Houngan Matt's Vodou Blog

A City Houngan's Life Among the Lwa
Browsing Foundations

Little Secrets, or a Little Window to Mystery

October27

Its not really a secret at all, actually, but one of those things that only happens when you open your eyes at the right angle… like those little mystery pictures that only show what they are when you’re not focused on them, every once in a while little pieces and little chunks of the Vodou cosmology fall into place and give you little revelations.

And sometimes, not so little revelations. Read the rest of this entry »

Ann Pale Kreyol!/Lets Speak Kreyol!

August2

There’s something that really, really deepens a person’s experience of Vodou… something incredibly important to any burgeouning Vodouisant’s capabilities in this faith and something incredibly important to being able to move past the level of an utter beginner… the Kreyol language.

Kreyol, the unofficial national language of Haiti (the official is French, but only the minority elite speak it), is the language in which Vodou service is performed and the language in which all of our songs are written.

Kreyol is a language that, in order to progress into initiation and eventual priesthood (for those who are called to be clergy) you will have to learn. It’s a beautiful language, capable of utter and complete linguistic transparency as well as deep meanings and wonderfully colorful puns and wordgames.

I HIGHLY recommend starting with the University of Indiana’s Creole Institute program Ann Pale Kreyol… it has a fascinating and wonderful textbook, but also comes with 10 CD’s worth of listen-and-repeat language instruction to help you master not only vocabulary but also pronunciation, intonation, and word stress where applicable. This one program is a MIRACLE in terms of learning the language of Vodou and will help you more than you might at first know. (No language program is *perfect*, but this one comes closer than ANY I have ever seen)

PLEASE consider purchasing this program, available HERE: http://www.indiana.edu/~creole/apkpromo.html

Kreyol pale, Kreyol konprann… Kreyol spoken is Kreyol understood. There is no better way to begin learning this language than jumping in and speaking it.

Offerings for the Altar: Liquids

July28

Many people ask me, all the time, what offerings should go on the altar or what basic supplies are required for Vodou service.

There are a few things that are used VERY heavily and that I believe every Vodouisant with a working altar needs to have on that altar; there’s also an important thought that needs to be kept in mind.

Read the rest of this entry »

Empowerment!

July24

Lets take a bit of a refresher through what we have so far ;-)

YOU have spirits, and YOU have power ;-)

Vodou teaches that everyone has spirits that work on their behalf, spirits created by GOD to serve as intercessors and helpers for those of us down here on the Earth. EVERYONE has access to these powers of GOD… Everyone.

(this is actually a view held by many different traditions, not just Vodou; some will say everyone has a guardian angel or more than one, some say people have soul groups, some use different words for similar spirits called Orisha or Orixa… but everyone has access to these spirits.)

There are thousands of named spirits in Vodou; some are spirits almost everyone knows, and some are served only by smaller groups or even in some instances individuals. There’s enough spirit to go around; service, however, can also get to be pretty expensive if you dive in and serve too many spirits… so there’s some advice from within Vodou that makes navigating these areas or just starting out in them a great deal easier once you learn how to go about it. Knowing these little details streamlines your ability to serve the spirits around you, and helps put power into YOUR hands.

Read the rest of this entry »

Secrets of Vodou Service: Salutes and Passwords

July24

SO!

Its been a while since we’ve gotten into anything practical… and we need to change that! ;-)

Get up… seriously, the post will be here when you get back, but get up and go get a simple white candle (I know ya got one around… and, if ya dont, let me make a small suggestion… the kind we usually use is sold up here as shabbat or emergency candles; they’re about 4 inches long, maybe half an inch thick, and can be bought usually at the supermarket for maybe 6 bucks or so for a box of 72. Buy ‘em in bulk, since we use them A LOT) and, while you’re at it, grab a mug of water from the kitchen. Bear with me. Once you’ve got the candle and the water, just put them down near you, ’cause you’ll need them in just a little bit.

Read the rest of this entry »

Vodou Cosmology: A little look into Vodou’s complexities and publically available information

July24

So… lets take a brief moment to step a little deeper into some Vodou cosmology; We’ve touched a bit on GOD, and are inching ever closer to talking about the Spirits who form the core of what we do… but we’ve got a little bit left in the idea of Lies-to-Children to cover to help make some of this make a little more sense… let’s look at a little of the available common information, some of the pitfalls it entails, and show a touch more of how deep and branched the rabbit hole can be before we really start getting into some deep nitty gritty… lets take off the training wheels, shall we?

Read the rest of this entry »

A Vodou Cosmology: GOD

July24

IMPORTANT NOTE: different African traditional or diasporic religions have vastly different cosmologies and ideologies; that’s a good deal of why they are different religions and why, time upon time, those of us who are clergy in any of them remind our students to NOT attempt blending them. Different faiths have different creation stories, different metaphysics, different ideas…. and they stay different and distinct for a reason. No single one of us claims to be the sole arbiter of THE WAY THINGS ARE ™, but when it comes to adapting a traditionalist paradigm, it is always best to embrace the actual instead of trying to cobble together pieces from disparate sources… as these are each complete traditions with complete worldviews that deal with specific powers who may find your behaviour abhorrent and rude should you choose to not follow the traditional ways they themselves have handed to us.

Read the rest of this entry »

Vodou Boston is a teaching blog as well as a look inside the life of a mostly average city guy who just happens to be a Houngan Asogwe of Haitian Vodou.

My name’s Houngan Matt… my initiatory name and title is Bozanfe Bo Oungan Daguimin Minfort, pitit Antiola Bo Manbo, pitit Selide Bo Manbo, pitit LaMerci Bo Manbo… and so on into time. Im a Houngan Asogwe serving at home in Kansas City and in my spiritual mother’s temple in Boston (and Jacmel, Haiti)… our House is called Sosyete Nago, in honor of the Nago Nation of lwa. Im a typical Bostonian-turned-Midwesterner with a few extra dimensions to his world (tell me, how many Bostonians do you know who serve African and Haitian ancestral spirits through the lens of Haitian Vodou? Actually… more than you may know.)

This is a no holds barred blog; Im not one to limit myself in fear of what you’re going to think. Be prepared for a blog where noone’s gonna pull any punches, and you and I will get along just fine.

I can always be reached at Houngan @ VodouBoston . com for any questions, setting appointments for readings or work, or even just social mail; I am here to serve YOU, and YOU are what is important to me. No person and no question is too small.

Look for me on Facebook, too! Bozanfe Bon Oungan is my username


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