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Guest DVE

A Beginners Guide To Voodoo?

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Guest DVE

Hi all,

 

As previously stated, I am interested in learning about the Voodoo/Voodou paths. Not specifically any singular one, but as much as possible about them in general - Once I've learned more about the different paths, I will study which I find most appealing and in line with my thoughts and feelings. However, I need a couple of questions answering if possible.

 

- Does anyone know if there is any meetings of those interested in Voodoo based in Lancashire? I've searched and searched, and been unable to find anything locally.

 

- In order to practise Voodoo alone and be successful, would you need to be initiated, as you would within a Coven, by studying and meeting with those for x amount of time before you can be 'qualified' if you will, to practise? Or is to believe in your own powers and talents to use magick successfully?

 

- Can anyone recommend other sources of reading? I have already bought "Voodoo and Afro-Caribbean Paganism" by Lilith Dorsey, and "The Voodoo Spellbook" by Doktor Snake. I've seen the reference in a previous posting about the "Do You Voodoo" book, so I will try and obtain a copy.

 

Thanks for any and all replies, I shall report back shortly to let you know how I am getting on :D

 

BB

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Guest Crow

Hi DVE, welcome to the forum! It's great to see another Vodou person around; it does get rather lonely out here!

 

One for me to answer I think. :D I've been serving the loa for several years now. That said I'm not a mambo, and they might have a slightly different take on things.

 

As to your first question - oh how I wish! ;-) There really does seem to be a lack of groups of Vodou practitioners in the UK. When I've come across others they've generally practiced in a solitary manner, but I'm lucky in that a fair few pagans in my area also serve the Loa so I get together and do ceremonies with them.

 

Have you ever been to New Aeon books in Manchester? They have a good selection of New Orleans Voodoo-related paraphernalia such as oils, powders and washes. If you're ever in town you might like to make enquiries there.

 

Regarding initiation, I see entry to the priesthood as a huge social and spiritual responsibility. It's a long, difficult, expensive path and demands a heck of a lot of work and service not only to the Loa but to other members of the community. For that reason and many more, I'm not an initiate. In fact relatively few practitioners are. While the ideal would be for vodouisants to have access to a local temple and houngan/ mambo, the reality is that in the UK that's going to be difficult, and as such I've never seen anything wrong with working in a solitary manner.

 

My advice as a starting point into the faith would be to study as much as you can about the history of the faith and its related traditions, to learn about and honour your ancestors, and also to do a bit of reading about the historical context of Vodou by learning about African and Caribbean history.

 

Next, I'd recommend building an altar to Legba, the opener of roads. Legba is the spirit who opens the gate from this world to the world of the spirits, and his help and blessing is always required. Make some space in your day to sit quietly at the altar, to open your heart to the spirits and ask for their guidance. Before long you'll probably find that one or the other of them catches your attention and you'll want to build altars or make service for them. if you need any ideas for what to put on a Legba altar, just let me know. :D

 

For recommended reading, I always point people towards "Voodoo: Search for the Spirit" by Laennec Hurbon. "Mama Lola, a Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn" by Karen Brown is good too. "Vodou Visions" by Mambo Sallie Ann Glassman is hard to get hold of, but gives a good overview of the pantheon. Do be aware though that what she practices is not orthodox, traditional Vodou; it has a lot of ceremonial magic and Kabbalah involved.

 

My favourite Vodou website is http://www.ezilikonnen.com/index.html

It has lots of wonderful information about the Loa and about life as an Houngan.

 

If you want wanga dolls, powders, oils or other high-quality handmade goods that can be used cosmetically as well as in ritual, www.erzulies.com is an incredible shop.

 

Well, I think that's enough for one post. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to get in touch or to post them here.

 

I look forwards to reading more of your posts, and hearing how your explorations into this vital, beautiful path progress. ;)

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Guest DVE
Hi DVE, welcome to the forum! It's great to see another Vodou person around; it does get rather lonely out here!

 

One for me to answer I think. :) I've been serving the loa for several years now. That said I'm not a mambo, and they might have a slightly different take on things.

