By Elizabeth Thomas Crocker
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Additional info for A Trinity of Beliefs and a Unity of the Sacred: Modern Vodou Pratices in New Orleans (thesis)
For Brenda Marie Osbey, there are a number of distinctions between the two religions. “There is absolutely no relation between Haitian Vodou and the religion in New Orleans… They have entirely separate beliefs” (Osbey 03/05/08). The first of these differences is that, in Haitian Vodou, the Catholic saints have become associated with specific divine spirits so that, today, they are thought of as one and the same. St. Michael is the warrior spirit Ogou, and an offering made to an image of the saint is to the lwa.
Zombie’s, has a “working” Vodou altar that patrons are forbidden to touch or photograph (See figure #5). Both have numerous candles and magical ritual ingredients that come with no instructions or explanations presenting the assumption that the patrons already know what to do with them. This attempts to present a view of the other to the tourist, as if they have stepped into a space where they could encounter mysterious Vodouists at any moment. Signs in the stores offer psychic readings and the shelves stock books on everything from Vodou to European witchcraft.
It is understandable that many practitioners might not have an altar in their own home due to negative stereotypes visitors and family members might associate with seeing such a space. Smaller living spaces such as apartments might also limit the space a practitioner has for an altar. The members of Manbo Sallie Ann’s Ounfo have a small altar for their ancestors and mete tete (a person’s guardian lwa) but visit the peristyle when they need to make offerings to other spirits. For those that do not openly belong to a group that has a shared altar, however, they must find another place and way to make their offerings.
A Trinity of Beliefs and a Unity of the Sacred: Modern Vodou Pratices in New Orleans (thesis) by Elizabeth Thomas Crocker