Vodou has long been one of the most misunderstood and vastly intriguing religions. Now recognized as one of the world's most powerful cultural movements, Vodou has spread its roots from West Africa to the Caribbean, United States, Brazil, and Cuba. Drawing from other religions such as Catholicism as it travelled to the New World during the slave trade, Vodou has influenced classic literature such as Huckleberry Finn and African American folk art, dance, and music - from tango, samba, and rumba to jazz, blues, and soul. Exquisitely illustrated with art from Haiti, Brazil, and Cuba, The Vodou Box gives a history of Vodou and its influences around the world. It includes examples of charms, rituals, altars, and prayers, as well as a hand-painted "spirit bottle" - traditionally used for communicating with the spirits and keeping evil and negativity at bay. Vodou has only recently started to shake off the negative connotations that tainted it hundreds of years ago. For many years associated with dolls, pins, and black magic, it is today being revalued as the true religion it is.
Vodou was born from the animist religion of West Africa and includes a vast pantheon of deities and spirits who constantly involve themselves in the affairs of humans. The word animism means "ensouled," and animist religions honor the presence of soul everywhere: in trees, rivers, stones, forests, fields, mountains. Vodou also honours the presence of the soul within the human body -when one falls ill it is believed to be because a spirit has entered one's diseased bodyand teaches that spirits are everywhere, commingling with our lives. The people of Togo, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast today still practice Vodou in its original form. From birth to death, they are accompanied by spirits who tell them everything: what their destiny is, why things happen the way they do, why they have fallen ill, why they need to marry the person they will marry, and when and often why they are going to die.
About the Author
Manuela Dunn Mascetti is the author of Saints: The Chosen Few, Goddess, A Box of Zen, Christian Mysticism, Food for the Spirit, the Small Wisdom series, The Buddha Box, and many other books. She was the co-founder of Labyrinth Publishing, a packager which produced such books as the Nostradamus series, The Illustrated World's Religions by Huston Smith, and The Illustrated Brief History of Time by Prof. Stephen Hawking. She has recently started The Book Laboratory, a book packager and publishing consulting company. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the U.S., North Africa, and India, and lived with a Touareg tribe in the sahel in Mali. She speaks fluent Spanish, Italian, French, and Catalan. Originally from the UK, she currently lives in Northern California with her husband and three cats.