Explanations of Vodoun

On reading Sacred Possession, one reads that the hounfort or temple included a central dwelling of one or more rooms, circumscribed by a large area called the peristyle (or TONNELLE, usually covered like a shed) in the middle of which is the poteau-mitan, or center post, that images the traffic between heaven and earth. Some writers (?) have interpreted the post as the means of descent for the loa to earth. The author adds that it would be more accurate to see the post as the place where the way up and the way down are no longer contradictory, the loa ascend or descend, coming up out of the waters and into the heads of their people. p. 17
This seems to me very similar the shamanistic images interpreted as the retracing of the birth experience through the birth canal, the tonnelle, along with a stairway to heaven, the poteau-mitan. Looking up shaman in the index, I see that further on one article devotes a number of pages to that topic. We’ll see.
This book offers an explanation for something I have always noticed and been bothered by: the altars in Vodun are very messy, compared, for instance, to an ofrenda during El Dia de los Muertos. The author, Joan Dayan, who describes herself as an adherent to Vodoun practices, refers to it as accumulated waste, the detritus of Haiti. “What appears to as randomness is acutally a tough commitment to the facts of this world.” The claypots, shards, ruins, to quote Edward Kamau Brathwaite, are not revised out of the sacred. Never elusive, abstract, or idealized, the gods related to and are activated by things that do not conform to cravings for purity or longings for transcendence. She hit the nail on the head there, b/c that’s what so many religions are all about: purity and transcendence.

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