What is Voodoo?

Voodoo (also spelled Vodou) is an ancient West African religion practiced by more than 30 million people in Benin, Togo and Ghana. Voodoo varieties are also present in the United States, and the Caribbean. The word ‘vodou’ comes from the languages of West Africa, and means ‘spirit’. That is appropriate as Voodoo is a religion of spirits. Practitioners of Voodoo (who are called Voodooists) believe that the world of humans is shared by the world of the spirits. When a person dies, his spirit passed to the world of the unseen but is still able to see the human world, the visible world. Spirits, it is believed, in some cases can even impact the world of the living.

Belief in Voodoo crossed the Pacific ocean when captured slaves came to the Americas from Africa, more than 400 years ago. Different Voodoo traditions intermingled and formed the different varieties of Voodoo we see today in the Americas. Voodoo believers and practitioners keep alive an oral tradition of their religion and culture which includes rites, chants, and the use of a variety of voodoo supplies including dolls, candles, and other paraphernalia. The three main varieties of Voodoo are: