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The Haitian Vodou Handbook


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Table of Contents



Where Are We Going, Where Have We Been?

Introduction to Part One

1 Some Words of Caution . . . The Dangers of Haitian Vodou

2 The Roots of Haitian Vodou

Vodou Today

Introduction to Part Two

3 The Mysteries: Bondye and the Lwa

4 The Peristyle: Sacred Space in Vodou

5 Implements: The Tools of Vodou

6 Practices: The Techniques of Haitian Vodou

The Lwa

Introduction to Part Three

The Rada Lwa

7 Legba

8 The Marassa

9 Loko and Ayizan

10 Damballah

11 Agwe and La Sirene

12 Ezili Freda

13 Filomez and Klemezin

14 Zaka

15 Ogou

The Petwo Lwa

16 Kalfou

17 Ezili Danto

18 Bossou

19 Simbi

20 Gran Bwa

21 Ibo

22 The Djabs

The Ghede Lwa

23 The Ghede

24 The Bawon and Brigitte

25 The Ancestors

Ceremonies and Wanga

Introduction to Part Four

26 Illuminations

27 Actions De Grace

28 The Lave Tet

29 The Garde (Gad)

30 The Maryaj Lwa

31 Kanzo

32 Wanga

Conclusion: The Next Step--Seeking a Teacher


About the Author

Kenaz Filan (Houngan Coquille du Mer) was initiated in Societe la Belle Venus in March 2003 after 10 years of solitary service to the lwa. Filan's articles on Vodou have appeared in NewWitch, Pangaia, Planet Magazine, and Widdershins.


"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 Societe 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, Ghostvillage.com, 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. * Ashe 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 *

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