CrossRoads = RingSide Seat…

                         !!!  Vodun: African Spiritual Religious Systems  !!!

The surface of the Earth itself is an immense loom upon which the sun weaves the fabric of existence.  The world in which you were born is just one model of reality.  These other cultures are not failed attempts to be us; they are unique manifestations of the spirit other options, other visions of life itself.

***Vodun designates a venerated and adored divinity. It also defines the whole social, psychological and supernatural structure surrounding this popular sort of religiosity. Indeed, Vodun permeates everything, one could see how all the social fabric, starting with the family, was imbued by it. We must refer to the social and cultural context which gives rise to Vodun in order to grasp what Vodun really is.

The argument for naturalism and fetishism in Vodun rests on some of its practice: the Voduns are related to different concrete elements of the universe and are materialized through specific objects to which devotional cults are rendered and sacrifices are offered (mounds of earth, metal bars, tree trunks…). Indeed, some would see the Vodun cult as a coarse idolatry of material objects or as a cult of matter, without any consideration of its rich functionality which we shall illustrate below. Furthermore, it should be noted that these mistaken views are due to ethnological approaches to the Vodun phenomenon which refrain from articulating its uniquely physical, cosmic and social function in religious mediation… 


Indeed the religious phenomenon is not limited to a cult or an established link with the transcendent, but springs from the awareness of finite which gives rise to the need for the transcendent. Consequently, all men are religious, even if some are more religious than others, and the manifestations of human religiosity are numerous and owe much to the cultures of which they are the soul. In the specific case of the cultures of South Benin W/Africa, whose religious soul appears that this is to be found in a convergent way in the phenomenon of Vodun. Most of the peoples of South Benin have very similar if not identical cultural roots, and almost the same historical origin. This is why the religious phenomenon in this geographical region is manifested most fully in Vodun = Orisha, with the Nago or Yoruba peoples.

The Fon, Gun, Mina and Ewe peoples is characterized by a similar conception of divinity: belief in the existence of God is general. This God, recognized as the Supreme Being, as Transcendent, is referred to by the term Mawu. According to the testimony “everyone professes the existence of a Supreme Being who created ‘the trees and the ropes’, a Fon idiomatic expression which means everything that exists… This Supreme Being is called Mawu”. That God is the creator of the universe, of mankind and of all that exists is generally accepted. And this notion of God existed among these peoples before the arrival of the great monotheistic religions (Christianity, Islam).

Mawu is God, but he does not concern himself directly with man; he is omnipotent but has delegated his power to the Voduns. Hence the Voduns, recognized as Mawu’s creatures among men, signs of the divinity’s immanence in response to the spiritual desires of mankind. In this sense, Vodun designates all that is sacred, all power coming from the invisible world to influence the world of the living, everything that is mysterious. The Voduns receive the worship because of their proximity to man compared to Mawu. Divine qualities are attributed to them, characterized as the spirits they are considered to be above all natural laws. Examining the internal dynamics of the Vodun pantheon will give a clearer idea of the dependent relationship the Voduns have with Mawu.

***We have this extraordinary conceit in the West that while we’ve been hard at work in the creation of technological wizardry and innovation, somehow the other cultures of the world have been intellectually idle. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nor is this difference due to some sort of inherent Western superiority. We now know to be true biologically what we’ve always dreamed to be true philosophically, and that is that we are all brothers and sisters. We are all, by definition, cut from the same genetic cloth. That means every single human society and culture, by definition, shares the same raw mental activity, the same intellectual capacity. And whether that raw genius is placed in service of technological wizardry or unraveling the complex thread of memory inherent in a myth is simply a matter of choice and cultural orientation.

Photographer Mr Henning Christoph: Soul Of Africa Museum

Ironically, it was the enforced immigration of enslaved African from different ethnic groups that provided the circumstances for the development of Vodun. However, in the misery of slavery, the transplanted Africans found in their faith a common thread. They began to invoke not only their own Gods, but to practice rites other than their own. The result of such fusion was that the different religious groups integrated their beliefs, thereby creating a new religion: Vodun (Spirit)…


*** Ifarike IfadunmadeAse wa ooo Baba! Very true! Thank you for always enlightening others! Happy happy New year to you and yours! Much health, love, joy, peace and prosperity this year to you and those you love.