Vodou Bottles - Kesler Pierre

Vodou Bottles

Haitian Vodou Spirit Bottles. ... The idea of a Spirit Bottle is actually a pretty easy one to understand. In HatianVodou, bottles are used to create containers for spirits. Bottles are used because they are cheap and easy to acquire. 

...as sacred items

A bottle, in the world of Vodou, means much more than just an inanimate object. This concept is not uncommon in Vodou, as practitioners of the religion believe in supernaturally-invested objects as sacred items. Because, in the Vodou worldview, the spirit world is somewhat overlapped with that of the living, items can be used to communicate and interact with the spirits of the dead, or even the lwa. Bottles, as well as other common objects, can be constructed to perform a spiritual act, or travay. Occasionally, zonbi, wandering spirits of the dead, can be trapped inside ritual vessels to do work for the user; an echo of the slave trade which gave birth to most Afro-Caribbean religions. Using symbolism and intent, ritual objects can be powerful and important aspects of the Vodou religion. 

Sequin-Covered Bottles

In Vodou rituals, sequin-covered bottles are some of the most common objects used.  Each bottle has the colors associated with the spirit (lwa) receiving the drink offering. Each lwa has his or her own preferences such as wine, champagne, specific types of rum, or soda. 

Vodou in Haiti

Kesler Pierre tracing a Veve

Symbols of Vodou - Veve

 The Ritual Symbols of Voodoo. A Veve is a religious symbolfor a vodou "loa" (or lwa) and serves as their representation during rituals. In Haiti, the veve derives from the beliefs of the native Tainos. Most similar to the veve are the drawings of zemi or gods of the Taino religion. 

 

Vodou, also spelled Voodoo, Voudou, Vodun, or French Vaudou, a religion practiced on the island. Vodou is a creolized religion forged by descendants of Dahomean, Kongo, Yoruba, and other African ethnic groups who had been enslaved and brought to colonial Saint-Domingue (as Haiti was known then) and Christianized by Roman Catholic missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries. The word Vodou means “spirit” or “deity” in the Fon language of the African kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin). 

The master of vodou drumming - Fristner Augustin

Vodou Drumming

Vodou drumming and ceremonies are inextricably linked in Haiti. While drumming does exist in other contexts in the country, by far the richest traditions come from this distinctly Haitian religion. As such, before one can come to play, appreciate, and understand this music one should view it in its religious context.  Vodou as practiced in urban centres in Haiti and some cities in North America (especially New Orleans) is a ritualistic faith system that involves ceremonies that consist of singing, drumming and dancing. While certain aspects of this religion may share the same roots, it is completely contrary to the stereotype of black magic, witch doctors, pins in dolls, and zombies portrayed by New Orleans style Voodoo 

Loua or Miste

The belief system of voodoo revolves around family spirits (often called loua or Miste) who are inherited through maternal and paternal lines. Loua protect their “children” from misfortune. In return, families must “feed” the loua through periodic rituals in which food, drink, and other gifts are offered to the spirits. There are two kinds of services for the loua. The first is held once a year; the second is conducted much less frequently, usually only once a generation. Many poor families, however, wait until they feel a need to restore their relationship with their spirits before they conduct a service. Services are usually held at a sanctuary on family land 

Lakou Souvnans - Annual Ceremony

Lakou Souvnans in Gonaives

 A "lakou" in Haiti is the primary place where an extended family cooperates to ensure the family´s  survival. Some Lakous are spiritual places maintained in memory of revered Ancestors. Lakou Souvnans and Lakou Soukri are among such places. Other lakous offer economic stability as places where members can find housing, nourishment, and sustenance. In rural Haiti,  when a child is born, his or her umbilical cord is often planted with a tree in the Lakou to establish that child´s  place as a respected member of the community sharing the Lakou.


Lakou Souvenance is one of the three spiritual Lakous of Gonaives.  All three were founded prior to the Haitian independence in 1804 and each one celebrates a different ‘nachon’ – Souvenance follows Daome.  Lakou Souvenance, a division of Dahomey (now Benin), is one of the mystical places of Haiti.

Dance at Souvnans Celebration

Every year, Lakou Souvnans reunites all the descendants of the Lakou for a celebration that lasts a week.  Haitians participate in a ritual, during the Voodoo Festival at Lakou Souvenance, Gonaives.  It attracts hundreds of supporters to participate in the festival at Souvenance during the weekend of Easter.

Annual Celebration at Souvnans

Our staff traveled to Gonaives for the celebration and was able to speak to some of the descendants of the lakou to explain what each day means and which ceremony goes on that day.  Thousands come to assist, it attracts a lot of foreign media as such our staff were at times used as translators.

Vodou Flags

Sequin Tapestry Vodou Flag of Erzulie

Haitian Vodou Petro Lwa. Ezili Dantor  is by far one of the most popular female Petro Lwa. Haiti's Ceremonial Banners, or Vodou (Voodoo) Flags, are tapestries with sequins and beads trimmed with a satin backing and border. Each flag is a unique handmade work of art varying in size and shape. Vodou Flags are hand sew.

Vodou Flag of Damballah and Erzulie

Damballa also spelled Damballah "Danbala" is one of the most important of all the loas. Damballa is the Sky Father and the primordial creator of all life. He rules the mind, intellect, and cosmic equilibrium.  White rum is sacred to him. Damballa, as the serpent spirit and The Great Master, created the cosmos by using his 7,000 coils to form the stars and the planets in the heavens and to shape the hills and valleys on earth. By shedding the serpent skin, Damballa created all the waters on the earth. 

Veve

The Ritual Symbols of Voodoo. A Veve is a religious symbolfor a vodou "loa" (or lwa) and serves as their representation during rituals. In Haiti, the veve derives from the beliefs of the native Tainos. Most similar to the veve are the drawings of zemi or gods of the Taino religion. 

Video

Azor & Rasin Mapou [Rasin Fest 2002]

In the history of voodoo music, Azor was the most talented man that Haiti had.