Q: What’s it like going to a Vodou ceremony?
A: I found vodou ceremonies to be really beautiful. During part of my childhood, we lived next to a manbo, but because of fear, we stayed away. I attended my first ceremony last year and it felt like I was being welcomed home. It is mostly the drums that appeals to me the most. Sometimes, the drums sound like waves of the sea. Tanbou se vwa lanmè a sou tè a It is interesting because in vodou, it is believed that we come from water and will return to her once we transition
Antouka! Vodou ceremonies are the manifestation of the five elements: there is often fire to welcome ogou, during that moment you can touch the fire, it is so beautiful and there is no fear of being burned. One day, there was an older woman at one of our ceremonies, she lives in the same lakou as the peristil. When Ogou came, he hugged her in the most loving way. And, I wondered about the lifelong relationship that woman must have had with her spirit.
It was amazing to see. The spirits are usually very loving. As much as Ogou is this fierce warrior, he is also a loving father. Many years ago, he appeared to me nearly in tears, letting me know that he had had been fighting for me, and that it was not his fault that my mother had died. It was during my early introduction to my spirits. Needless to say, the line of Ogous have a special place in my heart. Lol this is supposed to be about ceremonies!
Vodou ceremonies are quite a sight: one of the most powerful things my eyes have seen is possession. There are some spirits who come with so much strength that the sight of it alone can remove all fear from your heart, the sight of that spirit coming through will encourage you to sit up straight and hold your head up high. I went to a ceremony where Tijean borrowed the body of a very tall man. Mezanmi!! Tijean danced In such a beautiful way, he used that body so beautifully; I really do not have the words to describe it.
When spirits come to dance, it is like being at the opera or watching divinity at the ballet! Except, it is not that! It is the awakening of black bodies, of African dance, it is truly godly. That day, I felt like I was at the best dance show that I have ever seen in my life.
There are things that I do not enjoy about ceremonies: they can be quite lengthy, and I do not appreciate the sight of animal sacrifices. One day, as they were getting ready to sacrifice a pig, I could not stomach it and went outside. I left shortly after. And that is one of my conflicts with vodou. I really wish that we could move beyond the killing of animals. And that is one of the things that keeps me an observer of vodou instead of a practitioner.
Now back to the things I love!! I love that humans can go to a ceremony and fully communicate with a spirit. Ogou came and performed a healing once. Vodou is not a blind man’s practice. You get to see the deities and interact with them. You know that Ogou is “real”, you know that Damballah and dantò are really present because they truly come through. You get to experience them. You are not being asked to blindly believe, but you can always come and see for yourself.
Antouka! If anyone can move beyond their fears of the unknown, a beautiful, well organized vodou ceremony is definitely something one ought to experience in this life. Vodou a bèl!
Answered by Lisa ‘Zazou’ Pierre