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What is Voodoo?

Voodoo is a rich spiritual practice originating in West Africa, blending rituals, songs, and dances to connect with divine forces. Misunderstood by many, it's a faith that emphasizes respect for nature and the ancestral world. Intrigued? Dive deeper to uncover the truths behind Voodoo's mysteries and how it continues to influence cultures around the globe. What will you discover?
Garry Crystal
Garry Crystal

The widely held image of Voodoo in the Western world is one of wax dolls with pins sticking out of them and black magic. It is, however, one of the world’s most ancient religions. Voodoo arrived in the West during the slave trading days, and the basis of the religion came from Africa. The practice as it is most widely known was structured in Haiti, where a variety of different ethnic groups amalgamated their traditions into this form of the religion.

Voodoo is a West African word meaning "spirit," and comes from term vodun. The basic ethos of the religion is that everything in the universe is connected. Nothing happens by chance in this world, and there are no accidents. Everything that one person does to another, he is doing to himself, because he is that person.

Snakes often play an important part of voodoo rituals.
Snakes often play an important part of voodoo rituals.

Religious ceremonies contain prayers, dancing, and rituals, as well as animal sacrifices. The figure of the snake plays a major part in the rituals, and the high priest or priestess will embody the serpent’s power. Spirits of wealth, nature, and happiness possess the bodies of believers at the ceremony. Dancing and music are also major elements. In the West, the dancing has often been portrayed as sexual, but that is not its main purpose: it's a way to connect with spirits and the spirit world.

A globe showing the Caribbean, one of the places where voodoo is practiced.
A globe showing the Caribbean, one of the places where voodoo is practiced.

Voodoo is an important part of family life in any community that practices it. The high priest has a great deal of influence and gives spiritual advice when it is asked for. He or she is also seen as a healer and practices with herbs and medicines. The knowledge that the high priestess has gained will have been passed along through prior generations.

Dolls are sometimes used in Voodoo.
Dolls are sometimes used in Voodoo.

Practitioners also use spells, most of which are performed to evoke good, not harm. There are healing spells, love spells, and spells to celebrate joy. The image of black magic and harmful spells was mainly founded by Europeans who had a distrust of anything African.

Voodoo is practiced as a religion in a number of countries around the world. In Brazil, it is called Candomble, and in the Caribbean, it is called Obeah. In 2003, the government of Haiti sanctioned it as an official religion, so believers can be baptized and married within the practice. It has taken centuries for this official action to happen, however, and believers say it will take more than an official show of faith to make up for the persecution that followers have had to contend with. There are millions of people in Haiti alone who share this faith.

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Discussion Comments


I just want to hop in and say God is the only One who deserves worship.


@anon347815: Guess what? That's your belief. You believe in God? I believe in voodoo. You say voodoo is stupid? I say God is stupid. I don't care what you think so go away.


The real god is lucifer and the god of the bible is the devil.


I think it's childish and hateful. I think people do that to hurt what they don't like or what they don't have. I think it is because of jealousy of what another person has. I think these people think they should have it their way. I think they can't stand to see others achieve because of what they aren't. I think they fear people they think are competition they try make themselves feel good. It's wrong and it's hard to pick those out who are like that. One day, they will have to pay for it because it's wrong doing.


Thank you, I now understand the purpose of Voodoo.


If voodoo is so powerful, why have the gods forsaken Haiti? Why is it the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and constantly suffering from one tragedy after another (either political, acts of nature, etc.)? You would think if this African religion was what it says it is, then the land and its worshippers would thrive.


Voodoo is a practice that involves demons- jehovah is the real god.


Many misunderstand the voodoo cult. This is not evil. It is a religion like the others who believe in the same common God to all other religions. The difference is that it worships the forces of nature and ancestors (spirits).

In order to solve the mysteries around the voodoo, a festival is held is on January 10 of each year in Benin (at Ouidah). Practitioners and those wishing to learn come from around the world. Interested?


why do people practice voodoo in the first place? what is the purpose?


You were right, it is totally magic! I hadn’t dated in about four years and now I have so many women at my feet. Since the spell you cast worked so fast, I will buy you another spell to help me find my soul mate. Now I just want to have some fun. Thanks a lot for your help!


