Haitian Vodou is a syncretic religion practiced chiefly in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora. Practitioners are called "vodouists" or "servants of the spirits". Vodouists believe in unknowable Supreme Creator, Bondye. According to Vodouists, Bondye does not intercede in human affairs, thus they direct their worship toward spirits subservient to Bondye, called loa; every loa is responsible for a particular aspect of life, with the dynamic and changing personalities of each loa reflecting the many possibilities inherent to the aspects of life over which they preside. To navigate daily life, vodouists cultivate personal relationships with the loa through the presentation of offerings, the creation of personal altars and devotional objects, participation in elaborate ceremonies of music and spirit possession. Vodou originated in what is now Benin and developed in the French colonial empire in the 18th century among West African peoples who were enslaved, when African religious practice was suppressed, enslaved Africans were forced to convert to Christianity.
Religious practices of contemporary Vodou are descended from, related to, West African Vodun as practiced by the Fon and Ewe. Vodou incorporates elements and symbolism from other African peoples including the Yoruba and Kongo. In Haiti, some Catholics combine aspects of Catholicism with aspects of Vodou, a practice forbidden by the Church and denounced as diabolical by Haitian Protestants. Vodou is a Haitian Creole word that referred to only a small subset of Haitian rituals; the word derives from an Ayizo word referring to mysterious forces or powers that govern the world and the lives of those who reside within it, but a range of artistic forms that function in conjunction with these vodun energies. Two of the major speaking populations of Ayizo are the Ewe and the Fon—European slavers called both the Arada; these two peoples composed a sizable number of the early enslaved population in St. Dominique. In Haiti, practitioners use "Vodou" to refer to Haitian religion generically, but it is more common for practitioners to refer to themselves as those who "serve the spirits" by participating in ritual ceremonies called a "service to the loa" or an "African service".
These terms refer to the religion as a whole. Outside of Haiti, the term Vodou refers to the entirety of traditional Haitian religious practice. Written as vodun, it is first recorded in Doctrina Christiana, a 1658 document written by the King of Allada's ambassador to the court of Philip IV of Spain. In the following centuries, Vodou was taken up by non-Haitians as a generic descriptive term for traditional Haitian religion. There are many used orthographies for this word. Today, the spelling Vodou is the most accepted orthography in English. Other potential spellings include Vodoun and voodoo, with vau- or vou- prefix variants reflecting French orthography, a final -n reflecting the nasal vowel in West African or older, non-urbanized, Haitian Creole pronunciations; the spelling voodoo, once common, is now avoided by Haitian practitioners and scholars when referring to the Haitian religion. This is both to avoid confusion with Louisiana Voodoo, a related but distinct set of religious practices, as well as to separate Haitian Vodou from the negative connotations and misconceptions the term "voodoo" has acquired in popular culture.
Over the years and their supporters have called on various institutions including the Associated Press to redress this misrepresentation by adopting "Vodou" in reference to the Haitian religion. In October 2012, the Library of Congress decided to change their subject heading from "Voodooism" to Vodou in response to a petition by a group of scholars and practitioners in collaboration with KOSANBA, the scholarly association for the study of Haitian Vodou based at University of California Santa Barbara. Vodou is popularly described as not a religion, but rather an experience that ties body and soul together; the concept of tying that exists in Haitian religious culture is derived from the Congolese tradition of kanga, the practice of tying one's soul to something tangible. This "tying of soul" is evident in many Haitian Vodou practices. Vodouisants believe; when it came in contact with Roman Catholicism, the Supreme Creator was associated with the Christian God, the loa associated with the saints.
Since Bondye is considered unreachable, Vodouisants aim their prayers to lesser entities, the spirits known as loa, or mistè. The most notable lwa include Papa Legba, Erzulie Freda, Kouzin Zaka, The Marasa, divine twins considered to be the first children of Bondye; these lwa can be divided into 21 nations, which include the Petro, Rada and Nago. Each of the lwa is associated with a particular Roman Catholic saint. For example, Legba is associated with St. Anthony the Hermit, Damballa is associated with St. Patrick; the lwa fall into family groups who share a surname, such as Ogou, Azaka or Ghede. For instance, "Ezili" is a family, Ezili Danto and Ezili Freda are two individual spirits in that family; each family is associated with a specific aspect, for instance the
The Kongo people are a Bantu ethnic group defined as the speakers of Kikongo. They have lived along the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, in a region that by the 15th century was a centralized and well-organized Kingdom of Kongo, but is now a part of three countries, their highest concentrations are found south of Pointe-Noire in the Republic of the Congo, southwest of Pool Malebo and west of the Kwango River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, north of Luanda, Angola. They are the largest ethnic group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the major ethnic groups in the other two countries they are found in. In 1975, the Kongo population was reported as 4,040,000; the Kongo people were among the earliest sub-Saharan Africans to welcome Portuguese traders in 1483 CE, began converting to Catholicism in the late 15th century. They were among the first to protest slavery in letters to the King of Portugal in the 1510s and 1520s succumbed to the demands for slaves from the Portuguese through the 16th century.