 

Thanks for the response Crow. I noticed your reply on the topic regarding Preston and his Voodoo search, and am pleased you answered mine - I will be picking your brains a lot (if you don't mind :D )

 

As to your first question - oh how I wish! ;-) There really does seem to be a lack of groups of Vodou practitioners in the UK. When I've come across others they've generally practiced in a solitary manner, but I'm lucky in that a fair few pagans in my area also serve the Loa so I get together and do ceremonies with them.

 

I've noticed there is very little UK material up to now, be it websites (other than this), practicioners or followers. Where are you based roughly if you don't mind me asking? Once I have learned a little more about the subject, I wouldn't mind observing some rituals and practices (again, if it's OK by those involved, and if I can get there).

 

Have you ever been to New Aeon books in Manchester? They have a good selection of New Orleans Voodoo-related paraphernalia such as oils, powders and washes. If you're ever in town you might like to make enquiries there.

 

I haven't, but now I have looked it up after your recommendation, I think I will be making a visit soon. Thanks for the rec :)

 

Regarding initiation, I see entry to the priesthood as a huge social and spiritual responsibility. It's a long, difficult, expensive path and demands a heck of a lot of work and service not only to the Loa but to other members of the community. For that reason and many more, I'm not an initiate. In fact relatively few practitioners are. Whiie the ideal would be for vodouisants to have access to a local temple and houngan/ mambo, the reality is that in the UK that's going to be difficult, and as such I've never seen anything wrong with working in a solitary manner.

 

I am glad you have said this - I was hoping I wouldn't have to be initiated in order to practise. I enjoy doing things at my own pace, and by learning on my own, I can correct mistakes before I make myself look a bit silly :)

 

My advice as a starting point into the faith would be to study as much as you can about the history of the faith and its related traditions, to learn about and honour your ancestors, and also to do a bit of reading about the historical context of Vodou by learning about African and Caribbean history.

 

The book I have "Voodoo and AfroCaribbean Paganism", covers quite a few of the bases - Haitian Vodou, New Orleans, Santeria, and a couple of others I can't recall the name of. I will go through it again, it's a good read this far.

 

Next, I'd recommend building an altar to Legba, the opener of roads. Legba is the spirit who opens the gate from this work to the world of the spirits, and his help and blessing is always required.  Make some space in your day to sit quietly at the altar, to open your heart to the spirits and ask for their guidance. Before long you'll probably find that one or the other of them catches your attention and you'll want to build altars or make service for them. if you need any ideas for what to put on a Legba altar, just let me know. :)

 

Ah - Am I right in believing the books, where they say Legba is the go between/lwa? of the crossroads? IIRC, I think they said you should use rum? as a gift? I think it gives a list of what is needed for thanking/invoking the different lwa. If I struggle, I will get back to you about it if thats Ok.

 

For recommended reading, I always point people towards "Voodoo: Search for the Spirit" by Laennec Hurbon. "Mama Lola, a vodou Priestess in Brooklyn" by Karen Brown is good too.  "Vodou Visions" by Mambo Sallie Ann Glassman is hard to get hold of, but gives a good overview of the pantheon. Do be aware though that what she practices is not orthodox, traditional Vodou; it has a lot of ceremonial magic and Kabbalah involved.

 

Thanks for the recommendations - I will look into these. I'm assuming that it isn't frowned upon for mixing the different styles/paths to create your own unique path?

 

My favourite Vodou website is http://www.ezilikonnen.com/index.html

It has lots of wonderful information about the Loa and about life as an Houngan.

 

Thanks, it's been bookmarked for perusal later in the day :)

 

If you want wanga dolls, powders, oils or other high-quality handmade goods that can be used cosmetically as well as in ritual, www.erzulies.com is an incredible shop. 

 

Thanks, I will bookmark that too :)

 

Well, I think that's enough for one post. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to get in touch or to post them here.

 

I look forwards to reading more of your posts, and hearing how your explorations into this vital, beautiful path progress. :)

200300[/snapback]

 

Thanks for your reply, it has been really helpful. Just to ask, you don't mind me laying out replies like this do you, where I break the replies down and respond in chunks? On the last forum I was on, someone created proper over it...

