Voodoo and It's Misinterpretation in America
Voodoo is a religion rich in heiratage and founded in faith and community. The religion has been villianized by western culture and has been wrongly portrayed as malignant and dangerous. The religion is not founded in any of the "black magics" or fear popularized by Hollywood films, but rather it is based on balance and tradition. The religion is not something which should be encountered with inhibition or fear induced from childhood horror stories, but embraced for it's strength and history.
Voodoo (also known as Vodun, Vodou, Umbanda, Quimbanda, and Candomble) originated as an amalgam of African religions during the slave trade. As slaves were shipped from Africa to the Caribbean and America, groups of slaves sharing a similier heretage were broken apart to prevent any since of community or bond between them. With no connection beyond the tortures of slavery, the slaves had little chance to establish any relationship to their fellow captives. Hailing from lifestyles and cultures far removed from each other, the only opportunity for a common bond came from sharing their deep faiths. Though different religions, the intense faiths allowed an intellectual exchange and common bond. With several different religions present in any given group of slaves, the majority of slaves adapted by holding a service which accepted all lineages and respected all ancestreal lines of faith, both aspects being of primary concerns in African religions. These services were effective in blending the rites and practices of many religions into one combination religion. This adaptation effectively created a new religion, Voodoo, which translates to "spirit" in several African languages. This new religion gave the slaves a since of alliance with their nieghboring slaves and, with that alliance, a since of community. This new found unity was viewed as a threat to the French and British plantation owners of the newly settled colonies. As a means to quell the religious unity, the plantation owners forbid the practice of religion and punished slaves who attempted to pursue voodoo. Catholicism was presented as an alternative to the African-based but now independent and Caribbean religion. Instead of accepting the Catholic religion, many slaves only incorperated it into the establishing Voodoo religion. Catholicism remains an important aspect of Voodoo, and many of it's methods and rituals are currently practiced as Voodoo (this is especially accurate in Santeria, a Cuban based Voodoo).