The Kongo people were a part of the major slave raiding and export trade of African slaves to the European colonial interests in 17th and 18th century. The slave raids, colonial wars and the 19th-century Scramble for Africa split the Kongo people into Portuguese and French parts. In the early 20th century, they became one of the most active ethnic groups in the efforts to decolonize Africa, helping liberate the three nations to self governance, they now occupy influential positions in the politics and business operations in the three countries they are most found in. The origin of the name Kongo is unclear, several theories have been proposed. According to the colonial era scholar Samuel Nelson, the term Kongo is derived from a local verb for gathering or assembly. According to Alisa LaGamma, the root may be from the regional word N'kongo which means "hunter" in the context of someone adventurous and heroic. Douglas Harper states that the term means "mountains" in the Bantu language, the root of the name of the countries and river that flows through the mountains of Congo region.
The Kongo people have been referred to by various names in the colonial French and Portuguese literature, names such as Esikongo, Mesikongo and Moxicongo. Christian missionaries in the Caribbean applied the term Bafiote to the slaves from the Vili or Fiote coastal Kongo people, but this term was used to refer to any "black man" in Cuba, St Lucia and other colonial era Islands ruled by one of the European colonial interests; the group is identified by speaking a cluster of mutually intelligible dialects rather than by large continuities in their history or in culture. The term “Congo” was more deployed to identify Kikongo-speaking people enslaved in the Americas. Since the early twentieth century, Bakongo has been used in areas north of the Congo river, to refer to the Kikongo-speaking community, or more broadly to speakers of the related Kongo languages; this convention is based on the Bantu languages. The prefix "mu -" and "ba -" refer to "people", plural respectively; the ancient history of the Kongo people has been difficult to ascertain.
The region is close to East Africa, considered to be a key to the prehistoric human migrations. This geographical proximity, states Jan Vansina, suggests that the Congo river region, home of the Kongo people, was populated thousands of years ago. Ancient archeological evidence linked to Kongo people has not been found, glottochronology – or the estimation of ethnic group chronologies based on language evolution – has been applied to the Kongo. Based on this, it is the Kongo language and Gabon-Congo language split about 950 BCE; the earliest archeological evidence related to this region, where the Kongo people are concentrated, is from Tchissanga, a site dated to about 600 BCE. However, the site does not prove; the Kongo people had settled into the area well before the fifth century CE, begun a society that utilized the diverse and rich resources of region and developed farming methods. According to James Denbow, social complexity had been achieved by the second century CE. Small kingdoms and Kongo principalities appeared in the current region by the 1200 CE, but documented history of this period of Kongo people if it existed has not survived into the modern era.
Detailed and copious description about the Kongo people who lived next to the Atlantic ports of the region, as a sophisticated culture and infrastructure, appear in the 15th century, written by the Portuguese explorers. Anthropological work on the Kongo of the region come from the colonial era writers the French and Belgians, but this too is limited and does not exhaustively cover all of the Kongo people; the evidence suggests, states Vansina, that the Kongo people were advanced in their culture and socio-political systems with multiple kingdoms well before the arrival of first Portuguese ships in the late 15th century. Archaeological evidence, Portuguese documents and Kongo oral tradition suggest that the Kingdom of Kongo was founded in the 14th century; the kingdom was modeled not on hereditary succession as was common in Europe, but based on an election by the court nobles from the Kongo people. This required the king to win his legitimacy by a process of recognizing his peers, consensus building as well as regalia and religious ritualism.
The kingdom had many trading centers both
The cosmogram was a core symbol of the Kongo culture. An ideographic religious symbol, the cosmogram was called dikenga dia Kongo or tendwa kia nza-n' Kongo in the KiKongo language. Ethnohistorical sources and material culture demonstrate that the Kongo cosmogram existed as a long-standing symbolic tradition within the BaKongo culture before European contact in 1482, that it continued in use in West Central Africa through the early twentieth century. In its fullest embellishment, this symbol served as an emblematic representation of the Kongo people and summarized a broad array of ideas and metaphoric messages that comprised their sense of identity within the cosmos. Robert Farris Thompson describes it as thus: "Coded as a cross, a quartered circle or diamond, a seashell spiral, or a special cross with solar emblems at each ending - the sign of the four moments of the sun is the Kongo emblem of spiritual continuity and renaissance par excellence. In certain rites it is written on the earth, a person stands upon it to take an oath, or to signify that he or she understands the meaning of life as a process shared with the dead below the river or the sea - the real sources of earthly power and prestige, in Kongo thinking...
