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Tribble: Dahomean Vodou vs Haitian Vodou

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion.orisha,talk.religion.misc
From: nagasiva 
          reformatted for readability and sourcing; unable
	  to review original web-post, members-only viewing -- ny]
reposted from:
> As far as the differences between Haitian & Dahomean Vodoun, to
> adequately describe those differences is far beyond the scope of this
> forum, and is not usually taught in public a format.
> However, what I offer are some rebuttals based upon those Mambos who
> are the most vocal in describing what Haitian Vodou is without
> prefacing that they are speaking strictly of Haitian and not Dahomean
> Vodoun. To continue in this vein does a grave diservice to the many
> who are entitled to know that Vodoun is much more diverse in both its
> theology, pantheon, ritual and practice. In many respects the only
> thing they might have in common is the name. It is the same when the
> world Palo is used to designate all the traditions of the Congo, or
> believe that Ifa or Yoruba is the only group who pracitces Orisha
> based traditions. They are not. However, below is only a crude
> outline, but it should offer some insight. :
> To begin, it should be noted that in spite of the oversight by many
> in crediting Vodoun's development to Haiti, Vodoun is an ancestral
> religion that some have dated to be as old as 6,000 years. Dahomean
> Vodoun is the oldest of these Vodoun religions. All of the Vodoun
> practice in the New World have their ancestral and spiritual roots in
> Dahomey, including Haitian Vodou which [Haiti] has only been an
> independent republic since 1812.
Well first of all, Haiti has been independant since 1804, not
1812, but I realize I am "splitting hairs" so to speak. However, what
is said here is, to my own knowledge, true otherwise. Haitian
Vodouizan have NOT forgotten these facts by-the-way....even as
some "individuals" may have.
> Below are a few of the popular myths circulating around the internet
> by the most vocal on this tradition:
> Myth 1: Vodou is a religion with no moral foundation.
> This is the most destructive and disturbing myth of all. The word Loa
> in the Fon langauge means Law. The Law of the Spirit and an initiate
> adhering to those moral laws that will enable them to properly to
> grow and develop spiritually by earning the respect and favor of the
> Vodou and ancestors. This is at the foundation of Dahomean Vodoun.
> These laws are taught to us by both the Spirit and the ancestors.
> Violators of the law are punished severely by the Spirit and
> ancestors in direct proportion to the level of violation. As a side
> note, we do not refer to our gods as Loa or Lwa. These are Haitian
> designations. They are referred to both by the Fon and the Ewe as
> simply Spirits.
Of course, readers of this forum can consult the article I wrote
on this very forum entitled "Morality in Haitian Vodou" to see that
this is "myth" is just that, & in fact the erroneous idea of ONE
individual only. Haitians certainly would not see there traditional
culture & religion as lacking morals or morality after a fashion.<<<
I dont know about this translation of the word "Lwa" [Loa in the
article]. I cannot comment one way or another. I know in French that
the word Loa means "law". My understanding was that the word Lwa was
a contraction & corruption of the Nago word Awo meaning mystery.
Since in Haiti these spirits are simply referred to as miste`
(mysteries) I will tend to lean this direction. Understand that no
one in Haiti runs around talking about Lwa & Rasine, & Danti, etc.
No, the simply say Miste`.

> Myth 2: Vodou is a religion whose goal is the acquisition of power.
> Not true in Dahomean Vodoun. This is also where the differences
> between Haitian and Dahomean Vodou diverge starkly into two distinct
> traditions being only similar in name. Dahomean Vodoun is composed of
> the local gods and ancestors of the Fon, Ewe, Yoruba, Mina, Quatchi,
> Gwa, Tchamba, Tambera and other local ethnic groups. They are the
> original peoples and "founders" of the Vodou religion, and practice
> the tradition largely intact since its inception. The gods that we
> serve are of one main order and pantheon, popularly known as the
> Arara. They are very old, very powerful, and strictly moral in their
> teachings. They and the ancestors will quickly remove (usualy thru
> death) those whose only goal is to attempt to exploit the Spirit for
> the sole purpose of power. That is not why the Spirits exists.
I assure you, this is no, No, NO difference. This is NOT really
what Haitian Vodou is about either. Rather, it is the opinion of on
very vocal & misguided individual. As for "Arara", this term is known
in Haiti (& Cuba) though we more frequently hear the term "Alada". As
for the rest of the apllies equally to Haitian
> Haitian Vodou on the other hand, is a syncretic mixture of many
> traditions, including Congo, Arara, Yoruba,Christianity, local Indian
> groups and traditions. Judging from the fiery disposition of many of
> its adherents who return from Haiti, and the description of many of
> their rituals, it appears to be centered more on the Congo gods.
While it is true that the Vodu Ayisyan is a malonje of many tribal
influences (includijng thos which are not African), it does NOT lean
more towards the Kongo. The Rada rites...which we call Ginea Fwan
more often than not, are purely Daome & subscribe to the ideals which
are spoken of in the article. The Petwo rites are heavily influenced
by the Kongo with some AmerIndian influences as well.<<<
> I do know that the Arara gods are only there in name and respect only.
Now this I must take issue with because it is NOT correct. The
Rada Lwa are VERY much active in Haiti. They are not just sitting
there doing nothing. LOL
>  They are usually the first to depart when there is moral corruption.
> Their Houses and priesthoods die out, and none are born to replace
> them.
Now this is true!

> Myth 3: One can discuss and negotiate what rank they want to be
> initiated to
> Never is this 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.
Again, this is true & it is the way it is done in Haiti. Again, we
are dealing with the misunderstandings of one individual.
> I always suggest that those wanting a better understanding of
> Dahomean Vodoun to first read as much as you can about the history.
> It really is impossible to discuss in an academic manner and I do not
> like to. We are more discrete, and you will rarely if ever find us
> purveying the chatrooms, newgroups and the like, debating, fighting,
> fueding, solicitng, or revealing much about ourselves, our clients,
> intitiaes, or our traditions. For this reason many are quick to doubt
> us. It is a big mistake. We simply honor a different set of moral and
> social principals.
> Peace & Blessings,
> Mamaissii Vivian Dansi Hounon

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"that which liberates is ignorance"
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