 

Regards and BB.

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Guest Sirona

Wow what a great response Crow! Thanks.

 

I will look into Vodou at some point and I'll be sure to read those books you recommended.

 

Sirona

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Guest Crow

Hi DVE,

 

I'm actually based in Cardiff right now - bit of a fair way from you I'm afraid! But I'm always happy to answer Vodou-related questions to the best of my ability and to get to know other practitioners. And by all means, feel free to break down your replies into quotes if you like - whatever's easiest for you.

 

Taking your other points one by one:

 

Initiation, and working with other practitioners versus working solitary is always a topic of some controversy. I've had people who - perhaps because they'relucky enough to actually know a houngan or mambo -bite my head off when I say I serve the loa at home without direct instruction from a priest, and others have agreed with my view and practices 100%. Unfortunately Vodou is as subject to "you're doing it wrong" one-upmanship and protectionism as much as any other pagan path, so just be aware that not everyone is going to agree with me :D

 

Yes indeed, Legba is the loa of the crossroads. His sacred colours are red and white, and some items you might find on his altars are pipe tobacco, a straw hat or bag, images of dogs, mirrors, keys, and pictures of St Lazarus or the Child of Prague. Rum, as you've mentioned, is a good offering for him, along with fresh fruit (green bananas especially), chicken (if it's on the bone, even better) and sweets. Something I find fascinating is that everybody's Loa have different tastes - as you develop your relationship with the spirits you might find they ask you for particular things, so if you get a strong feeling that your Legba wants, say, some fresh coconut or a piece of cake, then by all means give it to him and see what happens.

 

Regarding mixing different styles and paths - again, this is an issue of some debate. Some people believe in sticking strictly to orthodox Haitian Vodou as it's practiced in the Caribbean, and others favour a looser, more eclectic style. You find this latter style a lot in New Orleans. Personally I think it's possible to find a happy medium between respecting the origins and traditions of the faith and allowing it to grow and change with the demands of an urban lifestyle in the UK.

 

If I can be of any more help, let me know! I'd love to hear more from you as you develop in your path.

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Guest Rising Hero
Hi DVE,

 

I'm actually based in Cardiff right now - bit of a fair way from you I'm afraid! But I'm always happy to answer Vodou-related questions to the best of my ability and to get to know other practitioners.  And by all means, feel free to break down your replies into quotes if you like - whatever's easiest for you.

 

Taking your other points one by one:

 

Initiation, and working with other practitioners versus working solitary is always a topic of some controversy. I've had people who - perhaps because they'relucky enough to actually know a houngan or mambo -bite my head off when I say I serve the loa at home without direct instruction from a priest, and others have agreed with my view and practices 100%. Unfortunately Vodou is as subject to "you're doing it wrong" one-upmanship and protectionism as much as any other pagan path, so just be aware that not everyone is going to agree with me :D

 

Yes indeed, Legba is the loa of the crossroads. His sacred colours are red and white, and some items you might find on his altars are pipe tobacco, a straw hat or bag, images of dogs, mirrors, keys, and pictures of St Lazarus or the Child of Prague. Rum, as you've mentioned, is a good offering for him, along with fresh fruit (green bananas especially), chicken (if it's on the bone, even better) and sweets. Something I find fascinating is that everybody's Loa have different tastes - as you develop your relationship with the spirits you might find they ask you for particular things, so if you get a strong feeling that your Legba wants, say, some fresh coconut or a piece of cake, then by all means give it to him and see what happens.

 

Regarding mixing different styles and paths - again, this is an issue of some debate. Some people believe in sticking strictly to orthodox Haitian Vodou as it's practiced in the Caribbean, and others favour a looser, more eclectic style. You find this latter style a lot in New Orleans. Personally I think it's possible to find a happy medium between respecting the origins and traditions of the faith and allowing it to grow and change with the demands of an urban lifestyle in the UK.

 

If I can be of any more help, let me know! I'd love to hear more from you as you develop in your path.

200547[/snapback]

As a person not familiar with Voodoo,could I ask if you believe these spirits are contactable in this country?