The intimation, by shorthand geometric statements, of mirrored worlds within the spiritual journey of the sun, is the source and illumination of some of the more important sculptural gestures and decorative signs pertaining to funerary monuments and objects designated for deposit on the surface of funerary tombs, or otherwise connected with funerary ceremonies and the end of life."
Afro-American religion are a number of related religions that developed in the Americas in various nations of Latin America, the Caribbean, the southern United States. They derive from traditional African religions with some influence from other religious traditions, notably Christianity. Afro-American religions involve veneration of the dead, include a creator deity along with a pantheon of divine spirits such as the Orisha, Loa and Alusi, among others. In addition to the religious syncretism of these various African traditions, many incorporate elements of Folk Catholicism, Native American religion, Spiritism and European folklore. Espiritismo Hoodoo Kélé Puerto Rican Vudú or Sanse Rastafarianism, Jamaica Santo Daime Tambor de Mina Quimbois. Xangô de Recife Xangô do Nordeste Black theology Roots and Rooted
A Mãe-de-santo is a priestess of Umbanda, Candomblé and Quimbanda, the Afro-Brazilian religions. In Portuguese those words translate as "mother of saint", an adaption of the Yoruba language word iyalorishá, a title given to priest women in African religions. Iyá means mother, the contraction l'Orishá means "of Orishá"; as a product of the syncretism, the word Orishá was adapted into Portuguese as saint. The priestesses mães-de-santo are more venerated in African-Brazilian religions than the male priests, the pais-de-santo. In the Afro-Brazilian religions the priests are the owners of the tradition and culture and the ones responsible to pass it on to the new generations because there are no sacred written books. Pai-de-santo
Santería known as Regla de Ocha, La Regla de Ifá, or Lucumí, is an Afro-American religion of Yoruba origin that developed in Cuba among West African descendants. Santería is a Spanish word that means the "worship of saints". Santería is syncretized with Roman Catholicism, its sacred language is the Lucumí language, a remnant of Yoruba language, used in rituals but no longer spoken as a vernacular and not understood by practitioners. Santería is a system of beliefs that merges aspects of Yoruba religion brought to the New World by enslaved Yoruba people along with Christianity and the religions of the indigenous peoples of the Americas in addition to Cuban Spiritism which developed from Allen Kardec Spiritism; the Yoruba people carried with them various religious customs, including a trance and divination system for communicating with their ancestors and deities, animal sacrifice, sacred drumming and dance. The need to preserve their traditions and belief systems in a hostile cultural environment prompted enslaved africans of various ethnic groups in Cuba, starting from as early as 1515, to merge their customs with aspects of Roman Catholicism.
This religious tradition evolved into. The colonial period from the standpoint of enslaved African people can be defined as a time of perseverance, their world changed. Tribal kings and their families, politicians and community leaders all were enslaved and taken to a foreign region of the world. Religious leaders, their relatives and their followers were no longer free people to worship as they saw fit. Colonial laws criminalized their religion, they were forced to become baptized and worship a god their ancestors had not known, surrounded by a pantheon of saints. The early concerns during this period seem to have necessitated a need for individual survival under harsh plantation conditions. A sense of hope was sustaining the internal essence of what today is called Santería, a misnomer for the Cuban expression of the Orisa faith. In the heart of their homeland, the Yoruba people had a complex social order, they were a sedentary hoe farming cultural group with specialized labor. Their religion, based on the worship of nature, was documented by their slave owners.
Santería, a pejorative term that characterizes deviant Catholic forms of worshiping saints, has become a common name for the religion. The term santero is used to describe a priest or priestess replacing the traditional term Olorisha as an extension of the deities; the orishas became known as the saints in image of the Catholic pantheon. In order to preserve and shield their traditional beliefs, the Lucumí people syncretized their Orichás with Catholic saints. Spanish colonial planters who saw the enslaved African people celebrating on saints' days did not know that they were performing rituals related to Orichás, assumed that they were showing more interest in Catholic saints than in the Christian God—hence the origin of the term Santería; the historical veiling of the relationship between Catholic saints and Orichás is compounded by the fact that the vast majority of santeros in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, are Roman Catholics, have been baptized, require initiates to be baptized in Roman Catholicism as well.
The spread of Santería beyond the Spanish-speaking parts of the Caribbean, including to the United States, was catalyzed by the Cuban Revolution of 1959. In 1974, the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye became the first Santería church in the United States to become incorporated. Santería does not use a central creed for its religious practices; these rituals and ceremonies take place in what is known as a house-temple or casa de santos known as an ilé. Most ilés are in the homes of the initiated priestesses. Ilé shrines are built, by the priests and priestess, to the different orichás, which creates a space for worship, called an igbodu. In an igbodu there is a display of three distinct thrones that represent the seats of the queens and the deified warriors; each ilé is composed of those who seek guidance from the orishas, as well as those who are in the process of becoming priests. The many cabildos and casas that bridged the 19th and 20th centuries are fondly remembered by contemporary priests as the origins and strongholds of Cuban Lucumí culture and religion.