The world is such a tricky place to be. It is very important to pray for the grace of discernment because we are bombarded with so many ideas that we don't know what to believe anymore. Nobody can really tell who is right. I think we will only know when we are face to face with our Maker. And the answers to our many questions will only be known at this time. So in the meantime that we are still on earth, why not choose to spread love instead? Instead of criticizing or trying of put one another down, or find fault in the belief of others, why not pray for one another instead and share the inspiration one gets from above?


New Orleans was not hit by Katrina for their sins or for practicing Voodoo. Katrina had to make landfall somewhere. New Orleans happened to be unfortunate enough to get hit that time. What about Galveston TX? What about Florida and Andrew?

Come on people, time to see that hurricanes happen and once they do, many make landfall on the coasts and if there are cities guess what? If God really wanted people in New Orleans dead, why the four to seven day warning of the severity, hmmm?

Haiti was not punished for Voodoo. If anything, Haiti has been a victim of social economics of first world countries more than the forces of nature.

Is Japan a practitioner of Voodoo? Chile? Australia? New Zealand? Please get a grip and stop fighting religious battles that aren't there and start helping the people who have been hurt because it is true both in Voodoo philosophy and Christianity, "There but for the Grace of God go I." "What you do to the least of your brothers, that you do unto me." Let's be real Christians about this and give a helping hand.


1) The god of the old and new testament does, in fact, require several types of sacrifice, including animal. If Adam and eve were the first people and they populated throughout the middle east first, as people who take the bible literally believe, then it follows that the sacrifices that were performed starting with them, and Cain and Able, were the first ones ever as there were no other humans on the planet.

2) If god struck Haiti and New Orleans because of Voodoo, then how do we explain the multitude of tornadoes and floods that go through the evangelical bible belt and midwest almost every season of the year?


When I was little, my parents used to take me to church. One day, a man showed up at church during a service at night and he asked for prayer. the pastor and my father and several other brothers went outside the church and into the kitchen to pray for him.

I was very little so I followed them, but hiding so that no one would catch me looking. When they started praying the man started twisting and turning. Now I know he was possessed but before I had no idea.

While I was sitting there looking through the window, the window started to tremble and shaken up and down. The man was freed that night. He came out being a totally different person. That and many other circumstances I have seen and gone through make me know with certainty that I serve a real God. That there are other forces out there. I have seen demons come out of people.

So whoever it is that says God and Satan don't exist, that Heaven and Hell aren't real are wrong! I rebuke in the name of Jesus all spirits of confusion and tell you one more time. And I remind you that this may be your last chance before going to hell, accept Jesus in your heart as your only true savior,ask for forgiveness for your sins, thank him for dying in that cross. God is coming soon. Thank you Jesus!


I'm here because my brother has been into this stuff and I just don't understand it. If you believe in God the existence of a God and spirits under God and cast spells for good, why not just pray directly to God? Why open your hearts and souls to be overtaken by spirits that are weaker than God? Why not open your heart to God himself?

I can only assume for anyone that says the bible is not factual, they themselves have not read the bible. Science has proven again and again that God does not obey the laws of nature; the laws of nature obey God.

Jesus was the lamb of God. Yes, in christianity, sacrifices and rituals exist. God made the ultimate sacrifice for us. He did not expect a sacrifice from us to him, only acceptance of his sacrifice to us.

I just don't get it. You will know good and evil by its fruit. Good will produce good and evil will produce evil. These spirits and other so called mini gods will ask for many things before giving you what you want. God, in turn, gave you his sacrifice first.


You must also remember that the Bible's translation of "witchcraft" or "sorcery" meant a different thing than it does today.

Most interpret it as "Those who mix poisons to kill people." I believe in God and the son but I also practice Hoodoo. I use the herbs and minerals that our lord placed here for healing, protection, etc.

FYI: when holy water is blessed for a Voodoo ritual, the chants spoken request that our holy father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless the water. So don't be so quick to judge who is going to heaven and who is not, because guess who else might be sitting on that bench on judgment day awaiting the verdict? You!