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Guest DVE
As a person not familiar with Voodoo,could I ask if you believe these spirits are contactable in this country?

200571[/snapback]

 

My thoughts would be that you can contact spirits from anywhere - Just my thoughts though. "If God is all around..." would be one such part of my reasoning. Hope this helps.

 

Regards.

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Guest Crow

Oh, definitely! You couldn't practice Vodou here if that wasn't the case. The Loa are contactable by everyone who calls on them, no matter where they live or what their cultural background is.

 

Although Vodou may have developed in the Caribbean, it's an animist religion. Every cemetery across the world has its Baron and Brigitte. Every crossroads has a Legba, and in every piece of iron there reverberates some of the spirit of Ogoun.

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Queenie

Crow:

 

Can I just say thanks for your response to this thread, it's been really interesting, thank you for sharing.

 

Q

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Xalle

Was just about to post pretty much what Queenie said.

 

Really interesting Crow thanks for sharing!

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Guest Rising Hero
Oh, definitely! You couldn't practice Vodou here if that wasn't the case. The Loa are contactable by everyone who calls on them, no matter where they live or what their cultural background is.

 

Although Vodou may have developed in the Caribbean, it's an animist religion. Every cemetery across the world has its Baron and Brigitte. Every crossroads has a Legba, and in every piece of iron there reverberates some of the spirit of Ogoun.

200599[/snapback]

The cross-roads...are we talking physical as on a road or spiritually analogous?Is the legba malevolent?

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Guest Crow
Oh, definitely! You couldn't practice Vodou here if that wasn't the case. The Loa are contactable by everyone who calls on them, no matter where they live or what their cultural background is.

 

Although Vodou may have developed in the Caribbean, it's an animist religion. Every cemetery across the world has its Baron and Brigitte. Every crossroads has a Legba, and in every piece of iron there reverberates some of the spirit of Ogoun.

200599[/snapback]

The cross-roads...are we talking physical as on a road or spiritually analogous?Is the legba malevolent?

200678[/snapback]

 

 

Quite literally and physically, in the case of Legba. He's the patron of roads and journeys and travellers as well as the opener of the gate to the spirits. That's a good question though. Legba is often invoked at times of choice or when starting a new venture such as opening a business, so you could certainly extend the crossroads image to a spiritual/mental level.

 

 

I wouldn't say Legba is malevolent, no - although that said every Loa has their dark side. Even Erzulie Freda, the spirit of love and beauty can be ferocious when called upon for aggressive magic. Legba is definitely a trickster and he loves practical jokes, so working with him can sometimes have unexpected consequences, amd like any trickster deity his little jokes can sometimes be frustrating. :lol:

 

Legba has a darker aspect who some see as a totally different spirit. His name is Kalfu or Carrefour (meaning Four Roads) , and like Legba he's a crossroads and trickster deity. Unlike Legba, though, he almost exclusively allows bad luck and malevolent spirits through the gate between worlds.

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Guest Rising Hero
Oh, definitely! You couldn't practice Vodou here if that wasn't the case. The Loa are contactable by everyone who calls on them, no matter where they live or what their cultural background is.

 

Although Vodou may have developed in the Caribbean, it's an animist religion. Every cemetery across the world has its Baron and Brigitte. Every crossroads has a Legba, and in every piece of iron there reverberates some of the spirit of Ogoun.

200599[/snapback]

The cross-roads...are we talking physical as on a road or spiritually analogous?Is the legba malevolent?

200678[/snapback]

 

 

Quite literally and physically, in the case of Legba. He's the patron of roads and journeys and travellers as well as the opener of the gate to the spirits. That's a good question though. Legba is often invoked at times of choice or when starting a new venture such as opening a business, so you could certainly extend the crossroads image to a spiritual/mental level.

