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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Do You Do Voodoo?

*Woodcut print "Karma" by Chelsea Semb

Shantybellum sports a couple of little Voodoo dolls in the kitchen. One of our guests, Chelsea Semb, was so enchanted she sent us an original piece of artwork she did after she returned home.

If you're not familiar with Voodoo, the word is derived from the religion known as Vodun, which originated in Africa and was brought to America on the slave ships. The word "vodun" means "spirit."

According to the website Religious Tolerance, the Vodun religion, which is practiced by 60 million people worldwide today, goes as far back as 6,000 years in Africa. The Vodun religion has many similarities to the Roman Catholic religion. You can read about it here.

Then there's Voodoo. Yes, that's the fun stuff we see in movies and horror tales. Voodoo is an evil, imaginary religion based on bizarre rituals rife with violence and terror where the dead can rise again as Zombies and people can be controlled and affected by the use of voodoo dolls and pins.

Practitioners can do good deeds with white magic or evil deeds with black magic. But who wants to hear about white magic? Let's face it. Black magic is lots more fun.

From the Religious Tolerance website:

"Sticking pins in dolls was once used as a method of cursing an individual by some followers of Vodun in New Orleans; this practice continues occasionally in South America. The practice became closely associated with Voodoo in the public mind through the vehicle of horror movies."

The first time I ever came across a Voodoo doll, I was traveling back to California, flying out of the New Orleans airport. They had Voodoo dolls in the gift shop complete with pins and instructions on where to stick 'em.

My little girl had been bothered by some bullies at school, and it struck me that this might be a fun and harmless way to let her vent her spleen and give her a feeling of power again. When I returned to LA, we got the doll out and said, "Hmph! Take this, mean girl," dissolving into giggles, happy with our new-found power.

Who knew a little Voodoo would do you so good? I do. And now you do, too.


*This just in: Patty Killelea made one of the dolls in the Shantybellum kitchen. Patty's a wonderful artist here in town. A lot of her art is centered around the Catholic Church and religious icons. They're gorgeous. Catholic icons....voodoo dolls. Maybe there IS a connection, eh?

1 comment:

  1. awww thanks elodie, enjoyed the reading. I saw a great Haitian exhibit at the Metropolitan museum all about Voodoo several years back.