Christianity and Voodoo have things in common. When you go to church what is the difference in someone getting the holy ghost and a person who practices voodoo that is mounted by a spirit. Christianity picks and choose what it wants its followers to believe.

In voodoo they sacrifice what ever the spirit likes. In christianity aren't you doing the same thing as sacrificing your tithes and offering, time, prayer, worship, pictures and symbols you have in your house. I think you should get more information on topic before you start preaching to people about their beliefs.


Whatever religion you are, it's important to keep an open mind and practice tolerance of different beliefs. You may be Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Wiccan, Voodoo, or a Druid (like myself), but we are all the same- connected by the energy of the Earth. Remember that we are all children of the same parents (whomever you believe them to be) and should treat each other like brothers and sisters. May you tread softly. Willow Dancer


The US is not a christian nation. As an American Christian i can easily say that it is far from it. First of all, it's pretty well mixed between Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and many many others. But, secondly, 80 percent of the so-called Christians in this land of deceit are some of the worst people I know.


The most powerful forces that be, whatever you may believe they are, obviously do not agree with voodoo. Look at Haiti for example. We also do practice it in the US especially in New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina hit.


Voodoo is wrong and it is plain to see it's evil and if you can't see that you are being blinded by satan, only through Jesus Christ will you make it to heaven. i pray that you all open your eyes and turn to the living God.


all religions practice a form of voodoo.. christians use kabbalah, and also the muslims, hindu monks and africans have it, so what is the difference really? in some form or fashion we all do invocations. it doesn't matter if you sit and offer time, energy, flowers, prayers, blood, food, milk, rum, money, tobacco or weed. We all participate in doing the ritual of prayer some more in depth than others, so don't be deceitful to yourself. it all comes from one source.

So people, it doesn't matter if you pray to a tree, to the heavens, to a statue with ten hands, to mary or fariysor. What it means is we all have to sacrifice our energy to make things happen-that's science and physics for you. bless all. --Ase


i believe jesus christ was just a man and i don't believe he loves or saves those who bashed,laughed at him, etc. i believe jesus christ will come upon these people with great anger and revenge. he taught to do to others as others do to you. i don't understand how people can believe in things written in the bible that are not reality based at all.


the snake is an important part of this rituals, and this is very contrary to what the bible tells us. A snake is symbolic of bad and evil.


yes you do. if i were you i wouldn't believe in it.


Voodoo has the belief of one god, and many spirits beneath it, sound like something familiar? it has believers and practitioners, but not witches and that sort of thing.


look people, you really need to go to Jesus Christ, he one true God! There is an afterlife, You choose heaven or hell. Please turn to Jesus before it's too late, please. He's coming soon guys. You have to be ready, please! He loves you!


look at haiti. Voodoo affects you and hovers around you.


I'm scared because i had a dream about voodoo. Creepy!


You do not go to heaven. But we do believe that you have an afterlife.


Spell casting, dancing to connect with spirits and religious acts such as sacrifices are all a part of a worship, not just for fun or a yearly, monthly or daily tradition.

This is all done in the name of a God. we must also understand all religions have ways of exalting their gods and there are hundreds of religions who all worship a god differently.

People say there are only two gods: the one from good and the one from evil. thinking of good and evil is the most basic way of putting things.


wicca and voodoo have things in common, don't they?


the spells don't contradict with believing in god. i think you are mixing things. spells are true, magic is true, spells and witchcraft are there, it doesn't mean there isn't a god.

Actually some religions mention these, so...

Plus, god isn't evil. If you think about it, god is the only reason why you keep on living, even when you say you don't believe!

You wouldn't stay a moment on earth if you knew he didn't exist for sure. evil happens when you do evil; all the sins religion forbids are sins because they do harm to the human soul.


If there is a heaven then 99 percent of the people in US will never see it. The most evil empire in history, blessed by God. Enslave, destroyer conqueror, manipulator, agitator, But it is a Christian nation? I've never seen or heard a voodoo worshiper destroy civilizations or rape and murder others.


We have to respect other religious as well as cults or whatever.I don't have anything against voodoo--they don't bother me. As for as people saying that God punished Haiti with its recent earthquake, they're wrong.

