Some scholars believe that Voodoo (also known as Vodou) survived slavery and segregation due to the language barrier of African dialects (Basilect and Acrolect) and Catholicism.
It’s a well-documented fact that Haitian Voodoo priests and priestesses were able to disguise their native religion and Voodoo magic symbols within the rituals of Christianity. Eventually the two religions became intertwined as one.
Other scholars believe that the African religion of Hudu (Hoodoo) was combined with Voodoo, making it less recognizable. (1) As with most ancient religions, ceremonies involve animal sacrifices. This releasing of life is done to appease God and the spirits that assist him.
Voodoo Magic Symbols
Perhaps one of the most universally recognizable Voodoo magic symbols is zombies. Zombies seem to be more of a practice found in Haitian Voodoo.
Recent scientific investigations have revealed that zombie powder contains poisonous puffer fish known for its “deadly neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin”. This toxin disconnects the normal communication between brain and body and, depending on level of toxicity, can cause paralysis and even death. (2)
Other ingredients include toxic marine toad and hyla tree frog that can irritate the skin as well as lizards and spiders and various plants. The most disconcerting ingredient is human remains. (3)
One infamous Hollywood prop in movies is the Voodoo doll that the villain sticks pins in to harm the protagonist. There are black magic spells that can be cast on a doll, or any object for that matter, to place a hex on a person.
By the same token, a Voodoo doll can be created to break the hex. However, many Voodoo dolls are created, according to Voodoo Authentica, to be used as “focusing tools”.
They help us to enrich our lives with love, prosperity, good health and many other positive influences.” (4)
Veve Symbol for the Loa
The Voodoo magic symbol Veve is a beacon of the Loa. The Loa are spirits that act as intermediaries between you and Bondye (Bon Dieu, good god) also referred to as the Creator.
It’s not enough to evoke the Loa, you must also serve them with specific offerings and sacrifices, which usually consist of food and drink. To summon the Loa, you combine cornmeal, bark, wheat flours, red brick powder (or gun powder) and then spread the mixture onto the floor. There are various incantations you must say to complete the invitation for the spirit to join you. (5)
A Ju Ju is an object that is blessed to keep negative and evil energy away from the person possessing the Ju Ju. You can use the Ju Ju as a charm or amulet to give you protection, especially if you suspect someone has placed a hex on you. Magic or supernatural powers are believed to be imbued in these objects to keep you safe from harm. (6)
Voodoo Hexes, Curses and Sacrifices
Many stories have been told about red sauce or red rice and how men avoid these dishes because it’s a common vehicle for a woman to hex a man into marriage. The red in the sauce is from tomatoes, but the woman adds her blood to the mixture in order to perform the spell. (7)
In another story, a woman cited a voodoo curse on her family as her defense in a trial. She presented dismembered fingers in court as part of her defense, claiming the curse caused the fingers of one of the children to drop off. The woman was found guilty of fraud in the case of money laundering and a DNA test on the fingers was ordered to determine who they belonged to. (8)
Haunted Voodoo Doll
In October 2004, a reader of Haunted America Tours wrote that she’d purchased a “real haunted New Orleans Zombie Voodoo doll on eBay”.
It arrived in a metal box with instructions from the seller never to open it. She opened the box and displayed the doll. She claimed that the doll repeatedly attacked her.
Finally, out of desperation, the woman tried to burn the doll. To her amazement it simply wouldn’t catch fire. Her scissors broke when she tried to cut it. Instead, she buried it in a nearby cemetery.
She claims that the next day she found the dirtied doll lying on her front door step. She resold the doll on eBay, but soon after receiving the doll the new buyer emailed her that the doll had simply disappeared.
The doll reappeared on the woman’s doorstep. She mailed it back to buyer, but when the buyer opened the box it was empty.
She attempted to contact the original seller, but the person had died.
Eventually, she found a priest to bless the doll with a request to keep the spirit trapped inside the box. This last effort seems to have worked and she has locked the doll away in her attic. (9)
Torso in the Thames
Journalist Ronke Phillips stayed with the tragic 2001 story of the “Torso in the Thames” for over 10 years.
When the torso of a young black boy was found in the River Thames, police immediately named the child Adam, fearful the dismembered body would be treated as a non-human murder. Unfortunately, the phrase “Torso in the Thames” stuck in spite of the name given to the unidentified victim.
Ronke had diligently pursued leads through various forensic tests and found that the child’s place of birth was identified as Africa.
She found a woman who knew the child and in 2011 the reporter finally got a name. The woman identified the child as five-year-old Ikpomwosa.
The child’s tragic ending matched that of his short life spent being passed from one adult to the other and finally given to human and drug traffickers who brought him to London.
His death was the result of what’s believed to be a Voodoo human sacrifice committed in order to give police-evading powers to the murderer, who is still free. (10)
Clearly, people have used Voodoo to commit horrific crimes as have many other religious zealots. There is an old saying about using black magic, especially in Voodoo rituals, and that’s to be careful who you point your finger at because you have three more pointing right back at you. This simple warning means that whatever you send out will return to you by threefold.
Whether you believe in Voodoo magic or think it is all a bunch of hocus pocus, the stories are entertaining. However, unless you actively anger a Voodoo priestess, you aren’t that likely to be at the receiving end of a hex. If you ever are, grab your ju ju and protect yourself just to be on the safe side.
References & Image Credits:
(1) Crazy Horse Ghost
(2) Wikipedia: Tetrodotoxin
(3) Science, How Stuff Works
(4) Voodoo Shop
(5) Rarely Known
(6) Planet Voodoo
(7) Stories from the Carolina Coast
(8) BBC News
(9) Ghost Hunters of America
(10) Daily Mail
(12) alphadesigner via photopin cc