Afro-Caribbean Religious Societies

Karen McCarthy Brown

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137989
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Afro-Caribbean Religious Societies

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The product of an early and involuntary globalization of African culture, Haitian Vodou is arguably the most misunderstood and maligned world religion. The reasons for this are not so much theological as they are historical and political. The historical reasons are rooted in Haiti's revolution. Haitian Vodou was born from the interaction of groups of people brought to Haiti to work as slaves, people who had been taken from several areas in West and Central Africa. Vodou, whether in Haiti or in diaspora communities in New York, Miami, New Orleans, and Montreal, is still characterized, more often than not, as a primitive religion involved in magic. In an attempt to undermine this persisting consensus about the nature of Haitian Vodou, this article examines one of Vodou's most misunderstood aspects, the manufacture of charms, or wanga. It also discusses the charm called mare djol, the function of the wanga in healing practices, the ethics of wanga, and the belief that all healing is about the healing of relationships.

Keywords: Vodou; Haiti; slaves; diaspora communities; wanga; magic; charms; mare djol; healing; ethics

Article.  3564 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Interfaith Relations

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