Describe the role and scope of practices of the traditional Voodoo priest.

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marbar57 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Voodoo is an ancient religion that originated in Africa and is still practiced in many countries around the world, even in remote areas of the southern United States. It is a complex mix of spiritualism, superstition, and tradition.  Misunderstood and prohibited by most societies, it still remains a quintessential part of the community life of several cultures around the world. 

A voodoo priest is to Voodooism what a medicine man is to an American Indian tribe. He is the intermediary between the spirits of the dead and of the living, performing several rituals in which it is claimed that other world spirits actually take over living bodies; the possessed person does the bidding of these spirits, often not remembering what they did and said later on. Voodoo priests use herbs, potions, and brewed concoctions to summon these spirits.  Often these concoctions use human or animal parts, each one symbolic with summoning certain spirits. The belief in Voodoo is so strong in its followers that they become totally immersed in its rituals, and even though it seems bizarre and ludicrous to outsiders, it's real to the followers.  The priest, in essence, is worshipped as a god and given special consideration and importance in his community.   

Some of the things the Voodoo priest does is conjure up spirits, put hexes and curses on people and things, cure diseases and deformities, and manipulate people through the use of dolls.  We've all seen the pins stuck in voodoo dolls that are supposed to make the person whom the doll represents feel pain, torture, or even death.  Physical manipulation of the doll is even said to make that person move in like manner. For these reasons, the voodoo priest and his magic are both revered and feared. 

 

 

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