Posted by: posthaiti | February 25, 2010

vodou: an intro

vodou. one of the most talked about reasons to fall in love with haiti. there are definitely others: the scalding sun; the wet, green foilage; the sense of community and family first; the kindness and welcoming spirit of the people (you feel at home immediately, and it’s because everyone’s door is open to you, no matter where you’re from or what color your skin is; though, i’ve come to suspect this open-arms thing is a caribbean trait, not solely relegated to haiti); the smell of burning garbage; the caw of roosters at all hours of the day; the sweet stench of humidity in everything from the corners of people’s elbows to the scent of mildew on people’s furniture to the sweet aftertaste located somewhere between the first few sips and the bottom of a bottle of barbancourt rum.

but, i digress. i went to a three-day vodou ceremony when i was in leogane, and it was one of the most physically mysterious events i’ve witnessed. the first portion took place over several hours one afternoon, and was located a ways outside the city. we took a rocky tap tap ride to get there, and mostly, it was pretty uneventful. the priest yves blessed an altar, which consisted of a circle drawn in white powder on the dirt and offerings by way of a bottle of orange soda, some flowers, a bottle or two of rum — all placed on the white lines. yves recited what sounded like roman catholic prayers from a worn, leatherbound book, blessing the woman who would partake as, i’ll just call her, the main receiver of spirits, during the next two days.

i’ve read a bit about vodou since getting back, and watched a couple of movies (one was maya deren‘s Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti), but i’m still a bit at a loss for words as to how to describe what i saw. or if i should. anyway, i’ll let you hang for a night, while i collect my thoughts and post a full log tomorrow. unfortunately, i did NOT take any pics, mostly because yves scolded me for trying, then said it was ok. (by that time, i was too drunk — i shake my fist at you, barbancourt! — to bother.)

well, the whole point of this post was to point to this: there will be a vodou ceremony in cambridge, mass., on march 5th, in honor of those who died in haiti. flo will, i hope, be there in spirit. all the deets are on the ‘going with flo’ blog, as well as information on how to help jacmel, which, along with leogane and PAP, is still in dire need of donations, physical help, and moral support.

(btw, we still miss you flo, and think of you every day. where are you?)


  1. I hope to attend the March 5 ceremony; althyough I am unwell at the moment. There is not the slightest doubt that Flo’s spirit will be present.

    “O, if I die before,/my soul to thee/from other lands must soar”

    I kinow it, you know it.


  2. i plan to be there, too! i get into boston around 4 pm and will head straight up to harvard’s campus. am looking forward to meeting you in person, and the entire ceremony.

    see you there, j’espere!

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