 

 

I wouldn't say Legba is malevolent, no - although that said every Loa has their dark side. Even Erzulie Freda, the spirit of love and beauty can be ferocious when called upon for aggressive magic. Legba is definitely a trickster and he loves practical jokes, so working with him can sometimes have unexpected consequences, amd like any trickster deity his little jokes can sometimes be frustrating. :lol:

 

Legba has a darker aspect who some see as a totally different spirit. His name is Kalfu or Carrefour (meaning Four Roads) , and like Legba he's a crossroads and trickster deity. Unlike Legba, though, he almost exclusively allows bad luck and malevolent spirits through the gate between worlds.

200680[/snapback]

This Legba-is he the one who haunts accident black spots?

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Guest Crow

Hmm, I've never heard of Kalfu haunting accident black spots, but it would certainly make sense, yes.

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Guest Rising Hero
Hmm, I've never heard of Kalfu haunting accident black spots, but it would certainly make sense, yes.

200689[/snapback]

Sorry,is he the Legba?My question arose from local folklore/superstition that a Spirit haunts the sites of (fatal)road crashes.I heard that in Voodoo you need to acknowledge the Spirit when driving past-or you could be next.Not sure if thats correct?

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Guest Tas Mania

Hecate at the crossroads maybe?

Those who watch over graveyards - last in, first up, sort of thing?

 

Interesting parallels... :)

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Guest Rising Hero

Well Im trying to fit this Legba guy into local British folklore of the macbre type.Better not go into that here as I dont want to upset anyone,but anyway,I tend to 'salute' the invisible as Im driving past a recent crossroads where a fatality has occured-just in case. :)

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Guest Freydis

Thanks for the posts, Crow, that was really interesting. I know very little about Vodou and the Caribbean traditions. I was watching a programme about samba on TV the other night and it mentioned that the samba rhythm originates from dumming rhythms used to call the spiritis in Candomble, which sounded not dissimilar to Vodou in some respects. Are the two linked or are they completely separate traditions? Apologies for my ignorance, but it as fascinating and the drumming was terrific.

 

Frey

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Guest Tas Mania
Well Im trying to fit this Legba guy into local British folklore of the macbre type.Better not go into that here as I dont want to upset anyone,but anyway,I tend to 'salute' the invisible as Im driving past a recent crossroads where a fatality has occured-just in case. :o_crucify:

200811[/snapback]

 

 

Erm, why try and "fit" Legba in anywhere? It's not inconceiveable that some beliefs may just have evolved separately to others! Granted, there's often confusion about the xian/RC overlay with African beliefs, stemming from the slavery days?

 

On the other hand, you could simply be getting Legba confused with Lego - easily enough done I suppose! :rolleyes:

Edited by Tas Mania

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Guest DVE
Thanks for the posts, Crow, that was really interesting.  I know very little about Vodou and the Caribbean traditions.  I was watching a programme about samba  on TV the other night and it mentioned that the samba rhythm originates from dumming rhythms used to call the spiritis in Candomble, which sounded not dissimilar to Vodou in some respects.  Are the two linked or are they completely separate traditions?  Apologies for my ignorance, but it as fascinating and the drumming was terrific.

 

Frey

200853[/snapback]

 

Hi,

 

Hopefully I will be right with this - Candomble is a form of Vodou, mainly found in Brazil, and uses the music and dance to honour the links between the ancestors in Africa and themselves. Where Legba is honoured in the Haitian Vodou as Lord of the crossroads, the equivalent in Candomble would be Exu, but he is referred to as "The Devil" of the crossroads, but not in the same way as Christians refer to the Devil.

 

Hope this helps.

 

DVE, BB

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Guest Tas Mania

Interesting DVE - thanks for the info. :o_crucify:

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Guest DVE
Interesting DVE - thanks for the info. :o_crucify:

200874[/snapback]

 

You are welcome - I hope it is of use, and mostly - Accurate :rolleyes:

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Guest Rising Hero
Thanks for the posts, Crow, that was really interesting.  I know very little about Vodou and the Caribbean traditions.  I was watching a programme about samba  on TV the other night and it mentioned that the samba rhythm originates from dumming rhythms used to call the spiritis in Candomble, which sounded not dissimilar to Vodou in some respects.  Are the two linked or are they completely separate traditions?  Apologies for my ignorance, but it as fascinating and the drumming was terrific.