To become a Santero or Santera, the initiator must go through an intensive week-long initiation process in which the teaching of the ritual skills and moral behavior occurs informally and nonverbally. To begin with, the initiator goes through; the initiator's Padrino cleanses the head with special herbs and water. The Padrino rubs the water in a specific pattern of movements into the scalp of the head. However, if a person is entering Santería for the need of healing, they will undergo the rogación de la cabeza, in which coconut water and cotton are applied on the head to feed it. Once cleansed, there are four major initiation rituals that the initiator will have to undergo: obtaining the elekes, receiving Los Guerreros, making Ocha, Asiento; the first ritual is known as the acquisition of the beaded necklaces.
Umbanda is a syncretic Afro-Brazilian religion that blends African traditions with Roman Catholicism and Indigenous American beliefs. Although some of its beliefs and most of its practices existed in the late 19th century in all Brazil, it is assumed that Umbanda originated in Niterói and surrounding areas in the early 20th century due to the work of a psychic, Zélio Fernandino de Moraes, who practiced Umbanda among the poor Afro-Brazilians slave descendants. Since Umbanda has spread across southern Brazil and neighboring countries like Argentina and Uruguay. Umbanda has each one with a different set of beliefs and practices; some common beliefs are the existence of a Supreme Creator known as Olodumare. Other common beliefs are the existence of deities called Orixás, most of them syncretized with Catholic saints that act as divine energy and forces of nature. Umbanda practitioners believe in a supreme creator god; the opposite side of the Umbanda, i.e. black magic – the practices that intended to cause evil doings, became known as Quimbanda.
Umbanda is juxtaposed with Quimbanda which now reclaims its identity as a separate religion and distinct from Umbanda. One hundred years after its establishment, Umbanda divided itself into several branches with different beliefs and practices; some of these branches are Umbanda d'Angola, Umbanda Jejê, Umbanda Ketu, Umbanda Esotérica. The three major beliefs claimed by Umbandists are: The Pantheon, the Spirits' World, the Reincarnation. Umbanda has one supreme god known as Olorum and many divine intermediary deities called Orixás. Orixàs and spirits are organized in a complex hierarchy of legions, sub-phalanges and protectors; the exact order of the hierarchy varies by region and practitioner, but a agreed upon structure are the Seven Lines, or Sete Linhas da Umbanda. The first line is the top associated with Oxalà, the bottom is always the Linha das Almas, or Line of Dead Souls; the other patrons associated with the lines are listed in 2-6 below. The lines are divided up further into a multitude of spiritual beings.
Main Orixás Oxalá Iemanjá Xangô Oxúm Ogúm Oxóssi Ibeji Omulu/Obaluayê Iansã Nanã Oxumaré Exu Most followers of Umbanda believe that there are three distinct levels of spirits. 1. Pure Spirits This level includes the spirits known as the angels, archangels and seraphim, spirits that reached spiritual perfection. 2. Good Spirits This level includes the spirits that possess mediums or initiates during the Umbanda ceremonies and act as Guias advising and helping the believers; these are the following spirits: Caboclos Those are spirits of deceased Indigenous Brazilians or Mestizos. They are knowledgeable about medical herbs prescribing inexpensive remedies to ill people, their speech is always based in truth and courage, are sought after in cases you need strength, counsel. When a caboclo speaks, you listen; when the medium incorporates a Caboclo, he/she, begins to walk around and the feature becomes more severe. They smoke cigars and drink a mix of herbs the mediums make. Preto Velho Those are spirits of old slaves who died enslaved.
They are wise and kind spirits that know all about suffering, compassion and hope. Some of them are considered to be from Angola and Congo, others are considered to be the old Yoruba priests that were first brought to Brazil, they often prescribe herbal remedies. The female counterpart of this spirit is the Preta Velha who demonstrates maternal compassion and concern. In the beginning of Umbanda, Preto Velho introduced himself as an old slave who died after being flogged for some unjust accusation, they are the most loved entities in Umbanda and is common to see a person consulting with the same preto velho year after year, develop a love for them. When the medium incorporates a Preto Velho, he can not stand straight, has difficulty walking, has to make consultations sitting down, they drink coffee and smoke pipes. Crianças/Erês Those are spirits of great evolution, appearing as children, to reveal the pure side of life, they are not children. They speak of hope; when they talk, they always intend to make you look at the bright side of things.
They are characterized as being pure and joyful. Most people make the mistake that, since the medium speaks funny, uses candies and ribbons in his head, that he is