Look at all the destruction that occurs in the USA alone, including Ike. Is God mad at us? If he is, we must clean our cup on the inside before we try to clean it in the outside. Oh by the way-- "We must be practicing voodoo-Right?" Get a life people.


poster number five- are what kind of witch are you? are you a wiccan witch?

I'm learning to become a wiccan witch.


I don't believe god doesn't exist, but that it's the devil, no matter which pagan religion, christian or non christian, you believe god in. God by definition may be good, but by action and over eternity, which is enough time to create properly, god's evil.

Our enemy is god who we can't win against, just like we can't win again the lesser but just as intractable enemies of reality, civilization, our natures and babel differences around us. Good luck in whatever evil religion you address the evil god by.


The only "evil" that is real in this world is the "evil" that is perpetuated by the Western world upon poorer nations. It is the actions of men and women, as well as their complacency, that cause harm, destruction and death. If you want to know about "evil" look to the history of the United States - Christopher Columbus and the indigenous peoples, The slave trade, Hiroshima -- that is true "evil"!


Voodoo, witchcraft, or any other form of this type of spiritualism is evil. You are opening yourself up demonic forces that will destroy you and those around you. If you don't believe me, just pay attention to any voodoo practicing countries or communities and witness the destruction.


yes you will go to heaven if you believe in jesus christ. he is the only way to a paradise to live forever. amen. god is good.


I thought it was codswallop until it happened to me. My husband did Obeah on me which lasted for about eight years. Lots of things happened to my girls. he said he wished i was blind and could not see and that he wished he could bathe me in something! i took no notice. It came to an end when a pastor came to my house. she sprinkled what I believe was holy water, in every room even in my cupboards and told me that when he returns he will not stay. he was in Jamaica at the time. She then put her hand on my head and stared to pray. suddenly she stepped back and described to me she was unwrapping a long piece of cloth which was wrapped around me, as she was doing this the only way I can describe it, it was as though a wardrobe had been lifted up from my back, that is how intense it was. My family has been torn apart and it is extremely difficult for me to explain certain things to them. After it happened the pastor emigrated to Jamaica. It took me two years after that to tell my experience to anybody as I knew they would not believe me. Has anybody else had a similar experience?


it's not true. i'm was just curious and i don't believe in spells witches and stuff like that. it's really sort of silly. there's no such thing, but if you trick yourself into it enough then the mind begins to think it's real, fact. really, it's just not true. and you can't go to heaven if you've been practising spells and magic and stuff, because only people who believe in god can go to heaven.


i once did together with a voodoo priest a voodoo spell and boy it really worked. i had the feeling that the priest invoked negative spirits but that was because i was a christian back then. if you are a christian you fear those things but fearing them is not good. look at it this way a spider if he smells fear he bites you. if you don't fear the spider it's OK. so i believe that was the case with me. i think people do not choose to become a voodoo priests but the spirits choose you like me the spirits chose me to become a witch. blessed be you all.


if you believe in Jesus Christ i think you all will go. for God don't want anyone to perish. but it does say stuff about false religions and spell casting. its real stuff and is no joke.


I think I would enjoy the prayers, sexy dancing and rituals of voodoo. Animal sacrifices would be difficult for me to watch, but if it is being done for the purpose of the culture, I would respect it. I saw it being done on tv in India before they built a home, on the home grounds in shullah.


do you go to heaven if you believe in voodoo?

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    • Snakes often play an important part of voodoo rituals.
      By: Eric Isselée
      Snakes often play an important part of voodoo rituals.
    • A globe showing the Caribbean, one of the places where voodoo is practiced.
      By: Anton Balazh
      A globe showing the Caribbean, one of the places where voodoo is practiced.
    • Dolls are sometimes used in Voodoo.
      By: Phimchanok
      Dolls are sometimes used in Voodoo.
    • Voodoo is practiced as a religion in Brazil, where it is known as "Candomble."
      By: Bastos
      Voodoo is practiced as a religion in Brazil, where it is known as "Candomble."
    • The basis of the voodoo religion came from Africa.
      By: Ruslan Olinchuk
      The basis of the voodoo religion came from Africa.