 

Frey

200853[/snapback]

 

Hi,

 

Hopefully I will be right with this - Candomble is a form of Vodou, mainly found in Brazil, and uses the music and dance to honour the links between the ancestors in Africa and themselves. Where Legba is honoured in the Haitian Vodou as Lord of the crossroads, the equivalent in Candomble would be Exu, but he is referred to as "The Devil" of the crossroads, but not in the same way as Christians refer to the Devil.

 

Hope this helps.

 

DVE, BB

200873[/snapback]

In what way is he referred then?Are we still at the roadside crossroads or have we moved onto the mystical plane?

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Guest Tas Mania

Maybe - just maybe - the crossroads can also be metaphorical? On the off-chance the road less travelled is a long straight one, that is. :o_crucify:

Edited by Tas Mania

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Guest Rising Hero
Maybe - just maybe - the crossroads can also be metaphorical? On the off-chance the road less travelled is a long straight one, that is. :o_crucify:

200880[/snapback]

Or a crooked one :rolleyes:

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Guest DVE
Thanks for the posts, Crow, that was really interesting.  I know very little about Vodou and the Caribbean traditions.  I was watching a programme about samba  on TV the other night and it mentioned that the samba rhythm originates from dumming rhythms used to call the spiritis in Candomble, which sounded not dissimilar to Vodou in some respects.  Are the two linked or are they completely separate traditions?  Apologies for my ignorance, but it as fascinating and the drumming was terrific.

 

Frey

200853[/snapback]

 

Hi,

 

Hopefully I will be right with this - Candomble is a form of Vodou, mainly found in Brazil, and uses the music and dance to honour the links between the ancestors in Africa and themselves. Where Legba is honoured in the Haitian Vodou as Lord of the crossroads, the equivalent in Candomble would be Exu, but he is referred to as "The Devil" of the crossroads, but not in the same way as Christians refer to the Devil.

 

Hope this helps.

 

DVE, BB

200873[/snapback]

In what way is he referred then?Are we still at the roadside crossroads or have we moved onto the mystical plane?

200878[/snapback]

 

Christians, as you probably know, refer to the Devil as being evil etc. In Candomble beliefs, Exu "clears your roadways, removes obstacles, and bestows talent".

 

It can be seen as "selling your soul to the Devil" if you will, by the fact you have to commit several nights to visiting the same crossroads and waiting for Him to appear. However, people have also said they have felt a pleasant exchance with a passer-by who seemed to be not from this world.

 

I suppose the crossroads could possibly be seen as metaphorical, in the sense that when you have a decision to make, you are said to be at a crossroads. When preparing for rituals, it is possible to fall into trance, and the Lord of the crossroads (Legba in Haitian Vodou for example) leads you into the astral plane and allows you to contact other Lwa. Whether the same for Candomble I am not sure, but I would expect so.

 

Regards,

 

DVE

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Guest Rising Hero

Actually that sounds similar to some Traditional Witchcraft type praxis Iv been shown.How old is that belief roughly and when was it exported from the Vodou homelands?

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Guest Tas Mania

Again - thanks DVL. Most informative, also fascinating to note some similarities in beliefs/practices with some of what witches believe/do, despite the two Paths being quite disparate in their geographical evolution. :o_devil:

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Moonhunter
Christians, as you probably know, refer to the Devil as being evil etc. In Candomble beliefs, Exu "clears your roadways, removes obstacles, and bestows talent".

 

It can be seen as "selling your soul to the Devil" if you will, by the fact you have to commit several nights to visiting the same crossroads and waiting for Him to appear. However, people have also said they have felt a pleasant exchance with a passer-by who seemed to be not from this world.

 

heh. Sounds very similar to a god I know well. :o_devil:

 

But then, he seems to cross connect across a number of cultures...

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Guest DVE
Actually that sounds similar to some Traditional Witchcraft type praxis Iv been shown.How old is that belief roughly and when was it exported from the Vodou homelands?

200884[/snapback]

 

Candomble? The earliest dated accounts are between 1807 and 1826 according to the book I've been studying.

 

Regards,

 

DVE, BB

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