Thoughts of spells, rituals, and Voodoo dolls often mesmerize people but also invoke feelings of fear. Thanks to Hollywood, there are two versions of Voodoo – the scary one that focuses on witchcraft and curses, and the real one, a centuries-old religion.
The exaggerated version people often see in popular culture portrays practitioners using dolls to cast spells and performing other dark magic tricks. But the real Voodoo is actually a religion like any other, a system of beliefs with a moral code and a way of life. The word Voodoo actually means “spirit.”
Voodoo is often described as misunderstood or misjudged. The religion has had a difficult
history. It has existed in Africa for centuries but at one point was banned by European imperialists who saw it as dangerous and forced Catholicism upon slaves. Today, about 60 million people practice Voodoo across the world.
Tens of thousands of people visit New Orleans, the one place in the United States where Voodoo is very popular, each spring to celebrate Mardi Gras. This year it falls on March 5. In addition to drinking a lot and partying all night, many of the visitors will probably go on Voodoo tours and stop by the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum.
To identify some commonly misunderstood and lesser known facts about Voodoo, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed online encyclopedias, academic essays, and news articles about Voodoo customs, their connection to Christianity, as well as the religion’s African roots.