvu) [which means "the circle of life" or "to draw water" or "to let life flow as water"] is an ancient African belief system dated to about 10,000BC. It is the world's oldest known "organized" religion. It is based on the theory that all life was created by The One God, and that he had many wives, each wife being the mother of a tribe (race, country, or culture) on the Earth. Out of respect for a heavenly parentage, detailed records of lineages are keept, so that no one who ever lived is ever forgotten. Bones of the dead a carefully preserved in shrines, where on the persons "day" (either birth day or death day) gifts are left to let the spirits of the dead know they have not been forgotten. Death is seen as a joyful reunion with the ancestors. No gods or idols are ever worshiped. Over the many centuries, each tribe developed it's own set of "rituals" for use to help remember the centuries long lists of the names of the dead. The religion of The One God scattered into many (hundreds) of variations.

Meanwhile, in Europe  the Celts were busy invading and forceing Paganism, Druidy, and Heathenism on the Picts. The Picts practiced Hoodoo, which is also known as Welsh Faerie Faith. Hoodoo (which means "haunted place" or "place where spirit dwell) was a heavily magic based religion, which called on the assistants of "The People of the Mists", "The Wee Folk", "The Good People", (Leprechauns, Gnomes, Pixies, Boogals, Srlkies, Kelpies, etc, collectivly known as The Fae). The Romans would soon follow and attack the Celts forcing Christianity on them, with the infamous evil bigot St Patrick in the head, decreeing death to all who did not convert to Catholicism. Picts, where now being called Scotts, and to avoid death, because to call Hoodooing "Intecesory Prayer" claiming that they were calling on Angels not Faeries. Catholics thought this was a good thing, so soon created the concept of Saints, and started demading Christians pray to Saints. By the 1300s many Scotts were still refusing to convert to Christianity, and were forced to flee Scotland. They became known as "The Scottish Travellers" or "The Scottish Gypsies" (and are in no way related to the Rom or Romany Gypsies). They settled in Germany where they were refered to as "The Pied Pipers" for their plaid tartan clothing and their playing of "magical pipes". They used Hoodoo magic without persicuition, until 1458 when Henerich Kramer wrote "The Witch's Hammer" a book which detailed the hows and whys of witchcraft, how to spot a witch, and more importantly how to kill a witch. He gave copies of his book to every church leader he could and as a result 20,000 men, women, and children were slaughtered in the first German Holocaust.

Vodou (also Vodu, or Vodun) is an African based religion started in the 1600s in Haiti by the slaves who combined elements of many African tribal religions. They could not communicate because they each spoke different languages, but they all shared very similar religious rituals to remember their lineages and reverance their dead, and used this as a way to unify themselves. The many hundreds of variations of Vudu once again becam united, now under the name of Vodou. However, plantation owners saw unity between slaves as a threat (which was the very reason they never owned slaves who could speak the same language with one another) and set out to punish and kill any slave found practicing Vodou.

Meanwhile, in New England the Scottish Traveller Gypsies had fled Germany and were now living in a little town called Salam, where the German Christians had followed them to, and was continung to kill them. At the same time Plantation slaves were escaping North into the Ozark mountains, Scottish Gypsies were escaping South, also into the safty of the Ozark mountains. Here Hatian Vodou and Scottish Hoodoo meet up and joined forced, creating both The Underground Railroad and a totally new religion called Voodoo. The Scottish Hoodooers taught the Haitian Vodunists about the use of poppets (Hoodoo Dolls, later renamed Voodoo Dolls in the 1920s by Hollywood directors) to heal their sick and to put curses on the slave owners. They also taught the Vodunists how to hide their ancestral worship, by using Catholic Saint Icons. By the late 1700s Voodoo had taken hold in the southern United States.

In summary:

Vudu (also Vodo or Vuvu) is an African ancestor ritual religion. It is estimated to be 25,000 to 30,000 years old. It contains no worship practices, has no church buildings, no dogmas to follow, and contains no magic practice. There are no clergy and thus no "formal" initiations. It is NOT recognized by federal (USA) government organized 501 non-profit tax exempt religion. Vudu focuses on ancestors.

Vodou (Vodu or Vodun) is an African based Haitian religion, which incorperated ansctor rituals, with God worship, and Catholic Saint rituals. It is about 700 years old. It contains minimal magic, if any at all. There are temples, clergy, church meetings, congrgational worship services, and a lengthy and highly details list of domas and rules. To become a member requires 21 baptisms and to become clergy requires initiation. It IS an official recognized by federal government organized 501 non-profit tax exempt religion. Vodou focuses on ancestors, worship, church attendance, and service to the spirits (lwa) of The One God.

Hoodoo is a Scottish based magic practice which involved reverance to nature spirits, with spirits granting requests in exchange for gifts and often, though not always, incorporates Catholic Saint rituals. (It is about 8,000 years old.) There are no clery and thus no initiations. It is NOT recognized by federal government organized 501 non-profit tax exempt religion. Hoodoo focuses on magic, spell casting, divination, hexes, curses, and exorcisms.

