Episode 205: Voodoo: Priests, Queens, and Zombies

On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we explore the varieties and beliefs of the religion known in America as Voodoo. Voodoo started in Africa as a belief in spirits of the dead and spirits of an invisible world and even animals. Once slavery stole people from their homelands and brought them to America and the Caribbean, however, the beliefs were forced to merge with Christian beliefs.

There are said to be three major branches of Voodoo in the world today: African, Haitian, and Louisianan. There are others, but those are the big three. They vary in their terminology, their practice, and their impact on and by the culture around them, but they share many common beliefs. First, they believe that there is a single god, and he can’t be reached. However, the spirits he created (often called the Iwa or Loa) can be called upon. These spirits are summoned with dancing, rituals, sacrifice, and even food and liquor. Voodoo Priests and Priestesses claim to bring balance between the invisible world and this one.

It’s impossible to discuss Voodoo without talk about Marie Laveau, the Queen of Voodoo from New Orleans. It’s also impossible to talk about the religion without discussing Wade Davis, and his critical research into the Voodoo Zombie in the 1980s (which lead to his book and the film, The Serpent and the Rainbow).

What sort of influence did Marie Laveau have over the city of New Orleans? Why was she so powerful? What did Wade Davis find about the creation of zombies? What does a toxin from a puffer fish have to do with it. Why did Davis dig up the corpse of a recently dead child? What is a gris-gris and a gros bon ange? What’s the deal with Voodoo Dolls? Listen, laugh, learn.

Video of Voodoo Priestess in New Orleans: https://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanbergara/we-explored-the-world-of-voodoo-and-its-not-what-youd-expect?utm_term=.dpolGWZL4#.kcozENdRG

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