Houngan Liam’s Reddit AMA

On the 8th of February 2018, Houngan Liam posted to Reddit’s r/IamA sub to answer questions about Vodou.  A transcript follows, or view the original thread here.  There were some great questions asked and answered, so we will definitely consider doing this again in the future.

 

DangerousPuhson: What’s the biggest difference between Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo? Is Voodoo just a sort of mainstream appropriation or commercialization of Vodou, or is there some kernel of authenticity there?

 

InterestingKey: Hi, What would be some of the key differences in the belief system between Haitian Voudou and Louisiana Voodoo?

InterestingKey: Nice to know. Thanks for your time.

 

CynicalDreamboat: how do u know if a priest is real or not? i see lots of voodoo on the internet but how can u know who is fake

 

theczolgoszsociety: Are ordinations and ceremonies imbued with special significance by dint of their happening in Haiti, or is it just that that is where most of the believers happen to be?

KiwiMojo:There are many reasons that ordinations are held in Haiti. Vodou is heavily invested in ancestral traditions, and Haitian soil is rich with those ancestors, their blood as run into the earth during the revolution, they are buried there, and their bones are the shoulders upon which we stand. Therefore in Haiti there is a tangible connection with those ancestors that one can not find anywhere else. Although ordinations and initiations now happen in Miami, and other parts of the US and even in Europe, I think there is something special about the Kanzo ceremonies in Haiti … other ceremonies such as the Lave Tet [which is also an initiation ceremony], and the services to the spirits are done all over the world and there are Vodouwizan [practitioners of Vodou] almost everywhere [even in New Zealand 😉 ]

 

KinnieBee: What is the process of becoming a vodou priest like? How is the knowledge passed on, and what was expected from you as a student?

 

Spayyce: Do you have something similar to Ayahuasca for religious ceremonies? Or are drugs in general taboo?

 

fluxuation: How do you feel about Santeria? My heritage is Cuban and I live in Miami, FL. There are a huge number of Santeria practitioners here. How similar (or how different) are the two religions?

KiwiMojo: Lukumi/Santeria is a Yoruban derived tradition that grew in Cuba in a very different way to how Vodou developed in Haiti. Lukumi is mainly Yoruban in manifestation, although there are certainly other influences, including the Congo, while Haitian Vodou had many different African Nations come together in one small place, which caused for a more diverse group of spirits and traditions. Lukumi/Santeria and Haitian Vodou are certainly related practices, and share some spirits in common and there is generally a great deal of respect between the two religions, however the are quite different in practice.

 

christromp: What are some of the most important objects in vodou and why ?

 

CocteaQuintuplet: What myths about Vodou would you like to dispel?

 

CrunchyPumpkin: A lot was in the news after the 2010 earthquake about Christian churches providing aid. Did Vodou help people too?

KiwiMojo: Yes, the Vodou community were a huge part of helping communities recover from the earthquake. Were were there, just after the earthquake, and what we saw were Christian evangelicals forcing people to convert to their personal sect of Christianity before they would help. The Vodou community weren’t like that … the various communities would put together whatever food they could to provide to those in need. My spiritual mothers temple put together hundreds of food parcels that they took to tent villages and the surrouding community to feed the hungry. Many ceremonies were held, where so many people who had not eaten could come and get food and a place to sleep if they didn’t have one. When Vodou elders who were in need received needed supplies, they provided to their whole communities. Oftentimes aid was limited to the larger communities, but Vodouwizan took food out to the smaller communities, helped them with constructing shelters, they did what family does because in Vodou we are all called to serve.

 

CrunchyPumpkin: Since you live in New Zealand, do you live on a farm away from people or do you have to worry about your neighbours finding out?


Dextur_Thiuf: 
I realize I’m late to the party, and please forgive if I offend. I know very little of your religion, so if I say or ask anything stupid, it’s out of ignorance and not intolerance. I am genuinely curious and accepting of all religions. Have you ever experienced anything you would classify as paranormal or supernatural?

 

MrOberbitch: I understand that Voodoo also means communicating with spiritual beings (ghosts of ancestors i.e.)  How does that communication actually happen? Do you see those beings or do you just hear them? Maybe feel them?

 

JForce: Given how important your beliefs are to you, how do you enjoy living in NZ which is a secular country? As an atheist in NZ I am glad that religion is considered a personal thing for each individual that has no place in the governing of the nation. What are your thoughts?

 

Are there any references to Vodou in pop culture that you appreciate and approve of, especially for personal or religious reasons?  2. Also the opposite, what things in movies,tv,film would you recommend to stay away from?

I’m aware in the original context the idea of a zombie was not the same in anyway they are depicted now. I believe it originates from a religious practice stemming from the Vodou culture. Please correct me if im wrong but what are your thoughts on the appropriation of the term and idea of what a zombie is?

 

fluffyrat1984: Do you need to be a member of a congregation to practice voodoo or can you learn on your own?

KiwiMojo: Vodou at it’s root is about community, and so even though Vodouwizn may be away from their community they are still a part of one. You learn from your spiritual parents, as there are no “how to” books. It is a tradition that is passed down.

fluffyrat1984: Thank you for the answer.

 

thematthiaz: Are you partial to da ganja?

 

colin_crapperschtick: Have you ever sacrificed a chicken to Moloch?

 

aleister94: Have you met any supernatural being?

aleister94: Neat I once made a charm to banish a poltergeist but I didn’t directly interact with it

 

christromp: How is Vodou different from other religions?

KiwiMojo: I will admit that I’m prone to explaining how Vodou is the same as other religions rather than how it is different, but I think what really sets Vodou apart is 2 things. The first is that Vodou is not fatalistic, rather whatever is happening can be changed, through action and spiritual work. We are not stuck in our circumstances, and we always have the opportunity to improve things. The second is that in Vodou we are able to speak with our spirits face to face through the mechanism of possession. We are able to be face to face with them, to seek their aid and advice, and to share with them in a very real, very physical way.

 

leclittoris: Any bad experiences with spirits? If so, can you share a few?