Voodoo is an American New Age Magic Based Religion that takes Scottish Hoodoo Magic, Italian Catholic Saint Rituals, and some but not all practices of the Haitian Vodou religion and throws them all together into a totally random mixed bag. (It is a little over 200 years old). Normally Voodoo is NOT recognized by federal government organized 501 non-profit tax exempt religion. Voodoo is ONLY an officially recognized by federal government organized 501 non-profit tax exempt religion, IF the Houngan or Mambo of the individual house was INITIATED through the Haitian Vodou religion, in which case it is considered by the government to be a Vodou priest who ALSO practices Voodoo in addition to Vodou, thus explaining why many Voodoo priests and priestess seek out Vodou initiation even though Voodoo itself is not a religion and does not require initiation. Voodoo focuses on service to the spirits (lwa) of The One God as a way to do magic, spell casting, divination, hexes, curses, and exorcisms.

Voodoo IS a Christian religion.

Vodou IS NOT a Christian based religion, but sometimes has Christian imagery.

Vodo IS NOT Christian based and contains NO Christian imagery.

Hoodoo IS NOT a religion and ONLY in America does it use Christian imagery.

It is wrong a disrespectful to interchange the names Vodo, Vodou, Voodoo, and Hoodoo and make false and misinformed attempts at claiming each word is simply another way of saying the same thing. Yes they are all similar. Yes they share the same roots. But no, they are NOT the same and the words/titles of each are not interchangeable with any of the others.

I want to clear this out of the way, because most folks have no idea there a difference between Vodo, Vodou, Hoodoo, and Voodoo and a lot of misinformed (often well intentioned) folks go around saying they are all the same thing and just different spellings of all one thing, when in fact, they are not! This always irritates me. What irritates me most of all, though is when folks write books saying these words are interchangeable, and people pick up the book and read it assuming that the author had any idea what they were talking about, when in fact the author was simply spreading ill-researched misinformation. :(  Sad fact is, I can't say I know of any book out there about either Voodoo, Vodou, or Hoodoo that doesn't promote this misinformation, which is terrible because most folks start out seeking info on Voodoo through those books and so start off on the wrong foot right from the very beginning, which than leads to people practicing Voodoo/Vodou/Hoodoo wrong (without realizing it) and teaching others thus spreading the misinformation even farther! The worse one of all is Lucky Mojo's school of Hoodoo that goes around promoting Hoodoo as an African invention, when Hoodoo is Scottish and has it's roots in Siberian Shamanism.  This is a great disrespect to both the Scotts and the Africans, and makes a mockery of both cultures!

It gets watered down farther by Wiccans who come in crying about "The Burning Years"...The Burning Years? Do they even know what that means? They say it was persecution of! It was not! It was racial cleanings of the Scottish and Irish Traveller Gypsies, who were FALSELY LABELED as witches. The German and Dutch Puratines were not randomly killing off "witches", they were very systematically making up excuses as to why they should kill off every Scottish, Irish, and Romany they could find. Every time someone starts bemoaning "The Burning Years" I tell them, do your research CHECK THE ACTUAL HISTORY, read the documents - EVERYONE who was killed during "The Burning Years" was either Scottish, Iris, or Romany. But there are so many Wiccans out there who would rather believe Silver Ravenwolf's made up fantasy of lies than find out the truth...and that's my point with Voodoo vs Vodou vs Hoodoo! People read a book on it and assume the author knew the facts, because after all, they wrote it in a book! Well, if Silver Ravenwolf can take The First German Holocaust a massive racial cleansing of "Gypsies" (keeping in mind that in the 1600s the words Gypsy and Witch were interchangeable) and rewrite it as "The Burning Years of killed Wiccans" and than have millions of folks BELIEVE her when there is mountains of documented facts to prove her a liar, than how easy is it for books to spread missconseptions about Voodoo when so little documentation of it exists?

And that's why I wanted to post, the differances between Vodo, Vodou, Hoodoo, and Voodoo, because I can see you are trying to get the info right, but still, to say that Voodoo is not a Christian religion and that Voodoo and Vodou are the same religion, is just an urban myth. Voodoo IS a Christian religion. Vodou IS NOT a Christian religion. Voodoo and Vodou ARE NOT the same religions. Vodou requires initiation, Voodoo does not. They overlap, yes, but they are not the same.

Ever wonder what it was like to live with Autism?  
I have Autism. For more of my life I rarely spoke and was considered "too crazy" to ever live a normal life. I communicated via writing instead of vocally. I did not attend school. Psychologists said I would never drive a car, never get a job, never go to college, never function as a meaningful member of society, never be able to take care of myself or live on my own. They said there was no hope for me, I would need full-time care my whole life. 
My progression was long and slow and very hard. Things other people found easy to do (getting dressed, brushing teeth/hair, walking across the street, etc,) I found extremely confusing and hard to learn. I was prone to wandering off and getting lost (I still am). Driver's ed takes most people a few weeks to learn - it took me 5 years. 
I determined to prove the doctors wrong, but it was far harder to do, than most people would imagine. I got my first job working at Macy's at age 30 (a very difficult job as I had to deal one on one with customers and I still at that point was not talking in a manner that could be understood by others). I got my GED at age 34. I got my driver's license at age 35. I started college at age 36. By age 37 I had become a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Student and I was finally able to speak to others in full spoken verbal conversation for the first time in my life. 
Now you can find out what it's like Being an Adult with Autism
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~Rev. Wendy C. Allen aka EelKat of Laughing Gnome Hollow

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