Vodoun Gathering

by Mike

Late last night – it must have been 2am – I woke up to a woman’s voice singing a haunting song. She was singing in Creole, each word slow and clear, in a melody that reminded me of old songs from the American War of Independence. In the distance drums beat furiously. I fell back asleep knowing I was hearing vodou rituals, if I hadn’t been dreaming. It was so haunting I suspected I had been, but I wasn’t sure.

I woke up and asked people if they’d heard it and some did, and the Base Manager said that the voice was coming from an IDP – Internally Displaced Persons (as opposed to foreign refugees, think Katrina) – camp that was in the neighborhood. The drums were likely from farther away. Tonight is Saturday night so I’ll hear more if I stay up late enough.

Voudoun cannot be abstracted from the day-to-day lives of the believers. In Haiti, as in Africa, there is no separation between the sacred and the secular, between the holy and the profane, between the material and the spiritual. Every dance, every song, every action is but a particle of the whole, each gesture a prayer for the survival of the entire community.

Wade Davis, The Serpent and the Rainbow:

Comment (1)

  1. Azure

    I just read in ‘Mountains beyond Mountains’ that 75% of Vodoun ceremonies are attempts to drive away illness. Most of the time, they are just “praying” for well-being rather than casting spells, which is what our culture has seemed to latch on to. It is so exciting that you’ve already heard one and they really are such a current and rich part of the culture there.


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