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The Haitian Vodou Handbook: Protocols for Riding with the Lwa Paperback – 10 Nov 2006

3.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Destiny Books (10 Nov. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594771251
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594771255
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 737,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"Refreshingly original, well-documented, and just plain fun. Kenaz brings just the right combination of insider insights and skeptical observations to this must-read for anyone fascinated by the world of Afro-diasporan religious movements. Highly recommended." (Anne Newkirk Niven, Editor in Chief, SageWoman, PanGaia, newWitch)

“Filan's clear and sensible approach shares the rudiments of Vodou, and gives us a fascinating introduction to the history and culture of Haiti. This book will be important to all who feel that religious practice makes a practical difference in our lives." (Judy Harrow, author of Devoted to You: Honoring Deity)

“This highly readable book will be valuable to every reader interested in Haitian Vodou, and essential for those who want to make the transition from intellectual knowledge to personal experience of a profound and unfairly neglected religion.”
(John Michael Greer, author of The New Encyclopedia of the Occult, A World Full of Gods, and The Drui)

"Vodou is not what most people think. It's not "devil worship, dark curses, and drumbeat-driven orgies performed at midnight," poking needles at dolls, or simple superstition. With over a decade of service to the lwa (the deities of Vodou) and membership in Société la Belle Venus #2, a Vodou temple in Brooklyn, Filan sets out to right these pulpy perspectives of what in reality is a complex African diaspora spirituality and a form of worship that marries the secular and the spiritual. Of course, Vodou is not without its dangers, since "the lwa can wreak a frightening vengeance." It's not foolproof, either; without proper initiation into addressing the lwa, they will simply ignore you. But Filan aspires to give potential initiates the proper tools for communicating with the deities of Vodou (like Mama Danto who protects, and Papa Damballah who brings peace). In the process, he shares the rich and at times disturbing history of its practitioners (especially the oppression and racism faced during slavery), and offers a litany of everything necessary to practice Vodou on an individual level, from knowledge of the tradition's most important symbols, rites, myths and spells, to an extensive list of further resources and Vodou-related Web sites, music and even charities." (Publishers Weekly, 11/13/06)

"There is a sense of excitement which runs through this book, and the reader is caught up in its facts and material in an enjoyable manner. This is a good reading experience about what Haitian Vodou truly is, with nothing left out." (Lee Prosser,, Feb 2007)

"This book made me think. And because it did, I give it my highest recommendation. Great for anyone who has an interest in this subject." (Sapphoq Reviews, Feb 2007)

"Kenaz Filan has succeeded where many before have failed. The Haitian Vodou Handbook (emphasis on the “handbook”) is a highly practical and informative starter’s guide. . . . Filan's book provides all the necessary information, and then some, to get one started in serving the Lwa. For those wishing to continue their exploration of the subject, the author provides extensive references and pointers to sources of information, internet resources and suppliers. (Ashé Journal, Vol 6, Issue 1, Spring 2007)

"I wasn't sure what to expect when I got this book, but I was very pleased with it, even the parts I disagreed with. It is informative, well-written, and well worth the price." (Mike Gleason, Witchgrove, Mar 2007)

"This is an excellent introductory text for folks of any background. . . . honest and respectful, and has a good balance of information and respecting of oathbound material. If you've any interest in this religion whatsoever, even just curiosity, this is a great place to start." (Pagan Book Reviews, April 2007)


Until recently, the Haitian practice of Vodou was often identified with devil worship, dark curses and superstition. Some saw the saint images and the Catholic influences and wrote Vodou off as a "Christian aberration." Others were appalled by the animal sacrifices and the fact that the Houngans and Mambos charge money for their services. Those who sought Vodou because they believed it could harness "evil" forces were disappointed when their efforts to gain fame, fortune or endless romance failed and so abandoned their "voodoo fetishes." Those who managed to get the attention of the lwa, the spirits honoured in Haitian Vodou, often received cosmic retaliation for treating the lwa as attack dogs or genies, which only further cemented Vodou's stereotype as "dangerous." In "The Haitian Vodou Handbook", Kevin Filan, a Vodou priest, explains how to build respectful relationships with the lwa of the Vodou pantheon and how to transform the fear that often surrounds the Vodou religion.

He offers extensive background information on the lwa and instructions on how to honour and interact fruitfully with those that make themselves accessible, emphasising the importance of having a quickened mind that can read the lwa's desires intuitively in order to avoid establishing dogma-based relationships. He, also, discusses the role of Vodou in Haitian culture and explores the symbiotic relationship Vodou has maintained with Catholicism through the connections between the lwa and the Christian saints.

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